If Thine Eye Be Single
Matthew 6:22-23, Message by Pastor Eric Chang, January 2, 1977
We continue today in our exposition of God’s words in Matthew Chapter 6, and in Luke Chapter 11, the parallel passage. Mt. 6:22&23 read like this:
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
We read also the parallel passage. It is very important in studying the Word of God to compare the passages, and we read that in Lk. 11:34-36. Perhaps we can start at v33 to get the whole paragraph:
No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel, but on a stand, that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.
The Principle Of Spiritual Vision
Now when we look at these words, clearly we are going to ask: Exactly what does this mean? What is the Lord Jesus saying to us here? He says that the eye is the lamp - the light - of the body. If your eye is single, which is the literal translation there, which the Revised Standard Version (RSV) has translated as ‘sound,’ then your whole body is full of light. But if your eye is bad, is evil or is sick, your whole body is full of darkness. Here, Jesus is giving us a parable - a parable, as Jesus often did in speaking a parable, by which He taught us spiritual things. Now right from the start, I want to tell you this, that here Jesus is going to tell us something important, as you might expect. There is nothing Jesus says that is unimportant. But He is going to tell us something that has to do with the secret of spiritual vision - the principle of spiritual vision.
The eye! First, let us understand this very literally because that is what a parable is. You begin from what is very ordinary and move from the lesser to the greater to understand the spiritual teaching that Jesus wants to give to us. Is not the eye the lamp of the body? As you look now, you see light and everything is bright. The light is being conveyed into your whole person, into your body. Because He is now speaking physically, the eye, physically, is the lamp of the body. It is not the lamp to my intellect. It is not the lamp to my soul, but it is the lamp to my body. So long as that lamp is functioning properly, then I have light in my body. You try closing your eyes and see what happens. The moment you close your eyes, everything gets dark. You are suddenly in the darkness. You open your eyes and everything is bright. You close your eyes and you are in the dark again. Thus, we find that here, Jesus is using a common experience to us all to teach us something spiritually important. But it is amazing how this passage has given so much difficulty to so many Christians. They just cannot figure out what Jesus is saying. But Jesus is saying many precious and important things to us here.
So, all of us who have played children’s games know very well that if you close your eyes, you are in the dark; you cannot see where you are going. Once you are in the dark, you are lost; you cannot see. So then immediately you stretch out your hands. When you play the children’s game, you put a piece of cloth around your eyes and you have to grope your way [around]. You are now in the darkness! It is not that the darkness is around you; you are in the darkness. The light is still shining round about you, but you do not see the light because now your eyes are not allowed to function. Therefore, you cannot see the light. In the same way, spiritually, light is all about us. God’s light is shining forth upon us. But if we do not see that light, it is not because the light is not there. It is because something is wrong with our eyes, our spiritual eyes. But we shall move into the application of this a little further on.
Let Your Eye Be ‘Single’ - Have Single Vision
Now in the Bible, we find that we must always check our exposition. We find, as I mentioned earlier, that the word they just translated ‘sound’ in the RSV means ‘single.’ This is very important for you to understand because that is the key word for this whole passage. The word means ‘single.’ If you check it in any Greek dictionary, you will find that the word actually never means ‘sound’ basically, but it means ‘single.’ That is, you have single vision. Now you know what is the opposite of single vision? You have double vision. You have blurred vision. Blurred vision is because your eye does not focus sharply. It cannot see the matter singly. If you could see singly, your eye is sound. If your eye is not able to see anything with a sharp clear line, it is blurred. Your vision is no longer sharp. But as it grows worse, it gets more and more blurred, until you can see nothing clearly at all. Many of you who wear glasses can test that very easily. You take off your glasses and your vision is no longer single. What does your lens do? Your lens helps your vision to become single. It becomes sharp. It becomes focused. You take off the glasses and it is no longer single. The lines become blurred. Depending on how short-sighted, astigmatic, or whatever your condition is, you find you can see next to nothing. Everything is just blurred, [as if] moving about.
