I ONCE WAS BLIND 9-16-18

I ONCE WAS BLIND

September 16, 2018

 

The famous lyrics of the hymn “Amazing Grace” were written by English poet and Anglican clergyman, John Newton, in 1773 to illustrate one of his sermons.  The last two lines of the first verse are “I once was lost but now am found; was blind but now I see.”  Two hundred and forty-five years later, they still are a perfect illustration for the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said in the ninth chapter of John that He came “to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”  (vs. 39b NLT).   John Newton was not always a clergyman at heart.  In fact, in his younger years he directly opposed the Christian faith, mocked others who spoke of theirs, and even derided and denounced God as a myth.  Like the conversion of the apostle Paul, who had played a part in the execution of those who claimed to be Christians, John Newton, is living proof that God often calls those who seem the least likely into His service.

People who are physically blind, are aware of their blindness.  We are even aware if our eyesight is not 20/20.  We wear eyeglasses, contact lenses, or perhaps have lasik eye surgery to help us see better.  Many diseases of the eyes are now treatable, so that lost eyesight can be restored, at least partially.  No one wants to be without it.  We also take precautions to avoid harming our eyes.  We all know not to look directly at the sun, or we will burn our retinas, and lose our sight. 

And yet not looking at the ‘Son’ is what results in spiritual blindness!  When Jesus appeared to the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), he was physically blinded by the brilliant light of Christ’s glory.  But his spiritual eyes were opened.  He suddenly understood who Jesus’ truly was, and how his persecution of Christians was done out of his spiritual blindness.  Ananias restored Paul’s physical sight three days later, after which he did a complete 180, led many to the Lord, and strengthened many Christians in their faith – still doing so today through the epistles he has written.

The Pharisees in Jesus’ day claimed they could see, but Jesus’ told them they were blind.  Referring again to the ninth chapter of John, in which Jesus healed a man who was born blind, the Pharisees were divided over how he had been healed.  Some claimed Jesus could not be from God because he healed on the Sabbath, and they believed this broke their Jewish law.  Others said that a sinner could not possibly perform such a miracle.  They became desperate in their blindness.  At first they claimed that the person who now had sight was not the same person who had been born blind, but his parents testified that he was.  So they went back to the man who had received his sight, and demanded that he give glory to God, and not to Jesus, because Jesus was a sinner.  But the man who Jesus had given sight to replied to them that “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”  (vs. 32)  Finally the Pharisees became so enraged that they threw this poor man out of the temple. 

Like the man whom Jesus’ healed, we all are born blind.  We may be able to see with our physical eyes, but until the Holy Spirit opens our spiritual eyes to the truth of the Gospel, our spirits are blind.   Some might see well enough to realize there must be a God who created all that exists, but are still blind to their need for a Savior, still blind to the fact that Jesus Christ is that Savior, God Almighty born in the flesh, who came to earth to die on a cross for their sins and rose again.  Still too blind to see the road to heaven… and still staggering down the wrong road.

Hopefully none of you are still spiritually blind.  It is my prayer that each and everyone here, or who reads this later, has had the scales from their eyes removed by the Holy Spirit, and been born again through faith in Christ Jesus.  I pray none of you are like the Pharisees who refused to see the truth even when it is standing right before their eyes, and yet were quick to point a finger at those who did see.

Like a newborn baby, who opens their eyes for the first time after being born into the world, when our spiritual eyes are first opened after being born again, our eyesight is not very acute.  We see only what is directly in front of us, because our visual acuity is not yet fully developed.  Newborn babies also don’t yet see in color, but only in black and white.  How many Christians are not past that stage in their spiritual sight?  And it takes a few months for babies to recognize faces, to gain depth perception, and other visual skills.  Likewise, as born again Christians mature, their spiritual sight becomes more acute, and their understanding of God’s Word much deeper.  They can see the difference between God’s truth and Satan’s lies; and they can recognize the difference between someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit and a false prophet, as the apostle John urged us when he wrote, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  (1 John 4:1).  Unfortunately some never seem to get past the stage of spiritual infancy, as the apostle Paul lamented in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3: “Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people.  I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life.  I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature?”  But even spiritual infancy is better than spiritual blindness.  Better to be at the beginning of the right road, than almost to the end of the wrong one. 

So to the mature Christians, whose spiritual sight is well-developed, I urge you to have compassion on Christians who are still in their infancy.  Teach them, guide them, and most of all, love them.  And reach out to those who are still spiritually blind, the lost souls staggering around in darkness and yet claiming that they see, just as the Pharisees did.  Pray that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes, their hearts, and their minds to the truth. 

To the Christians who still are immature, I encourage you to study the Bible, pray for the Holy Spirit to enhance your understanding, and spend time with God’s people instead of those who follow the world blindly. 

Finally, to any who claim to see but are still spiritually blind, may the power of the Holy Spirit open your eyes to the glorious light of the Gospel, that you might receive Christ and be born again.  Because unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3).  Amen.

VIDEOS: 

"Open the Eyes of my Heart"  (Michael W. Smith)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idQ1n3cdgfo

"How Great is our God"  (Chris Tomlin)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDgmJFw6F64