Can We Come To Know Ourselves?

By John Thiel, mp3

Scripture reading: Daniel 11:35 And [some] of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make [them] white, [even] to the time of the end: because [it is] yet for a time appointed.

The message to God’s people in this last period of Laodicea is a message that needs to be heeded like the message that Jonah gave to the king and people of Nineveh. There was a message to them telling them that God would do something, and they repented with all their hearts. And as a consequence, that which God was going to do against Nineveh was postponed because of their confession and admittance of their sin. In principle the message to Laodicea is exactly the same. Jesus is here speaking to the angel of the church, the ministers:

Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

How straight is that? What will God do? As He said to Nineveh, I will destroy you; here in the same manner He says, I am going to spue you out of My mouth. What this means is that He won’t be there as our protector and helper when the destruction strikes. But, like the Ninevites, there is a possibility for these people to repent.

You Do Not Know

He addresses here their problem:

Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Like for the Ninevites, Jesus is saying to His church today, You don’t know yourself; you don’t know how wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked you are; and you feel so good about yourself. This is the condition of Seventh-day Adventism. There is none of us here that should say, Well, now I know. It says here, You do not know; and we’d better agree with God. I don’t know myself; I don’t know how wretched I really am; and only when I acknowledge that I don’t know can God help me, so that I would actually know myself according to the way that He knows me. This is the important issue.

Faith and love are golden treasures, elements that are greatly wanting among God’s people. {3T 255.3}

Faith and love are greatly wanting among God’s people.

I have been shown that unbelief in the testimonies of warning, encouragement, and reproof is shutting away the light from God’s people. {Ibid.}

She was shown that people were paying no attention to the wonderful counsel that was coming through the testimonies.

Unbelief is closing their eyes so that they are ignorant of their true condition. {Ibid.}

What makes us ignorant of our true condition? We don’t believe some things. Unbelief.

The True Witness thus describes their blindness: “And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” {Ibid.}

The issue we want to address here is to actually come to know ourselves as God knows us. Can we lack knowledge of self? Can we really lack this?

It would not be surprising if the human agent did not know himself; {PC 356.4}

Why is it not surprising?

…for the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? {Ibid.}

Do you have a normal human heart? It is deceitful. You feel good, and you’re really no good. You may even feel bad, and the Lord is saying, No, no, you’re all right. It is deceitful. You can’t trust it; therefore it is not surprising if you don’t know yourself. These revelations that are given us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit call for close attention to dealing with this problem; because this is what Jesus is saying. He says, You do not know that you are like that, and I want you to buy of Me eyesalve to see; I want you to buy of Me gold – faith and love; I want you to buy of Me white raiment, so that your character defects might be purged and cleansed.

Saul’s Example

Saul of Tarsus was a real villain against the church of God, and he thought he was doing God service. But while he was in this lofty, pharisaical mentality, there was something he didn’t know about himself. He, in his natural human self, Laodicean in condition, expressed thus the lofty opinion he had of himself:

Philippians 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

What was the flesh he was talking about? He was talking about his birth, his lofty position in God’s church at that time;

Philippians 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

If you want to put it into today’s terms you will say, I was a Seventh-day Adventist, an Adventist of the Adventists, touching the Ten Commandments, I kept the Sabbath, I was really faithful in all the things that are falling upon Seventh-day Adventists, a Pharisee, a Laodicean. We are the Laodiceans, God’s people in the last days, the people of the judgment.

Philippians 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Did Saul of Tarsus know himself? He had a very high opinion of himself, the same as the Laodicean.

Peter and Us

Let us also have a look at Apostle Peter. Jesus had just said to the disciples that He was going to be crucified,

Mark 14:29 But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet [will] not I.

“I love You, I will never be offended at You.”

Mark 14:30 And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, [even] in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. 

Jesus knew him. Did he know himself?

Mark 14:31 But he spake the more vehemently,

“How dare you suggest that I should deny you; no!”

Mark 14:31 …If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.

Did they know themselves? This is the message for our time that we are to understand.

When Peter said he would follow his Lord to prison and to death, {DA 673.3}

Did he just say that off the top of his head? No, no.

…he meant it, every word of it; but he did not know himself. Hidden in his heart were elements of evil that circumstances would fan into life. {Ibid.}

When the circumstances are all sweet and lovely, everything is fine; we feel that we would do anything for Jesus. But then when circumstances go bad, oops, we start to complain, murmur, and flee from that which God wants us to do and be. This is what Peter did. Things were hidden in his heart which circumstances would fan into life.

