‘For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).’
‘Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:1, 2).’
We all know what scrutiny is, and how in our times, those in authority are placed under scrutiny. At PM’s Question Time in Parliament, the Prime Minister is challenged by MPs to account for the Government’s actions, policies and intentions. In our free society [UK] our leaders can be held to account. If found wanting they may be humbled to resign and to relinquish their responsibilities on account of their failures or misconduct.
As Christians we are exhorted to scrutinise ourselves, to examine everything we say and do (cf. Psalm 26:2; 1 Corinthians 11:28; Galatians 6:4), to ascertain whether we are faithful to our calling. We are called to love the Lord our God (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:22), and to love one another as Jesus loves us (John 13:34). We are also called to love our neighbour (Matthew 19:19), and in so doing to be a light that reflects the light of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:6), and thus point to Him for salvation. We are to make disciples and to teach them all that Jesus has commanded us (Matthew 28:19, 20).
God places us where He would have us (1 Corinthians 7:20, 24), and it’s in those settings that He provides all our needs (cf. Genesis 22:14) for carrying out the mission He has commanded. He gives us His authority (Matthew 28:19, 20), for us to act boldly (cf. Philippians 1:14).
Scrutiny within the Church
Not only are we to scrutinise ourselves in our everyday setting, but particularly within the body of the local church of which we are members.
I Thessalonians 5:21 instructs us to: ‘Test all things; hold fast what is good.’
Paul, writing to the Roman church, was assured they were mature enough to be able to admonish one another. He wrote: ‘Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another (Romans 15:14).’
We should accept admonishment from those in the church who have authority over us; namely those appointed by God, i.e., the deacons or elders who shepherd, teach and lead us. Paul encourages us to respect them, and to accept admonishment from them. He wrote these words: ‘And we urge you, brethren, to recognise those who labour among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you (1 Thessalonians 5:12).’
So testing and admonishing are important aspects of the Christian life.
If we are to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), we need to ‘scrutinise’ them; that is to look deeply into matters and to examine their details. During the process, we should beware of being judgmental of others (Luke 6:37; 1 Corinthians 11:31); that is not our task; for judgment comes from God (cf. James 4:12). Jesus is the ‘Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42).’ He is holy (cf. Acts 4:27) and just. He is fully aware of the minutest of details.
Although He is Sovereign, that does not absolve us from our responsibilities; for we are free in His Spirit to overcome sin. Where we fail, He will forgive us, if we come to Him in repentance, and ask Him for His help (1 John 1:9).
Above all, we need to scrutinise ourselves, and if we are found wanting, we must admonish ourselves; then put right what is wrong; apologise and say sorry for any grief we may have caused the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) and to those we have wronged. We must forgive, in order to be forgiven, as our Lord commands.
For the sake of the church; that is all members comprising the ‘body’ of Christ, we [not just a pastor or elder] should admonish others who stray from God’s word. The Bible is our guide, and therefore all actions and words should be scrutinised according to the teachings of God in His word. Where people stray from biblical doctrine they should be corrected, and if they fail to acknowledge their fault and turn from it, they should be warned. Where they continue in their disobedience, after the due process of coming before others, and even the whole church, if necessary, they should be excluded from the fellowship, until such time that they repent (Matthew 18:15-17) .
Scrutiny must be a continual process, both for the individual and for the church.
God judges our every word, and He rewards those who are faithful (cf. Hebrews 11:6) and true to His word. We must love one another as Jesus loves us (John 13:34), and we can only do this by His grace, but nothing is impossible for Him (Matthew 19:26); therefore nothing is impossible for us, within His will (6:10).
“May His will be done, and may we be found guiltless in the merits of His Son.”