There is a great need for believers to examine themselves. This lost art needs to be revived and practiced again especially in our day and time where it seems anything goes and everything is acceptable. Thomas Boston wrote, “There is no need of it [self-examination] in heaven or hell; for there are no false colours worn there; nor do any there seem to be any more but what really they are. But here, in the visible church, are foolish virgins as well as wise, and foolish builders as well as those who are not. Great is the need then of self-examination.” Unfortunately, there are tares among the wheat and goats mixed with the sheep. Indeed, the need is great.
The Westminster Confession says,
Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be there justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts, and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin, together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of His obedience. It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin; and the threatenings of it serve to shew what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law (XIX. VI)
MAKE SURE OF SALVATION
Christians must examine themselves in order to make certain their salvation. This has to be done because death awaits. Unless the Lord tarries, everyone will experience death. Because of sin, all of mankind is destined to die. It is lurking and stalking each and every person. Hebrews 9:27 says in part that, “it is appointed for man to die.” “What happens”, the author of Ecclesiastes reveals, “to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other” (3:19).
Not only is death approaching, but the consequences are eternal (Rom. 2:9-10; Matt. 25:31-46; 2 Thess. 1:9-10). We are dealing with timeless matters. Choices made on earth reverberate throughout eternity. An individuals destination is fixed while living, there are no second chances.
Examination is to be done to make certain of salvation, lastly, because of the preciousness of the soul (Ps. 49:7-8; Gen. 2:7; Mk. 8:36). A person may gain the entire world, all the riches and resources, and be wretched and miserable by losing his soul (Matt. 16:26). There is a lot of truth wrapped in this saying of the Blessed Savior. The soul is the most precious thing a person possesses. “Thy soul is a jewel more worth than heaven and earth... if that be lost, all is lost, and thou art undone forever.” The soul is worth more than a thousand worlds. Brooks’ words are as beautiful as they are truthful,
The soul is the breath of God, the beauty of man, the wonder of angels, and the envy of devils. It is of an angelical nature; it is an heavenly spark, a celestial plant, and of a divine offspring. So that nothing can suit the soul below God, nor nothing can satisfy the soul without God. The soul is so high and so noble a piece, that all the riches of the east and west Indies, nor rocks of diamonds, nor mountains of gold, can fill it, or satisfy it, or suit it.
If the soul is as priceless as it has been described, then we must not risk forfeiting heaven for hellish torments. How foolish would it be to give up glorifying and enjoying God for all eternity in order to gain earthly riches, prestige, or honors? Do not sell your soul for temporal, fading pleasures and earthly pursuits that cannot last or satisfy.
Thomas Boston, “The Necessity of Self-Examination” in The Complete Works of Thomas Boston, 12 vols. (Tentmaker, 2002), 2:504.
Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices” in The Works of Thomas Brooks, 6 vols. (Banner of Truth, 1980), 1:85.
Thomas Brooks, “An Ark For All God’s Noah’s” in The Works of Thomas Brooks, 6 vols. (Banner of Truth, 1980), 2:28.