Tony Evans - Improving Your Spiritual Eyesight
Perhaps there have been situations in your life where you've had to raise the question, "Is there any hope"? Where things look so bad, so discouraging, so desperate that hope was lost. Perhaps there have been times in your life or in the lives of people you know where they wanted to throw in the towel, give up, quit. Where they were disappointed that led to discouragement that went into despair. The Bible has a phrase for that, that sense of hopelessness, emptiness. It's called fainting or losing heart. Well, I wanna try to give you today that which will help you to make it when those times come in my life and your life and they will come if they have not already, where you feel like fainting, giving up, and losing heart and it all balls down to your vision, the nature of your eyesight.
He says, Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 16, "Therefore we do not lose heart". "Therefore we do not lose heart". What were some of the things Paul was dealing with? If you back up a few verses, he says in verse 8, "We are afflicted in every way". He says in verse 9, "Persecuted". He says in verse 10, "Carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus". In fact, he says in verse 12, "Death works in us". He's going through some very negative realities and he's got the audacity to say, "But we don't lose heart".
So if you are here today or one day and you're ready to throw in the towel, quit, give up, walk away, whatever level of despair, discouragement that you may be facing, causing the tears to roll down your eyes, causing you to lose sleep, causing you to live in aggravation, frustration, irritation, exacerbation, I want to say to you today so that you can not only use it for yourself but give it to somebody else, Paul's statement, "We do not lose heart". Well, if you want to be in that position, you must improve your spiritual eyesight. You must be able to look at things differently as painful as the fainting may be. He gives three things that involve your eyesight. And he says, "If we can work on your eyesight, we can change your heart and your fainting, quitting, giving up situation".
Well, maybe I'm not talking to anybody today, maybe there's nobody here that's... any fainting folk here? Okay, I wanna make sure. The first thing he says in verse 16, "But though the outer man is decaying, yet the inner man is being renewed day-by-day". Mm, the first thing that you've gotta be able to look at is which man are you looking at? Spiritual endurance during troubled times means there needs to be a shift in your perspective. And that means you must prioritize the spiritual man over the physical man, okay. He just said, "While you're getting older on the outside, you should be getting younger on the inside. While you're growing old, you are to simultaneously be growing young".
If you're growing old on the outside and growing old on the inside, you're in bad shape 'cause you're getting old twice. He says, "The inner man is renewed day-by-day". Renewing is the concept of making new, making fresh, bringing back to life. It's springtime coming outta winter. It's a renewal. He says, "If you're going to not lose heart, you must make sure you're getting younger spiritually, renewed". God says, "If you want to hang in there when the going gets tough, you must be renewed day-by-day". Why? Because inside of you, verse 7 says, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels". Inside your physical frame is a treasure chest and that treasure chest is the spiritual man.
If you've come to Christ, you have a new nature inside of you that wants to stay young, doesn't wanna get old. In fact, it wants to get younger as you get older. But he says that "the way this happens is day-by-day renewal," you see that in verse 16? He says, "Our inner man is being renewed day-by-day". If the inner man is not daily fed, the renewal doesn't take place and if the renewal doesn't take place, you're not getting younger on the inside, which means you lose the capacity to handle the problems on the outside.
So if you do not see the spiritual man, he spends the first 9 verses of chapter 5, we won't go into now. I'll read verse 1, "For we know that this earthly tent," which is our house, our body, "Is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in heavens". He says, "This building is gonna tear down and one day it's gonna close up but you have another building that will keep you young, your eternal body that God is preparing for you in glory, but it wants to be connected to a young spirit". And he says, "That only happens if there is a day-by-day perspective".
So the question is, what did you spiritually eat today? Or do you not remember eating since last week? Then you're not being renewed because you're not giving the Holy Spirit what he needs to feed on in order to renew your human soul and human spirit. So the first thing he says is, "If you're going to cope with chaos, if you're going to cope with the confusion, if you're going to cope with the difficulties, that's going to happen because day-by-day you are feeding the spiritual man with the Word, with prayer, with bringing God in on the decisions of the day informally". In other words, it's this daily mindset, orientation, viewpoint that you are operating by. He says "day-by-day," there's gotta be a consistency to it if you're gonna stay young spiritually.
