“Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self.”
This series of posts I am writing on the attributes of God is really nothing special per se.
It is simply a compilation of God’s attributes taking from God’s Word.
The purpose behind these posts is simply to spur us all on to a greater affection for God, through knowing God better.
How often do we pray, not knowing what we should say? We know we should first praise God for who He is, but our tongues get tied when we cannot come up with words to describe Him.
What better words to pray to Him, than to use the words that He has given us!
The great reformer, John Calvin, opened up his Institutes of Christian Religion in this way (Book I.1.1):
Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other.
Indeed, a good question I’ve often asked myself is this: what comes first – knowledge of God or knowledge of self? Which drives which?
I would submit that we cannot truly know or understand ourselves without first (logically, temporally) knowing God. I admit it is possible that some non-believers know that they are sinful and depraved through general revelation. But without a certain knowledge of God through the Scriptures , man cannot truly understand the depths of our depravity. And without a a clear understanding that God is holy, holy, holy and righteous altogether, sinful man cannot truly realize the heights of His divinity.
Calvin understood this, when he goes on to say that, “Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self”:
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. For (such is our innate pride) we always seem to ourselves just, and upright, and wise, and holy, until we are convinced, by clear evidence, of our injustice, vileness, folly, and impurity. Convinced, however, we are not, if we look to ourselves only, and not to the Lord also – He being the only standard by the application of which this conviction can be produced.
Do you want to know yourself better – to get a better grasp of who you are & how you are made in the image of God? Let us first not dig deeper into our sinful flesh, but let us dig deeper into God’s sacred Word. By striving to know Him better, we shall in so doing know ourselves better in the light of His glorious Word.
May our knowledge of God through His Word be the canon for our life and our faith, that we may better understand who we are, so that we may better worship Him for all that He has done for us in His Son. I hope that you can use these posts for future reference, for your own devotionals, and even in your own time of prayer to the Lord.