Do you know yourself?

By Cindy Koch

It is a terrifying thing to consider that you don’t really know yourself. As far back as you can remember, your voice inside your own head has been your friend and council, unbeknownst to the world outside. You have had silent conversations in the middle of actual conversations within your own heart, soul, and mind. Trusting your familiar voice within has been the only constant in this ever-changing lifetime. Everything on the inside is safe and protected until the day someone says it. You have been lied to. You don’t really know who you are.

Someone else bigger, greater, more trustworthy than you tells you about your repressed, hidden life. Evil you didn’t know existed behind your shallow intentions. Wickedness you didn’t recognize awakened within. Perversity amplified in the works of your hands. All right there the whole time. Crying to the voice inside, why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t I know this about myself? Why now?

A good, righteous, magnificent Law from the outside afflicts you with the truth. An Almighty and Everlasting God speaks his wisdom in your heart. An eternal Word measures up every inch of your own secret counsel within, weighing every thought, word, and deed. And the perfect one, whom you should have been this whole time, shows you to be guilty.

It is a terrifying thing to consider that you didn’t really know yourself. Finding yourself trapped in a body that does things you now know to be disgusting. Trying to change the voice inside who sabotages every good intention. Fighting against your own desires that everyone else still seems to enjoy. This wisdom and knowledge from the outside has only ignited a battle against yourself.

It would be great if just following the Law of God had the power to make you righteous. It would be simple if you could walk the good path and avoid the evil. You have tried to listen and behave, yet you still fail, hurt, and wound. It would be easier not to care about this wisdom from the outside. It would be comforting not to worry about your wickedness that’s been revealed. The simpler path is to ignore this excellent Law from above and go back to listening to the voice in your head.

Someone else bigger, greater, more trustworthy than you will not leave you alone. He’s always there holding up his commandments. He finds you even in your best moments, and you are reminded of your shame. He makes you look at your neighbor, your works and dealings in everyday life, and it heaps regret upon regret. Crying to the voice inside, what a wretched person I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Right there. That’s when you begin to know.

It’s a beautiful thing to realize you don’t really know yourself. It’s a comfort to learn you can’t trust your own advice. It’s a freedom unlike any other to listen to the Almighty Word outside of your head. That’s when you hear the whole story that was given to you.

Jesus came into this world, a light in the darkness. Son of God, born of Mary, walking, eating, and praying with sinners. He was found guilty, not for sins he committed but for the sins of the whole human race. Jesus was a perfect sacrifice for the sins you continue to struggle with. On the cross, he suffocated for the shame that disgusts you. Ultimately, the good and wonderful Law of God wins—it took the life of a sinner who disobeyed. But the good news belongs to you—a savior died in your place. Who will deliver me from this body of death, you say? It is finished in Christ.

There is relief and joy in knowing who you are. Confident, free, boldly trusting in your reconciled life with the Father Almighty. Not afraid to serve your neighbor, not scared of death or the devil. God’s Word does what it says, and you have been given new life right now, by the blood of Christ. And it is the good news, the Gospel, that is the power of your identity. You know the problems and failures of this lifetime have already been defeated so that you can enjoy God’s gifts right now. When death and shame make themselves known, remember Christ crucified for you. When vice and perversity creep back into your heart and mind, remember Christ graciously made you white as snow. When your own voice threatens with terrors of the unknown, remember Christ chose to give up his life to save you.

One thought on “Do you know yourself?

  1. Bearing one’s heart and soul, admitting that our thoughts and actions do not conform to the life of faith we aspire to live can be disconcerting indeed. Our lives are plagued with regret and guilt. We who profess to be Christians, unlike the worldlings who just enjoy the sinful life and feel no real anxiety, look in our mirrors and see the face of hypocrisy and lament over our sins. Remember that the true worldlings, unconcerned with the state of their soul, are already dead. They simply do not know it yet. They make no room in their lives for God or His word. So how can they know guilt? On the other hand, the followers of the Lord are keenly aware of their failings, and despite the knowledge of grace, live out their lives continually grieving over sin. We can be told repeatedly that we must have faith, but our weaknesses still torment us. And how do we deal with it? In my view, we must consider that the guilt we feel reveals we are still spiritually alive, not dead in our sins. It reveals that the Holy Spirit is active, working, convicting. It is true we cannot often avoid all of our ongoing sins. Some we can defeat, but others remain, and we repeat them. So long as we keep going back to Our Lord, they will never destroy us, nor will our salvation be endangered. Jesus remains faithful, even as we often fall. We cannot arrive in heaven on our own righteousness.

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