"Who are you?" That question is almost impossible to answer. How do you explain who you are? Would you answer by talking about your family tree? By talking about your parents? By talking about your children? By talking about your occupation? By talking about your education? By talking about your spiritual perspectives? Is that how a person explains who he or she is?

Do you know who you are? "What a dumb question!" No, the question is not dumb. It is a serious, honest question. Many people have no idea who they are. These people do one of two things. Either, they waste a lot of their life, time, and energy because they have little idea of who they are. Or, they invest an enormous amount of life, time, and energy trying to discover who they are.

Are you one of those people? Declaring you are a Christian does not mean that you know who you are. Do you have a real, deep understanding of who you are, or do you flounder through life with no real understanding of who you are?

This morning I want to share an insight I am convinced is true and to the point: no person can know who he or she is unless that person knows God. The foundation for knowing who you are is an honest, correct understanding of God.

  1. In my study, I conclude this is one of scripture's basic theses: people must know God to know themselves.
    1. When we do not know God, we cannot know ourselves, and it is in not knowing ourselves that we make our tragic mistakes.
      1. Scripture repeatedly reveals that people must know God to know themselves.
      2. In Genesis' account of the origin of human evil, Eve misunderstood God (Genesis 3:1-7).
        1. Her temptation became credible because she was suspicious of God.
        2. Because she was suspicious of God she thought she understood herself.
        3. The result was disaster.
        4. Because she was suspicious of God, she deceived herself about herself.
      3. Humanity made an enormous decline into evil when the sons of God married the daughters of men (Genesis 6:1,2).
        1. This is my conclusion: the men who were the sons of God had the heart and spirit of Seth.
          1. Seth, the third son of Eve, and his descendants "called upon the name of the Lord" (Genesis 4:25,26).
          2. They wanted closeness to God.
          3. Their relationship with God determined their identity.
          4. Who were the sons of God? The people who wanted closeness with God.
        2. I conclude the daughters of men were women that had the heart and spirit of Cain.
          1. In spite of God's mercy and Cain's guilt, Cain deliberately "went out from the presence of the Lord" (Genesis 4:16).
          2. From the moment that God rejected Cain's sacrifice, Cain wanted nothing to do with God.
          3. The daughters of men wanted nothing to do with God.
      4. Genesis declared the incredible evil of Noah's day (when no one had a good thought--Genesis 6:5) happened because men who desired closeness to God married women who wanted nothing to do with God.
        1. Because people destroyed their desire to be close to God, they lost their identity.
        2. They became incredibly wicked in mind, in heart, and in action.
    2. From Genesis 12 to the close of the Old Testament, that truth is repeatedly illustrated and documented in Israel's failures.
      1. At some point while they were living in Egypt, these descendants of Abraham forgot who God was.
      2. The purpose of the plagues in Egypt recorded in Exodus had two objectives.
        1. The first obvious objective was to convince Pharaoh to release Israel from their slavery.
        2. The second equally important objective was to introduce these slaves to the living God.
      3. These slaves were to become the nation of Israel with a new sense of identify.
      4. But their new sense of identity depended on knowing God.
      5. God could bring their bodies out of slavery, but He could not bring their hearts out of slavery unless they knew Him.
    3. Over and over the Old Testament declared Israel failed themselves simply because they did not know God.
      1. The period of the judges was a period of enormous wickedness and failure because Israel did not know God.
      2. The reigns of King Saul and King Solomon resulted in incredible wickedness and failure because they both lost their knowledge of God. (Each begin with a close relationship to God, and each ended with no relationship with God.)
      3. The period of Israel's northern kingdom was a huge failure because they did not know God.
      4. The period of the southern kingdom was almost a continual failure because they did not know God.
      5. Repeatedly the prophets told Israel and Judah, "You deceive yourselves because you do not know God!"
        1. "You do not behave like God's people because you do not know God!"
        2. "You do not worship God like people who know God because you do not know God."
        3. "You refuse to repent of your wickedness because you do not know God."
        4. "You do not know yourselves because you do not know your God."

