What is true about us? Discovering True Self-knowledge

By the fall and revolt of Adam the whole human race was delivered to the curse, and degenerated from its original condition; (the doctrine of original sin).

1. Our Creation by God

…knowledge of ourselves lies first in considering what we were given at creation and how generously God continues his favor toward us, in order to know how great our natural excellence would be if only it had remained unblemished; yet at the same time to bear in mind that there is in us nothing of our own, but that we hold on [patient endurance] whatever God has bestowed upon us.

Hence we are ever dependent on him.

2. Our Perversion by the Fall

Secondly, to call to mind our miserable condition after Adam’s fall; the awareness of which, when all our boasting and self-assurance are laid low, should truly humble us and overwhelm us with shame.

In the beginning God fashioned us after His image [Gen. 1:27] that He might arouse our minds both to zeal for virtue and to meditation upon eternal life.

Thus, in order that the great nobility of our race (which distinguishes us from brute beasts) may not be buried beneath our own dullness of wit, it behooves us to recognize that we have been endowed with reason and understanding so that, by leading a holy and upright life, we may press on to the appointed goal of blessed immortality.

But that primal worthiness cannot come to mind without the sorry spectacle of our foulness and dishonor presenting itself by way of contrast, since in the person of the first man we have fallen from our original condition.

From this source arise abhorrence and displeasure with ourselves, as well as true humility; and thence is kindled a new zeal to seek God, in whom each of us may recover those good things which we have utterly and completely lost.

-John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, II.1.1

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