Know God, Know Thyself
Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” Self-knowledge, the journey to answering the question “what am I like?” can be difficult because it is oftentimes pursued and measured against the world’s standard. It requires us to compare ourselves to other people or other things, people and things that are inherently not perfect. As a result of man’s fickleness and the constantly evolving trends and frequent discoveries, using the world as a standard in one’s assessment of self yields flawed findings.
To truly know one’s self and to truly desire an answer to the question “what am I like?” we must switch from the deficient standard of the world to GOD who is our perfect standard. He is the One in whose image and likeness we were created and the One “in [whom] we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) When we shift our gaze upward, we recognize God as Creator who upholds the universe by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3) and who rules with justice and righteousness (Is. 11:1-10). We acknowledge and accept that in His wisdom, mercy, and sovereignty, He rules and protects His creation. When we acknowledge who God is, humbling ourselves because we fall short before a perfect God, we understand that everything we have comes from Him and apart from Him our existence is but a shadow of what it should be. This revelation drives us to Him to discover what He says about us. Personality test results may change, the world’s standards will change, but God’s Word will never change.
Below are two important things He says about us, which are based on who He is and should form the core of who we are.
We are His children (Romans 8:16)
To understand our identity as children, we must see Him as our Father. We recognize that we are created in His image and after His likeness (Gen. 1:26). As Creator, He is the source of abundant life (John 10:10, John 3:16, Romans 6:23), and we know that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, His workmanship created for good works (Eph. 2:10). As our Father, God disciplines, but He does so lovingly so that we truly reflect His image and character. As our Father, He promises that we won’t be separated from His love (Romans 8:39) and because we are born of Him, the evil One cannot touch us (1 John 5:18). Because He is our Father we have access to Him. He is always available and will never leave nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). His Spirit lives in us and testifies that we are children of God (Rom 8:16).
You are blameless and beyond reproach (Col. 1:22)
To know what it means to be sanctified, blameless and beyond reproach we must see God as the Sanctifier who is merciful and who gave us His Son to die in our place (John 3:16, 1 John 1:9). He is the righteous one, our justifier (Romans 3:24). He is our defender and nothing will snatch us out of His hand (John 10:29). Because of His Son, we have received the Holy Spirit who assures us that we are free from condemnation and from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:1-2).
So as John Calvin says in “The Institutes of the Christian Religion”, “…it is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he have previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself…though the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves are bound together by a mutual tie, due arrangement requires that we treat of the former in the first place, and then descend to the latter.”
Know God. Know Yourself.