This morning, proper discernment is as important as it has ever been. Sadly, discerning minds and spirits are hard to come by. Today, two of the prominent mindsets are: 1. turn a blind eye in denial or 2. accept whatever is presented without proving it. Both mentalities fail the test of discernment, and both should not be named among the saints and household of faith. One of the most troubling things when it comes to lack of discernment is when statements “about the Bible” are repeated often enough that most people accept them as fact without thinking about the logical conclusion. For example, people are quick to quote Matthew 7:1 and use that as a springboard to decry judging people at all. Matthew 7:1 has been quoted so much to this effect, that people do not question it whenever the idea is posited. However, should that position be true, we would be absolutely helpless as disciples in many things. How would we know whether those that we interacted with were honest if we did not judge (discern) certain things? How could we deny the company of a known murderer with a lack of judgment? Judgment is necessary, but the type of judgment must be the right kind (which is the point of Matthew 7).
One of the often spoken statements “from” the Bible is, “We are all sinners. Not a one of us is perfect.” These often spoken statements are verifiably true from Scripture as the Book teaches that all of us by nature are depraved – wholly so – without hope in ourselves to get out of that position. However, the statement is generally made to show some absurd concept. Sometimes the person saying that uses it to decry the idea of church discipline. Sometimes the statement is made to excuse personal sin. While it is true that we are all sinners, there are two different types of sinners that Christ talks about in our study verse.
The foreground for our study verse is that Christ has healed a man that was blind from his birth. The fact that He did this on the sabbath day incited the ire of the religious authorities. They accosted the man’s parents, the man himself, and eventually thrust him out from their presence when the man defended Jesus. Some of what they said to the man serves as a good contrast to Christ’s teaching in our verse. In Verse 34, they assert that the blind man was born in sins. That is a true statement, but the inference from their words was that they did not feel themselves to be likewise. They follow their true assertion by asking, “Dost thou teach us?” In other words, you are a sinner born in sins. We are above you; how dare you attempt to teach your superiors!
When Christ hears these words and the fact that they thrust the former blind man from their presence, Jesus teaches in Verses 39-40 that He came into the world for judgment for a twofold purpose: 1. the blind might see and 2. the seeing might be made blind. This prompts the Pharisees to ask whether they were blind also, and the answer to their question is our study verse above. Men like the blind man were made to see when Christ was here, and those aching spiritually were made to see certain things while He was here too. However, the converse is that those who thought they had all the answers (like the scribes and Pharisees) and could see just fine were made blind at Christ’s coming. Though it was obvious that He is the One that fulfills Scripture and prophecy, they could not see it due to their stubborn rebellion and unwillingness to admit that they might not be perfect. Therefore, they thought they could see, but Christ manifested their blindness with His words and actions.
The point of the context and our study verse is that though we are all sinners by nature, there is a difference even today amongst sinners. There are repentant and unrepentant sinners. When people ask how a church can discipline members or that we could rightly call sin for what it is, the fact remains that churches are comprised of sinners, but thankfully, churches that I have seen and associated with are full of repentant sinners. We do not make discernments and judgments based on our own infallibility but upon the infallible word of God. That same infallible source is what we strive to live our course by as well. We are attempting to hold people accountable to the same standard that we strive to hold ourselves to.
Occasionally, I meet a “drylander” (someone who always comes to church but refuses to be baptized) who will give the following excuse for not joining, “I’m not worthy to be a member.” While this sounds very humble and pious, Biblically speaking it amounts to rebellion as the Lord speaks of things we should do. If we fail to do them, then we are failing to show our love to Him. (John 14:15) The Pharisees’ problem was that they thought they could see, and therefore, the blindness continued. The drylander thinks he sees in the sense that he has it all figured out (I’m not worthy), but instead, he becomes voluntarily blind at not being able to see the beauty of Christ on the inside of His church. The same could be said for God’s children that have been sucked into the rat race of the world. Many of them were probably pricked in times past to disengage from the world moreso than they have and live at a higher spiritual plane, but through constant denial have chosen the sorrowful path of rich, young ruler. Talking to them, they have uttered sentiments such as this, “Well, church might be good for some, but I’m doing just fine. God knows my heart, and He understands.” Friends, God does not just know our hearts. He knows everything perfectly, and He is pleased when our hearts attempt to align with His precepts. These remain blind, because they think they are doing just fine.
For the repentant sinner, life is very different. Christ says that the blind have no sin. In truth, we are all blind by nature and full of sin. So, what does Christ mean that the blind have no sin? A repentant sinner knows he is blind. He knows he needs help. Much like the blind man in the lesson, he knew that he was crippled and destitute. A repentant sinner knows that he is nothing without the Lord. A repentant sinner knows that the Lord’s help is needed in all things and at all seasons. Whenever someone comes home to the church, sentiments like the following are uttered, “I don’t deserve to be a part of this, but I would count it a blessing if you all would have me. I love my Lord and want to serve Him the best that I can.” The person desirous to serve, knowing that they are blind, is one that is ready to praise God more perfectly for His sovereign grace and salvation.
When someone confesses that they are blind, it is then that sight (spiritually speaking) gets stronger. The cross becomes more refulgent, and heaven is more than just a place. Jesus is not just a man, and the Bible is more than an ordinary book. Church is a special gathering of blessed people not a congregation of hypocrites and fools. When someone claims that they are just fine (he can see), it is then that blindness becomes more cemented. He cannot see afar off, and He forgets that he was purged from his old sins. Are we all sinners? Yes. Are we all the same kind of sinners? No. God has endowed His children (through the new birth) the ability to cast off the vain and perishable things of this world. The start of that lifestyle is to admit the truth – we are blind – and try for the rest of our days to do better than we have ever done before (repent). Not all of God’s children in this world will live such a life, but it should behoove us to be found so doing. Friends, I freely confess that I know nothing as I ought to know, but thanks be unto God that He has sent His Son to lay His hand upon such blind ones as me so that I might get a glimpse of some of the precious truth and glory that has been freely given me in Christ Jesus the Lord.