Thus, Jesus is speaking here not of ‘sound,’ generally speaking, as healthy, but what is important to the eye is that its vision is sharp; it is single. The other thing is about darkness. Jesus uses that word deliberately here. It is because darkness is a picture of blindness in the Bible. You find that in Ps. 69:23 or Acts 13:11. In Acts 13:11, you remember that person, that magician tried to prevent Paul getting the Gospel to the governor of Cyprus. Paul, therefore, dealt severely with him and blindness came upon that magician. The Bible tells us that: “darkness (notice that word) descended upon him.” He had to stretch out his hands to ask somebody to lead him. He could not see anymore. That was a warning to those who try to tamper with the outreach of the Gospel and to oppose the power of God just when somebody’s soul is at stake.
‘Seeing’ In Three Different Ways
Here we must move on then to understand what Jesus is speaking about when He speaks of the eye. It is because, of course, He is not talking to us purely physically, but He wants to convey to us a spiritual lesson. Soon we will see that every word that is used there, in its literal sense, amazingly also has a spiritual sense in the Bible. Consider the eye. The eye has an important spiritual sense in the Bible. Again and again it is used to suggest not your physical eye, but your spiritual eye: the capacity to see and understand spiritual things. Now we use this very commonly about ‘eye’ when referring not to our physical eye, but to our intellectual eye. When I say, “Do you see what I mean?” well, how can you see a meaning? By that you cannot see it with your physical eye; you see it with your understanding, with your intellect. Your intellect is now serving as your eye. Therefore, when I say, “Do you see what I mean?” I do not mean whether your eyes can see what I mean. That, of course, you cannot do, because words are not things that eyes can see. But I mean: Does your mind - the eyes of your mind - perceive what I have said?
Thus, it is very common to understand that there are three ways of understanding the eye. There are the physical eyes. There are the intellectual eyes, by which you understand - you see what people say; you perceive what they mean. And finally, [there are] the spiritual eyes, by which you see spiritual truth; you perceive the glory of God. And that, of course, is what Jesus wants to talk to us about here. In the Bible then, it is again and again used in this way: that our eyes, our spiritual eyes now, are able to see.
And so, do you remember when Paul was commissioned to preach the Gospel? He was commissioned to open the eyes of the blind. He was not going to open their physical eyes, though that he would do from time to time, too. But it is to enable us, as we read on in that passage, to understand the Word of God. The Lord Jesus, too, remember, opened the eyes of the blind. When He quoted Isaiah, He was not referring to physical eyes, but to spiritual understanding. And so in Eph. 1:18, for example, we read there that Paul says to the Ephesian Christians: “that the eyes of your understanding, being opened, you may see what God has prepared for you.” “The eyes of your spiritual understanding being opened,” this is the point. Many people do not understand the Gospel not because they are stupid, but because they have no spiritual vision. They are spiritually blind; they do not understand spiritual things. This is what Jesus wants to talk to us about here, to understand why is it that some people can see and other people cannot see. Why is it that one person sees the beauty and the glory of Christ, [while] another person is incapable of seeing it? He does not know what you are getting excited about because he does not see anything.
Now we then proceed in this way. When He speaks of the spiritual eyes, [I think] the whole matter is beginning to get clear to us as to what is Jesus’ meaning. You say, “Now, I understand what you mean by saying that my eyes, if they are going to see and function properly, must see singly, sharply. There must be no double vision. There must be no blurred vision. But when it comes to spiritual meaning, what is that supposed to mean?” Well, we find that this word, which should be translated as ‘single’, in fact, as it is done in the Authorized Version, means it is used in the OT to refer to a singleness of heart. That is very important. But one thing more I would like you to understand is this: that light, as the eye is to the body, we see the spirit of man is to his soul. This we find in Prov. 20:27, where we read there: “The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD.” That is a key to understanding this part of the Lord’s teaching. As the eye is to the body, the spirit of man is to his soul. As the eye is to the body, the intellect of the man is to his whole understanding, his whole intellectual capacity.
