Monday, April 03, 2006

Redemption Requires Self-Knowledge

In a recent sermon I quoted David Powlison from an article he wrote for the Fall 2005 Journal of Biblical Counseling. In the article Powlison notes that the change and redemption we all long for requires self-knowledge. “Diagnosis precedes cure,” he explains. He continues,
“But we humankind have a hard time with self-knowledge. [Our] pride spins webs of self-delusion. We usually put the best spin on ourselves. My opinions, my perspective, and my way of doing things seem intuitively plausible—if not the sum of all righteousness! Even when we get down on ourselves, we reserve the right of judgment. Have you ever noticed how a person with ‘low self-esteem’ reacts when someone else does the criticizing? Have you noticed how self-hatred so often correlates to failure to measure up to pride-generated standards for oneself? Self-pity is then a most delicious narcotic: It feels so good to feel so bad, because it’s all about me. Self-absorption erects an in impenetrable barrier to self-knowledge. To know myself as I truly am, I must come to know myself through the eyes of someone outside of myself—the God who searches and weighs every heart.”
If you're not familiar with Dr. Powlison and his insightful writing, I hope this whets your appetite. When I moved to Gaithersburg nine years ago one of the first things C.J. assigned me was Powlison's teaching series "How Can I Change?" C.J. told me that no one had taught him more about progressive santification than Powlison.

David Powlison edits The Journal of Biblical Counseling, counsels and teaches in the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation's School of Biblical Counseling. He also and teaches Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary.

If you'd like to learn more from Dr. Powlison, his book Seeing with New Eyes is a great place to start.

And if you're a pastor a subscription to the Journal of Biblical Counseling is mandatory.

And here's a wisdom-filled letter that Mr. Powlison wrote to C.J.'s son Chad on his thirteenth birthday. The ladies at Girltalk were kind enough to share it with the rest of us.


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