Spiritual Vision: Seeing Through a Glass, Darkly
Good News Magazine
August 1979
Volume: Vol XXVI, No. 7
Issue: ISSN 0432-0816
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Spiritual Vision: Seeing Through a Glass, Darkly

   Have you ever tried moving around in the dark — total, pitch-black darkness — in a room that you are fairly well familiar with, and found you stumbled and bumped into everything? Or have you tried to go through your normal motions wearing a blindfold? If so you can probably begin to comprehend how essential vision is. The Bible says a lot about vision. Physical analogies are used to teach spiritual lessons. Read Proverbs 29:18:
   "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he who keeps the law, happy is he." Here the Hebrew word for vision- is not the ordinary word for something that is seen. It describes what we call seeing ahead, and knowing what it's all about, in a spiritual sense.
   Christ had such spiritual vision. John 5:30, "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."
   "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will," He said in John 6:38, "but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will [now here comes the "vision"] which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (verses 39-40).
   Before conversion we were in total spiritual darkness, alienated from God.
   Ephesians 2:1-3: "And you hath he quickened [made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins, Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.
   "Among whom also we all had 0ur conversation [our manner of life] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."

A new perspective

   In Ephesians 4:17-18, Paul describes the walk or lifestyle of a believer, one who is a new man in Christ, who now has the spiritual vision to see and put things in their proper perspective.
   "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened [which ours was], being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart."
   Spiritual vision enables us to look afar off to the Kingdom of God, to the fulfillment of God's promises.
   It's hard to see in darkness. So Christ said, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness" (John 8:12).
   Talk with someone who has totally lost his vision, who has to rely on a stick to prevent himself from stumbling, stepping off the curb or suffering some major accident. He has to learn how to guide himself. His other senses have to become more acute.
   But if blindness has caused him to more fully appreciate the importance of spiritual vision, of being totally illuminated through his relationship with God, he has a spiritual advantage over many with 20-20 vision.

Spiritual myopia

   Now since spiritual blindness afflicts us all to one degree or another, I'd like to draw some analogies from several physical visual disabilities.
   The first one is myopia. One can see things near, but can't focus on things far away. How many of us suffer from spiritual myopia? Jesus' friend Martha in Luke 10:38-42 is a classic example.
   "Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and [there] a certain woman named Martha received him into her house." Martha had the right attitude. She saw the immediate necessity of serving and was willing. She saw the importance of waiting on the Messiah.
   "And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word." Here is the contrast between the two sisters — the one could see the near, but couldn't see afar off, and the other could see both the immediate necessities of the around as well as into the future.
   "But Martha was cumbered about [with] much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me."
   We can see where Martha put all of the emphasis and the importance. Are any of us thinking that physical service is going to get us into the Kingdom of God? Physical service is a necessity, a labor of love, but it has to be kept in its proper perspective.
   "And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful [anxious] and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
   Can we focus far in the future, to the time when, with the trumpet blast Jesus Christ descends, that climactic moment when we will receive the promised reward?

Out of focus

   Then there is hyperopia. One sees things far away, but can't focus on things near. Physically that's my problem. I can see a little fly buzzing around across the room, but I can't see my Bible. I can't even see my notes, though I write them extra large, without glasses.
   Too often we take for granted in our spiritual hyperopia that God will automatically place angels to guard us during the night, provide us a good night's sleep, help us, guide us and guard us in all our daily living. And so life becomes monotonous, the same old routine. We concentrate on the expected end while ignoring more pressing and immediate problems.
   A third physical handicap is presbyopia. This is blurred vision that comes with age [think of presbyter, which means elder]. We can apply the analogy to many in God's Church who rely on their seniority, their spiritual age, but whose spiritual vision has become inflexible, impossible to adjust. They Jive as if they believe now they can coast into the Kingdom.
   Seniority isn't going to accomplish anything for us. A babe in Christ may obtain a higher position in the Kingdom of God than those suffering spiritually from the blurred vision that comes with old age.

Distorted imagery

   A fourth visual problem is called astigmatism. This may cause blurred, hazy vision at any age. Images become distorted, crooked and overlap. A spiritual astigmatic loses his sense of balance and values. As a result he's disorganized, his priorities often wrong. It's almost impossible to reason with a person with this particular problem.
   I think Romans 1:21-24 describes a person in this category: "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." They gambled on their own spiritual' viewpoint: and as a result, the lights went out.
   "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, througi1 the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves."
   The conduct of their personal lives because of their distorted vision jeopardizes their relationship with God.
   Romans 3:12-18: "They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways... the way or peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes."
   Sins, unrepented of, can lead to another spiritual visual handicap — cataracts. Our vision is progressively impaired by dimming blind spots that eventually result in total blindness. The apostle Paul wrote of this condition as "having their conscience seared" (I Tim. 4:2).

Achieving spiritual 20-20 vision

   I Corinthians 13:12-13: "For now we see through a [less than transparent] glass, darkly; but then [we'll see] face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abides faith, hope, charity [love], these three; but the greatest of these is charity [love]."
   Psalm 119:105 tells how we can develop acute spiritual vision, "Thy word [the revealing Word of God, the light of life] is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."
   Psalm 146:5, 8: "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God... The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind."
Psalm 119:105 tells how we can develop acute spiritual vision, "Thy word [the revealing Word of God, the light of life] is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."
   II Peter 1:3-5: "According as his divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust... giving all diligence."
   When it comes to developing spiritual maturity and really improving our relationship with God, it has to be with all diligence.
   In the beatitudes, Matthew 5:6 says, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." It's going to improve our spiritual vision We'll be able to see things both near and far away. There won't be any blurry, hazy vision.
   Back to II Peter 1:5-7, "And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance [self-control]; and to temperance patience and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity [love]."

Protect your spiritual vision

   "For if these things be ill you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind [is in total darkness, has lost the spiritual vision], and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and your election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall" (verses 8-10). That is a concrete promise.
   Luke 9:62: "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" — a wrong use of vision.
   Hebrews 10:26-36: "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for [vision again] of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
   "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
   "For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated [by the light from God], ye endured a great flight of afflictions... For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise."

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Good News MagazineAugust 1979Vol XXVI, No. 7ISSN 0432-0816