The Way to Self-Knowledge
Not only does the bible not contain any command for introspection, but in addition our own experience tells us how impossible introspection is. As far as spiritual life is concerned, introspection is very harmful. It may produce one of two consequences: if the fruit of such an experience is not self-contentment, it will be despair: self-contentment, because of reckoning oneself as quite good after self-examination; despair, because of finding himself full of flaws.
“Looking into Jesus” (Heb. 12:2)
In the original there is something more between (“looking”) and (“Jesus”) It should read “looking away to Jesus” The idea is that before you can look to Jesus you must first look away from what you should not look at. Our spiritual life is based upon looking to Jesus, not looking to ourselves. If we disobey the command of the scriptures and look into ourselves instead of looking away to Jesus, our spiritual life will incur severe spiritual damage.
I have spoken before that self-analysis, which is analyzing one’s own feeling, intention and thought, is most harmful. Griffith Thomas once said it was a maxim current in his day that if you wished to look at yourself once, then you should look at Christ ten times. May I alter it by saying that you should look at Christ ten times but not look at yourself even once?
Two years ago I read a fable about a Centipede and a Frog. During their conversation the Frog asked the Centipede, you have so many feet, how do you walk. When you walk which of your hundred feet moves first. So the Centipede tried to figure out which foot moved first. No matter how hard he tried he could not put forth one foot. He became so disgusted that he declared, “I do not care, I am going.” Yet before he could make a move, he was again thinking which foot to move first. He was thus completely paralyzed. After a while the sunlight broke thru the cloud. When he saw the light he was enthralled with it the he just ran after the sunlight. Gone was the concern over the order of foot movement. He was actually moving forward. Now this fable can serve as a mirror to our Christian life. Whenever we turn to look at ourselves we are immobilized and cannot advance; but if we look at the light of God, we shall unconsciously move ahead.
Several years ago I read an article titled “what is self?” The writer stipulated that self is nothing but recalling ourselves and dwelling upon ourselves. This word is truly profound and is also very practical. Whenever we think of ourselves we become active in ourselves, for we know that the soul is self-conscience. After the Welsh revival of 1904, a professor visited Evan Roberts the revivalist. They were together the whole day and spoke of many things. Later on he wrote an article telling of his impression of Mr. Roberts. He concluded that Mr. Roberts was a man totally unconscious of himself. Our failure lies in thinking of ourselves to much. We remember ether our virtues or our defeats, both of which hinder Christ from being fully manifested in our lives.
The way of victory lies not in analyzing ourselves incessantly, but in looking off to Jesus; not in recalling the evil thought but in remembering the good thought; not of getting rid of what is ours, but in letting Christ so fill us that we forget all that is ours. The moment we recall ourselves we cease to move ahead. The Bible does not exhort us to reflect on how we are, it calls us instead to run by looking away to Jesus, we will doubtlessly run well.
The failure of many Christians can be attributed in introspection. Even if there is no other damage, self-examination will at least retard the progress. Many Christians have a habit of reviewing the day affairs after the day is over. Such introspection is self-deceiving. Paul disregards criticism; he will not even judge himself.
“Wherefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have praise from God” (1 Cor. 4.5).
Any self examination to be done is led by the Holy Spirit. You ask Him to look into yourself and let you know what He wants to do. This is one of the Holy Spirits jobs. We are not qualified to examine or judge ourselves, if we were we would be like God!
If you have problems with this or have questions ask.
The only bad question is the one that’s not asked.