But here, the important thing to grasp - and Jesus is not talking about intellectual perception now, He is talking about spiritual perception; that is very different - [is that] you only perceive spiritual things by your spirit. Just as your eyes perceive material things, your intellect perceives intellectual things and your spirit perceives spiritual things. Each has its proper function. I cannot use my eyes to see intellectual things, nor can I use my physical eyes to see the spiritual truth of God. Nor can you use your intellect, if you are blind, to see material things. Your intellect is an eye to understand intellectual truth. But you cannot switch over and say, “Well, my eyes do not function very well. I am short-sighted, so I am going to use the power of my intellect to see.” That would be very convenient if you could do that, that is, if you could switch over the functions. But each have their proper function.
Now, you may have physical sight, you may have intellectual sight, but you may not have spiritual sight. And spiritual sight is what Jesus is talking about. You may be the cleverest person in the world and you can be, spiritually, as blind as a bat. Did you realize that? And so, in the same way, you may have wonderful physical eyesight, but you may be exceedingly foolish. You cannot understand intellectual truth because your mind is not capable to handle that kind of intellectual truth. Or another person may be physically very short-sighted, but he understands intellectual truth. His mind is sharp. His mental eye is very sharp. All these we must understand to cope with the Lord’s teaching here, to understand clearly what Jesus is saying to us.
The Parabolic Relationship To Each Other Of The Three Ways Of ‘Seeing’
Once we come to understand these things, we now see why there is parabolic relationship of all these three things. You can use the one as a parable of the other because they are parallel. Therefore, they can be used as parables. And now, when we realize this, we see that as physical eye can only see sharply and clearly if its vision is single - that is the important word there: ‘single’ - so, spiritually too, if you are going to see anything clearly, your spiritual vision must be ‘single.’ ‘Single’ means - as applied into the ‘spiritual’ here - singleness of devotion, singleness of attention; it is the capacity to focus sharply upon the spiritual things.
Now some people have some spiritual vision, but they are so blurred. You talk to them, they understand a bit. They do not quite seem to understand. They are all a bit confused. They seem to understand. You question them more closely, they do not understand. They use phrases and clichés that every Christian uses and because they use those clichés, they think they understood it. When you carefully question them and cross-question them, they break down under cross-examination. You find that they do not really understand even such basic words, as we have found in our Bible study. People do not understand them. They do not understand what ‘faith’ means. They do not understand why Jesus had to die. They do not understand these vital questions. Nor do they understand why it is essential for every Christian to be living in the power of the Spirit. All these things they thought they understood, but they did not really understand. If the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is really light, that what you think you see clearly, you really do see clearly. Nothing is so pathetic as to be self-deceived, or to be walking in darkness when they thought they were walking in the light.
Single vision is, of course, the opposite of double vision. It is not to be cross-eyed or squinty. Cross-eyed is when the eyes look this way [with both pupils going toward the center] and squinty is when the eyes look that way [that is, turned to one side; oblique]. Some people have this unfortunate problem. We certainly are not going to laugh at them or ridicule them, because this is very unfortunate. I know that these [conditions] can be corrected. We are glad these can be corrected today through some operation. But the problem is this: when it is not corrected, then one eye is looking this way and the other eye is looking there. You really do not know whether they are looking at you or not. It is very confusing.
I often wonder whether God, when He looks at us, He knows whether we are looking at Him or not because we have one eye looking at God and the other eye looking at the world. With this kind of condition, what have you got? You have got spiritual double vision. I guarantee you that there is no Christian who has one eye on God and another eye on the world, on the flesh and on himself, who can ever see anything clearly spiritually. There is no way you can see clearly like this; it is only when your whole attention is focused upon God. Single! Your vision becomes single. I do not look at anything else, only Jesus! Then I can see spiritual truth. Ask yourself right now what is your vision like? Is your vision concentrated on Jesus? Or else is it concentrated a bit in Jesus, a bit there, and so you cannot see? You cannot see. Your vision is blurred. It is confused. That is the problem for so many Christians.
