The Search That Leads To Despair

December 19, 2012

While witnessing at the bus stops two days ago, there was one man I met who, though he was a soft-spoken sort, even largely agreeable, was nevertheless trying to convince me that getting to know oneself is a pursuit we all should be undertaking. I asked him why we would want to bother with such a thing if Jesus commanded His followers to deny Self. (Luke 9:23) This guy looked a bit puzzled at that, so I next quoted Gal. 2:20 and then asked him why we’d pursue self-knowledge when the apostle Paul taught that we, as believers, have crucified Self, and that it is actually no longer Self that lives in us, but Christ instead.

It’s the world that teaches people to pursue knowing oneself. God’s Word, on the other hand, teaches us to pursue knowing God; and to do so through Christ Jesus, through the Word of God, through the Spirit, and through obedience to the Truth. (John 1:1,14,18 & 3:5 & 4:24 & 14:6,17 & 17:17 // 1 John 2:3)

However, people would much rather pursue knowing themselves than knowing God. For to pursue knowing oneself is to serve oneself, cater to oneself, adore oneself, give to oneself, protect oneself, and even worship oneself (and to learn the best ways to do all of the above). But to pursue God is to give attention, service, delight, adoration, and worship to Him instead. And if it’s done genuinely, then Self is knocked off the throne in the process –and is kept knocked off, never to be given authority again. It is, in fact, kept slain and gone, and never invited back. (Rom. 6:6 // 2 Cor. 5:17) This is reality for the true Christian.

We are to put on Christ Jesus and remain clothed in Him, and in Him. (Rom. 13:14 // Gal. 3:27) We are to keep our eyes on Him (Col. 3:1,2 // Heb. 12:2), on the pursuit of knowing Him (Phil. 3:7-11), and forget the past. (v. 13) We are to run the race God has marked out for us (v. 12,14 // Heb. 12:1), and we are to rejoice in hardships (1 Peter 4:12-14), knowing that any affliction here on earth is not worthy of being compared to our eternal and glorious rewards. (Rom. 8:18 // 2 Cor. 4:17) We are to continually offer up to God worshipful and grateful praises (Heb. 13:15), fully convinced of victory as we walk in His will and power (Luke 10:18,19 // 1 John 5:18), and refusing to fret about anything (Phil. 4:6), knowing that it leads to increasing evil. (Ps. 37:7,8)

But a Christian can’t do any of that if he is focused on gaining knowledge of himself –asking himself how he feels, what ails his soul, what confusion he’s undergoing, who is hurting him right now, what his “felt needs” are, what repressed memories are haunting him (and who he should blame for it), what sins he can’t let go of (and what other person he can blame for that), and what excuses he can give to not pray, intercede, spread the Gospel, or meditate on God’s Word.

But where does such a pursuit lead? It leads to sorrow. For trying to know oneself is not only a never-ending quest, but being it’s the road of selfishness, it leads only to the abode of despair.

Why would a “Christian” prioritize knowing Self above knowing God? Because he doesn’t really believe God, that’s why. He doesn’t really believe what God says in His Word. Such a person is not a true, genuine believer, for he believes only intellectually, as the demons do (Mark 1:23,24 // James 2:19), but not in faith and trust and obedience.

There is a lot of “Self-knowledge” being taught and promoted. But that is not what God tells us to seek to know. God tells us to seek Him, His ways, His Kingdom, His Truth. And He has already told us where to find this. It’s not in therapy, nor in some book or church or method written or erected or invented by men. The knowledge of God is found in His Word.

But there is where people trip, or choke, or get angry. For such an answer seems too simplistic for them. For them, God’s Word is not enough, not adequate. So, in going to the world, or to false Christians, for answers, they’re pointed to that which is the most popular god right now: The god of Self.

With such a pathetic god, no wonder so many people are popping anti-depressants. Let us, though, proclaim the Truth: That by being in Christ, we really have been forever set free from the god of Self. That is, if we truly believe God’s Word, and are genuinely pursuing the knowledge of Him.

with love,

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