John Calvin said, “Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” This seems to be what most people think, even philosophy lectures at universities begin with the existence of God (philosophy of religion) and then move on to man, trying to figure out how man knows what is right and wrong (interesting, when you throw God out the equation, you can only toy with theories about right and wrong, there is never a basis…. ethics – God = nightmare)
To start with man cant look at himself without first looking to God, he cant understand himself without first turning to look at God, since it is in God that man lives and moves. The gifts, talents, abilities, everything we have is not from ourselves, it is all from God, He determined where and when we would live, what our IQ would be, our environment, everything. To try to figure out who one is or anything about oneself, without first looking to God is like a man trying to discover who he is, but not looking at his parents, background, or anything that caused him to be…. maybe this is why people have identity problems and what not…
However, God is the being from which all life comes, He is the font of every blessing, all the blessing we have point us upward to God. Now the infinitude (what a great word) of goodness which is in God becomes so much more real. A rich person, in the face of infinite riches might be a little amazed and think its great, but the man who comes from utter poverty can grasp what the riches really are, because he has come to grips with the nothingness he has, so he marvels at the riches.
More specifically, the ruin that sin has plunged man into, the pain, suffering, bondage, poverty, hatred all wall us in and cause us to look upward; not only because we are hungry and starving, but being shaken by fear might learn humility, that God is God, and guess what, we are man. Did you get that? When you are lonely, and in pain, depressed, worried, fearful, let it teach you humility (Broken and contrite spirit the Lord will accept).
In man there is an ocean of misery, ever since we were stripped from the divine clothes in Eden, our nakedness shows a great amount of horrible abilities (envy, pride, vengeance, lust etc.), every man being stung by conciseness of his own unhappiness, in some way obtains some knowledge of God. What I am trying to say is that all our evil and corruption reminds us that in God, and Him alone is the true light of wisdom, solid true beautiful, amazing, wonderful goodness.
Listen to what Calvin says about this, “We are … urged by our own evil things to consider the good things of God; and indeed, we cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves” … wow! put that in your every-body-is-special-and deserves-the-best theology. Do you chatter about theology to feel pleased with yourself and escape the results of theology, to humble you?
I think many ‘reformed’ need to think on this, reformed (or put whatever theological label you want there) in theology will take you to hell, one needs to be re-formed in heart. Be honest, who doesn’t naturally trust in themselves? In their own abilities? Completely unaware of their own misery, not only teenagers, but everyone thinks they are immortal to one degree or another. As a result anyone who comes to a knowledge of himself is not only urged to seek God, but even led by the hand of God to find Him.
On the other hand, its also true that man doesn’t fully understand himself till he looks at God, and comes down after the look at God, to then look at himself. Mans pride works in such a way that we always look good to ourselves, we always look just, or at least, not too bad- we are only convinced by solid evidence of our own impurity, vileness, wickedness (I think to many of us just believe as an abstract thought that we are evil and wicked, but we are not moved by it, we don’t believe it as a fact which effects reality). We will never be convinced of our poverty and evil unless we first look at the Lord. He is the only standard which can show us what we are really like, when we compare ourselves with others it is like the ape looking at another ape and saying, “I am more human then you” maybe because he is sitting and the other hanging?!
We are all prone to hypocrisy, an empty bag labeled righteousness (goodness) will satisfy us, instead of righteousness itself. You know what I mean, people will be happy to just carry the empty bag from an expensive store. People who think they are good, that they have the power within themselves to please God, they are like people who in the afternoon go outside, and look around, they see cars, trees, children playing, the person then thinkis to himself “Ah, what good eyes I have” they look to distant mountains and their pride grows stronger, but wait- when they look up with their powerful eyes and look at the sun, their eyes begin to burn, the squint and pull weird faces, they cannot even begin to see any form or shape on the sun, they become confused and their eyes water…. the object which gives us light to see, also shows us how limited out vision is…. It is the same when we look at our spiritual qualities, as long as we don’t look beyond the earth we are happy with our abilities, with our righteousness, wisdom and goodness- we think of ourselves in the best ways and imagine ourselves to be nothing less then demi-gods, the masters of our own destiny. But should we ever look up and put our thought on God, and reflect on what kind of Being He is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness and wisdom and virtue, He who is the standard of what we should be like… we will see how silly the way we thought of ourselves really is, how the world pollutes our minds with thoughts of goodness inherent in us.
Now you see why in The Holy Bible men were so struck with dread and amazement when they were in the presence of God. You can see how the people who stood so firm and sure are now shaking and trembling.This is why people would die if they saw God…
Isaiah 24:23, “The moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign” When God comes to reign, the brightest objects will seem dark next to His brilliance.
See also: Judges 13:22; Isaiah 6:5; Ezek 1:28; 3:14; Job 9:4 Gen 18:27; 1 Kings 19:13
(Dedicated to the memory of a man used by God greatly, John Calvin, glory to God through Jesus Christ)