GOD IS SELF-CONSCIOUS
The Bible is also clear in affirming that God is SELF-CONSCIOUS. Like self-determination, self-consciousness is one of the fundamental characteristics of personality.
1. By way of explanation, self-consciousness is more than mere consciousness. An animal has consciousness. It perceives an object. But a person not only has consciousness, that is, he perceives an object, but he also recognizes that he perceives the object. Man is not only conscious of his own actions and states of being, but he is also capable of thinking of himself as an object in his activity and states, and reflecting upon the self in its acts and activities and states. As stated by the able theologian, Shedd, "In consciousness the object is another substance than the subject; but in self-consciousness the object is the same substance as the subject." There is a German story about a three-eyed child. In addition to the natural pair of eyes, there was another one to see what the pair did. And besides the natural will there was another will whose responsibility it was to see that the first will went right.
The first manifestation of personality in a child appears at the moment when the child becomes conscious of its own existence as a self. It will then begin to say "I” or something like that, revealing the fact that it recognizes it as a person to be distinguished from other persons and things. But this never happens with an animal. If a pig should ever reach that point when on its own it were to say, "I am a pig," it would no longer be a pig. Both God and man stand in bold contradistinction to the animal world in that they are self-conscious, possessing one of the highest traits of personality.
2. The declaration of the Bible must be understood to mean that God is self-conscious. When Moses met God at the burning bush he was confronted with an exhibition of self-consciousness. And God said, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob...I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey... Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou may bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt...And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, the God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exod. 3:6-8, 10, 13-14).
It will be evident in this Scripture that throughout, God does not hesitate to refer to Himself by the pronoun "I." This indicates that He recognizes that He is a self, and that He is conscious of that self. Moreover, this account reaches its highest ascent when God gives His name, "I AM THAT I AM," description in definition of Himself. God is not the everlasting "IT IS," or "I WAS," but the eternal "I AM," implying self-conscious personality and continuing presence.
3. The perfection of this quality in God differentiates God from men. The Bible is certainly replete with instances of men exhibiting consciousness of themselves. Job is constantly giving expression to consciousness of himself. David does the same thing over and over again in the Psalms (Psa. 22, 23, 32, 51). Paul unfolds in some detail his reflections upon himself (Rom. 7; Phil. 3). A most amazing display is recorded of perfect self-consciousness on the part of the Godman, Christ Jesus, in His high priestly prayer of John 17, and during those moments of anguish in the garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-45). But apart from Christ, it is true with all other men that self-consciousness is incomplete. The Psalmist admits that he has secret faults, not merely to others, but hidden from himself (Psa. 19:12). In a plaintive cry, he 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, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psa. 139:23-24). Wife, husband, children, friends often know more about us than we know about ourselves. The reason for this lies not only in the fact that men are finite, but also in the fact that they are sinful. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9). And because of this sinful state, men are constantly "deceiving and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:13).
But with God there is perfection of self-consciousness. Divine self-consciousness extends to the whole content and nature of the divine being. "For the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man, except the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God" (1 Cor. 2:10-11). "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). There is therefore no darkness of self-contemplation. That One who was God manifest in the flesh lifted the veil at times. He not only knew all men and needed not that any should testify of them (John 2:24-25), but there were occasions when ahead of time "He Himself knew what He would do" (John 6:6). No mere man ever knows completely what he will do in a given set of circumstances.
4. The application of this great characteristic in God to the everyday issues of life is most practical. This answers the pantheistic error which teaches that by means of the evolutionary process God is always in the process of becoming, but never arrives. The answer lies in the fact that God has arrived. From all eternity He is the completely self-conscious God. On the basis of the refutation of this error, this truth assures believers that they are not dealing with a mere dumb force, but with a self-conscious God who is personal and therefore responsive to men. Men instinctively feel that there can be mutual relations because God is infinitely like them in self-consciousness.