Allen Jackson - Spiritual Blindness, Cause and Cure - Part 1
It's good to be with you again. We're working through a series talking about the eyes of a prophet; and in this session we're going to talk specifically about spiritual blindness, what causes it and how to cure it. You know, just the fact that we're Christ follower does not mean that we just automatically have discernment. That comes into our lives as we learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, as we learn the Word of God and we learn about the character of God. It seems to me for far too long God's people have been groping in the darkness trying to understand what God wants of us. I believe it's possible to see with clarity God's purpose for your life; his plan for your life, his objectives for your life. We've had our eyes closed and been in the dark for too long. It's time for new eyes and new eyesight. Grab your Bible. Get a notepad. Most of all, open your heart.
We started a series last night that I want to continue under the general theme of "The Eyes of a Prophet". Not foretelling, not anticipating the future, a prophetic perspective is seeing the world as God sees it. The biblical notion of a prophet is not someone who knows who's going to win the Super Bowl; it's far more invested in what God has to say to the people on earth. The priest represents the people on earth to God. The priest brings the sacrifices and offers them to God. The priests offer the prayers to God, but the prophetic perspective is to represent God's perspective to the people. What does God have to say or think about what's happening in our hearts and in our midst? And I would submit to you that we increasingly need to be able to see our world with a God perspective.
Now, that comes to us in several ways, through Scripture predominantly by understanding God's character and his nature. But in this session I want to, with the help of God, explore with you a little bit about spiritual blindness, about the cause of that and some of the cures for that because it seems to me that that is an epidemic with which we are struggling a bit; and I would start with this idea of old things and new things. Most of us are a little reluctant to embrace change. Some of you are maybe change agents, but for most of us change is a little awkward. It's uncomfortable. We like to sit in the same spot, park in the same place, sit next to the same people, then on those unfortunate times when you're asked to move like outdoors it's kind of threatening.
"Maybe I'll just livestream. I don't like the outdoors". Or we go outdoors, and on Sunday morning you know what that means. There's going to be people come on Sunday morning that aren't normally here and they're going to disrupt your routine. "Why do we have to fool with this stuff? Just foolishness. What are they thinking? I don't like to change". I didn't call your name, and I don't think they put your picture on the screen. Revelation 21 and verse 4 God said he will wipe every tear from our eyes and there'll be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain; for the old order of things has passed away.
God describes this to the present world order, not this ball of matter that's hurtling through space and orbiting our sun, but the present world order very clearly is temporary. He said it's going to pass away. He calls it an old thing. It's an old order. It's not going to define our future. So you don't want to get too invested in this. You don't want to hold too tight. You don't want to imagine that your ultimate success or failure should be evaluated by the criteria of this present world order 'cause it's temporary. You want to have aspirations that reach beyond it. We're going to talk a bit more about that. Jesus taught us to pray this way. You remember it?
When the disciples asked for a prayer lesson, he said, "Pray this way: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'" Jesus said we were to be change agents that the will of God would be done on the earth. That's not going to be done in the abstract and the theoretical. It's not about more sermonizing, it's about people giving expression to God's will for humanity. Jesus told us to pray that way. That's a radical prayer, but I would submit to you that for the most part I think contemporary American Christendom has very limited vision about this present world system. I think we're just fully invested.
In fact, it's pretty difficult if you eliminated where you sit on the weekend. If we couldn't talk about church attendance and your participation around that community of faith, what's the evidence that we're Christ followers, what's the evidence in your words in the communication you have with your friends and how you do business and what you say to people with whom you do business? I think we can define that to a great extent as spiritual blindness. How does that emerge? Well, how do we find ourselves in that place? It's not willful. None of us would intentionally, purposefully give up vision physically or spiritually. In fact, we work hard to enhance our vision. We have checkups and we get tools to enhance our vision, and if it declines with age we want to artificially improve it so we don't forfeit that.
