14: Self-Examination and the Higher Christian Life
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Why is Self-Examination so Important?
We have previously written about the process each of us goes through in receiving the Higher Christian Life. However, truth be told, one of the most important, yet overlooked aspects of receiving the Higher Christian Life is a time of honest self-examination whereby we prepare ourselves for more of Him. And since holiness is the primary attribute of the Holy Spirit (hence, the word Holy), we should expect to have a time of spiritual house-cleaning before we invite our Holy Guest to possess more of us. But be warned, although the end result of spiritual self-examination is wonderous, the actual process can be quite painful as we come to grips with who we really are, and not who we imagine we are. So let’s look into the importance of self-examination in the Higher Christian Life.
In the Old Testament, in preparation for Passover, the children of God were required to search their homes and rid them of any semblance of leaven, which is a type of sin. For those who failed to do this and tolerated leaven in their home, they were cut off from the “congregation of Israel” and forfeited the blessings of the Lord bestowed by the Feast (Ex. 12:19). It was a very serious matter.
And so it is also a serious matter when we come to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1) to the Holy Spirit. We are asking Him to live in us and to make us into His temple, the “temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you” (1 Cor. 6:19). Therefore, as with any other guest we invite into our home, we must make sure our home is clean and presentable to honor our invitation. And in much the same way, each believer must go through a cleaning process, a time of acknowledgment, confession, repentance of sin, and a commitment to righteousness, before we ask the Holy Spirit to take full control of us and enter into the Higher Christian Life.
Let’s look at some areas in our lives that need to come under the spotlight of the Holy Spirit before we move forward in this journey.
And What Are We Looking For?
These are some areas we need to examine in our lives to see if we have let our guard down, lived in disobedience, and have tolerated leaven in ourselves. And we must begin this process by asking the Holy Spirit to reveal things about us personally that we would rather not know, or that we would even deny. After all, the best One to know what is not holy is the Holy Spirit Himself.
First, ask Him to examine your secret life. This is the life of your thoughts, motives, emotions, imaginations, and desires. It is the part of you that is kept hidden, repressed, that only you know about, or so you hope. But there is Another who knows all that goes on in your heart (Mark 7:21). So confess these sins to Him and receive His blessing of forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9).
Next, ask Him to look at every other aspect of your life, both hidden and public. Examine your entertainment choices, your social interactions, your business dealings, your personal habits, the way you manage your home and your relationship with your family, your religious life, everything that makes up your day. Place it under the microscope of His Word and see if He is pleased or not with how you spend the life He has given you as a gift.
Then, examine your personal life. Ask Him to show you those you need to forgive as well as those from whom you need to ask for forgiveness. Examine how you spend your free time, how faithful you have been in fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20), and if your life conforms to the Spirit living in you or the world in which you live. And remember, we are not to “love the world or the things in the world.” Why? For, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15). And to make matters even worse, “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world (something less than love) makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
Finally, once the Lord has pointed out to you, during your self-examination, things that grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), it is time to take matters into your own hands. Confess them, one by one. Repent of them, one by one. Renounce them, one by one. And then receive the joy of forgiveness and restoration as you prepare yourself to embrace the Holy Spirit in ways you cannot imagine.
And be blessed, because you are getting closer to saying, like Jacob, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. How awesome is this place!” (Gen. 28:16-17).