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Text: 1 Cor. 4:3-5.
"Know Thyself" was the inscription on the temple to Apollo at ancient Delphi.
Nowhere is accurate knowledge of self more important than in relation to the gospel.
The gospel requires repentance -- and repentance requires conscience.
"I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Lk. 13:3).
"For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death" (2 Cor. 7:10).
Conscience involves self-knowledge -- conscience it is related to conscious, which literally means "to know with (ourselves)."
I. THE ADVANTAGE WE HAVE IN KNOWING OURSELVES
In one sense, we each know ourselves best.
Others know our thoughts, motives, and values only as we reveal them - 1 Cor. 2:11.
One lifetime is just too short to reveal ourselves entirely to anyone else.
Hence, the information upon which others judge us is at best incomplete -- and often it is inaccurate.
II. THE DISADVANTAGE WE HAVE IN KNOWING OURSELVES
Yet it is true that we are sometimes the very poorest judges of ourselves.
We may have all the "raw materials" out of which we could make an accurate self-evaluation.
But rarely are we sufficiently candid and objective about our own situation.
This is why, for example, doctors do not diagnose their own ailments -- they understand the need to consult another doctor who will look at the facts more straightforwardly.
In the spiritual realm, there is an even greater need for us to be helped in understanding ourselves.
We tend to make exceptions of ourselves and "euphemize" the nature of our own conduct.
When it comes to seeing our own faults, most of us have blind spots -- what is plain as day to others can be invisible to us.
Ultimately what we need to do is see ourselves as God sees us.
But Godís way of helping us is often to send friends to show us that what we are pleased to call our "mistakes" are just as much sins as if someone else had committed them.
Consider Davidís adultery and murder (2 Sam. 12:1-15), Peterís hypocrisy (Gal. 2:11-14), etc.
III. LOVE OF THE TRUTH AND KNOWING OURSELVES
Salvation depends on our response to truth - 2 Thess. 2:9-12., Lk. 8:15; Jn. 8:32.
But the truth which must be loved is not merely doctrinal truth -- it involves the whole truth, including the truth about ourselves, the truth about the sins that we need to repent of, etc. 1 Jn. 1:8-10.
Perhaps life never makes a greater demand on our courage than when we are faced with accepting some despicable fact about what we have really done -- e.g. Cain (Gen. 4:3-10).
There is a great contrast between the attitudes reflected in Ac. 2:36-41 and those in Ac. 7:54-60.
In order to be adequately honest with ourselves we must want to know the truth more than we want anything else.
The person who loves his preferred self-image more than the truth is not fit for the kingdom of God - Mt. 3:7,8.
Jesusí story of the Pharisee praying in the temple shows how out of touch with reality we can be when it comes to ourselves - Lk. 18:9-14.
IV. A HEALTHY TEST OF OUR HONESTY AND LOVE OF THE TRUTH ABOUT OURSELVES
Here are some questions that can help us judge how honest we are willing to be about ourselves.
Do we pray for help in seeing ourselves as God sees us? Psa. 19:
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