Well, I don't want anything to diminish my spiritual vision. I don't want to accept diminished spiritual awareness. That's more debilitating than accepting a limited physical vision. In 2 Timothy chapter 4 and verse 9 Paul's writing from a Roman prison to Timothy, a young man he's mentored. This was the fastest means of communication he had available. Their Internet was down, so he's writing a letter. He said, "Do your best to come to me quickly. Hurry, Timothy. Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica, and Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you. He's helpful to me in my ministry". He said Demas, because he loved this world, he walked away. When he wrote the letter to the Colossian church, he wrote it from Paul and from Demas. He was with him.
By the time he's been arrested in Rome we don't know the cause of it, we don't know the root of it beyond what he said, that Demas's affinity for the world was so great he chose that over faithfulness and fidelity to the Lord. It's a cautionary sound. It's a yellow light that should be flashing in front of all of us. You want to evaluate the degree to which we're engaged and meshed in the present world order: our dreams, our aspirations, our measures of success or failure, what we find affirming or threatening or challenging. The world we can see is changing violently, rapidly in unprecedented ways, both in speed and magnitude, and if we're too invested in those systems it brings a lack of spiritual awareness to us because to hold to God perspective will set you apart.
That whole notion of being salt and light, one thing you know, if you're in the darkness light is different. It's a personal evaluation. It's something to reflect on. It's something to walk around a bit with the Lord and say, "Lord, where in my heart am I too much aligned with the people who don't serve you? Am I more comfortable in ungodly settings than I am in godly settings"? I'll give you examples. I do church professionally. I've done it for a long time. I'm with Christians, and I've had conversation after conversation with people telling me the kind of worship places where they're just uncomfortable. You know, they don't want to do too much of this, or they don't want to do too much of this, or they don't do enough of this, or they don't do enough, I mean, they're, you know, we bring all these preferences.
Think about the ungodly places where you're comfortable doing business, recreating. Think how you can adjust your emotions or your preferences in order to accomplish a goal in those settings. Are we willing to lean into our faith with that same kind of determination? If not, we've got some work to do. It's affecting our spiritual vision. What do you do with your time, your free time, your discretionary time? Seasons of life come with less or more of that, I understand that, but everybody has a bit of discretion over what you do with your time, what you coach your children to do, what you encourage them to invest in.
Рow's that different than what the secular, godless cultures do? This present world order in John 14, Jesus is speaking. He said, "I'll not speak with you much longer. The prince of this world is coming". He's referring to Satan, and he said he's the prince of this world. You don't want to be too invested in anything over which Satan is the prince. John 18 Jesus said, "My kingdom," he's talking to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world. I have a kingdom, but it's not this present world order".
Folks, we're living for something else. You know that, right? I enjoy life. I'm not suggesting that. I'm not suggesting some ascetic response where we move into the desert and live in a cave, but this world is not the ultimate evaluation of our faith. In 1 Corinthians 3 it says the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. You'll have to meditate on that a bit. There's a lot of this world's wisdom that gets pumped at us. It cascades over us like a waterfall: conventional wisdom, culture, what you can say and what you can't say. Culture is no longer about follow the science. What a joke.
Science is about observation and deduction. That is the scientific method. It doesn't begin with a predetermined conclusion, then try to find the data to support it. And I'm not talking about COVID, I'm talking about how we live in our world. We have stepped away from that for all of our hype and bluster about being rationalists. We're not rationalists. We're being mentally manipulated by all sorts of propaganda. What do you know about this present world order? The prince of this world order, Jesus said is the father of lies. The truth is not in him. That cascades over us so frequently with such magnitude we become oblivious to the degree it's happening.
