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Summary: Paul exhorts us to test ourselves to see if we’re in the faith – but how do we do that? John points us in the right direction with some practical “tests” so that we may discern whether we are living in the light or in the darkness.

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The Self Deception of Sin - 1 John 1:10-2:2

Series: That We May Know – Life With Jesus - #4

In his second letter to the Corinthian Church, the apostle Paul pleads with the people, saying to them these words … “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 13:5–6, NIV84)

Let’s pray …

Paul exhorts us to test ourselves to see if we’re in the faith, to see if we believe. But here’s the problem: How do you know that you do believe? Well this morning I’ve brought a few items along with me that will hopefully help us understand what it means to believe, just a little bit better. This isn’t an original idea of mine, I’ve borrowed and adapted an illustration that Francis Chan used in one of his messages, because I thought it would help us to understand this idea of belief, better.

Here I have a balloon – an ordinary balloon – nothing special about it whatsoever. [Tape balloon to wall]. Over here, I have my compound bow. It’s got a draw weight of about 55 lbs, which isn’t huge, but which is plenty sufficient to drive this arrow with enough force to pop that balloon. For those of you who don’t know me quite as well, I’ve been doing archery for about three years now. Generally speaking, I can consistently hit what I’m aiming at out to 40 yards. The distance this morning is far less, so it shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Now here’s the question: How many of you believe that I can launch this arrow and pop that balloon? Let’s see a show of hands. … O.K. – a few of you. The rest of you don’t have a very high opinion of me at all I see!

Those of you who raised your hands, will you join me up here for a moment, please? You have professed to believe that I can release this arrow and pop that balloon, am I right? Based on your belief in my shooting ability, how many of you believe enough to hold that balloon in your outstretched hand while I proceeded to shoot at it? … Anyone who doesn’t believe can go sit back down now, and those who believe can remain standing up here. [If anyone left standing, ask who would believe me enough that they would hold the end of the balloon between their teeth while I launched an arrow at it?] (This is adapted from a sermon illustration by Francis Chan. This is for illustration purposes only and at no point do I even draw the bow back with an arrow on the string let alone launch an arrow in the church.)

What happened here? Some said they believed, but when that belief was put to the test, it turned out it wasn’t really belief at all. How do we know? Because their belief failed the test. When it came right down to it, what they said they believed, did not inform their decisions. Instead their choices revealed what they really believed – namely that I couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn!


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