Summary: While we live on earth, temptation and sin will try to infect us like common disease. Only God and you know the true condition of your heart and your spiritual life. We are to examine ourselves or have regular checkups to monitor our spiritual health.
Intro: Notice from the verse the word “examine.” Most of us go to the doctor AFTER getting sick. Some go to the doctor BEFORE getting real sick. Moreover, very few go to the doctor for regular checkups even when they are well.
While we live on earth, temptation and sin will try to infect us like common disease. Only God and you know the true condition of your heart and your spiritual life. We are to examine ourselves or have regular checkups to monitor our spiritual health. Today, picture our church as a doctor’s office, and as if we are here for a thorough spiritual examination. Are you ready? Here we go…
I. STAGES OF BACKSLIDING INTO THE WORLD
Just as our physical health slowly declines in stages, a Christian slips back into the world slowly by stages:
A. Friendship with the world (Jas 4:4). It is never wrong to enjoy our life for as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of your relationship with God.
B. Spotted by the world (Jas 1:27). The Christian is one who remains true to the Lord and is not defiled by his contacts with the world (cf. 1 Cor 7:31).
C. Loving the world (1 John 2:15-17). Where does love originate?...from the heart. That’s also where worldliness originates. When a man loves the world, he will be dominated by three evil things: (1) Lust (enslavement by physical desires); (2) Materialism (craving and greed for money and things); and (3) Pride (extreme concern with one’s self-importance). When these three evil attitudes take control of a man, at that moment God becomes so unreal to him!
D. Conformed to the world (Rom 12:2). It is a sad terrible state when Christians are more conformed to the WORLD rather than transformed by the WORD. Behold their worldly tastes and choices! See their friends, watch them dress, hear their music, watch their attitude at home, etc. Many Christians have become so worldly in mindset and conduct so much so that they don’t make any difference at all! Beware not to let the world squeeze you into its mold!
II. STAGES OF GROWING IN THE LORD
Similarly, our relationship with God grows by stages. Jesus left us an example of perfect growth (Luke 2:52). As a child He advanced mentally, physically, socially and spiritually. He is a very balanced person (3 John 2). After being born-again and saved, we grow in Christ by –
A. Learning like the Lord (Heb. 5:8). Imagine an all-knowing God manifest in the flesh learning with suffering? No wonder He was an exemplary teacher and leader in both word and deed (Matt 11:29).
B. Loving like the Lord (John 15:13). Since Jesus loved us, it will in turn show us how to love Jesus and how to love others. One with a Christ-like love not only shares his time, talents and treasures, but lays down his life for his fellowmen (1 John 3:16).
C. Obeying like the Lord (Phil. 2:8). While our faith brings salvation, it is our obedience that proves our faith is real (I Pet 1:14). Obedience is better than the best gifts we can offer to God (1 Sam 15:22).
D. Serving like the Lord (Phil 2:7). Jesus showed us the path to true greatness through humility and service to God and his fellowmen (Mark 10:45).
E. Praying like the Lord (Matt 14:23). In spite of His busy schedule, Jesus spent quality time praying and fellowshiping with the Father (Luke 6:12). On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your prayer life? How about your closeness with the Father?
Conclusion: It’s never God’s will that we be conformed and controlled by this present evil world system, but rather with the likeness and image of Christ (Rom 8:29).