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Know Thyself and Catch the Lies (Video) 

 April 18, 2021

By  Sam Stone

Do you know yourself? Who are you? I am not asking about your name. Your name is your identification, but I am asking about your identity. There is a difference between identification and identity. My identification is who I say I am, but my identity is who I really am.

Lao Tzu said, “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”

Knowing who you are will make you stronger and happier, reducing suffering in this fallen world. Many deceptive winds are blowing at us all the time in this sea of suffering. If you don’t know yourself, you will be like a reed swayed in every direction by the storms of life. Once we know who we are,

We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.” (Eph 4:14b).

The Greek maxim, “Know Thyself,” is a profound thought in two simple words, but it’s not as easy to attain. After a lifetime of searching, Plato said that he knew nothing about anything. Some modern psychologists say that there is no way to know yourself because the self is an illusion.

I’ve discovered that people don’t know themselves because they are searching in the wrong places. So, today we will look at the right place to find our true identity so that we will never be tossed and blown about by winds of lies.

[Hi, in case we haven’t met yet, I am Sam Stone, the Lightkeeper. You are the light of the world, and I am the keeper! (No pun intended). It’s my calling to help you shine your brightest so that God is glorified in you, and you are satisfied in God.]

Today is the Third Sunday of Easter, and the scripture lesson is from the First Epistle of John 3:1-7. [Listen to the Word of the Lord.]

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 3 And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

4 Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. (1 Jn 3:1–7).

[This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!]

As I said above, people don’t know themselves because they are searching in the wrong places. Pythagoras said, “Man know thyself, then thou shalt know the Universe and God.” I believe this is why people don’t know themselves because the order is wrong—you cannot know yourself before knowing God.

After trying to know myself for half a century, I’ve discovered that the reverse is correct—know God first, and you will know yourself. So, I will reword Pythagoras’ quote as “Know God, then thou shalt know thyself and the universe.” John said,

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3:1).

This verse is packed with wisdom. The last sentence implies that to know God is the way to know thyself. Life is not about me but God. As long as you think life is about you, you will never know yourself. How can a creation know itself without knowing the creator?

Let’s say you are a smart computer with a powerful processor that can handle the most complex calculation. You may burn your processor to ashes trying to figure out who you are because you will never find the conclusion until you know your creator. Maybe, you can read your user manual written by the creator.

You might say, “This analogy doesn’t work for me because I don’t believe I have a creator.” To that, I would say, “Hold that thought for a moment. Let’s first know who God is, and if it provides you a better understanding of yourself, then there is a Creator. If not, you can continue your quest for self-discovery without the creator. You’ve got nothing to lose.” It’s like reverse engineering.

The verse begins by saying, “See what love the Father has given us.” In the next chapter, John said that “God is love.” Another reason people don’t know themselves is because they have a misconception of God. They think God is an angry old man sitting in heaven trying to zap anyone who doesn’t behave.

John asked us to “See.” See what? See God’s love for us. If you think God is a cruel and callous old man, you are just “thinking;” you are not seeing. If you see him, you will discover that he is love.

The Easter story is what you need to see. The cross is what you need to see. His love is displayed in his death and resurrection. That love redeems us from the hand of the deceiver and restores our status as children of God. So, John said,

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” (v. 1a).

That is our identity—children of God. So, in just one verse, God’s identity is revealed, and our identity is redeemed. The rest is to live and grow in this identity. Then John said,

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.” (v. 2).

Now, this new identity does not stop here. It grows into something significant beyond our imagination. We don’t know what we will become, but John said Jesus is a clue of what we will become. Since Jesus is the Son of God, as children of God, we will be like him.

That doesn’t mean we will be a carbon copy of Jesus Christ because God doesn’t create everyone the same. Just as each of us has unique fingerprints—even identical twins have different fingerprints—we will have our unique personality, but our identity will be the same as Jesus Christ.

Like Jesus, we will fulfill God’s purpose, transform the world, and accomplish greatness, just as Jesus said that his followers would do more incredible things than he did. To actualize such greatness, John said this is how we should live as children of God,

And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” (v. 3).