Secrets Of Spiritual Vision:
1. ‘Single’ Means Singly Focused On God
So the first secret of spiritual vision is that you must focus totally upon God if you are going to see anything clearly in the spiritual life, if you are going to ever see the glory of Christ. No divided heart will ever see anything. What is more, the agony of it is this: when you pray, let me tell you right now, God does not answer. I say that on Bible authority, not on my authority. When you pray, with your double vision, God does not answer you. That is what we read in Jam. 1:7-8. There, James says, “Let not the double-minded man think that he will ever get anything from the Lord.” When he prays, he gets no answer because he is unstable in all his ways. Only the single-minded person, the person with single-hearted devotion to God, ever gets his prayers answered as he could expect God to answer. But the double-minded man, the double-visioned man - the man with the ‘spiritual’ double vision - he gets nowhere. God does not want to hear this kind of person.
If your prayers do not get answered, you had better ask whether you are totally devoted towards God - your vision is concentrated on Him - or whether you are still trying to play around serving two masters, [i.e., you have] one foot in the kingdom of God and the other foot in the world. You cannot do this kind of thing. God does not accept people like this. I have warned people again and again in meetings, in conferences or wherever it may be. There is only one kind of Christian acceptable to God; that is the total Christian. It is the person who is totally committed to God. The divided man has no acceptance with God. You pray to God; He does not want to hear you. What is the point of being a Christian if God does not talk to you and does not listen to you?
2. ‘Single’ Means Simple And Uncomplicated
Secondly, the thing we find about this word ‘single,’ as I checked it out in its usage in the original is this: the word means also ‘simple.’ Now, what is single is simple. ‘Simple’ means uncomplicated, unmixed, unadulterated, unconfused, and also, unsophisticated in the bad sense of that word. Are you a complicated kind of person? Is your faith singly devoted to God? You see, when you have double vision, things get very complicated. You have to sort out which is the right thing. You look at those Christians. They are so confused. There is confusion because they find things very complicated. They cannot figure out which is right and which is wrong. The whole thing gets very complicated for them. Sometimes people ask me a question. It seems to me, the question is very simple, but obviously, to them the question is very complicated. The reason is not because they are stupid. The reason is because their spiritual eye is not concentrated. They are confusing themselves. They look at one, they look at the other and they do not know which is right because they are not looking, that is, they are not focusing properly. And this also has to do with our character - uncomplicated. The devoted Christian is an uncomplicated man. He is a straightforward man. He is an upright man. Everything is clear with him. You know where you stand with such people. But with the double-visioned Christian, it is very complicated. You do not know where you stand with him. He is too mixed up in his own mind.
I make a plea for this: that every true Christian may learn to become uncomplicated. Do you know that it is almost impossible to have a friendship between two people who are very complicated? You try it. And I would say this lovingly, especially to our Hong Kong brothers and sisters, I sometimes find it so difficult to understand; they are so complicated. I wish they would be simple like me. I am very simple. I hope so anyway. Complicated people - I do not understand them. They say something they do seem to mean. You thought they meant it and you take them at their word. Then they are offended! They say, “Hey! What did I do wrong?” They said it, you took them at their word, and it turns out they did not mean it. For example, if you want some more rice, some say, “No, no. I don’t want rice.” While some say, “Sure, sure! I want rice. Bring it here”. If you want to show Chinese courtesy, you would say, “No, no, I don’t want anymore.” [If they insist:] “Have a little bit more,” you would say, “OK, OK. A little bit more.” Why don’t you say, “Sure! It’s good! Good! I like this rice”? Let us know where we stand. In the end, we do not know: Is he being polite? Does he mean it? Oh, I do not know how much time I have tried to try to work out whether a person really meant what he said or not?