Unless he was made conscious of his danger, these would prove his eternal ruin. {Ibid.}

Jesus wanted to help Peter not to be lost, so he had to be made conscious of his danger. When we are made conscious of our danger, like Peter we will be annoyed. If someone, especially the servant of God, points out to me my faulty outlook and my faulty ways that I don’t even know I have, how do I feel? How do you feel? Do you feel like brushing off that person? Do you feel like vehemently saying to God, “No, God! I would not go this way! I love You! I want to follow Your way.”? But I don’t know myself, so I must be made conscious of that. What did the Saviour see in Peter?

The Saviour saw in him a self-love and assurance that would overbear even his love for Christ. {Ibid.}

He loved Jesus, but he didn’t know himself. So even that which was inside of him, his self-love and self-assurance, would overbear his love for Christ. Have you ever met that in your own experience? At one stage you were quite sure, but then, later on, circumstances happen and you really start to question God. You really start to murmur and complain, Why does God let this happen to me? What are you doing when you do that? Your love for Christ has been eclipsed by comfort of self and self-assurance. This was what Peter had a problem with, and he didn’t know it.

Much of infirmity, of unmortified sin, carelessness of spirit, unsanctified temper, heedlessness in entering into temptation, had been revealed in his experience. Christ’s solemn warning was a call to heart searching. {Ibid.}

Isn’t Jesus saying the same to the Laodicean people? He is calling to serious heart searching.

Peter needed to distrust himself, and to have a deeper faith in Christ. Had he in humility received the warning, he would have appealed to the Shepherd of the flock to keep His sheep. When on the Sea of Galilee he was about to sink, he cried, “Lord, save me.” Matthew 14:30. Then the hand of Christ was outstretched to grasp his hand. So now if he had cried to Jesus, Save me from myself, he would have been kept. But Peter felt that he was distrusted, and he thought it cruel. {Ibid.}

What an interesting meditation. Do we do this when we are being made aware of things that are going to cause us to falter and fall when we need to be standing firm? This is brought to our attention and we think, How cruel of this being to show me these things that I cannot accept! I’m not like that! Peter felt he was distrusted. Can we misinterpret God’s love in helping us? Can we misinterpret the undershepherd’s work in helping us? Can we misinterpret these things and think, These people are cruel to me!

He was already offended, and he became more persistent in his self-confidence. {Ibid.}

This is not just what we do on the outside; it is also what we do on the inside. Something comes and whispers to me, and I say within myself, No; I’m alright; and we become more persistent to defend ourselves. This is our danger.

Having looked at Paul and Peter, can you see that these were people whom God loved? He wanted to help them. Jesus loved them. So they went through deplorable discoveries about themselves, and Peter was actually hurt; he thought he had been mistrusted. I wouldn’t turn on God, he thought. But God knows. So it is today.

“I have been shown that unbelief in the testimonies of warning, encouragement, and reproof is shutting away the light from God’s people. Unbelief is closing their eyes so that they are ignorant of their true condition.” “They think the testimony of the Spirit of God in reproof is uncalled for or that it does not mean them. {5T 674.4}

How many times I have done that. I have read through the testimonies, and I thought, “Yeah, that’s for them; that’s for that person,” and didn’t realise it was me that it was talking about, until the Lord drew my attention to the fact, Yes, I’m talking to you, John.

Such are in the greatest need of the grace of God and spiritual discernment, that they may discover their deficiency in spiritual knowledge.” {Ibid.}

And we think that the reproof which is given does not mean me. So what does God have to do to make me aware that what He is saying about me is really true? This is now what He did with Apostle Paul, with Peter, with the disciples, and what He does with the Laodicean people whom He is trying to save; these are people that do have some understanding, people who are prepared to follow Jesus even if they don’t know themselves very well:


Daniel 11:35 And [some] of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make [them] white, [even] to the time of the end: because [it is] yet for a time appointed.

What must the people living at the end be? Without fault, white, pure. How is God going to bring us there, us who don’t know ourselves? What will He do? He is going to let us fall. And that is the most humiliating experience. Apostle Peter fell, didn’t he? But if he would have cried to God and acknowledged Jesus’ words to him, and said, Lord, then help me! instead of saying, No, no, I’m not like that; he could have been saved from the humiliation. But no. And this is our problem; we are self-deceived many times and we have to go through humiliating experiences. And those who go through those humiliating experiences turn their back on God if they are not genuine. “That’s too much, I can’t take it anymore; it’s just too heavy.” This is what people say, Too much.

