Do we mean to say that we can be careless about our daily life and need not ask whether our walk is right or wrong, or whether our intention is pure or impure? Our understanding is that the Bible does not teach us of self-examination, but we have not read that the Bible forbids us from knowing our self. Turning inward and thinking about oneself is harmful, but indulging oneself in looseness is even more harmful. God never allows us to be loose. Although God does not want us to examine ourselves, He wants us to know ourselves because the coming of the Holy Spirit causes man to reprove himself of his sin. According to the Bible, we should not pursue holiness through self-examination. This, however, does not mean that the Bible does not want us to pursue holiness. The Bible does not want us to know ourselves through self-examination, but this does not mean that the Bible does not want us to know ourselves. It is man’s error to assume that self-examination and self-knowledge are inseparable. For this reason he thinks that refraining from examining oneself means that there is no need of knowing oneself. He does not realize that self-knowledge is still necessary, except that this self-knowledge must not come from self-examination. The goal remains the same. Only the way must be changed.
Since the Bible does not tell us to examine ourselves, what then is the way for us to know ourselves?
Let us read Psalm 26:2: "Examine me, O Jehovah, and try me; / Test my inward parts and my heart." And Psalm 139:23-24b says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: / Try me, and know my thoughts: / And see if there be any wicked way in me." These two portions of the Scripture tell us the proper way to know ourselves. We do not need to strive in self-examination or ask ourselves how we feel about ourselves in order to know our inward parts and heart. Nor should we strive to know our heart and thoughts to see if there is any wicked way in us. Rather, the way is to ask God to search us and to try us. Only when God searches us and tries us can we have accurate knowledge concerning ourselves. Our self-knowledge does not depend on our self-examination. Rather, it depends on God’s inspection.
These portions of the Scripture tell us that if we want the knowledge concerning ourselves, we must ask God to tell us His knowledge about us. This is the most accurate knowledge. God knows us more clearly and more accurately than we know ourselves. Everything is naked and open before Him. He sees and knows even the most hidden part of our heart, which we are not able to feel or analyze by ourselves. When we have His sight, then we will not be fooled and we will know our real condition.
Actually, only God’s knowledge concerning us is correct. Do you know how God thinks about you? When you think that you are so good, does God also think the same thing? When you think that you are very bad, does God also think the same thing? When you feel that you are good, do not consider that you are good; when you feel that you are no good, do not consider that you are no good. This is not accurate. When God regards you as good, then you are good. And when God regards you as evil, then you are evil.
While God does not want us to examine ourselves, this does not mean that He does not want us to know ourselves or live carelessly. If we examine ourselves, we will still not be able to know ourselves. Maybe what He considers to be wrong, we think is good; what He considers as defilement, we think of merely as a little mistake. He wants us to have His same view. Therefore, He wants us to reject our untrustworthy feelings in deciding our condition and receive His thought and understand His judgment so that we may have an accurate assessment of ourselves.
(Self-Knowledge and God's Light, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)