Let us not be so complicated. As Christians, we must be honest and true to one another. We do not have to play a mental chess game with each other, maneuvering about, working, “Did I make the right move? And what did he mean? What did he imply by that statement?” Oh, it is so complicated! I find that some people seem to have been brought up geared to a whole chess life. Actually they should make good chess masters. I am sure they can beat me at chess anytime. When you say something, they say, “Now what did he imply?” You did not imply anything. But they are sure you have implied something: “There is something behind that sentence. Nobody speaks so simply. There must be something behind it all.” They cannot imagine that you can actually say something with nothing behind it. And so this makes friendship impossible. There are some people - I just do not understand them. I just throw up my arms in despair. I cannot figure them out. They say something, and I say, “Do you mean that?” “No. I didn’t mean that,” they reply. Then I ask again, “So, what did you mean?” They answer, “Oh, I didn’t mean anything.” And the next thing you hear, they did have a meaning. Oh, dear me!
In the church, we must learn that the spiritual man is uncomplicated. Say what you mean and say it in love, so that we all know where we stand with each other. The spiritual man is like this. Isn’t it wonderful that we can come to Jesus and we do not have to play a game of chess with Him? Just imagine if I had to play chess with Jesus. I do not know how I would ever win. I am going to lose every time. He is going to beat me every time. How comforting that you can come to Jesus and you do not have to imagine: “Did He imply something else when He said that?”! Your relationship can be straight and honest and loving. So let us be warned about this complicated nature.
3. ‘Single’ Means Generous And Kind
Thirdly, the word, as I checked its meaning, has also the meaning of generous, kind. That is very interesting. When you apply it into the spiritual world, it is very easy to understand. Look! If your eye is solely directed to God and not to mammon, you are bound to be very generous with mammon. That is, mammon means riches, money and so forth. Now if God means more to you than money, then obviously you are not going to be hanging on to the money. You hang on to what is precious to you. And so with the things of this world, you become very generous, when you become changed by God, when your eyes become fixed on God. Your eyes fixed on God is the secret of generosity.
I have found the men of God are like this. When their eyes are fixed on God, the riches of this world - they are not interested in! They say, “Do you want it? Take it. I am not interested in this.” I am always struck with the fact that Wesley, this great man of God, when he first started preaching in a small church, he received what I believe was twenty-five shillings - in those days; a long time ago - for a month. And when his church got bigger and his salary increased, he still used what he used originally. He did not need any more. And so, all the extra he returned to the Lord’s work in one way or another. When he died, his entire possession was only one pound something, i.e., a little bit more than what he would normally get anywhere for one month’s salary. He had stored nothing! Everything was gone. He had not laid up treasure on earth, as we saw last week and what that meant. You lay up treasure on earth because your one eye is looking to God; your other eye is looking to the world. Your eye is not completely fixed upon God. The vision of God has not seized your heart, therefore, you hang on to the world. You will find that godly men are generous men. I have found this so. They are so generous that sometimes we have problems.
Every time I go out with my dear brother Yu, as you know him - I have a problem with him. In every shop they say that we two must be some kind of nuts because we are always fighting to pay the bill. It is not because we have Chinese courtesy. It is because I do not want him to pay because I know he has too little money. He insists that my need is greater than his, so he would not allow me to pay it. Thus, we have an endless struggle over there. In fact he even resorted to tricks to make sure that he manages to pay. One time, as I was sharing with a sister the other day, he went into a food store with me. I said, “Look! Look, you are not going to pay, right?” He said, “OK, OK!” Surprisingly, and innocently, he took out his purse and handed it to me. “That’s funny!” I thought. “Well, this is unusual.” So I put his purse in my pocket. This time, I felt at least partially relieved. When I got to the counter, what had he done? He had paid already. Do you know what he had done? He had taken the money out of his purse, had put it in his pocket and had given me the empty purse. Ah, such was the struggle to make sure that he had a chance to pay!
