Light and Blindness
© 2023 C. O. Bishop
John 12:35-46; Isaiah 6:9, 10; Romans 11:25
In John 12:35-46, Jesus touched again on the topic of spiritual light and spiritual blindness.
35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.
37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.[John is quoting Isaiah 6:9, 10]
42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
Light and Blindness
We should address several issues, here: the first is the concept of spiritual and judicial blindness. In the scripture, we repeatedly see that our disregard for God’s light produces a judicial blindness. That condition will last until we repent of our sin of unbelief. Isaiah predicted this in Isaiah 6:9, 10. Jesus quoted that passage, here in John 12. Paul confirmed it in Romans 11:25, saying that “…blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
When we were studying John 1:4, 5, we saw that “in Him (The Word) was life, and the life was the Light of men. And the light shined in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.” The unbelieving heart cannot understand God’s light, and darkness cannot extinguish it.)
In John 1:14, we see that Jesus is the “Word” in this context. “The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the father) full of grace and truth.”
In John 8:12, Jesus actually introduced Himself as “The Light of the World.” We want to keep these ideas in mind, as we consider what Jesus meant. In John 3:19, He said that light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. What does that mean?
Light and the Word
In fact, since the Light and the Word are so closely tied together, we need to keep those two tied together in our own minds. When we consider light, in the scripture, we need to be thinking in terms of The Word. And when we see references to the Word of God, in the scripture, we need to consider whether that reference is directly (or indirectly) pertaining to Jesus, the Word of God.
Revelation 19:13 says one of the titles applied to Jesus, (the Messiah, the King of Kings)…is “The Word Of God.” Don’t take that lightly! If Jesus truly is the Living Word of God, then we need to Believe Him! And, if He truly is the Light of the World, hen we need to walk in His Light. Finally, if He is the light that the World is rejecting, then we do not want to ignore His Light, and neglect His Written Word.
God has not forgotten His Word. Psalm 105:8 says, “He has remembered His covenant forever, the Word which He commanded to a thousand generations.”
Psalm 119:89 says, “ Forever, O Lord, thy Word is settled in heaven.”
And Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
Why am I citing all these passages comparing the Word to the Light, and connecting Jesus to the Word and to The Light? Give this some thought! Consider how to apply them in life.
Walk while Ye have the Light
The Jews in Jerusalem were continually challenging Jesus, questioning His integrity, His character, and the truth of nearly anything He said. In John 12:34, They had just said “We have heard out of the Law, that the Christ (the Messiah) abideth forever: how say you that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”
They clearly understood that His comment about “lifting up the Son of Man” was in reference to His death. But they were so busy arguing every point Jesus made, that they failed to understand the overall message. They were so busy arguing about the character of His light that they failed to simply receive that light and walk in that light. So, Jesus admonished them (the Jews in Jerusalem) to “Walk while ye have the light.”
2nd Peter 1:19, 20 admonishes us, as believers, to use the Written Word as our source of light, by which to walk in the World. “19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:”
So, What Does that Mean for Us, as Believers?
The New Testament believers have received the whole counsel of God’s Word. We are learning to “rightly divide the Word of Truth,” so we can have a fairly good idea about which portions of God’s Word are directed to us, as New Testament believers, and which are specific to some other group. We also know that ALL of God’s Word is for us, even though not all is directed to us. So, whenever we fail to respond to His Word, God can rightly hold us accountable for what we know.
Jesus said that those who knew to do right and chose not to do it will be judged more strictly than those who did not know to do right and because of their ignorance, failed to do God’s will. The truth is, as believers, we really have no excuse: we disobey what we know God says, because we choose to go our own way. It’s that simple. Whatever excuses we make for not reading, not hearing, and not obeying God’s Word, it still comes down to a choice we make.
What about Feelings?
We say, “I don’t feel like studying, attending a class, reading, working on memorization,” etc. And we think that is an adequate cause for straying from the Shepherd. But it is not: Feelings are very seldom an accurate reflection of reality, and they are certainly not a good basis for decision making.
