No Longer Blind
by Larry Riekenberg
I suspect many of us in our pre-Christian days made an occasional attempt to read the Bible. After several struggles, we gave up in the “begats” of the Old Testament and turned to the New Testament, only to become bewildered by the language concerning grace, transgressions, salvation, justification, propitiation, God’s love, and a variety of concepts foreign to our thinking.
What does it all mean?
We have little to go on unless we look to the Word of God to understand what we were like before becoming a child of God. Consider Ephesians 4:17-19:
So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
There are certain phrases that jump out at us that describe what the Bible refers to as “blind”: futility (emptiness) of their mind, darkened understanding, ignorance, and hardness of heart. This leads to a life characterized by the pattern of the world system that provides a continual pressure to conform to a contemporary lifestyle that in many ways has become normal for all.
What hope is there for fallen mankind to ever break free from the chains of spiritual darkness, blindness, ignorance, and transgression? How do we escape from this self-imposed treadmill that leads to death?
God in His grace salvages us from our dilemma. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God and makes it understandable to the blind mind. Theologically we call this “illumination.” He provides light that shines in the darkness.
Paul relates his personal testimony of his call to serve the Lord in preaching the gospel to the lost in Galatians 1:15-16:
But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles…
And at his conversion, the Lord told him he would be a witness and a minister for a very specific purpose.
To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me (Acts 26:18).
The Scriptures are also clear as to the work of the Spirit in the lives of believers to enable us to grasp the spiritual truths that transform our thinking and conduct. We often talk of the position we have in Christ as the redeemed and are exhorted to grow in His grace so that our walk is consistent with who we are in Christ. We are always playing catch-up. Our goal is to become like Jesus Christ, since we are already, in God’s sight, righteous, holy, and blameless in Christ.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6).
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers was for them to understand more fully the blessings of their salvation.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe (Ephesians 1:18, 19).
Assignment for personal study: Go to I Corinthians 2:7-16 for a further description of the Spirit’s work. This should be a challenge to us to personally search the Scriptures (which we all have in several forms). As believers, we are blessed with the indwelling Holy Spirit for illumination to fathom for ourselves the riches of His mercy, which He lavished on us in the Beloved!