In his work, Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin stated, “Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists in two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”  He went on to say, “One could not truly know God without knowing oneself and that one couldn’t truly know oneself without knowing God.” He also acknowledged the obvious quandary and stated that he could not be sure which needed to come first.

While there is no scripture that directly says to know God and know yourself, both are important principles.  Another writer, C.H. MacIntosh said of this, “To be left alone with God is the only true way of arriving at a just knowledge of ourselves and our ways.  No matter what we may think about ourselves, or what others may think about us; the great question is, what does God think about us?”

I believe that we cannot truly know ourselves apart from knowledge of God.  Jeremiah 17:9-10 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”  Our hearts are very deceitful…even to ourselves.  Our hearts will tell us that we are okay when we are living in sin.  Our hearts will tell us that we are not as bad as others.  Our hearts will deceive us into thinking that we are good when the Word of God emphatically says, “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:12).  It’s only God that can truly search our hearts and try our reins.

Let’s consider Matthew 16:13-18, “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, THOU ARE THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That THOU ARE PETER, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Notice that after Simon Barjona acknowledged who the Lord Jesus was, the Lord revealed to him his identity…he was Peter.  It is when we know and surrender to the person of Christ that we truly learn who we are.  As believers, we find our identity in Christ.  In Him we are made the “the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  We become the “sons of God” (John 1:12).  We become “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).  We learn that “In him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Do you want to know yourself more?  Ask the Lord to enlighten you as to who you truly are.  David prayed to the Lord in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Since God is the One who searches the heart, we can ask Him to search our hearts and reveal it to us.

Do you want to know more about the Lord?  Read His Word in dependence upon His Spirit to teach and enlighten you.  The Lord Jesus said in John 5:39, “Search the scriptures…they are they which testify of me.”  As we quoted above, “the great question is, what does God think about us?”  Does God know you as His child through faith in Christ or does He know you as a stranger to His grace…as a rejecter of His love?  The Lord Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you, and LEARN OF ME; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”  (343.6)