I'll tell you a line that we've heard over and over and over again for decades now. So this isn't about any current anything, this is nothing to do with politics, this is the culture in which we live. We've said over and over again there's no difference between men and women. Anybody heard that at least once? "We're the same. Teach your kids". And this is just as, it's as prevalent within the church as it is without. "Tell your children they can do anything they want to do. They're no different". It's been just hammered into us. God made us male and female. Not better or worse, not lesser or greater, not one significant and not one insignificant, but different, but we don't act like that, we don't talk like that, we don't teach our kids that. Had a little bit, a couple times this week Kathy and I, we sat down and we turned on the television, and there's a tennis tournament going on, freakish athletes, US Open. Anybody see it?
In New York City. I mean, amazing athletes, world-class. There's a men's bracket and a women's bracket, and I watched some of each and I can, they were both entertaining, both just freakishly gifted athletes, both the men's and the women's draw, but they're different. They're different in the rules. They're different in how long they play. They're different in measurable outcomes. They're not the same. I know I said it, like, out loud in front of God and everybody, but you've all watched it. You know it's true. Not one greater, not one lesser, not one better, but they're not the same. So maybe we should stop saying we're just the same and we do the same things. We're angry because they're creating confusion in our children. They couldn't create confusion with our children if we hadn't been sowing the seeds of confusion in our children ourselves.
Again, it's not about greater or lesser. You see, the prince of this world will bring deception anyway he can, any lie, any twist 'cause he'll build on it. It'll compound until you find yourself in the theater of the absurd, which is where we are these days. "How do you identify"? As godly, imperfect, but that's my choice. If I haven't annoyed everybody, let me pick, I'll give you another example. I'd like to offend equally. How many of you have heard the line sometime that our economy is in wonderful shape? "Things are great. Things are really good. Nothing to see here. Just keep moving". And we have some personal experiences to kind of affirm it, so we don't pay much attention 'cause there's a lot of money floating around, a lot of cash.
Our houses are worth more and we're stacking cash. You have an appraisal done just so you feel better about yourself. We're all smart investors these days. Hallelujah. "All right? Economy is doing great". You kind of think, "Maybe not, but I don't want to look 'cause I'm stacking cash. I got an appraisal that told me I did". Until you just kind of sort of stop and look at the reality for a minute and it's a little less comforting. Our annual revenue in the United States... government doesn't make money, they just collect ours, right? You know governments don't have money, right? Okay, but our annual revenue, I rounded this a bit but within appropriate measures. Annual revenue is about $4 trillion, trillion.
I started to bring you some demonstrations to try to show you what a trillion looks like, but it's not to the point really the government spending on an annual basis right now. Not these emergency measures, not COVID responses, not international responses, not the $3 1/2 trillion we've given away in the last 90 days in front of an election. Not that stuff, just our annual government spending is $7 trillion a year. If you're doing the math on this, even with new math, that means there's an annual deficit of $3 trillion. Okay? On top of that, we currently have a national debt of about $30 trillion. So an income of 4, we're spending 7, and we're 30 in the hole. Change the zeros on that. Just imagine that's your home. What's the description of that?
Well, how about we just say big trouble ahead 'cause that's not sustainable. That's just not sustainable, no matter how many tens of thousands of agents you hire to go get more money from the people. And on top of that, add what you're watching. You see, we see this; the changes in the workforce, how we're working, how we want to work or don't want to work, the lack of available labor to work. Add to that inflation. I know they say there's not much, but the places I go the numbers are changing. They're going to have to make it digital to keep up with it. The supply chain interruptions; things are not available like we have been accustomed historically to them being available. Try making a purchase of some durable goods. Go to the grocery store. There's a difference in what's available and when it's available and how it's available. Nobody talks about it much. We don't say it. It's kind of impolite in polite company, but something's different.
And the international competition. We're told, you know, we are a global community. We are all working together. Excuse me? There's more aggressiveness in the international marketplace than anytime I can remember, and yet the messaging that's cascading over us is, "Oh, nothing to see here. Our economy is in great shape". And they'll go grab a statistic or something and say, "See"? They don't want you to pay attention to what you're watching. They don't want you to pay attention to your experience. They don't want you to pay attention to the workforce where you are or the one you're trying to maintain. They don't want you to pay attention to the grocery store, if you go to the lumberyard and try to order something.
