Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates. Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. 2Cor.13:5-7
Q. The question that I'm about to ask is probably very simple, but I've often wondered what does it mean when a preacher would say, "Test yourself to see if you're in the faith."
Could someone explain to me how you would test yourself to see if you're in the faith? Could you give me some examples on how you would test yourself?
A. We see in 2 Cor. 13:5-7, that if one is not of the faith he is reprobate (adokimos = not approved, as in counterfeit coins). So, to test if one is of the faith is the same thing as testing if one is reprobate. Or, as the NAS and NIV translate it, "fail the test".
Outside of 2 Cor. 13, we see 'adokimos' five times. Four times the meaning is that the word of God was not 'engaged' (it didn't 'take') in the heart in question. Those verses are Romans 1:28, 2Tim. 3:8, Titus 1:16 and Heb. 6:8.
And sure enough, we see in 2 Cor 13:8, Paul's one verse summary of what it means to be "of the faith":
For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.
Which is also a one verse summary of 1 John, where we see over and over that those born of the word of God will be giving evidence of that seed of God which remains in them. And in that letter we see some specific criteria for passing the examination:
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 1Jn 3:14
In the other usage of adokimos, 1 Cor 9:27, Paul says he is constantly on the look out lest he be engaging God's word with his flesh, in which case he would be 'disqualified' for crowns. That is, his ministry of the word would be found to be counterfeit works of the flesh and so consumed as wood, hay and stubble at the Day of Christ.