I find that with men of God, it is always like this. It is not because they want to make a show of it, but because really they want to have the joy of being able to minister to others. And so, you become generous when your eye is fixed solely upon God. Of course, this does not mean you want to give to those who have a lot already. Those who are rich, I am afraid that we are not going to be very generous with them. They have plenty; they have more than they need. Why bother to be generous? It is the needy that we have to be generous to. We do not have to impress the rich with our generosity. They can regard us as stingy; that is fine with us. It is because they have more than enough. It is those who really need it. If you give to person who has so much already, you give him another one, he just flicks it [away]. He says, “What’s this?” If you give the same thing to a poor man, wow, it is so precious to him. Why not give it to the poor? Let the rich help themselves. That is my principle [in this case].
Thus, because your eye is fixed upon God, your vision is clear. Notice this: your character becomes straightforward, uncomplicated, easy to understand, no playing tricks with other people [and] no using of psychology to twist people’s necks. The art of diplomacy, I was told, is to get other people to do what you want them to do and make them like it. And they say they are doing what they want to do, when in fact, they are doing what you want them to do. That is the height of psychology when practically applied, I am told. OK, be that as it may, and so you have to play, sort of, tricks on people to get them to do what you want them to do and make them believe that that was what they wanted to do in the first place. Oh, it is so clever. So clever! In God’s eye, it is so foolish! So foolish!
Now the thing here then is this: we must learn to have our eyes fixed upon God, our character simple, and then we become generous with the things of this world because now we know God. When we read Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want,” do you believe this or not? I wonder why Christians use sentences which they do not believe in. That is being complicated. That is double vision. That is using words without meaning it. If you believe it, then say it. If you do not believe it, then leave it. “I shall not be in want” - either physically or materially. In fact, we saw how true it was, as I testified last Sunday.
4. ‘Single’ Means Whole - Concentrated In One Direction
Fourthly, we see - and finally, too, at this point - that ‘singly’ implies also wholly. If your eye looks one way here and one way there, it cannot be wholly looking in the same direction, both, at the same time. You are divided. But what is single is whole, that is, completely concentrated in one direction. That is very important and that is the meaning of this passage. In both these passages, you will find the words ‘whole’, ‘full of light.’ The word is actually the original word for ‘whole,’ ‘complete.’ Here in Lk. 11: 36, I read to you these words again: “If then your whole body is full of light,” - your “whole” body is “full of light” - “having no part dark,” - because your vision is single - “it will be wholly bright.” Notice that word again. As when a light, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light, so the single-eyed person is the person who is also complete, who is totally directed towards God.
I pray to God that every Christian in this church may be a total Christian - a Christian whose eye is singly focused upon God. [I pray] that through this coming year, you are not going to be suffering from this double vision and find that all you have done is that when you pray, God does not want to listen to you. You live in confusion and misery. What kind of spiritual advantage have you got? I would rather suggest to you that your vision be whole and single either towards God or towards the world. There is nothing so miserable as to be neither here nor there. What is the use of this? At least if you want to die, then enjoy yourself before you die. Fix your eye wholly to the world then. Make no compromises. Either it is all God or all the world. If you want to enjoy the world, then go ahead. You have got yourself 10 or 15 or 20 years. At the end of that, you go down to the grave. After that, you go down to hell. Make your choice! Enjoy your 15 years and pay the price for eternity. But at least you have got it. How miserable is the person who has got his one eye here and one eye there and he ends up in the same place where the other person went. He did not even get his 10 or 15 years of carnal enjoyment. I do not think this is very good reasoning. I do not think he knows how to live his life. I would go one way or the other. I am going to be totally dedicated to God or I go totally to the world. You take your choice. But I do not intend to go towards the world.
We Are The Light Of the World When Our Whole Being Is Filled With God’s Light
You see, make your choice clear. Why go through the whole coming year or the rest of your life going through intellectual [or] spiritual confusion? What is the point of this? You have no peace, no joy. Why bother to call yourself a Christian? What do you accomplish? Who do you impress? It is no use. [It must be] all or nothing! If your whole body is full of light - that is what the Christian is for; no part darkness - then the light of God shines upon you completely. Oh, that is what we should be. That is the kind of life we want to live. When we are filled with light, we become light. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” [Mt. 5:14] How do you become light? You become light when you are filled with the light. No part of you is darkness. Why is it that so many Christians, they cannot witness? They think witnessing is just grabbing people and talking to them. You witness with your life. And how do you witness with your life? It is when your whole being is filled with God’s light.
