Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Corinthians 13:5) As I read this verse, I found myself wondering just how many of us actually do this and if we do, how often. It’s rather a challenging verse because it gets right to the nitty gritty. There are no super-spiritual platitudes or excuses. The instruction is clear – examine yourselves – and goes on immediately to set the standard to determine whether we’re in the faith or not. Jesus, of course, is the measure. The inference is that we either know that we have Him in us or we don’t. If we don’t, what does that say about the condition of our faith? As I pondered this, I found myself visiting James’ letter and his instructions of faith, works and fruit and Christ’s teachings on obedience. Believing in Jesus is faith in its most simplistic definition, the starting point of our Christian faith. James 2:19 reminds us that simply believing in the existence of God is not sufficient. Even the demons believe – and tremble, which might set them apart from a large percentage of humanity who believe without trembling in the righteous fear of the Lord. Believing unto salvation, however, is believing the full message of Christ and the cross, in His work of redemption, atonement and salvation. That is the foundation of Christian faith. Jesus brings in the spiritual dimension of faith and obedience when He tells us that, if we love Him, we will obey Him. The fundamental premise of love is inextricably contained in salvation – for God so loved the world – and so is inseparable from the dynamic faith relationship defined by salvation. Those who are forgiven much love much. We love Him because He first loved us. We cannot remove love from faith in Christ. So, then, if having faith in Him includes having love for Him, we are required to obey Him. It’s a dynamic interaction. Obedience should be natural outworking of love, just as works should be the natural outworking of faith. While love and faith are different, they are parts of the same whole and have a parallel outworking in our daily Christian walk. Loving Jesus is part of having faith in Him. If we believe He is the Son of God, sacrificed on our behalf, if we have identified with Him in His work on the cross, then we have entered into a love relationship with Him that is essentially one which recognises Him as Lord. It places Jesus in His rightful place, our sovereign Lord, and obedience must naturally follow. Love and faith, and obedience and works, are two sides of the same coin. They work together and can never be completely separated. Jesus remains the absolute measure of whether or not we are in the faith. He is the determining factor, the core of everything we believe and everything we do. But let’s remind ourselves again that the demons both believe in the existence of the omnipotent, almighty God and the sovereign Son of God. Something sets us apart and defines us as being in the faith. That something is the presence of Christ in us. This is something that can be ‘verified.’ There is always evidence of the presence of Christ. A look through the Gospels shows us unequivocally that when Jesus is present, things happen. His presence will always spark a dynamic outworking of who He is. There is a lot of misunderstanding around the concept of works, a kind of limited perception that applies it to things we actually do – feed the poor, visit the sick, hand out the hymnals, make the tea for Sunday service. While these are ‘works’ and may therefore be called that, they are in fact also obedience – the physical acts we do in response to the teaching and instruction of the Word of God. ‘Works,’ then, are also the fruits or the manifestation of our faith in and love for Jesus. The real truth is that obedience and works are part of a deeper spiritual response. They are the physical result and manifestation of a spiritual belief and relationship – the indwelling Christ. Works, therefore, should always be the final indication of the presence of Christ. They should be a supernatural outworking of the inworking of Christ, not planned programmes and activities and ministries we take on in our own strength. Where Jesus guides and directs, every reequired work, activity and ministry will be met beyond our human expectations or limitations. The Gadarene demoniac is a wonderful illustration of this dynamic, supernatural ourworking of the presence of Christ. His is an extreme condition – shunned and outcast, demon possessed, tormented, driven to self harm and both physical and spiritual isolation, something remarkable happens when Christ arrives. The man – and his legions of demons – must come out. The love of Christ, the authority of Christ, the call of Christ, the command of Christ – the all of Christ is irresistible. The presence of Christ overflows supernaturally. The outworking of His presence manifests in ‘works.’ Where Jesus is, things happen. There simply is no other option. Examining the condition of our faith, then, is critical to our Christian lives. The nature and the condition of the fruit – the works, the obedience, the results of our efforts – point us back, without fail, to the presence of Christ. Where He is, the rest will follow. If our faith is limited to believing without allowing the doing, then His presence is restricted by self. We do not have to work at works. They should never be a source of guilt and condemnation, but rather something that happens because Jesus happens. No amount of ‘good deeds’ will ever compensate for not being obedient to the source of goodness. Our works are not our own. They should never be our activity but the outworking of the inworking and through working of Jesus. Examining the condition of our faith must always bring us back to the place of more of Him and less of me. It should always bring us to repentance, forgiveness and surrender. It’s intended not to condemn but to challenge. It’s intended to grow us in Him by yielding ourselves to Him. We can work ourselves to a standstill doing every good deed we can think of, but this is counter-productive. The harder we work, the less of Him is in it. Unless we examine the condition of our faith on a regular basis, we run the risk of falling into dead works – those of self, without the life-giving power of Christ. Our focus should always be on the Christ in me, on learning to love Him more and surrender to His work in growing us into His likeness. When Christ is working in me, He’ll be working through me. Those are the works that identify the true condition of our faith. Thank You, Jesus, for Your presence, for You in us which brings life and love and obedience. Teach us each day to hear Your voice and to surrender to Your will. Grow our faith through constant unity with You. Help us to set aside the measures and expectations of the world, to work only where You work, to listen and obey, just as You taught us by revealing Your relationship with the Father.