What Do You Believe About
Spiritual Blindness? - Part II
The blindness that the blind man had experienced was nothing to be compared to the blindness that the Pharisees and the neighbors were experiencing. Their blindness kept them from seeing the work of the Lord. Their blindness would not permit them to believe what they saw and heard. As learned as these Pharisees may have been, they could not comprehend what was going on. They were groping as the blind man in their own Spiritual darkness.
May we note three things as we consider the subject of Spiritual blindness. I. The Problem of Unbelief (vv. 13-17); II. The Pretending Because of Unbelief (vv. 18-23); III. The Profession because of Belief (vv. 24-41).
I. THE PROBLEM OF UNBELIEF vv. 13-17
The neighbors of the blind man, who were also victims of unbelief in their own refusal to believe the account of the healing, brought the man who was “aforetime blind: to the Pharisees. The Pharisees began to interrogate the man asking him how he received his sight. Their reluctance to believe could be partially attributed to this being the very first time they had witnessed some one being healed in this manner.
People are people, in the sense that each of us have different personalities, attributes, background (including economic, emotional, cultural, and racial differences). In our human diversity our responses will reflect theses values and differences. Our questioning of truth is attributed to our having the nature of Adam. Our “Adam nature” causes us to be blinded to the operation of truth. Even after Christ operated on the blind man (the operation of truth), they accepted the fact that this was indeed the man born blind, but found it difficult to believe his testimony of how he received his sight. His story was disturbing to the Pharisees because of Who was doing the healing, the way He healed, and when He healed. Their traditions had no place for Jesus, nor for His works. Nothing that Jesus had said or done previously had been believed by them. The healing of the man born blind served as a giant object lesson to clarify their problem. They were worse than the man born blind; they were still blinded by their unbelief.
A. Their unbelief brought about this disturbance (vv. 13-15). The peace of God that passes all understanding comes only to the believer. The world is a very disturbed world, though it pretends to be orderly and undisturbed. The structure or systems that mankind has put together is a very flimsy model of what it should be. Even the government with its failing laws is a reflection of the unrest and the disturbance that make up the “cosmos.” The bars on our windows, the locks on our doors, and the alarms on our buildings all express the turmoil that we are in. We are a disturbed people being disturbed in many different places and in many different ways because of our unbelief. It would have been much simpler had the Pharisees believed the blind man’s testimony of how he was healed. It would have been even better had they believed the Healer.
If you will imagine a bicycle with its spokes radiating out from its central hub, letting the hub represent unbelief, you could then picture the enormous effects of unbelief. The unbelief is the root of the problem or the cause, with the spokes representing each condition or the effect resulting from that unbelief. This illustrates the enormous effect that unbelief has on others. Stability comes from trust or believing. When there is trust in marriage, there will more likely be peace and stability. The frustration of not being able to explain how the prior blind man could be healed apart from Jesus caused a division as well as a disturbance.
B. Their unbelief brought about a division (vv. 16-17). Though verses 13 through 15 do not indicate the Pharisees being disturbed, the context does imply this as the events continue to unfold. From a very technical position the word disturb may not be the most precise word in describing these unbelieving Pharisees; however, any measure of unbelief will eventually bring about a state of being disturbed. Their disturbance was further revealed in their being divided. Their division came when they were confronted by those who seemingly were exercising at least a measure of belief. They, in their rationalization, asked, “How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles.” The Jews in their unbelief do not even believe that the person was really blind as our text will later reveal.
The division was based on the accusation that Jesus could not be God because he kept not the sabbath. The response was, if He were not God then how could such miracles be performed? “Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles.” John 9:16
Much of the division in our churches could be traced back to unbelief. God wants us to be “perfectly joined together” as I Corinthians 1:10 tells us, “Now I beseech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” The Scriptures also remind us that two cannot walk together unless they be agreed. The inability for two to walk as one takes place when they cannot come together with the same mind and purpose. Those who believe and those who do not believe in Christ have no common ground in which to perform together.
Also, in a church family, many believers are hindered and divided because they lack the cohesion of similar belief. There are those who are carnal and those who are spiritual working in the same church body, but divided as they work. These kinds of divisions are very common in our churches, even as it was when Paul wrote his letter to the church at Corinth.
The Ecumenical movement is an attempt to put together those who embrace different beliefs. Locally, we have the ministerial associations that brings ministers together who each have different doctrinal systems. I can not belong to such because I have no common ground with those who deny the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, the virgin birth, and worship Mary. For the same reason I have not involved myself with the “Promise Keepers.” The “Promise Keepers” may have within its programs its good intentions yet, these good intentions are cancelled out by its ecumenicalism. I am very leery of any para-church organization. Admittedly, however, it is very sad when the church fails to address the needs that the “Promise Keepers” are addressing. We must get back to the basics!
II. THE PRETENDING BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF vv. 18-23
The Jews who refuse to believe what Jesus did, now go to the parents. The religious pressure that exists seems to be affecting everyone. The parents, for fear of the Jews, would not correctly answer. It would seem that after having witnessed such a great miracle, the parents would have been more than anxious to share their and their son’s blessing with every person whom they came in contact with. But they did not.
