“But let a man examine himself,” the Apostle Paul wrote to the people in Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:28). This timeless reminder is crucial to prepare correctly for our Passover observance, and it is relevant all through the year as we strive to overcome sin.
It’s important we consider self-examination from God’s perspective. After all, He sees you perfectly, all your sins and flaws, even the thoughts and intents of your heart. And He loves you, and has risked everything to have a deep and precious Father-son relationship with you. He wants to help you.
Sin separates us from God. We can have difficulty seeing sin—especially in ourselves. Our own hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked, so we cannot see ourselves for who we really are (Jeremiah 17:9). Therefore, we need God’s perspective—not only to examine our hearts, but then for the direction and strength to change. If we make the move toward God, with the desire to overcome the weaknesses and sins that separate us from our Creator, then He will eagerly come to our side and help us. God will give us His perspective on us!
Self-examination is a multi-faceted process, but this is where our self-examination must begin: going to God for help.
Let’s notice a process given to us in James 4.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (verse 7). Notice the effect of acknowledging and surrendering to God’s supreme authority, coupled with resisting the devil: Satan will flee from us! This dramatically changes the playing field.
So we must acknowledge God’s authority, and resist the devil. What do we do next? “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (verse 8). As we draw closer to God, He can help us become pure. This means being righteous and living with singleness of heart, free of hypocrisy (James 3:17).
“Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness” (James 4:9). We need to be sobered about sin, comprehending what it has done to God the Father and Jesus Christ. When we recognize God’s desire to be close with us, we can better see how concerned we should be about how sin disrupts that relationship!
We need God to show us many things, including the state of our own heart, where we need to change, and who we are apart from Him. He will reveal these things to us and help us make the necessary changes if we do our part.
God wants to see that we want to be with Him just as He seeks to be with us. He is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5), deeply desiring the closest relationship with His dear children. We have our part to play: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10).
Our booklet How to Be an Overcomer is critical for all of us in our self-examination. It describes true repentance and challenges us to ensure our repentance is genuine. It reveals how easy it is to be deceived by our own human nature and to be self-righteous. It shows where our spiritual power must come from to successfully overcome.