The second thing he says is in verse 17, "For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comprehension". He says, "For momentary light affliction". Now I know what you're saying, "Paul, you don't know what you're talking about 'cause what I'm dealing with is not light and it sure not momentary 'cause I've been dealing with it for a minute". He says, "What you are going through, whatever that happens to be, is both momentary and light". Why? Because it's measured against an eternal weight of glory. It's measured not against your clock, it's measured against eternity. In other words, unless you develop an eternal perspective, time will mess you up. Because what time does, is it boxes you in.
What he is saying is, you must learn to live thinking in terms of eternity while not ignoring the realities of time. You're not skipping what you're going through, you're not pretending it's not real, but you're bringing heaven's point of view, an eternal perspective on it. What he says is, "If you learn to have a heavenly orientation, if you look toward eternity while you are functioning in time, you will be participating in," what he calls in verse 17, "An eternal weight of glory". What does he mean? Heaven gonna help you out. An eternal weight of glory. The glory, the manifestation of God will help you out in history if you don't make history bigger than it is. If all you live for is now, now is all you get.
Now you can get now and there's some good things in now, but if all you live for is now, now is all you get. He calls it an eternal weight of glory that heaven begins to enter into whatever is causing you to lose heart because you're looking at it from God's perspective. And when you change what you're staring at, when heaven becomes a big deal, not because you're trying to leave earth before your time, but because you need heaven's help in your time. You need heaven until you make a big deal about the weight of glory there while you are working it out down here. It's called an eternal weight of glory.
If we become heaven bound we'll be earthly benefited. He is saying to you and me that our spiritual sight must be adjusted. We must understand that the spiritual internal is more important than the physical external. We must understand that the problems we have here must be measured against eternity, not merely time. And then verse 18, notice what his words are: "While we look," see that has to do with your eyesight. "While we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; the things which are not seen are eternal".
Job has said in Job 5:7, he says that "life is full of trouble, like the sparks fly upward". Jesus said in John 16:33, "In this world you're gonna have tribulation". He said, "You need to look, I need to look at the things that are not seen". Wait a minute, how do you look at something that you can't see? He says, "You look at the things that are not seen. You look at the things that are not seen, not the things that are seen". In other words, he is calling on us to shift our perspective spiritually. He's calling on us to prioritize, here it is, the eternal over the temporal, the spiritual over the physical.
Now we live in a physical world. We have the five senses to help us out. But he says, "When you are losing heart, the thing that's gonna keep you from losing heart is not staring at the physical, you've got to see him who is invisible to see. You've got to see spiritual truth not only limit yourself to physical reality". And that physical reality is called in the Bible, here it is, the world. 1 John 2 verses 15 and 17, "Love not the world neither the things that are in the world for any man who loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him". What is the world? It's that system headed by Satan that leaves God out.
The Bible says in 1 John 5:19 that "this world lies in the hands of the evil one". This world order belongs to the devil. So when you live for the physical, you live for the devil. He says, "All that's in the world," in 1 John 2, "The lust of the flesh," physical desires, "The lust of the eyes," desire to accumulate, "The pride of life," the pursuit to be significant. That's what everybody wants. The pleasures of the flesh, the accumulation of the stuff, and the significant recognition of others. Now, what he is saying is, don't... he's not condemning you being in the world, he's not condemning you benefiting from the world, he is condemning you falling in love with it. One of the reasons we lose the ability to cope, is that we're living for the wrong world.
You and I are supposed to be living in this world not for this world. In it, but not for it. Because he says, "You lose the love of the Father". That is, that intimate relationship. And one of the reasons we faint is because we don't feel the Father's love. You ever seen a fish that's been caught and pulled up, flipping and flopping, twisting and jerking trying to make it? You know that fish is trying to make it. It was not created for that. And because it wasn't created for that, it can try to make it all day long and all it's doing is quickening its demise 'cause he's trying to make it in the wrong environment.
