“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV). We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. There are no additions. It’s faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and nothing else that makes us right with God. Even our faith is a gift from God.
At the same time, Scripture reveals that the faith which saves is never alone. It’s not a mere intellectual ascent or an emotional moment when we walk an aisle and pray a prayer. Faith changes us. Faith always produces fruit. We cannot shy away from that reality. It’s right to lovingly call people who profess faith in Jesus to leave behind sin, especially unrepentant sin that is publicly evident to all and damages Christian witness. Yet even in the midst of that, we must maintain a posture of grace. We are not responsible for the quality or quantity of someone else’s fruit. Our role is to spur people toward faith that expresses itself through love and good deeds. That starts by practicing the same thing ourselves. After all, Paul says “examine yourselves” not “examine others.” Maybe we should start there and work our way out.