A Spiritual Checkup
Just like you do spring cleaning to get rid of excesses and organize yourself and your life, we are encouraged in the scriptures to frequently examine ourselves, taking inventory of the motives and desires from which we take action, so that we may find ourselves glorifying God and not anything else. This study will help you take inventory of yourself in light of the scriptures and the Holy Spirit you’ve been given as a promise to be redeemed in the last day if you remain faithful.
2 Corinthians 13:5 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?
In the Gospels, particularly John's Gospel, we find a series of events in Jesus’ life about contrasts: belief and unbelief, light and darkness, life and death, salvation and judgment, God and Satan. Wherever Jesus went, controversy accompanied him. He comes to us, and we similarly have to make a choice about everything we experience as well, and the choice is stark: follow our own willful way, which is deadly; or follow Christ on the high road to abundant life. There are fruits that accompany a successful transformation as we walk the narrow path:
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
In direct contrast to these fruits, there are sins that choke our growth. Let us first reflect on the sins that prevent our full commitment to Jesus. These seven deadly sins are pride, covetousness, lust, anger,gluttony, envy and laziness. We call them “deadly”, since a continuous walk in them will lead you to your second death (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8). These sins are shown in contrast to the fruit of the Spirit.
Assignment 1: Using your Bible Concordance, look up as many verses as you can that deal with each sin and each fruit mentioned. Write the ones that spoke the clearest to you about the transformation you must undergo to change that particular sin into fruit in your daily walk with Jesus in each column below.
This verse will become your daily encouragement to help you remember how you must let the Spirit transform you so that sin no longer masters you:
Genesis 4:7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
Mastering sin has to do with developing healthy, spiritual habits that will replace and eventually end the control that particular sin has over your life. Your discipling/mentoring sessions are spiritual checkups where you should track the progress, or regress of this spiritual conditioning. Your older brother or sister in the faith helps you trace this progress and identify healthy habits to edge out the mastery of the sin in your life.
Let’s look at the chart:
Seeing ourselves as we are and not comparing ourselves to others is humility. Pride and vanity are competitive. If someone else's pride really bothers you, you have a lot of pride.
This is about more than money. Generosity means letting others get the credit or praise. It is giving without having expectations of the other person. Greed wants to get its "fair share" or a bit more. Generosity doesn’t keep count.
"Love is patient, love is kind…" (1 Co. 13:4-13) Love actively seeks the good of others for their sake. Envy resents the good others receive or even might receive. Envy is almost indistinguishable from pride at times.
Kindness means taking the tender approach, with patience and compassion. Anger is often our first reaction to the problems of others. Impatience with the faults of others is related to this. Anger stems from a desire to have fairness (justice) to the extreme of vengeance.
Self-control and self-mastery prevent pleasure from killing the soul by suffocation. Legitimate pleasures are controlled in the same way an athlete's muscles are: for maximum efficiency without damage. Lust is the self-destructive drive for pleasure out of proportion to its worth. Sex, power, or image can be used well, but they can easily go out of control.
Temperance accepts the natural limits of pleasures and preserves this natural balance. Don’t be mistaken – gluttony does not pertain only to food, but to entertainment and other legitimate goods, and even the company of others (attention). You can struggle with the sin of gluttony and still have a “perfect” body. The sin of gluttony is closely related to the sins of greed and lust.
Zeal is the energetic response of the disciple’s heart to God's commands. The other sins work together to deaden the spiritual senses so we first become slow to respond to God and then drift completely into the sleep of complacency.
All these sins take away joy (Galatians 4:15 What has happened to all your joy?), since they are largely based on self-fulfillment, competition and comparison to others. This manipulative mode puts a destructive spin on all your relationships. Intimacy is compromised and self-service blinds you to your true needs in Jesus.
To get back on track and be builders of relationships, the focus has to get off you and onto what you can bring into every relationship you have. This ministry mode centers on the fact that Jesus provides you with everything you need and lets you be transparent in your relationships. Transparency leads to vulnerability, which leads to meekness (Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.) Meekness, or power under control, (Self-control) is a desirable fruit of the spirit that shows mastery over sins in your life. It is a strength and gift of the spirit (2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.)
If you cannot be transparent, you will never learn meekness, since you will not be able to endure the transformation process we speak of here, let alone begin a spiritual checkup of yourself. Transparency can be maintained by:
1- Becoming aware of the fruit of the sin in your life
a. Conviction from Scriptures
c. Through advice from others
2- Confessing your awareness to your mentor
3- Seeking advice on how to eliminate the pattern of thinking that leads to sin (Remember it begins in the mind: James 1:13-15)
4- Reporting on your progress of these things voluntarily
5- Sensitizing yourself (becoming more sensitive) to the slightest presence on any kind of thinking or behavior that will produce in you sinful fruit.
Assignment 2: Answer the following questions focusing on your need to be transparent before God and yourself. Remember, you may think you don’t have a problem with each of these sins listed, but there is a good chance that you may be blinded to it. Pray to the Lord to reveal in your heart what you must change as David did (Psalm 139, esp. v. 23, 24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.)
1- In what ways am I proud?
2- Are my ambitions godly or selfish?
3- What does sex mean to me?
4- Anger is destructive (James 1:20 …for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.): What makes me angry? Have I repented and asked the forgiveness of the one against whom I vented my wrath?
5- In what areas of my life am I a victim of addictive behaviors?
6- Have I got professional jealousies, or jealousies in relationships?
7- Workaholism is an immoderate love of work; laziness is an unreasonable love of idleness: towards which of these do I have a tendency?
Imagine Jesus sitting next to you: talk to him about your specific commitment to grow and change in one or more of these areas. If you find that you have several areas to work on, you may be overwhelmed. If this is the case, pray unceasingly to the Lord to work on these areas, and focus your energy on the areas that are most destructive in your life. He can and will answer your prayer and make you aware of the blessings you have that enables you to change with the Spirit’s help. Remember, He has given you a new heart! (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26) Always remember, however, that He accepts you even before you change. He loves you towards change, growth, and maturity. Let Him disciple you through your loving brothers and sisters so that you may be a reflection of His glory! Develop with your discipler anindividualized plan for glorification. Include in it the specific behaviors you need to change and the spiritual habits you will use to replace the sinful ones that currently master you.
In order to assure your repentance is real, study out what godly sorrow and worldly sorrow mean from this scripture:
2 Corinthians 7:10-12
10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. Following are the fruit of godly sorrow
11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.
Assignment 3: Look up each of the fruit of godly sorrow in a dictionary to understand the meaning of each of the words the Apostle Paul uses here to describe what the right attitude should be about repentance.