So let's flip it. Let's send you into the water to hang out and try to make the ocean your home. Try to make it your home. Go down there, have a good time. It will be clear you weren't built for that, that you were not created to be able to make it in that environment 'cause that's not how you were made. But wait a minute, wait a minute. If you put on an oxygen tank and you go into the water and hang out there, you gonna make it in a foreign environment because you brought something with you from your real world. You see, you put oxygen tank on, which is your real world, you went into a foreign world that you weren't made for that world, but you can make it in that world 'cause you brought something from the world that you really belong to.
When you accepted Christ you transferred out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, you now have a tank that you ought to wear in this world. But far too many of us take that tank off and still try to make it in this world and wonder why this world is wiping us out, killing us, knocking us for loops and we faint and we lose heart to a world that's passing away because we refuse to breathe heaven's air. This world is real, but it is temporary. This world is real, but it is limited. This world is real, but the affliction is limited. You and I are supposed to be in this world drawing life from that world. And he says, "When you do that you will not lose heart".
You'll get discouraged, you'll cry, you'll be lonely, you'll be afraid, but what you won't do is throw in the towel. You won't have to live in a way that every day is desperation and defeat because you refuse to look at this world alone. You don't ignore it, but you refuse to be limited by it. In Super Bowl XLIII, Santonio Holmes caught the touchdown pass and he caught the touchdown pass for the winning team. And when the pass was strong to him, the Steelers, he went to the edge, he went to the edge of the end zone and he got all the way at the edge and he reached up and caught it with less than a minute left for them to win the game.
Two things happened for that win: He touched low while reaching high. His feet were firmly planted on the ground but if he reached up and his feet weren't on the ground, it's incomplete. But if his feet were on the ground but he didn't reach up, it's incomplete. In order for him to do what he did, he had to be living in reality. His feet had to be on the ground but he had to be reaching up to catch the ball. If you want to make it when the defense of life is tackling you, when the circumstances are breaking you, you've got to reach up, you have to be heavenly-minded, spiritually-minded, other-worldly-minded.
The things of earth must be second, not first. The unseen God must be more important than the visible men. See, because what we've done is we've made visible men bigger than invisible God and therefore we insult the Almighty. We must look on the things you cannot see. When you and I develop this perspective, we'll get clearer eyesight, we'll be growing younger while we're getting older. And most importantly we won't quit. That eternal perspective will change your trajectory of your eyesight.
If you could bring me the rope, I just wanna show you something. Now, here's a long rope and you will see on the end of the rope it's wrapped in red. And this, this is life makes you wanna faint. This red, we will call this your life. And this is this is 70 years. This red is 70 years, but this rope is forever. But this rope, this red is 70 years, the rest of this rope is eternity. Why you gonna spend all your life on this when you got all of this to come? So he says, "If you wanna make it with this, look at all this 'cause you'll bring this in proper perspective".
I can't see where this rope ends, and that's how eternity is. It has no place to end. This place ends and it's gonna come to a conclusion. When death knocks on your door and this comes to a conclusion, you better be hanging on to all of this 'cause this determines where things will wind up. So I want all of you to look at life from an eternal perspective and begin to live it that way. And as you do, you won't faint, you'll struggle, there'll be trials, tribulations, but you'll make it because you'll be walking with an eternal weight of glory.
On a clear day like today here in the Rocky Mountains, you can see a long way because there are no obstructions, there's nothing blocking the view. When you get a clear view of heaven, you can see much better how to maneuver on earth because you're seeing things as they really are. But the enemy wants to obscure that, he wants to take away the Son of God and turn it into the cloudiness of man. So keep your view on heaven and you'll be able to make sense of what you're looking at on earth. Lose the view of heaven and earth will become very confusing. What heaven offers us is a clear sky, so that as we navigate life on earth, we'll be able to make the best possible decisions to guide us in the way God would have us go.