“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Matthew 6:22–23
Are you afraid of the dark? It’s easy to belittle fear of dark places as childish, especially when enjoying the competence and control of adulthood, but there’s a lot more to this fear than we may care to admit. Darkness can debilitate the strong and the valiant instantaneously, but its danger is easily overlooked now that we can illuminate a room at the flip of a switch. A similar peril exists in the spiritual realm, for in this “advanced” era when our choices accomplish so much, we easily forget Christ’s warning that after we make our choices, our choices make us.
A Subtle Danger
Light has always come from outside the body, requiring the recipient merely to open their eyes and receive it. The ease of this activity leads to an assumption that the want of light has more to do with our surroundings than with us. Our first thought is to flip the switch or open a curtain, steps so mundane and momentary that we rarely note them, much less consider the opposite option—that the lack of light might be arising from ourselves. Abnormalities are hard to spot in ourselves; but how much more so when the abnormality affects our vision! The complexities involved in illumination, vision, and perception are manifold, providing a host of places where illusion can usurp reality.
We rightly think of light as absolute and elemental; something that is what it is, like the ground beneath our feet. However, our everyday experience with light largely disagrees with this concept, for we find that light can be dimmed and distorted, our senses dulled, and our perspectives limited simply by becoming accustomed to our surroundings. On the whole, we try to account for these factors but find that, in actuality, we wouldn’t get much done if we were philosophically checking every object to ensure that it was really as we saw it. Nature warns us to live with humility, for the intricacies of vision teach us that there is a blindness that overtakes anyone who is too confident that they see clearly.
This principle was a central teaching of the Lord’s earthly ministry as He repeatedly emphasized the astounding fact that what the heart believes it invariably sees (Mt. 20:32–34; Lk. 8:18; Jn. 9:39–41). More light is no help to a blind person because the lack exists not around the person but within. In the same manner, a heart obstructed by enshrined falsehoods cannot accept the truth (Jn. 8:37), and must reject it as falsehood (Jn. 8:43). What matters to the heart determines the ideas it receives and the ideas it rejects—regardless of whether the ideas are true or not. This dangerous reality appears throughout the Gospels in scenes such as the one we find in Matthew 15:7–14:
“You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand:it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
The Pharisees’ predicament is a serious warning to every devout believer. We can and do fall prey to falsehood posing as truth when we allow idolatrous desires to take preeminence in our hearts (Jas. 1:14–15; Acts 20:29–31). Though well-meaning, committed, and passionate, every saint of God can unwittingly promote falsehood even in the name of morality, truth, and the glory of God because—in this dark world—all it takes is a lack of understanding and vigilance (Gal. 3:1; Col. 2:18–19). Over the next few posts, we will consider two ways believers experience blindness, but also the salvation afforded us to obtain clarity in every situation.
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