The very heart of the human condition is a faulty assessment of self. We think too much of ourselves, and think of ourselves too much. We overrate our importance and underestimate our depravity. Ultimately, we elevate ourselves to the place reserved for God.
In the face of such insanity, we need to know who we really are. We need to have a right assessment of self.
Who am I? It is a question we have all asked at one time or another, at least in one of its variations. And every man has his own answer. Every philosophy and every religion has its own response.
Most of them tell me to look inside. I am told to look within, to search myself for the truth, to search myself for my own identity. But I never seem to find it. I can’t quite seem to pin it down. The mere conviction that I can find answers within stands as proof of my faulty self-assessment. The simple fact is that I cannot know myself as I really am. I am too blind to see myself, too far gone to find myself.
Here is what I have learned: To know myself, I need to look outside of myself. My best assessment of self does not come from within but from without. It does not originate with me but with God.
The Bible is an inestimable treasure because of what it teaches me about God, but it is equally valuable for what it teaches me about me. It does not reveal only the truth about deity, but also about humanity.
If I want to know who I am, if I want to know why I exist, if I want to know where I’ve gone wrong, if I want to know my deepest meaning and purpose, if I want to properly assess myself, I need to look outside myself. I cannot know these things apart from God speaking through his Word. The Bible is different from every other book in this way: Where I read all those other books, the Bible reads me.*
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)
The Bible searches me and tells me where I have erred. It examines me and tells me what I need. It tries me and evaluates my every thought and attitude. Ultimately, it reads me and tells me who I am.
Who am I? I will never know until I open the Bible and ask.
*I think I have heard that phrase, or a similar one, attributed to R.C. Sproul, but I wasn’t able to track it down.
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