Is this a controversial statement for us in the twenty first century? Yes, for there are so many self help books trying to facilitate our perception of ourselves or trying to create a different self. So is knowledge of God at best an unnecessary luxury for many people?
Would you count yourself as convinced of your “own unrighteousness, foulness, folly and impurity”? Calvin uses looking at dark things and then at sun light as a way of contrasting what we think we are with the reality of our human frailty suggesting that we often flatter ourselves. In what manner do you flatter yourself today? Is it in your relationship with money, power, sex or some other?
“What wore the face of power will prove itself the most miserable weakness”
Could you apply this to the things you use to flatter yourself? We could think something is perfect but when we see God we see a glimpse of perfection so Calvin’s comment that “without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self” would appear timeless as true now as when he wrote it.