Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. As you test yourselves, I hope you will recognize that we have not failed the test of apostolic authority. We pray to God that you will not do what is wrong by refusing our correction. I hope we won’t need to demonstrate our authority when we arrive. Do the right thing before we come—even if that makes it look like we have failed to demonstrate our authority. For we cannot oppose the truth, but must always stand for the truth. We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong. We pray that you will become mature. I am writing this to you before I come, hoping that I won’t need to deal severely with you when I do come. For I want to use the authority the Lord has given me to strengthen you, not to tear you down.2 Corinthians 13:5-10
Paul continues on the same topic he has been on before. Testing ourselves to see if our faith is genuine applies to us all. As we read this, it is therefore right for us to apply it to ourselves. But I think it is clear to you that Paul is directing this at the Corinthians to examine themselves in the light of what they are doing. Those who were practising the sins that Paul listed are warned to stop and return to the Lord and to obedience to Him. Test yourselves in the light of this he says. He has told them twice already that Christ is in them by His Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16, 6:19). They are in-dwelt by His Spirit. They are the body of Christ. Now he says again, Jesus Christ is in you, among you. He told the Roman Christians that the Holy Spirit witnesses with our spirits that we are children of God. Does this accord with the Corinthians? Are you Corinthians in Christ or not? Test yourself to see if it is true.
And while they are testing themselves, Paul hopes they will recognize finally that Paul and his team are indeed genuine apostles, operating with apostolic authority. The same old themes are appearing again. Paul has been hitting this issue for the last few chapters. It is a major issue for the Corinthian church. They are facing a crisis of leadership. Who are the leaders of this church? The false apostles or those loyal to Paul and his team. Use your inner discernment Corinthians to check out the truth of the situation. Who do you trust? Paul or the false teachers?
Once they have tested themselves Paul hopes the Corinthians will do what they ought to do. That is to submit to apostolic authority and stop sinning. Like Jesus told the woman caught in adultery in the beginning of John Chapter 8, “Go and sin no more.” Paul says, “If you wish to prove you are the Lord’s, stop sinning and accept our correction.” He hoped it wouldn’t come to another showdown with them as it did on the second, painful visit. Sort yourselves out before then Paul says. He doesn’t care if he looks bad; telling them he will sort them out when he comes. If they sort themselves out and do the right thing then he won’t have to do anything. But if not, then he will act, and not spare them as he said a few verses earlier. He wants to use his authority to deal with the issues, but to strengthen them, not tear strips off them.
The issue is truth and he, Paul, will always stand for truth. He is being clever in his statement which says they won’t oppose the truth. So effectively if you wish to avoid a confrontation with us then get on the side of truth, because we will always stand for the truth. So you will avoid a confrontation by sorting yourselves out then we won’t need to oppose you. “I don’t mind eating humble pie” Paul says, “seeming to be weak and you strong.” Paul doesn’t protect his reputation with people. He is more concerned with truth than appearances.
Self examination and attitude correction is painful. Self surgery is hard to do. It requires courage to push through the pain threshold. But there is the choice, the pain that is self inflicted or the pain that comes when administered by those in authority. Your choice. It is always easier and cleaner to nip it in the bud yourself if you catch it early enough.
The death of God’s Son is a greater testimony to God’s abhorrence of sin than if all humans had been damned forever.John Piper
Unless You Stand For “Truth”, You’ll End Up Falling Prey To Deception.Robb Thompson
Let him that would move the world, first move himself.Socrates