So, consider this carefully, as God speaks to each one of us. Are you filled with the light? Ask yourself honestly. Or is there some part darkness still? Some part is still in sin. Some part is still left in spiritual confusion. Some part does not belong to God. Let me tell you again, God does not accept you in this way. God accepts only those who are total, who completely commit themselves to Him. Now I want to say again that this does not mean when I am talking about completely committing yourself to God that you all become a full-time worker. We will talk about full-time work later when you first learn to live here and now - in your job, in your school, in your college or university, wherever it is - you learn to live totally dedicated to God.
We saw in our Bible study this does not mean that you live in the clouds. We saw last Friday that this does not mean that the spiritual man is out of touch with everyday life and reality. No! I follow the news very carefully. I watch everything that goes on in this world because the spiritual man is not dreaming in the clouds. He is here in this world, not in the next world. In this world, we function as light in this world. He is here to do a job for God. And you cannot do that job when you do not know what is going on in the world. I am shocked at some Christians; they do not know the news. They do not know what happened. They never listen to the news; they never read the newspaper; they have no idea what is going on in the world. You cannot live like this in the world. Every Christian has to have his feet on the ground - you are to function as light here and now. That is your job. And how are you to function as light? It is when you are filled with light, when God’s light floods into your heart because you are concentrated upon Him.
God Gives Us Spiritual Vision When We Turn Our Full Attention On Him
So then, this is the secret of spiritual vision that we have seen. We see here, as in Lk. 11:36, it says, “Then when you are wholly fixed upon God, no part of you is darkness, then the light will shine upon you with its rays and give you light.” Do you see spiritual vision now? You see, many people say, “I’ll become a wonderful Christian when I have the light shining upon me, when I get spiritual vision.” You have got the order wrong, my friend! The order is not like this. The order is: first, God’s light is already there. You will have to turn your attention fully towards Him, then His light shines into you and lights you up, and then you have spiritual vision. Spiritual vision is waiting for you. You do not have to wait for it. God is ready now to let His light flood into you. You do not have to wait for it. And so, it is for the non-Christian, too. Your eye is dark. You are spiritually blind. Why? It is because of sin. So long as sin is in your life, you can see nothing clearly at all. It is not because you are intellectually stupid. You cannot see these things because there is sin in your life. There is selfishness in your life. There is pride in your life. So, you cannot see. You come to Jesus and He will open your eyes and then you begin to understand spiritual things.
I have so many times seen the joy of those people who once were blind and then they came before God, they knelt down before Him, and said, “Lord, I am so blind. I confess my sins to you. Open my eyes that I may see.” And God touches them. He opens their eyes and they are so full of delight. They say to me, “How is it that the things I could not understand before, I see so clearly now. Have I become more clever?” I say, “No! No! You haven’t become more clever. Do not start getting proud. It is simply that God has now opened your eyes and you can understand the things of God.” And they are so delighted. They can understand the things they could not understand before. Spiritual vision comes, then, when our eyes turn towards God, away from the world, away from self, praying that God will cleanse away our sin and we just totally focus on Him. So we thank God, then, that He speaks to us through His words.
A Warning: If the Light In Us Is Darkness, How Great Is That Darkness!
Jesus gives us one last warning here, which I touched on earlier, “If the light in you be darkness, how great is that darkness.” And so, in Luke it says, “Be careful, lest that light becomes darkness.” Be careful. You will have to do something. Here in Lk. 11:35, the Lord Jesus says, “You be careful! I do not guarantee that your light will always be light. You have to be careful.” Why? It is because your eye might start wandering away again. Your heart might start dividing again. Maybe once, your eye was fixed upon God, like these disciples, but then the world was dragging you and tempting you and your devotion turned away from Him again. Oh, brothers and sisters, I plead with you: keep your eye fixed! Be careful because the world likes to dazzle you. You say, “What was that dazzling now?” You turn around to have a look at it, then it got you and held your attention.
