One of the most popular of recent mystery novels is a tale of espionage and counterespionage in Europe, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. This story of suspense, intrigue, violence, and sordidness can well represent what is taking place in the world today.
But there is another story that might be written, a story of men and women who have come in from the dark to the light, who have lived in spiritual darkness only to have the light of the love of God in Christ break in on and transform their lives. This thrilling tale concerns once-blind people who have come to sec themselves and the redemption to be had in Christ.
For many this transition is so gradual that only in retrospect do they realize the difference; yet the fact remains that a true conversion experience entails coming from darkness to light, from spiritual blindness to sight.
The Apostle Paul, in his defense before King Agrippa, told of his encounter with the risen Christ and of the commission he had received: “I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:17b, 18, RSV).
Blindness is frequently used in the Bible to symbolize the spiritual condition of those who do not believe. In his letter to the Ephesians Paul says, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” (4:18). The psalmist uses the same analogy: “The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind” (Ps. 146:7b, 8a). Isaiah records God’s words: “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness” (Isa. 42:6, 7). And the Prophet Zephaniah foretells a day similar to our own: “I will bring distress on men, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the Lord …” (1:17).
More than twenty times our Lord referred to blindness, either physical or spiritual. He denounced the Pharisees as “blind guides,” “blind leaders of the blind.” In the Revelation, the risen Christ, speaking through his servant John, describes the Laodicean church. so like the Church today, as “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (3:17).
Spiritual blindness is the natural state of the once-born man; spiritual sight is given to the twice-born. This is the major challenge to the Church. That she spends so much time offering white canes and seeing-eye dogs to the blind when she might offer restored sight through faith in the Christ of Calvary is strange and tragic. Even within the Church, the blinded state of the unconverted is ignored or misunderstood.
It is spiritual blindness that causes men to reject the Gospel and to look on the preaching of the Cross as foolishness. The very nature of the problem renders futile any cure devised by man. The gravity of unregenerate man’s state is such that only a miracle can bring about a change. As our Lord opened the eyes of the physically blind, so he and he alone can open the eyes of those afflicted by blindness of the soul.
In the Gospel there is that miraculous, supernatural power which brings a man from darkness into the light, from blindness into spiritual sight. This involves a complete renewing of the person so that he becomes a “new creature in Christ.”
The reality of spiritual blindness and the transforming power of Jesus Christ are an inescapable part of revealed truth. How tragic if any in the Church should fail to admit the fact of blindness and the efficacy of the cure! And equally tragic if any who call themselves Christians should cause the blind to stumble or should lead them in a way at the end of which there is only more darkness.
Years ago in China the writer often operated on people with cataracts. It is a spectacular and rewarding experience to perform this comparatively simple operation on a blind patient and a few minutes later watch him as he sees the faces above him and counts the fingers held before him. The joy of the patient is often unbounded, and the satisfaction of the surgeon is great.
How much more rewarding to lead one who is spiritually blind into the marvelous light reflected in the face of the One who came to give light, life, and complete newness to men!
Can it be that many of our activities are attempts to fit blind people with glasses when their only hope is to be found in the divinely provided healing of the Son of God?
Can it be that we often make a grave error in diagnosis, failing to recognize spiritual blindness as man’s natural state?
Can it be that after this diagnostic error we compound the problem by holding out a false hope of a sight that can be obtained in no other way than through the blood-bought victory of Calvary?
We must never forget that the healing of spiritual blindness requires the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Human agencies? Yes. But the power rests in the Spirit of the living God; the work of restoration is his. Our greatest failure is the failure to admit the reality of spiritual blindness. Front this comes man’s rejection of the remedy.
The Apostle Paul told the Ephesians that they were once in darkness but through faith in Christ had come into the light. Therefore, he said, “walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true).… Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Eph. 5:8–11).
This transformation from darkness to light, from blindness to spiritual sight, becomes evident to all: “For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness” (1 Thes. 5:5).
After this change we can test our own lives by seeing what we enjoy—evil things or good things, the works of darkness or those of light. “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (Prov. 4:18). Self-testing will show us whether we are growing in our appreciation and reflection of light or are continuing in darkness.
This transformation is a work of God’s free grace, of his redeeming power. Speaking in the synagogue in Nazareth our Lord said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18, 19).
What a tragedy when we reject the light because we love darkness more!
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