It is quite evident that the majority of earth’s population is spiritually blind which causes a lack of divine understanding. In order for us to obey God, our spiritual eyes must first be open to appreciate Christ and spiritual things. It is the Holy Spirit that enlightens the human mind, but in order for that to be done there is something on our part that we must do.
This truth is brought out in the story of blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46–52).
“And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.
“And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; He calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto Him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.”
THE PROGRESSIVE NATURE OF HIS HEALING
- Bartimaeus heard about Jesus.
- Bartimaeus had a need that only Jesus could satisfy.
- Many people tried to discourage him and cause him to lose his blessing.
- Bartimaeus would not be dissuaded or discouraged.
- Jesus acknowledged his determination and called for him.
- Bartimaeus was obedient to the call of Jesus.
- Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he desired Him to do for him.
- Bartimaeus requested that his eyes might be open
- His faith in Jesus caused him to receive his sight.
“And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God” (Luke 18:42, 43).
“The prayer of faith is the key that unlocks the treasury of heaven. As we commit our souls to God, let us remember that He holds Himself responsible to hear and answer our supplications. He invites us to come to Him, and He bestows on us His best and choicest gifts—gifts that will supply our great need. He loves to help us. Let us trust in His wisdom and His power. O what faith we should have! O what peace and comfort we should enjoy! Open your heart to the Spirit of God. Then the Lord will work through you and bless your labors.” — Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, 196. (To Elder Daniells and His Fellow-Workers, April 12, 1903.)
WHAT IS FAITH?
“Faith is not a happy flight of feeling; it is simply taking God at His word—believing that He will fulfill His promises because He said He would.” Our High Calling, 119.
“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3).
“We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken ” (2 Corinthians 4:13).
Bartimaeus took Jesus at His word, believed that He was able to open his blinded eyes and the miracle happened.
For human beings to appreciate spiritual things it is vital that their spiritual eyes be open, that the scales of unbelief which blind the eyes be removed so that divine understanding may become a reality. For some people this is their desire while many others would rather remain in blindness.
Jesus made reference to such persons when He told the parable of the sower, “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:13–15).
“In these words He explained that His illustrations were to awaken thought in the minds of His hearers. If they desired a fuller explanation of His words they could ask it of Him, as the disciples had done, and receive it.
“The Pharisees understood the parable, but affected not to perceive its meaning. They closed their eyes lest they should see and their ears lest they should hear; therefore their hearts could not be reached. They were to suffer retribution for their willful ignorance and self-imposed blindness.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, 236.
“Jesus desired to awaken inquiry. He sought to arouse the careless, and impress truth upon the heart. … If His hearers had desired a knowledge of divine things, they might have understood His words; for He was always willing to explain them to the honest inquirer. …
“To minds that were open to the Holy Spirit, the significance of the Saviour’s teaching unfolded more and more. Mysteries grew clear, and that which had been hard to grasp became evident.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 20, 21.
So there are many people, even among professed Christians, who willfully close their eyes to truth because they do not want to obey what God says. Such individuals are willful unbelievers, failing to take God at His word and to do His words and therefore they cannot be blessed with divine understanding.
On the other hand there are those, like blind Bartimaeus, who walk by faith and are quick to obey what Jesus commands even though it may go against their cherished desires. Such persons have learned to use the divine key which is the prayer of faith.
Let’s go back to blind Bartimaeus. He learned to use the divine key, the prayer of faith.
Bartimaeus was about his daily activity, begging by the wayside when he heard that Jesus was passing by. There was this one burning desire that he had – to receive his sight. So he prayed his prayer of faith, “Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me” (Luke 18:38). Jesus heard that prayer of faith and encouraged Bartimaeus’ faith when He asked him “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee” (verse 41, first part)?
Jesus had before Him a person who was desperate, trusting, sincere, believing and determined. Bartimaeus wanted to receive his sight. He wanted to see, to enjoy and appreciate that which he could never enjoy and appreciate while being blind. So his prayer of faith gave him that blessing. So it can be for each one of us. Our spiritual eyes may be open by the exercise of faith.
Ellen White explains Bartimaeus’ experience as follows: “Blind Bartimaeus is waiting by the wayside; he has waited long to meet Christ.
“Throngs of people who possess their sight are passing to and fro, but they have no desire to see Jesus. One look of faith would touch His heart of love, and bring them the blessings of His grace; but they know not the sickness and poverty of their souls, and they feel no need of Christ. Not so with the poor blind man. His only hope is in Jesus. As he waits and watches, he hears the tread of many feet, and he eagerly inquires, What means this noise of travel? The by-standers answer that ‘Jesus of Nazareth passeth by’ (Luke 18:37). With the eagerness of intense desire, he cries, ‘Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me’ (verse 38). They try to silence him, but he cries the more vehemently, ‘Thou Son of David, have mercy on me’ (verse 39). This appeal is heard. His persevering faith is rewarded. Not only is physical sight restored, but the eyes of his understanding are opened. In Christ he sees his Redeemer, and the Sun of Righteousness shines into his soul.” Sons and Daughters of God, 126.
THE POINT IS THIS
In order to appreciate spiritual things, in order to truly love Christ as man’s redeemer, man’s intercessor, and to obey Him, in order to experience divine understanding, it is absolutely important that our spiritual eyes be opened so that we may see.
FAITH IS THE ANSWER
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. … But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11: 1, 6).
“The summing up of the benefit of prayer is that devotion that leads to faith in God’s promises. This faith is the key that opens the divine treasury, is the hand by which we appropriate to our use the richest gifts of God. The prayer of the contrite heart unlocks the treasure house of supplies, and lays hold of omnipotent power. … The prayer of faith … wells up from perfect trust and assurance, and by its fervor makes manifest to the world, to angels, and to men, that you do believe in God, and have made Christ your personal Saviour.” The Signs of the Times, June 18, 1896.
WHAT ARE THE PROGRESSIVE STEPS WHICH LEAD TO THE LOSS OF SPIRITUAL EYESIGHT?
“The loss of the first love has opened the door to a great amount of selfishness, evil surmising, evil speaking, envy, jealousy, hard-heartedness. This is the fruit borne when the fervor of the first love has grown cold. There has been but little restraint upon the tongue, for prayer has been neglected. A Pharisaical righteousness has been cherished; there is deadness of spirituality, and a lack of spiritual eye-sight is the result.” Special Testimony to Our Ministers, 2, 27.
WHO BLINDS HUMAN BEINGS’ SPIRITUAL EYESIGHT?
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
“The enemy of all righteousness has blinded the eyes of sinners, so that sin does not appear sinful.” The Signs of the Times, January 23, 1879.
“In the beginning it was Satan’s purpose to separate man from God. And this purpose he has carried out in every age. Constantly he is at work among the children of men. He sways all classes. The same method of deception, the same logic, that he used to deceive the holy pair in Eden, he has used in all succeeding ages. His plan of work has ever been one of deception. At times he assumes a cloak of piety, purity, and holiness. Often he transforms himself into an angel of light. He has blinded the eyes of men so that they can not see beneath the surface and discern his real purpose.” Ibid., July 23, 1902.
The chief method Satan uses to blind human beings is deception. John the Revelator wrote: “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9).
The word deceiveth that John used means to cause to roam or wander – from safety, truth or virtue. It means to go astray, be out of the way.
In order to lead a person out of the way the person must be caused not to SEE. This is what Satan has done to every human being. He has caused us not to see who Jesus is to us. He has caused us not to see truth in its true meaning. He has blinded all of us.
WHAT ELSE BLINDS THE SPIRITUAL EYE?
- False and unsanctified love blinds the eye. (The Great Controversy , 571.)
- By choosing darkness rather than light. (“Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1147.)
- Blinded by selfishness and self-sufficiency. (Temperance, 234, 235.)
- Spiritual eye blinded by unbelief. (Testimonies, vol. 5, 258.)
- Wrong practices blind the eye. (This Day With God, 163.)
- Spiritual eye blinded because the truth is not obeyed. (The Upward Look, 318.)
- Covetousness has blinded the eye. (The Review and Herald, October 5, 1886.)
- Pride and self-esteem blind spiritual eye. (The Signs of the Times, January 15, 1885.)
- Spiritual eye is blinded by self-indulgence. (The Review and Herald, June 11, 1901.)
- Eye blinded by the glitter of earthly glory. (Ibid., April 6, 1911.)
- Blinded by Satan’s sophistries, deceptive theories. (SpTB07, 3.)
- The love of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life have blinded the spiritual eye. (Phamphlet 98, 20.)
- By despising reproof and despising the visions. (Phamphlet 016, 18.)
- The spiritual eye is blinded by turning away from the truth and not accepting Christ. (Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 181.)
- Blinded by the spirit of commercialism. (Loma Linda Messages, 312.)
- The many evils which exist in the church blind the eye. (The Review and Herald, June 12, 1894.)
THE REMEDY FOR SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS
Jesus says, “I counsel thee to … anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” (Revelation 3:18).
“The eyes of fallen men may be anointed with the eye-salve of spiritual comprehension, and they may see themselves as they really are—poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. They may be brought to realize their need of repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Review and Herald, July 24, 1888.
Jesus told Nicodemus the solution in these words “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:5–7).
