Know Yourself That You May Know God, 8 January 2012


“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives,” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzeros’ book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

The Big Idea

The first pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality is to know yourself.

Top Ten Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality

1. Using God to run from God
2. Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness and fear
3. Dying to the wrong things
4. Denying the past’s impact on the present
5. Dividing life into “secular” and “sacred” compartments
6. Doing for God instead of being with God
7. Spiritualizing away conflict
8. Covering over brokenness, weakness and failure
9. Living without limits
10. Judging the spiritual journeys of others

Know Yourself That You May Know God

How can you draw close to God when you are far from your own self?

Augustine in Confessions, AD 500

Our wisdom…consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other.

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, AD 1530

Who Are You?

From the beginning of sin in the Garden of Eden, we have been hiding ourselves from God and others.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3:6-7

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8

We live our lives filled with guilt and shame so we put on masks.

Here are some symptoms that you are hiding your true self:

1. I say “yes” when I really mean “no.”
2. I get depressed when people are upset with me.
3. I have a need to be approved by others to feel good about myself.
4. I act nice on the outside, but inside “I can’t stand you!”
5. I often remain silent in order to “keep the peace”.
6. I believe that if I make mistakes, I myself am a failure.
7. I avoid looking weak or foolish for not having the answer.
8. I criticize others in order to feel better about myself.
9. I have to be doing something exceptional to feel alive.
10. I have to be needed to feel alive.
11. I am fearful and can’t take risks.
12. I do what others want so they don’t get mad at me
13. I use knowledge and competence to cover my feelings of inadequacy.
14. I want my children to behave well so others will think I am a good parent.
15. I compare myself a lot to other people.

1 Samuel 17:26-40 David

Goliath mocks God and defies the armies of Israel.

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him. 1Samuel 17:4-7

King Saul and the Israelites are afraid.

On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. 1Samuel 17:11

Eighty times Goliath taunts them.

For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand. 1Samuel 17:16

Nobody can even imagine facing this giant.

When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear.
1Samuel 17:24

David knows himself, but He also knows God.

David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1Samuel 17:26

They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.” 1Samuel 17:27

When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” 1Samuel 17:28

How’s that for a confidence boost? Even the best of families are messed up.

“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him. 1Samuel 17:29-31

David stands up to his family (28-31).

David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 1Samuel 17:32

Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” 1Samuel 17:33

David stands up to significant others with authority and experience (32-33).

King Saul and the people of Israel said they believed in God, but their acted like atheists. How often do we lack faith and act as if God does not exist?

But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.
1Samuel 17:34-36

The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”
1Samuel 17:37

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 1Samuel 17:38

David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
1Samuel 17:39-40

David knows himself. He is an expert on himself and is able to discern wise counsel from unwise counsel.

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

We must seek counsel, but it is not always good for us.

Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” 1Samuel 17:41-44

David stands up to Goliath (vv.41-44)

Again, David knows himself and God.

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1Samuel 17:45-47

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. 1Samuel 17:48-49

So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. 1Samuel 17:50

David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.
1Samuel 17:51

David didn’t face Goliath to look good, please people, or make a name for himself. He did not have the strength to defeat Goliath, but he had God and a slingshot. He did not lack common sense, but was aware of his God-given abilities with a slingshot and his God. He is afraid of nothing.

You and I have God-given abilities and tools if we will use them to glorify Him.

Do you know your strengths? Weaknesses? Spiritual gifts? Pathways to God? Personality? There are tools (see below) that can assist you in discovering how God uniquely wired you up.

We hurt ourselves and others when we are not true to ourselves.

The ultimate question once we know who we are goes back to last week. Do you seek to bring glory to God or yourself.

Four practical principles to begin making the radical transition to living faithful to our true self in Christ.

1. Pay Attention to Your Interior in silence and solitude
2. Find trusted companions
3. Move out of your comfort zone
4. Pray for courage

The people of Israel knew God intellectually, but not experientially.

David points to Jesus. They are both saviors and conquerors opposed to Satan.

He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalms 23:3

Reflection Questions

What does this text tell us about God?

What does this text tell us about ourselves?

What giants are drawn up against you in battle? How are they taunting you? Is your attitude toward them more like Saul’s or David’s? How does that attitude need to change?

What larger missionary purpose might be accomplished for God if you would turn that battle over to the LORD?

What’s holding you back from tackling the bull by the horns (or the Goliath by a slingshot)? What do you fear might happen if you turned and faced the enemy who taunts you and defies God? What’s the “worst case scenario”? Having imagined that, now re-write the end result with God on your side.

What Goliaths are there in society, defying God and Christians? How can you, small and unarmed, work to bring them down? What can your Journey Group do?

How important is the approval of people versus the depth of your soul?

Questions for Reflection

What are you angry about?
What are you sad about?
What are you afraid of?
What are you enjoying?
What brings you shame?
What do you dream about?
What do you sing about?
What do you cry about?
What are you beginning to realize/learn about yourself?

Recommended Resources

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

Free Spiritual Pathway Discovery Tool

Free Spiritual Gifts Discovery Tool

Strengths Finder

You can listen to the podcast here.


Series outline and ideas from
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

Some study questions from Lyman Coleman (
The Serendipity Bible and The Serendipity Student Bible). Used with permission from the author.

Other study questions from
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Workbook by Peter Scazzero (Center for Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, 2007).