I've been inviting you for several months to a pattern of watching, listening, thinking, and then acting upon that because this present world order is not forthright. We need a God perspective; and you can find it in athletics, you can find it in business. We could talk about these, we could have pulled slice after slice after slice of what's being pushed at us, shown to us, and told that it's normal. Our southern border is secure. Well, we need to read if...it's ludicrous in light of 9/11. We have a completely open border for the people of the world to come across it with no vetting whatsoever. Do you think we're more beloved in the global community today than we were on 9/11? I promise you we're not, but we don't talk about that. This present world order it's as if we're blind.
I saw a wonderful quote from Ronald Reagan, President Reagan. Seemed appropriate. He said, "If some among you fear taking a stand because you're afraid of reprisals, reprisals from customers, reprisals from clients or even government, recognize that you're just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last". May I humbly suggest that it's time for us to begin to lead with our faith. Bring your faith into the discussion. Bring your faith into your business settings. Take your faith to the ball fields with your children. If they won't pray on the field before the game, you pray in the stands with the parents. You get your child and you pray with them before they go on the field. You pray for the coach where he can hear you. "God, help this coach to be godly with these young people today in Jesus' name".
Call him by name. If your kid's talented enough, they will not be offended by your prayer. I promise. We're going to have to start to lead with our faith a little bit. If your doctor doesn't want to pray for you, pray for your doctor. "Well, you know, I went to the doctor and my doctor didn't pray for me". Pray for him or her. "Before you treat me and certainly before you cut on me, God, help this person. They're well-trained, but give them your wisdom today in Jesus' name". "My company is not a godly place". I know. It's why God sent you. You're the torch bearer. You're the salt. "It was hard". No kidding? I'm pretty sure if you interviewed, if there's any of those folks left that waited ashore at Normandy, they would describe that as a difficult day followed by many more difficult days, followed by several difficult weeks.
This present world order, folks, we've been blind. We just been numbly walking along, accepting what was handed to us, reciting the messages that were given to us, acting like it made perfect sense. "We're all the same". No, we're not. God's doing something. Revelation 21, "He who was seated on the throne said, 'I'm making everything new.' And he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'" God said he's going to make everything new. Everything. This present order is going to pass away. This physical ball of matter is going to get an update. God's going to make everything new. He said no more crying or pain or tears.
Look at Hebrews 10. "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus". He's not talking about a tabernacle or a temple, he's talking about coming into the presence of God. We only come there, you don't come there because you joined the right church, 'cause you got a WRC lanyard, don't you wish, but by the blood of Jesus. "By a new and a living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body". See, what I'm talking to you about, I understand it's going to take some courage and some boldness, I understand there is some risk involved. I was reading yesterday one of Mother Teresa's speeches. It was actually the speech presentation she made at the presidential prayer breakfast in 1994.
When she challenged the sitting president, she made her presentation as a pro-life presentation standing before a president who had vetoed multiple times bans on partial birth abortion. Mother Teresa, all 5 feet of her, spent her life serving the poor, and the courage to stand behind that podium in the center of Washington DC in a collection of powerful people and stand up for the sanctity of human life, but she made a statement that it stuck in my heart. She said it cost Jesus something to love us. Folks, the cross is free to every person no matter your race, your ethnicity, your IQ, your income. Everybody can come to the foot of the cross, but to serve Jesus you have to take up your cross.
Sometimes when we talk about current events, people are filled with fear or anxiety or stress. Wrong response. Psalm 37 says not to fret because of evildoers. We're not supposed to be filled with anxiety and worry. We can be truthful about what's happening in our world, but we have to believe that Almighty God will bring us through triumphantly. Let's pray.
Father, forgive us when we've worried about things that you're not worried about, when we've been anxious about things you're not anxious about. We cast all those cares on you. And I thank you that you will lead us through this season victoriously, that your provision is sufficient in Jesus' name, amen.