This world might seem hopeless, but God has hope in us that we will achieve greatness as His Son does. To realize this hope, we must purify ourselves to live our identity. John explained purification means staying away from sin.

Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” (v. 4).

What is sin, and what is lawlessness? In the context of John’s writings and Jesus’ teaching, the law is summarized in the Great Commandment, “Love God and love people.” Nothing more, and nothing less.

So sin means unloving. The word sin has “I” at that center. So self-centeredness or egocentricity is sin. Lawlessness means lovelessness because there is only one law—love God and love people. John said it plainly in the next chapter,

Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8).

Again, he repeated,

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16b).

So, if people tell you some complicated definition of sin and lawlessness, don’t be blown away by their crafty lies that sound like the truth. The truth is made simple and straightforward by Jesus Christ: love God and love people.

So, instead of thinking “sin” as doing something unlawful, think of it as “unloveful.”

However, living in this fallen world, it’s inevitable that we might sin sometimes. We are fallen people to begin with until we become fully formed into the identity of Jesus Christ. John reminds us how to purge our sins in situations like that. He said,

You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.” (v. 5).

He said, “You know.” That means he has talked about this elsewhere that Jesus Christ takes away our sins through his death on the cross as the Lamb of God. He said in chapter one,

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).

So confession is a purification process. When you make a mistake by doing something “unloveful,” don’t let people or your conscience beat you to death. Confess your sin and purify yourself. Our guilt can make us hide away from God sink into a downward spiral. We must fully see that God is love and that his love is shown in his faithfulness and justice. Justice is fulfilled through Jesus on the cross.

This next verse might be a little confusing and often misinterpreted. John said,

No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him.” (v. 6).

It says believers don’t sin, but how can it be possible? Let me tell you a parable:

There once was a thief who heard the gospel, became a believer, and received baptism. The pastor told him that, as a believer, he was now a new creation. He had been redeemed as the child of God.

A month or so later, he came to the pastor with tears and said, “Pastor, I have stolen again. What’s wrong with me. Maybe I am not a child of God yet. I guess I am still my old self.”

The pastor said, “You used to be a thief, tell me, in the past, what happened when you stole?” the man said, “In the past, each time I stole, I felt happy. The more I stole, the more I was proud of myself.”

The pastor then said, “Now, how do you feel when you stole this time?” The man answered, “I feel guilty.” Then the pastor said, “You are a child of God. Go and sin no more.”

This parable might sound simplistic because stealing is a universal sin. Even non-believers know that stealing is not right. However, the point of this parable is that this man now has a new identity which makes him sensitive to the actions of his old identity.

He was proud of breaking the law, but now he is not proud of breaking the love. The second sentence says,

no one who sins has either seen him or known him.” (v. 6b).

Here, the word “see” or “seen” appears again. In verse one, John asks us to “see” God as the God of love. If we see God as love, we know he forgives us, so we are forgiven and purified when we confess our sin.

It doesn’t mean that we can go ahead and keep sinning and come back to get purified every time. It means our new identity makes us sensitive to sin and compels us to love. The passage ends by saying,

Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.” (v. 7).

The deception of the day was the belief that children of God can sin without penalty because they are always forgiven. It is true, but still a deception.

As Paul said, deceivers are very clever that their lies sound so much like the truth. It’s true because we are always forgiven, but it is deceptive to think that we are free to sin. No, we don’t. We only do what is righteous. We become holy just as God is holy. Peter said,

Instead, as He who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pe 1:15–16).

The word “holy” means “being set apart.” Our new identity sets us apart from sin. We don’t sin, not because we resist sinning, but because we don’t belong there. We don’t want to set foot in the territory of sin. Like the converted thief in the parable, our feet burn when we step into the boundary of unrighteousness because our new identity makes us feel extremely uncomfortable there.

Know thyself and be set apart. Let us all know God and know ourselves so that,

We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.” (Eph 4:14b).

Until we meet again, keep your light shining brighter and broader. Amen! Bye now!

Sam Stone


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