We Are Complicated

“What Faye won’t understand and may never understand is that there is not one true self hidden by many false ones. Rather, there is one true self hidden by many other true ones. Yes, she is the meek and shy and industrious student. Yes, she is the panicky and frightened child. Yes, she is the bold and impulsive seductress. Yes, she is the wife, the mother. And many other things as well. Her belief that one of these is true obscures the larger truth, which was ultimately the problem with the blind men and the elephant. It wasn’t that they were blind – it’s that they stopped too quickly, and so never knew there was a larger truth to grasp. … Seeing ourselves clearly is the project of a lifetime”- from Nathan Hill’s novel The Nix

Where We See Most Clearly the Sinfulness of Sin

“Never was sin seen to be more abominably sinful and full of provocation than when the burden of it was upon the shoulders of the Son of God…Would you, then, see the true demerit of sin?—take the measure of it from the mediation of Christ, especially his cross.” -John Owen, Communion with the Triune God

Grace Makes Self-Knowledge Possible

“The assurance of His total forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Christ means we don’t have to play defensive games anymore. We don’t have to rationalize and excuse our sins. We can call sin exactly what it is, regardless of how ugly and shameful it may be, because we know that Jesus bore that sin in His body on the cross.” -Jerry Bridges

Cultural Observation: We Have a Hard Time Looking in the Mirror

“How does anyone muster up the courage to take any soul to task— including his or her own? How dare you assert to anyone that most of our lives are spent in fogs of self-deception? Interestingly, modern secular thought has spent a lot of time probing our resistance to knowing ourselves accurately. Tracing such “resistance” became a staple of serious thought about human nature in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Nietzsche, Marx, and the psychodynamic psychologists (Freud, Jung, Adler, existentialists) all agreed that people resist looking in the mirror. They wanted to make honest persons of us all, whatever the blows to our pride and self-satisfaction.

The “masters of suspicion” were brilliant at seeing that we delude ourselves. But they could never agree on what we were avoiding or what the alternative is. They could never answer the crucial question, What exactly is it that we’re all so unwilling to see? Is it perverse sexual impulses? Murderous hostilities? A cosmic dark side in our souls? A craving for power and superiority? A fear of death? The self-serving rationalization and hypocrisy of “civilized” existence? The inequities of wealth, power, and status? Great but godless thinkers disputed each other’s theories; a Christian sees that each was partly right. All these things squirm within our souls. But all the theorists were ultimately wrong because an even darker cinder smolders inside us: “The hearts of the sons of men are full of evil, and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives” (Eccl. 9: 3). What is that referring to?” -David Powlison