But we do this all the time. We make decisions on the basis of what we “feel,” rather than what God says about something. We even write songs, glorifying such things: “How can something so wrong feel so right?” and “If Loving you is Wrong, I don’t want to be Right!”
Sometimes we take it even further and declare something to be right or wrong, based entirely upon our feelings. A believing friend once told me that she felt it would be morally wrong for her to tell someone else how to be saved. She felt that it would be wrong for her to attempt to share the Gospel with another person. She believed she would be wrong to speak, hoping to lead them to eternal life in Christ. Her only reason for this belief was her “feelings.”
I was almost speechless. I tried to understand how a believer could think that direct obedience to a direct command from Jesus could be morally wrong. But nothing I said could sway her: She was directed by her feelings, and the result was her adamant opposition to the Written Word.
What about “Following your Heart?”
Nearly everyone, today, will tell you to “follow your heart.” They insist that “Your heart will never lead you wrong!” But that is the opposite of the truth! Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked!” So, from God’s perspective, there is no more sure way to go astray than by just “Following your heart.”
If you are in submission to God’s Word and His Will, then possibly the “heart” you hear “speaking” is your new nature. Your new nature confirms God’s wisdom and His directive will. But, under any other circumstances, be aware that the single most likely source for misdirection in our lives is what we call “the heart:” our feelings. I’m sorry if this offends anyone. I know it is an unpopular thing to teach, but I can’t ignore what God says about such a thing. It is just the truth.
What Happens when Believers Ignore the Light of God’s Word?
Throughout the Scriptures, we see that disregard for light eventually results in judicial blindness. We will no longer respond to His light at all: not even to reject it… we simply no longer see it. When someone attempts to confront us about the sin in our lives, we mentally dismiss it as “just their opinion.” If they persist, we may defend our actions or attitudes by accusing them of “judging us.” We forget that God is sovereign, and He sends one brother to correct another.
Another believer may attempt to share with me something taken straight from God’s Word. They have humbly, gently spoken His message, taken in the correct context. I need to take that intervention to mean that God is speaking to me through them!
That is not a light thing: I have had it happen many times. And, I knew what was happening at the time it was happening. So, rather than arguing, or defending myself, I confessed that they were correct. And, I thanked them for correcting me. (Have I always responded that way? Nope! Sometimes, initially, I have hardened my heart. But then God continued to put pressure on me until I repented.)
What Happens when an Unbeliever Ignores the Light of God’s Word?
Jesus was speaking primarily to unbelievers in the passage we are reading, in John 12. They had a wonderful opportunity to hear God’s Word directly from the Source: Jesus is the Word! If they ignored Him, there would come a time when He would be gone. Then their source of light would at least be less clear. It would be obscured by the darkness of the world.
He said that the darkness was coming. He warned that those who walk in darkness don’t know what they are getting into. They can’t see where they are going. They have chosen to become blind to the truth of the Gospel.
But in John 3:17-21, Jesus said that His purpose in coming was to offer salvation to the whole World. And then He said that the World does not want what He has to offer.
17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
In Proverbs 13:13, He says, “13 Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.”
Is This Blindness Curable?
So, according to John 3:18, an unbeliever is “already lost.” They do not become “more lost” by ignoring the Gospel. But, they do run the risk of becoming “immune to Grace,” because they have become blind to the Light of God’s Word. They have been “innoculated against the truth.” Is it still possible that God can break through that blindness and bring them to repentance? Yes, it is! Otherwise. I would never have been saved.
2nd Corinthians 4:4 says, “In whom the god of this world [Satan] 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.”
What did Jesus say was the cure for that blindness? In John 12:36 He says, “While ye have light, believe in the light that ye may be the children of light.”
For us, as believers, that faith must include obedience by faith. For an unbeliever, it simply involves a change of mind regarding Jesus. (We call that “repentance.) It involves dropping their previous arguments and simply recognizing Him as their own Savior. And then, as a newborn believer, they can begin their new life of discipleship, faith and obedience.
Lord Jesus, open our eyes to The Light of Your Face, the Light of your Word, and cause us to reflect that Light, so that we shine out the Light of the Gospel.