We, as a society believe in testing things. What would school be like if there were no test? How would you know if the student had actually learned the subject matter if you didn’t test them in some way? Now I do believe we have fallen into a routine of giving test in the same way for the last hundred years or so and there could be some more creative ways to test people who may not process information as well as some but who still understand the concepts that are being taught. Sometimes the one who is good at taking test does better on the test not because they know more but because they are better test takers than others. Go to the doctor about just about anything and the answer will be that we need to run some test. Most of the time they will then have to do more test to make sure the first test were accurate. If a doctor or scientist came up with a formula that would save millions of lives if applied, it will have to go through all kinds of test to make certain it doesn’t harm the patient in some horrible way that nullifies the good done by the formula. We’ve even learned the lesson that when you get a resume from a prospective employee that you had better do some checking to make certain that what is claimed is for real. Even big colleges have had egg on their face after hiring a coach and then learning that all those degrees claimed weren’t for real.
In spite of the fact we tend to test everything else in our lives, most of us don’t think to test ourselves or our beliefs in spiritual matters. When people start telling you what they believe on different matters it is pretty common to hear them say that I believe this because it was what I’ve always thought or because I heard this preacher or my grandmother say. We hear a lot these days about not judging other people and I understand that, but what about judgement of ourselves? Should we avoid judging ourselves as well? Let’s let the Bible speak on this subject. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 it says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test. And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.” One of the things Paul earlier said to this same church was that when gathered to partake of the Lord’s Supper that they were to examine their self to make certain they were taking of the supper in a worthy manner. It is important that we go through an examination of our own selves and our relationship with God. Now it is possible for us to think wrongly about ourselves and our relationship with God. When John wrote the letter of I John he told them “If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved if our heart does not condemn us then we have confidence before God.” So one might feel as though they were lost and God knows all so it is his judgment that counts and not just ourselves. An unexamined life is one that may well be far afield with God without knowing it. So, we all need to check ourselves out regularly.
In I Thessalonians 5:19-22 Paul again wrote, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” Think of this command. We aren’t to treat prophesies with contempt, yet we are to put them to the test to see if they are correct. The fact a thing has been accepted and believed for a long time doesn’t mean it is correct. The fact someone claims to have a revelation from God telling them some particular thing, doesn’t mean it is right. Even good people make tragic mistakes and misunderstand things that God says in his word.
Every belief we have ought to be put under the test to see if it really is based on something the Bible clearly says or if it is something that I had thought was in the Bible but when I look I can’t find it anywhere. It is easy to think that anything we’ve heard for a long time, especially in church that it must be in the Bible. But people hold all kinds of beliefs on things that have no basis in Scripture at all. Think of just one specific example. How many times have you heard someone say that if you just repeated the sinners prayer you will be saved and all your sins forgiven. Try sometime to find the sinners prayer in the Bible. You will search from cover to cover and be sadly disappointed because it isn’t in the Bible and no prophet or apostle ever told anyone that to be saved they needed to repeat the sinners prayer. Try reading through the book of Acts and seeing all the times that people asked one of the apostles what they should think and believe on different matters. We remember what we have heard and so easily shift that all off to God as though he were the one who had said it.
Usually the best means of fulfilling this whole ideal is to look individually at different beliefs and ideas I’ve had about things in the Bible and actually question my own beliefs or things I’ve heard. I believe when we do that that most of us will come back to say, “I’ve been wrong” on some matters. Pick out a personal belief and put it to the test of God’s word. Every belief we have should be one we are ready to drop or change in a moments notice if we learn it isn’t correct. There is nothing sacred or holy about holding on to wrong ideas or notions.