Proverbs 2:6 reads, “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
This verse identifies the Source of wisdom. I can know what is true of me because of the true God who gives me that knowledge and understanding. The pursuit of knowledge can be seized in a moment, and yet takes a lifetime. I can know something to be true of me, revealed to me, in an instant; of God, in a chapter or verse. And yet, the search for truth about me and about God will never end; there will always be more to unearth. A true knowledge of who God is contributes to knowledge of who I am not. We cannot have knowledge of God without knowledge of self.
In Romans chapter 1, Paul makes it clear that we know the truth about God instinctively because He himself has put this knowledge in our hearts. Therefore, in our search for knowledge of God and of self, piety is indeed requisite. We cannot think of God and his “holy other” attributes without a concluding knowledge that we ourselves are corrupt, sinful, selfish, and unable to approach Him. The Lord is the maker of heaven and earth, of everything that I can see and touch and hear. David’s psalm echoes, “what is man that you are mindful of him?” Humility, coupled with fear and wonder and hesitancy, is learned of me as I approach the holy God.
John Calvin writes, God is “the straightedge to which we must be shaped” and “what in us seems perfection itself corresponds ill to the purity of God.” (Institutes, Book I, Chapter 1, Page 38)