by Mike Ratliff
17 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?” And they said, “Seven.” 21 So He said to them, “How is it you do not understand?” (Mark 8:17-21 NKJV)
In the last several posts we have looked at the mortification of sin, the difference between walking according to the spirit and walking according the flesh, and the dynamics of becoming Spirit-led. In this post we will take a closer look at a vital aspect of walking the walk by faith. When Jesus rebuked Peter in Matthew 16 it was for having his focus on the things of men rather than the things of God. Because of that focus, Peter had actually rebuked Jesus for telling them about His upcoming crucifixion and resurrection. Peter told Jesus that he shouldn’t talk about things like that. Instead, He wanted Jesus to change His focus to that of his vision of who the Messiah was rather than on what our Saviour had been telling and showing them about Himself. What was Peter’s real problem? Why did he have the wrong “vision” of Jesus’ ministry? Peter’s problem was that his heart was hardened and, therefore, he had a case of spiritual blindness. Before we point our fingers at him let’s turn those fingers around and point them right back at ourselves. All of us have been there and many of us are still there. Not everyone’s faith is as strong as those whom the Lord has drawn into this Spirit-filled walk. Therefore, instead of condemning our weaker brothers and sisters we should come along side them and help them see the truth from God’s Word and show them the way to change their level of devotion to our Lord and submission to His Lordship.
Let’s look at the passage I placed at the beginning of this post. This events in this passage take place right after Jesus fed the Four Thousand from 7 loaves of bread and a few fish (vv1-10). Then some Pharisees came to Him demanding a sign (vv11-13). After Jesus rebuked them He told His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod. (vv14-16) Jesus’ disciples then began discussing between themselves about the fact that they had no bread with them and they thought Jesus was rebuking them because of that when He mentioned the leaven. Jesus was giving them a spiritual lesson and they interpreted it to be about something physical or temporal. The leaven Jesus was speaking of was the evil influence these men could have on those who are not aware. Jesus was giving them a warning to not allow the religiosity of the Pharisees and the Herodians to cause them to dilute their faith with legalism. Jesus’ concern was that believers would seek to serve Him via works righteousness rather than by faith. However, they were spiritually blind. Their hearts were hardened so they were focused on the things of men rather than on the things of God. Think about it. They had just witnessed a tremendous miracle and were still concerned that Jesus would be upset with them for not having brought any bread with them.
Jesus nailed their problem. Doesn’t He do this with us as well? As God removes the callous from our hearts so that our spiritual blindness is removed it is always as a result of our becoming Spirit-filled. How do we do that? We covered that in Breaking the Chains . When we are Spirit-filled we are not spiritually blind. We are not hardened of heart. We can see and understand spiritual things. We can read and discern from God’s Word things that we never could before. We are humble. We submit to one another. We do not force our wills upon one another. Our faith grows, strengthens and deepens. We pray with faith. We worship in spirit and truth.
On the other hand, when we are not Spirit-filled, we cannot perceive spiritual truths even when they are laid in our lap. We hear those speak who are Spirit-filled and it is like they are speaking a different language. Our hard hearts simply cannot comprehend God’s values because of our callous covered hearts. It is when we are in that state that it as if our Saviour is saying, “How is it you do not understand?” Of course, He knows why. He asks us so that we can start the move to correct that problem by drawing near unto God in repentance, worship, prayer, and obedience. When we do this, God will always keep His promise to draw near unto us and clean house in our hearts.
The last year or so that I was in the church that my wife and I left when it went Purpose Driven was very stressful for me. Remember, God had started opening my heart in 2003-2004. By the end of 2005 He had drawn me into the battle against apostasy that is rampant in our time throughout the visible church. So, when our pastor started his sermons on “his vision” my discernment really set off some alarms. The more I researched the PDC and other “seeker-sensitive” approaches to “doing church” the more disturbed I became. I did pray about it. I did ask the Lord to stop the move of our church into darkness. However, the more I spoke to those in that church about it the more that I appeared to them as one joking or at least speaking about something that they didn’t care to hear. I was marked out very early as a trouble maker in that church and one that no one should listen to. When I went to the Lord with this all I got from Him was that I was finding out what is like to deal with those who have become spiritually blind. This was a first for me. I never thought I would ever experience anything like that. Man’s reason is easily corrupted. When people pursue idols and do not repent of it, God gives them over to it and they fall into darkness. In this state, they are deceived. They see the truth as irrelevant because they are convinced that they know the truth.
Only a work of the Holy Spirit in cracking through their hard hearts will draw them from it. Until then, all we can do and must do is to continue to speak the truth in love to them as we pray fervently for God to send a revival so that a great restoration will take place. Their spiritual blindness is a fruit of their hard hearts. Their hard hearts have become that way because of their spiritual rebellion and idolatry. This has caused them to be spiritually insensitive so that are unable to understand spiritual truth. They may indeed appear to be spiritual because of their worship style and all that fun they are having in church, but it is all just works of the flesh.
Their understanding of God’s truth is similar to the post just below this one called Encryption. Until I gave the clues that the code really contained the message, “Jesus Christ is Lord!”, it wasn’t going to be solved. No one has ever been able to crack this algorithm using simple methods. It is only by going off of the clues I gave everyone that it was solved. Those in spiritual blindness see the truth as gibberish in code and can only guess what it means. Those who can read the code are those who know the truth. Only by being given the ability by God can we know His truth. His truth is not in code, but only those whose hearts have been opened by our Lord can know it and understand it. The Holy Spirit is in all who know Christ as Lord and Saviour. He gives us God’s truth and its understanding.
How is it that they do not understand? They have been deceived and made choices that have resulted in their hearts becoming hardened. They are now vulnerable to spiritual deceivers who are leading them down a path of rebellion away from the light into darkness. They are not walking by faith. They are not wise because that is only given to those who ask God for it in faith. Since they are in spiritual darkness and hardheartedness they don’t ask so they don’t have.
We must be on watch and very careful. Our Lord could return at any time. We must be prepared by obeying Him so that we will be found doing what we have been called to do. Also, we must never stop asking God for wisdom by faith from a grateful, humble heart.
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