Summary: Part 2 in series Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. Christianity has historically claimed that we cannot know God unless we know ourselves. Dave talks about the characteristics of the false self, and how we come to really know ourselves.
Know Yourself That You May Know God
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, prt. 2
Wildwind Community Church
October 17, 2010
Week 2 of our Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Initiative. Did you do your Daily Offices this past week? If not, how come? When will you begin? I know it’s a change, I know it’s different, but for the next few weeks I’ll keep asking. The first step in making a change is deciding that a change is needed and realizing that now is the time. Don’t say you’ll do it later, or that you want to read the book and absorb the concepts first, or that you want to hear the sermons first. Decide to do it, enter the process, and allow the process to speak for itself. Then you can have experiential knowledge, which is always better than head knowledge and theoretical knowledge. Seriously, just do it!
Last week we looked at a story in the life of King Saul and then you studied that in your workbook and in small group. This week I’m not going to go that route. This week I want to use a different passage of scripture to speak to you about chapter 4 of the book, “Know Yourself That You May Know God.” Then you will study a story from the life of David in your workbook. So don’t be confused when the scriptures you study in the workbook are not the same ones we look at today. Here’s where I want to start:
Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Old self. New self. False self. True self. Spirituality can only be emotionally healthy (and healthy at all) when it is true. When it is real. When it is deep. When the “you” that Christ is redeeming is the “you” that you actually are. Most of us actually don’t actually end up letting Christ redeem us because we remain “false” all of our lives. Paul says that the new self – the person you really are – was created to become like God in what? Pretending and making everything look okay? Created to become like God in what? Stuffing and denying your feelings and opinions because it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient? C’mon, we know this. You are to put on the new self, created to become like God in righteousness and holiness.
Vast portions of the church right now are concerned about correct beliefs –having the right beliefs ABOUT God. They want to be right in what they BELIEVE. But righteousness is about TRUTH, and truth is about REALITY, and reality is about WHO YOU ARE! If you are angry, and you deny it and hide it and cover it up, you are not living in reality – you are not living truthfully. Righteousness and truth cannot be separated. You cannot know God unless you know yourself. In A.D. 400, St. Augustine wrote, “How can you draw close to God when you are far from your own self? Grant, Lord, that I may know myself, that I may know thee.”
Knowing ourselves begins here, with Paul’s admonition that we are to take off the false self and put on the true self – get rid of the old self and embrace the new self. But what does that mean? Conservative, evangelical Christianity would tell you that what Paul is saying is to stop having premarital sex, stop lusting, stop getting drunk, and pull your act together and start doing “righteous” things. This is in fact part of living in truth, but only a very, very small part of it, and most of the church has made it almost the entire pie! Actually, you can do “right” behaviors all your life and they can in fact drive you further and further into the false self – that part of you that does not know that you are loved by God, that God accepts you, that God and God’s approval are enough, that you don’t have to perform for him, that you are under grace, that you do not have to live with guilt, with fear of punishment, with insecurity, etc. In fact, here are symptoms of the false self.
Symptoms of the False Self
1.I say “yes” when I really mean “no.” The false self cannot be authentic because it needs approval.
2.I get depressed when people are upset with me.
3.I have a need to be approved by others to feel good about myself.
4.I act nice on the outside, but inside I hate people who have upset me.