A. The parents were approached by the Jews (vv. 18-21). The unbelieving Jews were plagued by the effect of their unbelief. They could not accept a simple statement of truth. The one who received his sight could not even convince the Jews in their awful state of unbelief. After questioning the son who had received his sight they turned to the parents and began asking them questions.
Instead of believing and accepting the son which was the most reliable source for truth, they took a step a way from truth and went to the parents and thus were incapable of getting the “whole truth.” Every religious organization has some degree of truth mixed with error. For example, much of what is practiced religiously, by the Masonic lodge is truth mixed with error. Even the cult groups such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses have some truth. The Roman Catholic church is another example. In the case of the Catholic church, they allow their authority to be more than the Scriptures alone, accepting what is known as Papal Authority. Under the authority of the Pope, they can add to the body of truth their own dogma and beliefs. They further set up their councils, such as the Council of Trent, for introducing their own religious dogma. For this reason the Protestant Reformation had for its battle cry, “Sola Scriptura” which meant the Scriptures alone, or only the Bible as one’s authority.
Satan does not at all mind one embracing some truth but just do not embrace all truth. When the Jews left the blind man and went to the parents they began to interrogate the parents by asking, “Is your son, who ye say was born blind? How then doth he now see?” (v. 19). Obviously, they admitted that the son was theirs, but declined to say anymore and even denied telling truthfully what they did know.
B. The parents were afraid of the Jews (vv. 22-23). The Jewish element that was against Jesus, in spirit, still exists today. There are still Pharisee Jews who will either intimidate or silence those who try to take the Gospel of Jesus out of the churches into the public domain. Again, this is a reason for them taking down the manger scenes, of the removal of prayer from the schools, and praying not using Jesus’ name, etc. We do not need to be afraid of any system of unbelief. Never should fear cause our lips to be silenced and our testimonies diminished. Remember, God came not to give a “spirit of fear” (II Timothy 1:7).
III. THE PROFESSION BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF vv. 24-41
Any benefactor of God’s wonderful grace should be ready to testify the same. The man delivered from his blindness did so as he was confronted by the religious, but yet unbelieving Jew; he gave a strong profession as to what had taken place in his life. May we notice this about the healed blind man. 1. His change professed (vv. 24-25); 2. His courage professed (vv. 26-33); 3. His Christianity professed (vv. 43-41).
A. His change professed (vv. 24-25). The religious crowd was determined to indict Jesus, with the false claim that He was a sinner. The man that was blind would not give in to their suggested accusation. “Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner (vv. 24-25).
The man who had been blind did not have all the theology to clearly discern that Jesus was not a sinner, but he certainly knew that there had been a radical change in his life. From our text, we will find that Christ at this point had not revealed Himself as the Savior. Also keep in mind, that the blind man did not have the canon of Scriptures as we have it today. Yet, he knew that he was seeing. Perhaps a parallel could be made to the new convert. The new convert has a very elemental knowledge of Christ and also of theology proper, yet has a zeal that stirs him to go on to perfection. In the Old Testament, when the fat was first put on the altar, there was a great blaze. The fat would be totally consumed and then burn out. Similarly, God gives at conversion the “fat” to get us started, but soon one must turn to the meat. This may explain how one feels when he is first saved. Quite often there is a “let down” after a period of maybe several months. When this takes place, the new convert begins to ask, “What has gone wrong” or “something is missing.” This emptiness is what the beatitudes describes as those who are, “poor in Spirit” or those “thirsting after righteousness.”
The new convert tries to get back the “fat” but never can, because it has been consumed. God in His wisdom allows this to happen to create a hunger for the meat of God’s Word. The meat would burn more slowly. This speaks of the maturity of the new convert. He matures, not by eating the fat but by partaking of the meat.
B. His courage professed (vv. 26-33). The blind man who was wondrously healed said, “If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.” The religious crowd in confronting Him must have recognized the blind man’s courage. He used extremely good logic in attributing the opening of his eyes to being an act of God (v. 31). One of the greatest indications of a changed life is the evidence of that change. Throughout the ages lives have been changed with no way to explain that change but only admitting that it was of God that the change took place. When a person is a benefactor of God’s marvelous grace, then that person should, as the blind man did, exhibit a courageous witness.
The presences and the workings of God should always produce a valid witness. Some of the most beloved stories in the Bible pertain to the miracles that strengthens the faith of the believer. When we recall how God was with the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, of Daniel in the den of lions, of David defeating Goliath, and of Elijah being fed by the ravens, this should challenge us to be strong witnesses. The blind man was a witness but he was also a courageous witness.
C. His Christianity professed (vv. 34-41). The last notable truth pertaining to the blind man has to do with his trusting Christ. The witness of the blind man resulted in his being cast out (v. 34). His parents feared the Jews, and would not risk their being cast out of the synagogue. Verse 35 tells us that, “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” When the blind man understood that the one to whom he was talking was the Son of God, he believed.
The belief of the blind man came as a result of Jesus healing him. His healing convinced him of the power of God. Though others may not have believed, he certainly did. Likewise, many spiritually blind have had the joy of seeing by simply trusting in the Savior, Jesus. To God be the glory and the praise!
Sermon From Dr. Max Alderman