Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)

Self-exploration, self-examination


The Third Testament places great importance on self-exploration. It is taught that a man must repent of his evils, in order that the Lord may save him. And it is taught that actual repentance is to explore one self, to see one’s own evils, to acknowledge them, confess them, and to desist from them. This is called the Christian Religion itself in the Divine Providence 278. As stated in the True Christian Religion 528, ”Actual Repentance is to explore self, to cognize and acknowledge one’s sins, to make supplication to the Lord, and to begin a new life.” Self-exploration is the beginning of repentance. From the Word, and from the Doctrine of the Church out of the Word, man knows what evils are, and that they are sins against the Lord, preventing the reception of the Lord’s life, the life of Heaven, with man. The whole purpose of man’s knowing and understanding these things is that he might see them in him­self and shun them as sins against the Lord. In this class we will treat of the teachings of the Word and of the Doctrine of the Church about the seeing of evils in oneself which is by self exploration.

At the outset we would lay stress on the truth that the purpose of the exploration is to see one’s evils. It is not to see whether there are goods or evils in one’s life, but to see the evils there. Some have supposed that the exploration is to see whether they have acted out of good, or whether out of evil. In relation to repentance the Word says nothing at all about finding whether one has acted out of good; the whole purpose is to see the evils in oneself and repent of them.

In general, the instruction given in the Word about self-exploration is as follows;

1. That man should explore the acts of his life. (True Christian Religion 525.) This is the most external exploration. One may wonder why this explora­tion is necessary, since everyone knows what one has done. But one might very well have said or done something which is contrary to the broader natural meaning of the Commandments which he would not notice in himself except by reflection. You might say or do something against another without realizing that it is wrong, or even under the supposition at the time that it was good to say or do it. For example, one may defame another, destroying his good name, a thing which is forbidden under the Commandment not to kill, and also under not to bear false witness. (True Christian Religion 309,321.) Reflection on one’s deeds and words is therefore necessary, and should not be neglected. But it is also taught that exploration of the deeds and speech is not sufficient. This is be­cause from the love of one’s own honor, reputation and gain, one may clean up the external life which appears before others. One may put away all external evils of the body, not because they are sins against God, but because they are hurtful to one’s own selfish purposes in life. This teaching, however, must not be used as an excuse for not exploring our deeds and speech. It is possible and necessary for a man to see and shun such external evils as sins against the Lord. And this is the beginning of repentance. As said in the footnote to the Doctrine of Charity, number 5, if the exploration is only as to acts, it does not find much, and this is not sufficient.

Read the full doctrinal class on self-exploration by Rev. P.N. Odhner

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