  2. How do you react to what I have shared?
    1. Your reactions are mixed.
      1. Some of you understand what I am saying, and it concerns you.
      2. Some of you sort of understand what I am saying, and it makes you nervous.
      3. Some of you do not relate to anything I have said, and, honestly, it is boring.
    2. Let's see if we can eliminate the boredom.
      1. Will you use your imagination for just a moment?
      2. Suppose we replaced the screen behind me with a huge electronic tally board.
      3. Suppose God controlled the electronic board.
      4. Suppose the tally board flashed the numbers up for all of us to examine.
        1. The number of men, women, and teens in attendance this morning. (It appears.)
        2. The number of adults and teens in this audience who used pornography this week. (It appears).
        3. The number of adults and teens who used alcohol or drugs to get high this week. (It appears.)
        4. The number of people who told a vulgar or racial joke this week. (It appears.)
        5. The number of adults and teens who cursed or used ungodly language this week. (It appears.)
        6. The number of adults or teens who engaged in a promiscuous or adulterous sexual act this week. (It appears.)
        7. The number of adults and teens who let money be their god this week. (It appears.)
        8. The number of adults and teens who let pleasure be their god this week. (It appears.)
    3. Am I still boring? Am I failing to be relevant?
      1. Do you know why people use pornography?
        1. It allows them to have selfish gratification with zero commitment.
        2. Pornography is a loveless indulgence of physical desires and passions.
        3. It is an escape into a fantasy that totally alters reality.
      2. Do you know why people use alcohol and drugs to get high?
        1. It is a way to try to cope when life is overwhelming and there is no peace.
        2. It is a way to escape when life becomes intolerable.
        3. It is a way to selfishly indulge and gratify my physical senses.
      3. Do you know the foundation of vulgar and racial jokes?
        1. The same foundation stands for both--a demeaning disrespect for people.
        2. Vulgar jokes dehumanize women or men by disrespectfully demeaning them.
        3. Racial jokes dehumanize ethic groups by disrespectfully demeaning them.
      4. Do you know the foundation of cursing and ungodly language?
        1. The foundation combines two forms of contempt.
        2. The first is a basic contempt for God.
        3. The second is a basic contempt for people.
      5. Do you know the foundation reasons for promiscuous and adulterous sexual acts?
        1. Reason one: they let me abandon myself to the self-centered, personal gratification of my sexual desires.
        2. Reason two: they let me use people; I can look at people as things to be used instead of individuals to be respected.
        3. Reason three: they let me run away from life and play "let's pretend."
      6. Do you know why many people make money their god?
        1. For many it is a search for person significance.
        2. For many it is a quest for personal power.
      7. Do you know why many people make pleasure their god?
        1. Some let pleasure be their god because they are so empty inside.
        2. Some let pleasure be their god in their search for a substitute for love.
        3. Some let pleasure be their god in an attempt to escape rejection and depression.

  3. Will you please ask yourself a question?
    1. How many Christians who let God show them who they are use:
      1. Pornography to indulge their fantasies?
      2. Alcohol or drugs to get high?
      3. Vulgar or racial jokes to demean other people?
      4. Cursing or ungodly language which show contempt for God and people?
      5. Promiscuous or adulterous acts to indulge in self-centered gratification?
      6. Or money or pleasure for their god?
    2. If you know who you are because you know God, will those things find a place of welcome in your life?

[Prayer: God, unless we let You teach us, we do not know who we are, Help us find our identity in You. Jesus found His total identity in You. May we find our true identity in You.]

Are you sure you know who you are? Do you know what you look like? "I should! I look in the mirror often enough." Go home, print the question, "Who am I?" on a piece of paper, hold that question under your chin, and look in a mirror. Then ask yourself, "Have I ever seen myself?" Have you ever seen yourself in God's mirror? God's mirror is the only honest mirror.

Jesus is the only person who looked exactly like God wanted him to look, who was exactly who God wanted him to be. Why? Because Jesus perfectly understood God. Jesus knew who he was because he knew God.

The better you know God, the better you will understand who you are.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 1 October 2000

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