Misjudging God and Ourselves

In prep for a final SS lesson in the remarkable record of Job for Sunday—I was reminded of these words from John Calvin. They are found in his opening pages of Institutes of the Christian Religion.1

51qfyACR1iLNearly all the wisdom which we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But, while joined by many bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern… it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself. For we always seem to ourselves righteous and upright and wise and holy—this pride is innate in all of us—unless by clear proofs we stand convinced of our own unrighteousness, foulness, folly, and impurity. Moreover, we are not thus convinced if we look merely to ourselves and not also to the Lord, who is the sole standard by which this judgment must be measured.

Think about it: if you don’t know God then you won’t have a proper view of yourself.

But to know God means you will begin to learn the truth about yourself. It is only when we start to see His matchless majesty that our eyes are wide open. Our corrupt condition is made known. As Calvin puts it, “our own unrighteousness, foulness, folly, and impurity.”

This is what happened to Job; and it caused him to fear and trust God.

I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted… Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:2, 6)

Job’s knowledge of God revealed a misjudging of Him and himself. This awareness of the Awesome caused Job to repent, and it can do the same for you. No longer would his confidence be based upon his own circumstances. No! It would now be anchored to the unchanging character of God.

[Much more on this—tomorrow!]


 Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Trans. Henry Beveridge. (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007). 4-5.