Reflecting on my own journey I have a number of observations that I know to be, but wish were not, true.
There are times when I just seem incapable of seeing or hearing God's self evident truth. This is usually for one of two reasons which always ultimately lead back to sin and/or unbelief.
In either of these cases there are usually one of two root causes at work.
The first is because I have made choices that are consciously and intentionally about what I want rather than what God wants.
Second,and in some ways more serious, my heart, which so often struggles under the burden of self deceit, has persuaded me that I am in the right and that what I am doing or why I am doing it has Gods blessing or enjoys Gods favour.
Paul, in Corinthians, urges disciples to have times during which they 'test themselves' with regard to ACTUALLY being in the faith rather than just thinking or saying we are. This requires a depth of honesty and openness that can be difficult and may require us to seek counsel from mature Christians.
If this goes according to Gods plan for us, rather than our own, it will often result in the 'Godly sorrow ' about which Paul also talks to the Corinthians.
There are two simple biblical principles to begin to understand where we are 'in the faith':
1. How is our relationship with God (really)? Do we regularly set aside and spend regular quality time with Him - reading His word, being in His presence and listening to Him? This is NOT about doing things FOR HIM it is about the thing that is so close to His heart for us - being with Him in intimacy.
2. How is our relationship with His church (God's people) - Hebrews reminds that we 'should not give up meeting together as some of you are doing. This is the worship and fellowship test. What are our relationships like - do we include ourselves or have we become self excluded?
This is an important part of our 'spiritual audit' and Jesus warned of the dangers of not being honest with, and about, ourselves.
One of those warnings is:
“In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘ “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.””
Matthew 13:14-15 NIVUK
I spent a number of years in the spiritual wasteland that results from not heeding such warnings. Years when I spent so much energy going through the motions, trying to persuade myself that things were OK when it was so obvious to those around me that I was not... It's not worth it -
Do the test, turn and be healed.
Hard or healed - which are we?
Bitterness or blessing - which flows from us?
Godly sorrow or earthly sorrow - which do we practice?
Godly determination or self imposed drifting - which best describes where we are?