The world is so full of dazzling things, twinkling things. It is very interesting with children. You can distract them very easily. Just take a little dazzling thing; immediately their eyes are upon it. You move it here, he moves them here. You move it there, he moves them there. I find so many Christians, you have got them exactly the same way. The world dangles a few things in front of you and it has got you! Be careful, “lest the light in you become darkness” - lest your healthy eyesight that God gave to you degenerates again because of sin. Never be complacent! Never take it for granted!
I say this especially to young people. Keep your eye upon the Lord. You know, young people have the problem with girlfriends and boyfriends, right? Old people have their problems, too. Young people have their problems. I have seen so many Christians whose heart was dedicated and devoted to God until they got a nice girlfriend and a nice boyfriend. And then the girlfriend, the boyfriend is the one the eye gives more and more [attention to], that in the night time you dream, and what do you see? You see Jesus? No! You see your girlfriend’s face. You wake up in the morning and you see your girlfriend’s pretty face. You go to bed and it is your girlfriend’s pretty face. The whole day it is your girlfriend. Or if it is a girl, then it is a boyfriend - his handsome, beautiful face. All day you see his face. While you are eating; you see his face. You are reading; you see his face. Everywhere his face! I do not know why you have to put a picture hanging around your neck when he is in front of your eyes all the time anyway. You won’t forget! Beware! Beware! There are other people who can take our devotion. Do not let anybody take your devotion. Nobody - girlfriend or boyfriend! Say, “Lord! My eye is going to be on You.”
I tell you, one day, that vision of your girlfriend or boyfriend will disappear and you are left with emptiness. Nothing! Human vision has a way of disappearing, but divine vision gets clearer and stronger and brighter all the time. Let nobody take your vision from the Lord, I beg of you, no matter how wonderful that person is, no matter how wonderful you think he is or she is. Oh, let our eye be kept on Him. Single! Total! You say, “Well, if that is case, I’ll never get married. I’ll never see a girlfriend. I’ll never have a boyfriend because I’ll never want his image in my heart.” No, I don’t mean this. The Bible does not say that either. What it means is: make sure that although you have to see the things of this world, the central focus of your attention will always be on Jesus and no one else.
I was sharing with another sister the other day about a brother of mine who was going to serve the Lord. He married a girl. He told her, “I’m going to serve the Lord” and she accepted it at that time. When he had graduated from the training that he was receiving and he was going to serve the Lord, she said, “No! I’m not going to serve the Lord.” He loves her. He loves the Lord. So, what is he going to do? He did not know what to do. Now he is split apart. His vision - be careful! - his vision was split apart. He was looking at his wife. He was looking at the Lord. He loves his wife. He loves the Lord. He is now caught in the middle. What was he going to do? The poor man is a wreck. He is a spiritual ruin. What should he have done? Well, what I would have done, I tell you very honestly, no matter how much a person means to me, how much I love that person, I really love that person, if anybody stands between the Lord and me, then too bad for the person. If anyone tries to persuade me not to follow the Lord, then too bad for the person. I do not want that kind of friendship.
May The Lord Be Our Vision And Our Light!
Anyone who wants to turn me away from the Lord, no matter how wonderful that person is, that person goes. The Lord is all to me. It was He who died for me. I know that there is nobody who loves me as He does. I am not going to be a fool and let anybody win my love from me. But so long as nobody hinders me in that walk, I will love that person as the Lord wants me to love. I would love that person with an honesty and a sincerity that I am sure that nobody else in the world - no non-Christian, that is - could give. But the Lord will be always my vision and my light. So, may the Lord speak to each one of our hearts and give to us the spiritual vision that our eye is single, that we in our character become uncomplicated, that we become generous to those who are in need and to the church as a whole, and that we are wholly and totally dedicated to the Lord!
(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church