"I planted the seed... but God made it grow." I Cor. 3:6

The Difficulty of Self-Knowledge

We all know that babies do not remain babies for life, nor are they intended to be.  Birth is a starting point, not an end.

In the same way, our Christian walk does not end with being born again by God's spirit through faith in the atoning work of Christ.  The “new birth” of spiritual life and awareness is but a starting point.  The objective is Christlikeness and wholeness, becoming all we were designed to be in Him. We are born again for this purpose... to grow and mature, to be “like Him.”  (I John 3:2)

One of the keys to growth involves becoming aware of our own deficiencies and defects so we can transform them or overcome them.  Such an awareness is a tremendous problem because we have so many things working against us. First, such knowledge hurts our pride and makes us uncomfortable.  Second, our hearts tend to deceive us.  And finally, we have an enemy who likewise is a deceiver.
Our hearts deceive us
We live in a fallen world, are born into a world that is not as it should be.  Everything, including our own selves, has been stained.  We are “damaged goods”, only dimly aware of our divine origin.

One result of being born into a fallen world is that our own hearts tend toward self-centeredness, not only deceiving others but serving to deceive even ourselves.  Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things.” (Jer 17:9)  In other words, our own perceptions are -- to a certain extent -- unreliable and untrustworthy.  This ought to humble us and make us less self-confident.

Yet how often and quickly we defend ourselves saying, “I didn’t do anything wrong.  Why is everyone upset with me?  If they could only see things from my point of view.”   Even murderers say things like this.  “I had no choice.  He pushed me and pushed me and I had to do something, so I shot him. It wasnąt my fault.”

Dale Carnegie in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” tells the story of a notorious killer nicknamed “Two Gun” Crowley who was considered one of the most dangerous criminals in history.  How did this man who would “kill at the drop of a hat” regard himself?  After he was caught he wrote, “Under my coat is a weary heart, but a kind one -- one that would do nobody any harm.”

Yes, it is our nature to feel like we’re right, that we are justified in our actions, almost any actions.  We excuse our sins with elaborate explanations of how our parents, our circumstances and our genes conspired to make us thus.  But when we stand before God, the mirror of our acts will speak on our behalf and God will not be deceived.

The enemy of our souls deceives us
Jesus calls the devil “The Deceiver” (Matt 27:63) and for good reason. In the Gospel of John our Lord not only says  the Devil is a liar, but also the “father of all lies.” Satan is like a bad well that has polluted all mankind. In the Book of Revelations we find that Satan’s career is given to deceiving the whole world.  (Rev 12:9; 13:14)

Homer Hickam, in his book The Coalwood Way, made an interesting observation with regard to relationships.  “The reward is always to the persistent over the weary.”  He made this statement with reference to a situation in which he had been the persistent one.  Of course we see this all the time where a strong person gets their way through sheer force of will.  It also explains why parents all too often give way to their kids, even when they shouldnąt, because they are worn out with saying no.

So too, Satan is persistent, perpetually bombarding us with lies until we either grab hold of God's word and resist him (the essence of spiritual warfare) or through weariness give up and give in.

For this reason we must keep our minds in the Word, our sword and shield against the devil’s assualts.  No wonder so many people just give in to the lies society feeds them.  They are tired of doing battle, tired of trying to figure things out, believing łwell, Iąm just one person and it doesn’t matter anyways.”

Hey, that is a lie.  One person can change history.  That “one person” can be any of us.  Esther, Moses, Joshua, Peter... each was a single individual who responded when the Lord called.  Each one grew as he or she took the next step of obedience.  Each one made a difference. Even a cleaning lady can change the course of nations. (See the story of Naaman, II Kings 5)
The Way to Self-Understanding
In Psalm 25 David writes, “Teach me Thy ways, O Lord.”  This attitude of teachableness is the hallmark of humiility.  Humility prepares the heart for revelation.  Humility makes us receptive to truth.

The second thing is to allow the light of God’s Word to penetrate our hearts. In another place the Psalmist writes, “In Your light we see light.” This takes great courage to allow the light of God’s Word to penetrate the dark places of our hearts.  It’s very difficult to take sometimes, because sometimes the truth hurts.  Most of us are far more selfish and
self-centered than we’d like to believe.

The amazing thing is that in spite of all that, God sent His son to die for us.  When we see ourselves as we really are, it’s truly astonishing. We're not worthy, yet He clothes us in His worthiness and says, “I have made you in My image and have a purpose for you.”

Get hold of that truth and it will both humble and invigorate you. Praise God.

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