Blind and Dumb - Part 2
Pastor Arn Buck
Heart Song Worship Center
A person who is physically blind knows that cannot see. person who spiritually blind usually is completely unaware that they cannot see.
Having Sight Restored But Not Yet Seeing
There is a battle ragging around us. However, many of the participants are completely blind to it. Unfortunately the blindness doesn't save them from the eternal consequences of the war. Last week we saw that Satan blinds unbelievers to prevent them from seeing the light and becoming believers. We also saw that Jesus came to restore their sight. This is shown clearly in the following passage.
Luke 4:18-19 (NLT) "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come."
Unfortunately unbelievers are not the only ones who are spiritually blind. We see that the New Testament also shows that there are those in church who are blind to spiritual truth.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NKJV) And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?
In this passage Paul refers to those in the Corinthian church who are carnal. He tells them that they are unable to comprehend the spiritual truth that he desired to share with them. Like unbelievers they are under the influence of the world and behave as unbelievers. Let's look at the definition of the word carnal from dictionary.com to better understand the condition.
Pertaining to or characterized by the flesh of the body, it
passions and appetites; sensual: carnal pleasures.
Not spiritual; merely human; temporal; worldly: a man of secular, rather carnal leanings.
Notice that even the dictionary appears to see the lack of spiritually in this state.
Enemies of God
The condition was not unique to the Corinthian Church. We see the same condition addressed in the book of James. James addressed Jewish Christian communities outside Palestine.
James 4:1-5 (NLT) What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don't they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong-you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don't you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?
James is very tough in addressing this issue. Being a friend of the world implies a trust in the world's system. This is a clear violation of the trust in the relationship that we have with God. Let's see what God says about this.
Jeremiah 17:5-6 (NLT) This is what the LORD says: "Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans and turn their hearts away from the LORD.
You probably noticed that James accuses them of being enemies of God. This is quite a condemning statement to be used against those who call themselves Christians! These are people who might attend church regularly. They might be Sunday school teachers, elders, worship leaders, or they might even be a pastor. Why is James so critical of these? Why does he call them enemies of God? Doesn't that put them on the same side as the Devil? Consider the characteristics of carnal Christians that we have seen so far. They are envious, full of strife, divisive, jealous, and selfish. If we study further we will find that they are also ungrateful, live lifestyles the reflect worldly values, judgmental, self-righteous, and fretful.
When you consider what they are, has anything done more damage to the Christian church in America than Carnal Christians? Think of the heart-breaking stories of those who leave church and even give up on God because they have been hurt by the actions and hypocrisy of carnal Christians. When you consider the impact of their actions do they do more to help or hurt the Kingdom of God? That alone is adequate to support a charge of being enemies of God.
It is especially damaging when carnal Christians are put into positions of leadership and influence within a church. Instead of helping they make it worse.
Luke 6:39 (NLT) Jesus gave the following illustration: "What good is it for one blind person to lead another? The first one will fall into a ditch and pull the other down also.
Are Carnal Christians A Separate Class of Christians?
We should be careful about creating class of Christians called carnal Christians. Firstly, a humans we have a tendency for prejudices. It would be too easy to mistreat them if we make them a different class. Secondly, I do not believe that there is Biblical support for doing such. In first Corinthians chapter 3, Paul refers to them as babes in Christ. He also states, reference to there inability to receive solid food, that even now they are still not able. I believe that this is substantial evidence to say that carnal Christians are those who are stuck in an early phase of normal Christian development. In Hebrews we see the normal progression to the next stage of development.
Hebrews 5:11-14 (NLT) There is so much more we would like to say about this. But you don't seem to listen, so it's hard to make you understand. You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food. And a person who is living on milk isn't very far along in the Christian life and doesn't know much about doing what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong and then do what is right.
This clearly shows that the problem is one of immaturity. It appears that normally Christians grow out of this phase by obedience to God in response to what they learn of Him. The carnal Christians probably don't see the value of releasing their trust in the things they are familiar with to begin walking toward God in faith. The problem is such a major one because such high percentage of Christians can be classified as carnal. They might not be exhibiting the characteristics described in 1 Corinthians and James on a regular basis, but they are footholds that the enemy can and does exploit at will.
How can we help them? It is very unlikely that any carnal Christian would except the truth about their condition. Their condition usually makes them good a rationalizing the conviction of the Holy Spirit. What can we do then? Firstly, we should pray. Too often we forget this potent resource until we find ourselves in trouble. We need to involve God in this as early as possible. Secondly, we need to be an example to them.
Matthew 5:16 (NIV) In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
People don't usually do something simply because they are told to do something. They respond when they see the benefit to taking action. If we demonstration, the peace, joy, and love that comes from God. If we testify of God's goodness and loving faithfulness. They should be drawn to Him.
Christian Carnality at Laodicea
We find another example of Christian Carnality in the church of Laodicea.
Revelation 3:15-22 (NLT) "I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, 'I am rich. I have everything I want. I don't need a thing!' And you don't realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. I advise you to buy gold from me-gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. And also buy white garments so you will not be shamed by your nakedness. And buy ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I am the one who corrects and disciplines everyone I love. Be diligent and turn from your indifference. "Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends. I will invite everyone who is victorious to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches."
This passage was written to the church in Laodicea. Here again there is evidence of Christian carnality. In their eyes they see themselves as materialistically rich and in need of nothing. Yet they are blind to their true spiritual state of impoverishment. It is so much easier to convince the poor of their need for God because they are desperate. The wealthy are much harder to reach because they are comfortable where they are. Jesus tells them that they need to buy healing ointment to have their spiritual sight restored. By Him saying that they must buy it indicates that they must pay a price. They must release of their pride and independence. The healing ointment can only be purchased with humility. Unfortunately that is often too high of a price for many.
Jesus also tells them that wants to fellowship with them. Fellowshipping with God would cause them to experience Him and see His goodness. This should then motivate them to take the next step closer to Him and mature past the stage of carnality. However, Jesus will remain outside of our heart and knock until invited in. He will not force the door. He loves us and He wants us to love Him. We need to remember that love is always given. It cannot be taken.
Again, it is very important that we do whatever we can to help carnal Christians mature to the next level. We must remember that they are not our enemy. They are brothers and sisters. They can be very nice people, yet their carnality unknowingly provides footholds for Satan to use to attack God's Kingdom. They desperately need healing from their spiritual blindness. We need to encourage them to seek the Great Physician by showing them what good things can happen to someone whose eyes have been opened to see the truth of God.