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?
~ 2 Corinthians 13:5
Test: a critical examination, observation, or evaluation, the procedure of submitting a statement to such conditions or operations as will lead to its proof or disproof or to its acceptance or rejection, a basis for evaluation, an ordeal or oath required as proof of conformity with a set of beliefs
Have you ever taken a critical examination of yourself? Not "let's list out all the things I like about me" but, "Do I truly believe what I say I believe?" It's a hard thing to look at. We all shy away from it. Who wants to find out that we have not only been lying to others, but to ourself as well?
Have you ever submitted a statement of faith to the conditions of your life to see if what you say you believe is proved or disproved in your life? We lie so well, that we can lie ourselves into thinking that we are doing pretty well. We've all done it. But if you take a statement and hold it up against your actions, what is the final conclusion? Proved, or disproved?
Have you ever been in a situation where your actions or words could either prove or disprove what you say you believe? What was the outcome?
Here are some questions that need honest answers:
Do my actions show that I trust God?
Do my actions show that I place God first in my life?
Do my actions show that I strive to follow Jesus' example?
Do I place more importance on God's opinion of me than I do the world's, and do my actions show it?
Am I willing to lose my friends, my status, my material goods, my GPA, my starting position on the team so that I can put God first?
Does my life line up with scripture?
Like it or not, you will be tested. If you don't do it, God will.
Choose to test your faith now. Figure it out. Turn from the things, attitudes and desires that will cause you to fail and start strengtening your faith by your actions. You can choose to believe that God is who he says he is, and can do what he says he can do and jump into life and live it radically for him. You can choose to follow Jesus and no matter the situation, have peace and joy knowing that God is with you. You can choose to praise God no matter what.
God can bring HIS testing on your faith. Are you absolutely sure that your faith is strong enough to handle it? Will you make it out the other side? Will you have peace and joy to sustain you through whatever he brings? Don't think so. Know so. If you don't test your faith and prove it true, Satan will be more than happy to test your faith and prove it false.
Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. (One day) the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
~ Acts 19:13-16
Talisman: an object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune, something producing apparently magical or miraculous effects
In the above verses we see seven men using the name of Jesus to drive out evil spirits. Not only is the evil spirit not afraid, he actually beats them bloody, strips them of their clothes, and sends them running in fear into the streets.
Now, you may wonder, if they were casting out demons in the name of Jesus, how could they have been so beaten and humilitated? The answer is there.
(One day) the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" (verse 15)
They had lied to themselves, thinking that they were powerful in the name of Jesus, doing his work in their world. In actuality, they were professing to a faith that they didn't truly have. Because they lacked a true relationship with Jesus, they did not receive his power and protection. They were trying to use Jesus to work in their power, they were not working in his.
Too often in the world today, we want to use Jesus as a handy talisman. Call on his name to get us out of trouble or to bring us blessing and all without any work or struggle on our part. We don't want the discipline, the work or the study and commitment involved, we just want the magical result.
If we are using Jesus as a talisman, without any true faith, we will fail every test. Just as those seven men were sent beaten, bloody and terrified into the streets by satan, so will we be. Maybe not physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually we will be defeated if all Jesus is to us is a magic talisman.
1. Get Focused: Ask yourself the questions in part one above, then ask yourself, do I have true faith to get me though the test to come, or is Jesus a talisman in my life?
2. Get Purpose: You have to decide what you want in your life. Only you can decide if you have a true faith in God and the power of Christ. Do you want the power offered there, or do you want to try to make it through in your own power?
3. Get Wise: Test yourself against scripture. Do your actions line up with Christ's? Do you know Christ's teachings? Read the new testament and hold your life up against what you learn there.
4. Get over it: tests will come. We can prepare and be ready or we can hope for the best doing it on our own. Just remember, no matter what you believe or don't believe, the tests will come.
One to get you started:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.