Knowing yourself is an important part of the Christian life. As believers, God calls us to grow in self-awareness and understanding of our identity in Christ. When we know ourselves—our strengths, weaknesses, spiritual gifts, and calling—we are better equipped to walk in God’s will and fulfill His purposes.
The Bible has a lot to say about self-examination and truly understanding who we are. Here are some key takeaways on what Scripture teaches about knowing yourself:
- Self-examination is vital for spiritual growth and alignment with God’s will
- God knows us fully and calls us to know ourselves truly
- Knowing our identity in Christ is foundational to purpose and freedom
- Understanding our giftings and strengths allows us to serve effectively
- Awareness of weaknesses and limitations helps us grow in humility
- Honest self-reflection deepens our relationship with God and others
The Importance of Self-Examination
Scripture emphasizes self-examination as critical to living a life pleasing to God. We see this in Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians:
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.” (2 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV)
This examination is not a superficial look, but rather a deep exploration of our inner being. The goal is not to find flaws for the sake of criticism, but to align our lives fully with God’s truth and will.
As Paul questions, we must ask ourselves: Is Christ evident in my life? Do my thoughts, words, and actions line up with His purposes and character? This self-reflection is hard work, but yields great spiritual rewards.
Knowing ourselves requires ruthlessly honest evaluation. We are prone to self-deception, excuses, and blindness to our faults. As Jeremiah 17:9 warns,
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?”
Only through humility and God’s illuminating Spirit can we overcome this deception to see ourselves rightly. This takes time, courage, and the support of Christian community. But self-awareness is too vital to avoid.
Through self-examination, we open ourselves to conviction, repentance, growth, and closer fellowship with Jesus. We begin aligning our inner life with our position as new creations in Christ.
God Knows Us Fully
Crucial to knowing ourselves is realizing that God knows us profoundly—even better than we can know ourselves. David declares that God saw all the details of his life and character even before he was born:
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:13-16 NKJV)
What an incredible picture of how intimately God knows us! He intricately formed David in the womb, reflecting on each part of his personality and life before he was born.
In his omniscience, God’s understanding surpasses any self-knowledge we could attain. Psalm 44:21 declares, “Would not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.” Jesus even reminds us that God knows the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7). No part of our identity and inner life is hidden from the Father’s eyes.
Recognizing God’s complete knowledge helps us rightly understand ourselves. We can rest, knowing he sees areas that need refining and lovingly guides our growth. Our self-perception is limited, but we serve a God who knows us better than we could imagine. Yielding to His wise perspective brings freedom and transformation.
Identity in Christ
While God knows us fully, as believers, the most important part of our identity is who we are in Christ. When we trust in Jesus as Savior, we become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Understanding this new, redeemed nature in Christ is essential to mature Christian identity.
Ephesians 1 speaks powerfully about the believer’s self-concept rooted in their heavenly position in Christ:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6 NKJV)
In Christ, we are unconditionally accepted, loved, chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, and lavished with grace. This divine identity supersedes any worldly labels or lies we believe. As we grow in renewing our mind to this truth, it stabilizes and transforms us.
Understanding who we are in Christ is so vital that Paul prays this spiritual wisdom for the Ephesians:
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18-19)
Knowing ourselves begins with fully grasping who God declares we are in Christ. From this foundation flows greater freedom to live into His calling and destiny for our lives.
Discovering Our Gifts and Strengths
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…” (Romans 12:4-6a NKJV)
A key part of self-awareness is understanding the gifts and strengths God has given us through the Holy Spirit. Each of us has a unique role to play in the Body of Christ based on our giftings. As 1 Peter 4:10 (NKJV) encourages, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Time spent discovering and developing our talents honors God. And using our gifts for His glory and the church’s growth brings great joy and purpose. Operating in our strengths allows us to serve wholeheartedly as faithful stewards.
Beyond natural talents, spiritual gifts are empowered directly by the Holy Spirit. Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 describe gifts like teaching, leadership, administration, giving, mercy, healing, prophecy, and discernment. Believers can take spiritual gift assessments to identify which ones the Spirit has cultivated in their lives. But practice and community affirmation help us understand where we are fruitful.
As we faithfully exercise the gifts God has entrusted to us, they will expand and impact more lives for His Kingdom. Our self-awareness is a catalyst for living out God’s custom design and purpose for each of us as parts of Christ’s Body.
Developing Humility and Self-Awareness
While using our gifts is vital, so is understanding our limitations. This protects us from operating outside of our strengths and God-given assignments. Knowing our weaknesses also develops humility and deeper dependence on God.
Paul openly admitted his weaknesses, so that he would not become conceited in light of the incredible revelations God gave Him. He writes:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me…For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7,10 NKJV)
Paul’s thorn kept him dependent on God’s power working through his limitations. Seeing our inabilities rightly leads to humility, prayer, and greater strength and fruitfulness in the end.
Proverbs 11:2 explains that wisdom comes through humility: “When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.” As we admit we don’t have it all together and need God’s help and grace daily, we gain self-awareness and eternal perspective. Pride can blind us to the truth.
The deeper we grow in relationship with Jesus, the more we recognize our need for Him. Self-knowledge develops hand in hand with Christ-centered humility. This fuels our worship, prayer, community, and intimacy with God.
Self-Reflection Deepens Relationships
Honestly examining our hearts and actions builds intimacy with God and others. As 1 Corinthians 13:12 explains, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” We long for the day when we know Jesus face-to-face and are fully known by Him. But even now, self-reflection when steeped in prayer draws us closer to God’s presence.
As we grow in self-awareness, we become more attuned to the Holy Spirit’s conviction and direction. We shed false perceptions and align more fully with God’s perspective on our identity and calling.
This same principle applies in relationships with others. Self-examination prepares us to confess our faults, make amends, forgive, and pursue deeper friendships. James 5:16 explains, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” Owning our part opens doors for healing.
Cultivating self-awareness helps us love others more selflessly and communicate with wisdom and sensitivity. We learn where we still need to mature, and how to steward our growth opportunities faithfully.
Conclusion: A Lifelong Journey
Knowing ourselves is not a one-time process, but a lifelong journey. As we continually seek God through prayer and study His Word, our self-perception comes into greater alignment with His truth. This overflow of deepening intimacy with Jesus makes us more effective ambassadors of His love, grace, and Kingdom.
The Bible makes clear that honest self-reflection is indispensable to our spiritual growth and doing God’s will. As we respond to His light, we become more transformed reflections of Christ’s character. Our relationships flourish. And we live more fully in the strength of who God created us to be.
While self-knowledge stretches us, the abundant life Jesus promises is well worth it. May we have the courage to continually examine our hearts before the Lord. And may we receive His encouragement, correction, wisdom and grace that flow from truly knowing ourselves as He does.