Barring the rare situation where someone repents of their sins, is baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of their sins and is filled with the Holy Ghost just before they die—there are many qualities or traits that a Christian must possess and use in their lives, I believe, if they are going to make heaven their home and hear those words, “well done.” I’d like to talk about one of those traits that has been on my mind the past few days—it is the quality of honest introspection.
Many of us have trouble honestly assessing ourselves in the light of God’s Word. Yet a successful Christian does exactly that. It seems to be part and parcel of human nature to attempt to justify ourselves. For example, we may “fly off the handle;” and while doing so we know that we are wrong, but then we justify our actions by bringing up the offense (or perceived offense) that triggered our response. If we are confronted about our actions it is human nature to defend ourselves and we become “self-righteous” in our attempt at self justification. Yet we are told in Scripture that this very human reaction must be mortified—killed—crucified with Christ!
There is a problem with this self-justification that goes on—and it’s a BIG problem; that is, if we want to please the Lord. When we are busy attempting to justify that which truly is not justifiable we become completely unable to examine ourselves rightly in light of God’s Word—and rather than our sin being dealt with and placed under the blood of Christ, our sin becomes hidden under a cloak of self-righteousness. Such cloaks are the tattered remains of “filthy rags;” and they hide nothing from the all-seeing eyes of our Holy Lord, and people can spot the tell-tale tattered rags as well. We seem to be the only ones who don’t see it for what it is.
Introspect is defined in the Random House Dictionary, 2010 Edition, as “to practice introspection; consider one's own internal state or feelings.” To consider one’s own internal state is commanded in Scripture, and is vital to our spiritual welfare. Consider these verses:
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5) ESV [Emphasis mine].
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. (1 Corinthians 11:27-31) KJV [Emphasis mine].
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
(Proverbs 4:23-27) KJV [Emphasis mine].
Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons; (Deuteronomy 4:9) KJV [Emphasis mine].
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (1 Timothy 4:16) KJV [Emphasis mine].
These and other passages let us know that a man must thoroughly examine himself and that our assessment must be in light of the pure Word of God and be done with utmost honesty and humility. We can trick ourselves into justifying our actions, but even more insidious is our ability to justify our motives. Our hearts are “deceitful above all things,” and we must not allow our hearts to lead us!
Ecclesiastes 11:9 tells us to “walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes.” In other words, “Go ahead! Follow your heart!” Yet the verse goes on and tells us of the consequence of following your own heart which is able to deceive you. It says, “but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” Rather we should follow the advice of Scripture and, “apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge” (Proverbs 23:12) KJV, and “guide thine heart in the way.” (Proverbs 23:19) KJV. [Emphasis mine]. That’s right! We are not to allow our hearts to lead us—rather, we are to lead (direct) our hearts according to the dictates of His Word! In examining ourselves openly and honestly in the light of God’s Word—in recognizing that “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do”— and that by jerking the cover off of our souls and allowing God’s all-seeing eye to penetrate us and examine us—only then can we deal with the sins of the flesh and spirit and make ourselves clean in His sight! Hidden sins and self-justified sins can never be cleansed from our souls! They must be confessed to Him! (1 John 1:9). David said, “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” (Psalms 26:2).
An ingredient often missing
From churches nowadays
Is Revival kind of preaching
That calls us all to Introspect
Looking deep inside ourselves
Is a most unpleasant task,
With the Word’s Light revealing Us to Us
As we Introspect
When we LET IN such preaching
That sheds the Light of God
Acted on, removes the dross
To make us right with God
Then this continual cleansing
Will make it not so bad
That when we’re called to Introspect
We’ll listen and be glad!
For when necessity to Introspect
Has ceased on us to call
Ready we’ll be to stand before
The Sovereign Judge of all!
May we all practice honest introspection and keep ourselves pure in the sight of God. May not only our actions, but our words, our thoughts and our motives be examined and brought into conformity with His holy will. To paraphrase the man whom God said was a man after His own heart, “May the words of our mouth, and the meditation of our heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, our strength, and our redeemer.” Amen.