I recently had an opportunity to take a test for a class that I’m enrolled in. Unlike many of the standard classroom tests that I’ve taken in previous years of schooling, this test was to be completed on my own time and from the comfort of my own home. Take home tests are nothing new, but this one was not a typical take home test either. Normally, a take home test allows the student to use reference material and return the completed test on a later date. This test, however, was timed and entirely submitted online. Another unique constraint about this test was that all outside reference material and assistance was explicitly banned. The notes, digital slides, search engines, and help from my wife or kids were absolutely disallowed while taking the test. The only material that I was allowed access to during the test, were the memories in my head.
Even though there were strict rules of conduct during the period of the test, there were no practical means of enforcing them. It would have been trivially easy and undetectable to cheat on the test. Anyone taking the test from a computer would have plenty of material at his or her fingertips with no marshal to monitor the malfeasance. Yes, I could have cheated and nobody would have known but me. Well, nobody but me and God.
While the honor and expectation of honesty was part of the test, I was mostly motivated to take the test in honesty because God would have known my wrongdoing. I knew that God would have indicted me had I given in to the temptation to use Google to answer my questions. Being right with God is by far more important than getting the answers right on the test. The sin of dishonesty, and everything else that breaks the law of God, is a sin against Him first and foremost.
The book of Genesis relays a similar story when describing how Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife, who attempted to entice him. At her willful request, Joseph responded by saying, “’ Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’” (Genesis 39:8-9). Joseph had a clear mind, acknowledging that giving in to wrongdoing would be a violation of the trust of his master, but even more, he knew that this carnal sin would be against God.
The loss of our own virtue is something that happens simply and subtly. It happens when we give in, even when we know better. It happens when we convince ourselves that we are justified in taking an action that’s wrong or when we can get away with something without notice. It should be obvious, but it is still important to be reminded that everything that we think is hidden in the dark will come to light (Luke 12:2-3). The secrets we may have, as harmless as they may seem, are marks against us because even the little things are sins against God.
The Passover now approaches, and during this time we must test ourselves to make sure that we are working as hard as we possibly can to live a life according to the pattern of Jesus Christ. All aspects of our own behavior that we tend to overlook need examination and all of the intentions of our heart require cleansing. We have the opportunity right now to judge ourselves before the time comes for our final judgment. Now is the time to study up and prepare to make sure that when our final exam comes, we pass the test.