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June-July 2013


June-July 2013

God's Hands


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intersect, where the bible meets life


Oh Say, Can You See? A Look at Spiritual Blindnes, Part Twos

“Mr. Reid, you have a detached retina.”

Wow! I hadn’t expected that! After my ophthalmologist removed cataracts from both my eyes, a retinal surgeon now explained the reason for that shadow at the top of my left eye vision.

He recommended immediate surgical repair, and he got no argument from me! The alternative was doing nothing and losing my vision totally. The surgery worked, and I am grateful for restored sight.


Vision Impaired

A different kind of vision loss—spiritual blindness—is a very real possibility for God’s people. We noted in the previous column that Isaiah warned his generation about the danger of not seeing clearly when it comes to spiritual matters. He reminded all of us that this blindness to truth darkens the hearts and minds of those who refuse to see what God reveals to them through His word. This blindness:

  • may affect people in a covenant relationship with God;

  • is self-induced at first, but becomes a judgment from God;

  • comes upon God’s people who are able to see, but refuse to make the commitment to see;

  • plagues believers who, while not able to see, refuse to learn to see.


False Faith

We should also observe that Isaiah’s look at this condition continues with two other factors involved. Notice what God says through His prophet in the first part of Isaiah 29:13, following his rebuke of their blindness in verse 12: “This people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me.”

When we reject the truth, we must pretend as if we see in order to keep up appearances; so we find ourselves living in a habitat of deception and fakery. Blind Christians become Pharisees, in essence, who “nullify” the law of God by their self-deception (Matthew 15:8). “You hypocrites,” Jesus charges. “Well did Isaiah prophecy of you!” Thus Isaiah alleges that spiritual blindness often results in a shallow, hypocritical relationship with God.


“Taught by Men”

Read on and finish Isaiah 29:13, though: “And their fear of me is a commandment taught by men.” When we do not feed our hearts, minds, and spirits on the words of the living God, our blindness will lead us to depend on what is convenient, what looks safe, but is, after all, only human. Spiritual blindness, therefore, is often symptomatic of a human-driven, legalistic view of faith. It claims to honor God with the lips—the external—but is actually soulless, heartless, and passionless.


Diagnosis and Treatment

So before we explore a solution to our blindness, let’s diagnose: what are the symptoms of spiritual blindness? Peter, in the New Testament, provides this profile in 2 Peter 1:3-9. Follow his train of thought. In verse nine, he concludes that, “whoever lacks these qualities is blind.” So read the list of qualities in the previous verses. If these virtues are missing, their absence likely signals spiritual blindness!

  • Virtue - We let our concern for holy living slide.

  • Knowledge - We are not loving God and His Word with all our mind.

  • Self-control - We have become careless in areas we used to control.

  • Godliness - We have shoved God to the fringes of our life.

  • Brotherly affection - We do not invest in loving others, only ourselves.

  • Love - We are missing that one trait through which the world may see Christ in us.

To whatever degree these are missing in us, we are blind. Yet spiritual blindness finds its cure only in the gracious intervention of our compassionate God as we submit our wills to His. We must come to grips with our condition and pray for sight. Ask God that, “the eyes of our heart would be enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18). He opens blinded eyes (Isaiah 29:19). Pray for God to see us: “Look down from heaven and see” (Isaiah 63:15). “Please look, Lord,” (Isaiah 64:9), so that we may see.


Intersect: Where the Bible Meets Life is a regular column written by Dr. Garnett Reid, a member of the Bible faculty at Welch College. Visit his blog:



©2013 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists