How can I overcome spiritual blindness? Part 5

“Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!’ And he worshiped Him.” John 9:38

Unable to overcome the former blind man’s logic and the evidence of a miracle, the Pharisees answered and said to him, ‘You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?’ And they cast him out.” (John 9:34). They were saying that this man’s blindness was due to specific sins in his life to shame him into silence and discredit his testimony. He could not teach them because he was a sinner and they were righteous. This is the fifth symptom of spiritual blindness – DISTORT THE TRUTH ABOUT THEMSELVES (John 9:34) – they perceived themselves to be superior to this former blind man and to Jesus for that matter. These educated religious leaders were unwilling to learn from a beggar. They continued in their stubborn rejection of Christ despite the overwhelming reasons to believe in Him.

“They cast him out” of the synagogue to silence him and limit his influence of others. This also served as a warning to others who are tempted to confess that Jesus is from God. This is probably the best thing that could have happened to the former blind man because now he would not have to listen to the works-salvation message of the Pharisees. He was now more prepared for his next encounter with Jesus. God can use the rejection of others to make non-Christians more open to hearing the gospel.

Perhaps you have experienced rejection from your spiritual leaders or religious community because of your interest in Jesus Christ. You have interacted with Christians and they have shown you love instead of hatred. In fact, they have shown you more love than the people of your own religion. And this increases your interest in Jesus.

The Bible then tells us that “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him…” (John 9:35a). Hearing of his excommunication, Jesus sought the former blind man out. Jesus did the seeking since the man had not yet seen Jesus.

Whatever opposition you have experienced for confessing Christ publicly, please know that this is not the last word. Jesus was aware of the former blind’s man’s excommunication, and He sought Him out. Jesus is also aware of your situation, and He seeks you out to reveal more of Himself to you. Your religious community or family may reject you for speaking the truth about Jesus, but Jesus will never reject you when you diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6b).

Now, for the first time, the former blind man could look at the One who restored his sight. Jesus is very direct with the man. “He said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’ ” (John 9:35b). This is the purpose for John’s gospel. John recorded these miracles of Jesus so you “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31). This personal response is necessary for receiving the gift of eternal life.

Many people today believe that Jesus exists and died for them on the Cross and even rose from the dead, but they are not trusting in Him alone for this free gift. They are still depending on their own religious efforts to get them to heaven.

The former blind man “answered and said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ ” (John 9:36). The beggar is willing and ready to believe, but he is ignorant. He wants the Son of God to be identified so he may believe in Him. Jesus identifies Himself as the Messiah-God when He says, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” (John 9:37). The words “seen Him” must have meant a lot to the man who up until that day, had never seen anything.

As soon as the man knew the identity of the Son of God he immediately responds in faith. “Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!’ And he worshiped Him.” (John 9:38). Jesus used the physical healing of this blind man to prepare him for his spiritual healing. Jesus had once again mixed His own divine DNA (His Word) with humanity (the former blind man) so that an even greater healing could take place. Out of gratitude for his physical healing, the man believed in Christ as the Messiah-God, which meant he now had eternal life (John 20:31)! This is the climax for the man in a process that has been taking place throughout the whole chapter. His insight into the Person of Jesus has been growing:

“The man who is called Jesus” (John 9:11).

“I do not know” (John 9:12).

“He is a prophet” (John 9:17).

“Whether He is a sinner, I do not know” (John 9:25).

The Man who has “disciples” (John 9:27).

“He has opened my eyes” (John 9:30).

“If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing” (John 9:33).

“Lord, I believe” (John 9:38a).

“He worshiped Him” (John 9:38b).

The man has been moving from darkness to the Light. After believing in Jesus, “he worshiped Him.” The word translated “worshiped” (proskunéō) is a compound Greek word meaning “towards (pros) to kiss (kunéō),” which refers “to kissing the ground as you prostrate yourself before a superior, to fall down on your knees to adore someone of superior rank.” The former blind man was honoring Jesus as God by worshiping Him (cf. John 5:23).

There is only one Person in the universe who is worthy of worship (Exodus 20:3-5), and Jesus did not stop this man from worshiping Him. If Jesus is not God, why would He permit the man to worship Him? God told Moses on Mount Sinai, “You shall have no other gods before Me… You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:3, 5). The healed man was bowing down before Jesus to worship Him. When Jesus accepted the man’s worship, He was making a statement that He was God! This confirms what the apostle John said in John 1:1, “And the Word was God.” If Jesus was not God, then He was endorsing idolatry.

The former blind man could no longer worship God in the synagogue, but now he could worship  God to His face. And Jesus will never “cast out” of His family those who come to Him in faith (John 6:37). This is the fourth way to overcome spiritual blindness. DEPEND ON CHRIST ALONE FOR ETERNAL LIFE (John 9:35-38). Only Jesus can meet our deepest spiritual needs.

When we believe in Him, He gives us everlasting life which can never be lost (John 3:16; 10:28-29) and places us in His family forever (John 1:12; 6:37)! We now have brothers and sisters in Christ from all around the world! And we can begin to see Jesus in a more intimate way as we worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). Christ is our only source of life and acceptance. Let’s enjoy Him!

Prayer: Precious Lord Jesus, I praise You for seeking me out when I experienced exclusion from my former religious community. Thank You for revealing my own sinfulness to me at that time so I could see my need for You and Your gift of everlasting life. Thank You for accepting me into Your family the moment I believed in You for eternal life. Thank You for the new brothers and sisters I gained from all around the world at that moment of faith. What a privilege I now have to approach You in worship! The more I focus on You, the more the cares and concerns of this world fade away. Your light dispels the darkness in my own heart and gives me a hope that never ends. With You at the center of my life, I have joy beyond my own understanding! You are more than enough for me!!! Please use me to share Your light with those who are in darkness so they, too, may obtain everlasting hope and life in You. In Your precious name I pray. Amen.

God has given me absolute security in Him

“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” Romans 8:33

Yesterday my wife and I found toilet paper stocked on a shelf in a store for the first time in three weeks. All other stores we have gone to in recent weeks have had bare shelves in the paper products section. Why? Because there is a lack of security in our world today due to the coronavirus. People are stockpiling toilet paper simply because of fear and insecurity.

But I believe there is a much greater lack of security that is commonly found among Christians. We have been taught from the Bible that God loves and accepts all believers in Jesus unconditionally (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 1:6). Yet we struggle with this teaching. Perhaps we have not experienced total love and acceptance in our dealings with people. Rejection has been a common experience in our lives, so it is difficult for us to believe that Someone such as God could love and accept us as we are. We have become skeptical and cynical of this notion of unconditional love and acceptance because we have been hurt so many times.

Some of you may be feeling very beat up by the circumstances of life. You may be feeling hopeless. There may be others of you who are discouraged and depressed by events that have happened just in the last week or two. There may be some of you who have been in the pit of despair and you have even considered taking your life because of the pain.

If this describes you, please know that God wants you to have absolute security in Him. The apostle Paul asks, “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?” (8:33a). Who can successfully accuse a Christian of wrongdoing in God’s courtroom? Who? Can the devil? Can your ex-spouse? Your competitive neighbor? Your unforgiving boss? Who?

Look at the answer. Paul writes, “It is God who justifies” (8:33b). God is saying, “No one can successfully press charges against you because I have declared you totally righteous on the basis of your faith in My Son.” If God pronounced that you are not guilty, then no one can reverse His verdict. No one can successfully accuse any Christian because God does not even accuse us. He justifies us the moment we believe in Jesus alone (Romans 3:28, 30; 4:5; 5:1).

To be justified means God declares us to be the opposite of what we were before we were saved. So if you were an impatient person before you were saved, He declares you to be patient at the moment of faith. If you tended to be hateful, He declares you to be helpful. If you were promiscuous, He declares you to be pure the instant you believe in Jesus.

Hence, all believers in Jesus Christ are secure forever because Christ paid for every sin they have or will ever commit (cf. Colossians 2:13-14). Before Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). This word translated “finished” (tetelestai), means “paid in full.” Christ did not make a down payment for our sin when He died on the cross so that we must pay the remainder of our sin debt to God. God does not accept us on the basis of our good life, our keeping of His commandments, our water baptism, or the sacraments we have taken. We are accepted by God on the basis of the full payment for our sin debt to God when Jesus Christ died and rose again on our behalf. God was completely and forever satisfied with Jesus’ full payment for our sin. The verb tetelestai is in the perfect tense. This means Christ made the full payment for our sin debt when He died on the cross and it remains paid in full to the present.

Satan’s (or anyone else’s) accusations against us will be thrown out of God’s courtroom because God has declared us not guilty on the basis of our faith in Christ alone. No one can bring an accusation against us that will stand because no one is greater than God. If we could be charged of wrongdoing in God’s courtroom, then the accuser would have to be greater than God. And that is not going to happen!!! No one can reverse the verdict of God. Not even you!!!

But how difficult it is at times to realize God’s total acceptance of us! It’s like the sun – every day – it shines. No one could ever say – the sun isn’t shining! We may say, “I can’t feel it or see it”…but fly high enough and there it is!

Someone may ask, “If no one can accuse me of wrongdoing in God’s courtroom after I come to faith in Christ, then why not live like the devil the rest of my life?” I commend those who ask this question because they do understand the eternal security of the believer in Jesus. Let me answer this question first with an illustration.

In 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA, was completed. It cost over $35 million to build and was completed in two phases: the first slowly and the second quickly. In the first stage, no safety devices were used. As a result, twenty-three men fell to their deaths. Imagine how this must have effected the other workers? They were more cautious and afraid, slowing down the work progress. But for the final part of the project, $100,000 was spent to buy a large safety net to place under the workers.  Once the net was installed production increased by 25%. Why? Because the men were assured of their security and they were free to wholeheartedly finish the project.

Many Christians lack joy and peace because they think going to heaven is based on their works or feelings instead of the finished work of Christ on the cross. They live in constant fear of losing their salvation or conclude that they were never saved to begin with because someone accuses them of some unforgivable sin. So instead of focusing on the Lord and the work He has for them to do, they are stuck in the past, unable to move forward. If you are one of these people, please listen again to what God is saying in this one verse.  

“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (8:33). Does anyone dare to bring a charge against God’s people!?! If they do, they must answer to God because He has already pronounced that His children are totally righteous and acceptable before Him on the basis of their faith alone in Jesus alone. This truth is worth celebrating and living for!  

Prayer: Father God, I praise You that no one can successfully accuse me of wrongdoing in Your courtroom because You have declared me to be totally righteous on the basis of my faith in Your Son, Jesus Christ. Although Satan has relentlessly accused me throughout my Christian life along with his teachers, I can still rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ Who paid my sin debt in full. Therefore, I do not have to worry about what others say or think, because I am forever secure in Christ. Please lead me to the people who need to hear and believe in Your absolute security through Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I am loved and cherished by the God of the Universe

“When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.” Psalm 27:10

The writer of Psalm 27, King David, is facing a difficult circumstance. Some Bible students think he wrote this when he was fleeing from his son, Absalom (cf. 2 Sam. 15:1-37; 17:15-29). Imagine having to run for your life to avoid being killed by your own rebellious adult child? This may have been David’s challenge when he wrote this Psalm.

Instead of choosing to respond with fear, David chose to respond with faith in the One who is the source of his hope (“light”), deliverance (“salvation”), and “strength” (27:1).Notice the personal pronoun “my” in this verse. The Lord was not just “a” source of hope and deliverance to David, He was HIS source of hope and deliverance. David’s relationship with God was personal and dynamic.

It’s possible David was not getting the help he needed at this time, even from those closest to him. But David’s trust was in the Lord to take care of him. “When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me” (27:10). The Hebrew word translated “take care of” (asaph) means “to gather or remove.” In this context it refers to gathering an individual into the company of another, in this case, the Lord. Even if his parents abandoned him, David was confident God still loved him and valued him.

If you grew up with parents or guardians who may have failed to love you and care for you as you needed, remember that their parents were imperfect as well. They were doing the best they could with what they possessed. But it is still important for you to face your wounds and recognize that even when others have failed you, God has not. God saw you as a child and He loved you then, and He sees you and loves you now. God wants to take care of you and bring healing to your soul.

Because God see us and values us as a person, we no longer need to work so hard for the approval and love of others. Since God keeps us safe and secure, we no longer need to try hard to protect ourselves. We can present out true selves to the Lord and to those who are safe.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for reminding me that I am not alone and unloved. I am loved and cherished by the God of the universe. And although my parents may have failed to love and protect me as I needed as a child, You have never failed me. Because You always see me and value me as a person, I no longer need to work so hard to gain the approval and love of others. Nor do I need to work so hard to protect myself or hide my vulnerabilities because You will take care of me and meet my deepest needs to be seen, safe, soothed, and secure. Thank You Lord Jesus for Your unlimited love and care for me. In Your name. Amen.

Have you been rejected by religious groups?

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’” John 9:35

The Jewish leaders “cast” out the former blind man from the synagogue because he demonstrated with his own testimony (9:25) and logic (9:30-33) that Jesus was from God. This is probably the best thing that could have happened to the man because now he would not have to listen to the works-salvation message of the Jewish religious leaders. He was now more prepared for his next encounter with Jesus. God can use the rejection of others to make non-Christians more open to hearing the gospel. 

Unfortunately, more and more churches are preaching a “faith plus” salvation message instead of a “faith alone” salvation message today which makes it more difficult for church goers to get saved. They teach that you are saved by what you do, not by what Jesus has already done (John 19:30). But all is not lost. Jesus seeks those who are disenchanted with churches today. When Christ heard that the Jewish leaders “cast” the former blind man out of the synagogue, He sought him out and asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of God” (9:35)? This is the purpose for John’s Gospel (cf. John 20:31). John recorded these miracles of Jesus, so people could believe in Him as the Christ, the Son of God. If the man believed that Jesus was the Son of God, the God-Man, he would have life in His name. This personal response is necessary for receiving the gift of eternal life (cf. John 3:15-16, 36; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 11:25-27). 

Many people today believe that Jesus exists and died for them on the Cross, but they are not trusting in Him alone for His free gift. The former blind man is willing and ready to believe, but he is ignorant. He wants the Son of God to be identified so he may believe in Him (9:36). After Jesus identifies Himself as God’s Son (9:37), the former blind man immediately responds in faith: “Lord, I believe”(9:38a)! Jesus used the physical healing of this blind man to prepare him for his spiritual healing. Out of gratitude for his physical healing, the man believed in Christ as the Messiah-God, which meant he now had eternal life (John 20:31). This is the climax for the man in a process that has been taking place throughout the whole chapter.

After believing in Jesus, the former blind man “worshiped Him”(9:38b). He honored Jesus as God (cf. 5:23). The former blind man could no longer worship God in the synagogue, but now he could worship Him to His face. And Jesus will never “cast” this man “out” of His family (John 1:12; 6:37). 

Have you been rejected by religious groups because you did not live up to their requirements for membership? Please understand that Jesus is not offering you religion. He is not giving you a long list of rules to follow to become a Christian. Jesus is freely offering you a personal relationship that can never be lost. All He asks is that you come to Him in faith, just as you are (Matthew 11:28). You don’t have to try to clean up your life. You do not have to give God your life to be saved. Salvation is not giving God your life, it is receiving His eternal life by faith alone (John 3:16). So simply believe in Jesus and He will give you everlasting life which can never be lost (John 3:16; 10:28-29). He will place you in God’s family forever and never reject you (John 1:12; 6:37). And you can worship or express your love for Him anytime and anywhere (cf. John 4:21-24).