But for those people of understanding, they will understand, Oh yes, Jesus warned me, and now I have fallen, so that I would be purged, and be made white, and tried, even to the time of the end. We are living there, right there. Let us go back to Apostle Peter and see what happened because he didn’t know himself and fell:

Jesus looks with compassion on His disciples. He cannot save them from the trial, but He does not leave them comfortless. {DA 674.1}

This is now something very precious. We have to fall if we are not listening, like Peter. We go and embarrass ourselves, and we feel even worse for what we have failed in; but even though Peter fell, God gave him a comforting message, I have prayed for you.

He assures them that He is to break the fetters of the tomb, and that His love for them will not fail. “After I am risen again,” He says, “I will go before you into Galilee.” Matthew 26:32. {Ibid.}

They didn’t want to know that Jesus would die; they rejected that. He said, You will all leave Me; and they said, No, no, it’s not going to happen. But it all happened, and they fell miserably. They all fled and left Him.

Promised Forgiveness

Before the denial, they have the assurance of forgiveness. {Ibid.}

He is saying to them, I am going to die, you are going to flee from Me; and they said, No, we’re not; don’t want to believe that. But then He says, After I have died, I will rise again and I am going to meet you again; so that when they would fall so miserably they would have a comfort, Now we’ve failed Him so badly, and He is still going to meet us… This is so precious to my soul. How the Lord has comforted my heart over the years. The first time I discovered it I was only 20 years old. I felt that I had failed the Lord so badly that that was it and He had given me up. But lo and behold, He was there, drawing me in His love. I thought, “You love me still, after this? What?” And it goes on through the discoveries of our failures; we feel we are lost, and the Lord has said, I am there to help you. Here He says, Before the denial, they have the assurance of forgiveness. Before they even sinned they had the assurance of forgiveness.

After His death and resurrection, they knew that they were forgiven, and were dear to the heart of Christ. {Ibid.}

Are you picking it up? Are you embracing this? This is so essential. This message, the message of Laodicea, is to identify that He loves us and doesn’t want to cast us off because we fall. We fall to be purged and cleansed. As we go through these experiences we are to remember this.

Our God is an ever-present help in every time of need. He is perfectly acquainted with the most secret thoughts of our heart, with all the intents and purposes of our souls. When we are in perplexity, even before we open to Him our distress, He is making arrangements for our deliverance. {OHC 316.4}

Just like with the apostles. The arrangements were made; He said, I am going to rise again after you deny Me; after you all flee I am going to meet you again. He is making arrangements beforehand.

Our sorrow is not unnoticed. He always knows much better than we do, just what is necessary for the good of His children, and He leads us as we would choose to be led if we could discern our own hearts and see our necessities and perils, as God sees them. But finite beings seldom know themselves. They do not understand their own weakness. . . . God knows them better than they know themselves, and He understands how to lead them. {Ibid.}

Reflect back over your past experience and see how the Lord has stepped in, how the Lord has apparently to yourself basically ignored your failure, as if it didn’t exist. This is the way He spoke to the disciples, Although you are going to deny Me, I am not going to deny you; I am going to meet you again afterwards. As though it didn’t exist. This is amazing. As you fall, as you have fallen, and as you have walked away from God, and then you can feel Him still tugging on your heart strings, you think, “What, me?? You still love me??” Yes, this is a purging experience. When I have so bitterly disappointed Him, when I have discovered that the very thing He told me I was going to do but that I denied I ever would, I went and did, and He still loves me?

Let us open our hearts. Let us give over to Him. And as we do, our embarrassments, our mistakes, the discovery of ourselves as we have not known ourselves, will be welcomed, because God has already demonstrated that He loves me still.

Let us take hold of this for our personal self, and acknowledge that we have personality aspects within us that we don’t know; and if I can open my heart to this, then the next time it comes up and a particular characteristic that I have been unconscious of is drawn to my attention, instead of resisting the discovery, we say, Okay Lord, here is my hand, help me out of this; as Peter was meant to be doing.

God grant us this faith, this love. This is what He is offering us – gold tried in the fire, faith when I am going through the fire, to believe that God has not cast me off even though I have fallen. I have fallen to rise again.

Psalm 37:23 The steps of a [good] man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth [him with] his hand.

So we fall, and we think we are lost. But no, not utterly. The Lord will lift him up again. Praise the Lord. Let us take this in faith.


(Illustration by Good News Productions, used under CC BY)

Posted on March 2, 2018, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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