The servant of the Lord, commenting on these verses, wrote, “Many are in peril today; their eyes have been blinded; and as Christ said to Nicodemus, I say to them, ‘Ye must be born again’ (John 3:7).” The Signs of the Times, June 2, 1890.
The “born again” experience is the miracle of miracles. We are told: “Satan has blinded the eyes of those who see nothing beyond the earthly, temporal interests. … They are spiritually blind, and the Lord Jesus performs a greater miracle when he restores spiritual vision to those who have been blinded by the glitter and tinsel of this world, than if he healed the most malignant disease.” Ibid., March 28, 1895.
“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matthew 6:22).
The word light actually means lamp and has to do with the source of light or the medium through which it shines, not to the light itself. The light of the body is that insight that places a true relative value on the things of time and eternity.
The eye refers to the eye of the soul that gives a person heavenly vision and that enables him/her to behold that which is invisible to the natural eyesight. Such eyesight is a guide to the soul.
Ellen White defines Matthew 6:22 in this way: “These words have a first and second sense, a literal and a figurative meaning. They are full of truth in regard to the bodily eye, with which we see external objects. And they are true also in regard to the spiritual eye, the conscience, with which we estimate good and evil. If the eye of the soul, the conscience, is perfectly healthy, the soul will be taught aright.
“But when the conscience is guided by human perceptions, which are not subdued and softened by the grace of Christ, the mind is in a diseased condition. Things are not seen in their true bearings. The imagination is wrought upon, and the eye of the mind sees things in a false, distorted light.” Mind, Character and Personality, vol. 1, 323.
“The idea is entertained by many that a man may practice anything that he conscientiously believes to be right. But the question is, Has the man a well-instructed, good conscience, or is it biased and warped by his own preconceived opinions? Conscience is not to take the place of ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ Consciences do not all harmonize and are not all inspired alike. Some consciences are dead, seared as with a hot iron. Men may be conscientiously wrong as well as conscientiously right. Paul did not believe in Jesus of Nazareth, and he hunted the Christians from city to city, verily believing that he was doing service to God.” Ibid., 322.
The apostle Paul, speaking concerning those who once knew the truth but have had their consciences blinded by Satan wrote, “ ‘Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron’ (1 Timothy 4:1, 2). Those who have turned away from a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ will be blinded in a superstitious faith in every kind of apostasy, and will be led into that terrible iniquity which God’s word represents as being drunken with the blood of the saints.” The Review and Herald, August 31, 1897.
OUR SPIRITUAL EYE MUST BE SINGLE
“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matthew 6:22).
“Singleness of purpose, wholehearted devotion to God, is the condition pointed out by the Saviour’s words. Let the purpose be sincere and unwavering to discern the truth and to obey it at whatever cost, and you will receive divine enlightenment.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 91.
THE MAIN THING WHICH CAUSES AN EVIL EYE
“But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matthew 6:23).
“But when the eye is blinded by the love of self, there is only darkness. ‘If thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness’ (Matthew 6:23). It was this fearful darkness that wrapped the Jews in stubborn unbelief, making it impossible for them to appreciate the character and mission of Him who came to save them from their sins.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 92.
Note also the following: “ ‘But if thine eye be evil,’ if you study selfish purposes, and work only to that end, the whole character is defective, the whole body is full of darkness. Such do not look to Jesus. They do not behold His character, and they are not changed into His image. The spiritual vision is defective, and the way from earth to heaven is darkened by the hellish shadow of Satan. So Satan is pleased to have it, for he can lead that person blindfolded to ruin.” Christ Triumphant, 64.
SINGLENESS OF EYE MEANS HAVING CHRIST’S CHARACTER
“Those who have an eye single to the glory of God, will manifest in their lives the loveliness and purity of Christ’s character. The enemy will not be able to pervert their understanding, causing them to view things in a false light, and misjudge the words and motives of their brethren. They will not plan how they may gain approbation; neither will they be so deeply affected by any course that may be pursued toward them that they will give up in discouragement. Shall they forsake their post of duty because they are slighted, or imagine that they are not appreciated? No; they will seek to honor Him whose servants they are. They have the Captain of their salvation to please, His orders to obey, and they will leave the result with Him.” Gospel Workers, 442.
PRAYER OF FAITH
Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That will unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready, my God, Thy will to see, Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine! Clara H. Scott, 1895.
“All who feel their need of Christ as did blind Bartimeus, and who will be as earnest and determined as he was, will, like him, receive the blessing which they crave.” Sons and Daughters of God, 126.
[All emphasis supplied.]
Pastor Ivan Plummer ministers through the Emmanuel Seventh Day Church Ministries in Bronx, New York. He may be contacted by telephone at: 718-882-3900.