How well do you really know yourself and why is that important? Getting to know yourself is an important aspect of being able to do what Colossians 3:5; Romans 8:13; 2 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:29 tell us that we as Chjristians must do. It is an important part in making progress in overcoming sin and growing in godliness and becoming more like Jesus Christ. In other words, if we want to have victory over evil desires, if we want to grow in godliness, we must know ourselves. Obedience to the command of Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves is a very helpful exercise for any believer who wants to become the holy, Christ like person God wants him to be.
Since we are born with hearts that are desperately wicked, any one of us is capable of a variety of sins. While this is true, it is also true that each of us is particularly susceptible to sin in certain areas. For example, all of us are proud by nature; we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. But some of us have more of a problem with pride than others do. There are some people who are widely known to be especially proud. It seems as natural for them to boast—to talk about themselves and what they have done—as it is for them to breathe. It seems almost natural for them to lift themselves up and to put others down. If this is an area of particular temptation with us, we ought to know it.
Some of us have another problem, perhaps with our tempers. All of us are capable of losing our tempers, but some of us have a greater problem in this area than others. We all know people with a hair-trigger temper. They are like James and John, whom Jesus called the “sons of thunder.” They had a particular problem in the area of temper, and if this is our problem, we ought to know it so that we may be on our guard against it.
Some of us have a special problem with stubbornness. We have a problem with being argumentative. We are like Obstinate in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Obstinate had a special problem in the area of stubbornness. He was especially contentious and combative. His mind was made up and he would not even consider the possibility that someone else might have insights more valid than his. If it is our tendency to function in this way, we ought to acknowledge it and be on guard against our stubborn, knee-jerk reactions. Until we do, it is unlikely that we will ever be able to put to death this manifestation of what is still earthly in us.
Others of us have a particular problem with gullibility: we are too agreeable. We tend to be wishy-washy; we are too easily swayed or influenced. We lack backbone and cave in too easily to others. We are like the other fellow who followed Christian out of the City of Destruction, whose name was Pliable. He leaped before he looked, acted before he thought, and was too easily influenced by people and problems. He was like the weather vane that turns whatever direction the strongest wind is blowing. Again, just as Obstinate did not die in the seventeenth century, Pliable lives on as well. He is with us today in the form of people who are tossed back and forth and blown here and there by every wind of teaching (Ephesians 4:14). They are convinced of one idea today and another concept tomorrow. They make promises today, but when keeping that promise becomes difficult, they renege. They are excited about seeking first the kingdom of God after a rousing sermon or a challenging book, but are bent on seeking their own kingdom when the thrill and excitement has worn off. If it is our tendency to function in this way, we ought to acknowledge it and be on guard against our stubborn, knee-jerk reactions. Until we do, it is unlikely that we will ever be able to put to death this manifestation of what is still earthly in us.
The psalmist said, “I considered my ways and turned my feet to your testimonies. I hastened and did not delay to keep your commandments” (Psalm 119:59-60). When he thought about his daily life, the psalmist turned his feet to God’s testimonies and he hurried to keep God’s commandments. What this teaches us is that real change (godly change) begins with real thinking—with accurate evaluation and assessment. Many people do not change their ways because they do not ever stop to think about them.
We could go on and mention many other sins to which some people are particularly inclined. Perhaps at this point our particular areas of vulnerability have not been mentioned. Whether they have or have not, we ought to search out our own heart, know ourselves and be aware of the areas in our lives where we have special weaknesses. If we want to grow in godliness and become more and more like Jesus Christ we ought to follow the example of the Psalmist; we ought to consider our ways and then turn our feet to his testimonies and hasten to keep His commandments. Doing this is a key factor in putting sin to death in us and becoming more the kind of holy person that God wants us to be. (Adapted from Chapter 9 of Wayne and Joshua Mack’s book, A Fight to the Death)