by Mike Ratliff

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— (Ephesians 4:17-20 ESV)

We are looking again at Ephesians 4:17-20. In this short study we will look at the concept of spiritual blindness and the progressive “hardening” or “callousing” over of the heart toward God and His truth as men seek to center everything in self to have their worship and religion be Man Centered instead of where it should be, and is in the hearts of those truly Regenerate, God Centered. Oh yes, I do recognize that all of us must grow from spiritual infants into maturity and that we follow false teachers and bad doctrine, but God will not keep those who are His in this darkness forever, but will do what it takes to draw them out even if it means they become ejected from their home church for example. I have have heard forms of that from so many of you that I have lost track of the number and I no longer doubt that this is God’s doing for He did it to me as well.

Here is Ephesians 4:17-20 from the Greek New Testament.

Τοῦτο οὖν λέγω καὶ μαρτύρομαι ἐν Κυρίῳ, μηκέτι ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν, καθὼς καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἔθνη περιπατεῖ ἐν ματαιότητι τοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν, ἐσκοτωμένοι τῇ διανοίᾳ, ὄντες ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ διὰ τὴν ἄγνοιαν τὴν οὖσαν ἐν αὐτοῖς διὰ τὴν πώρωσιν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν, οἵτινες, ἀπηλγηκότες, ἑαυτοὺς παρέδωκαν τῇ ἀσελγείᾳ εἰς ἐργασίαν ἀκαθαρσίας πάσης ἐν πλεονεξίᾳ. ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐχ οὕτως ἐμάθετε τὸν Χριστόν,

Here is my word for word translation from Koine Greek to English:

This then I say and I testify in Lord, no longer to live just as also the world lives in futility of the mind of them, having been darkened in the intelligence being, having been alienated of the life of the God through the ignorance the being in them, through the hardness of the heart of them, who being calloused themselves they gave over to the debauchery into working of unclearness all in greediness. You but not thusly learned the Christ,

The word that we are focusing on here is translated as “hardness” as in “hardness of heart.” It is the Greek word πώρωσιν. The lexical form of this word is πώρωσις or pōrōsis. This is describing a blindness that is the result of a hardness or callousness. The usage of πώρωσιν is in the accusative singular. The direct object of the action here is the heart of the man-centered who are living in the futility of their minds and in real ignorance of God and His ways even though many of them think the very opposite. However, being man-centered, their hearts have become hardened to the truth of God and so they are not open to the truth.

This condition is a direct result of the fall (Genesis 3). All unregenerate people have hearts that are continually and deliberately growing more and more calloused toward God in spite of what the seeker-sensitive paradigm lie says. The result of this is that unless God performs a miracle of regeneration there, breaking through it, the hearts of these people become petrified, stone hard. Think of those to whom you have tried to share the Gospel or God’s truth and and you actually saw a stone-hard look materialize on their face. The longer you talked, the harder they got. This inner petrification of the very heart itself was the cause of this inborn ignorance which caused the darkening in spite of the light in nature and all the light inherited from Adam and from Noah, and with this darkening went alienation.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared (1 Timothy 4:1-2 ESV)

On the other hand, as I mentioned above, God is a miracle worker. He is perfectly able to save those whom He has elected through the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5) and the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:1-10). He gives all whom He saves a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). All the regenerate are in Christ and possess this heart of flesh and in this we do rejoice.

My brethren, think of all those “ministries” that call themselves “Christian” or “Christ followers” or “new kinds of Christians,” but they are man and self centered in all they do. They do not operate in the fear of God, but in the fear of man. They combine bits and pieces from all the world’s religions and attempt to call that “Christian.” Nope, sorry. Those are just some examples of men working in the futility of the minds and the ignorance of God. They deny God’s own doctrines and try to do what is pleasing to man instead. These doing this and those leading this are spiritually blind. The only hope they have is the miracle of God breaking through those calloused hearts so we must pray for that to happen, but to be honest, they are actually already in the midst of the judgment of deception so…

Soli Deo Gloria!

14 thoughts on “Blindness

  1. Good stuff Mike!! I once heard Paul Washer speak of a old preacher who stated we must plow and plow and plow the hearts of men. This isn’t practiced in today’s ‘Christianity’. The false converts produced by easy believism/emerging/seeker sensitive/word faith propaganda have NO CLUE what it means to have the heart plowed. No plowing means hardness remains.

    Blessings to you brother



  2. Lyn, I have found the Word of God very rich and deep as I have slowed down and moved from a topical focus to a more interpretive focus, staying in a passage until God moves us on. Yes, I know that some have no patience for this sort of thing, but the teacher is being taught as well. 🙂 Blessings to you too my sister.


  3. Nice post, Mike!
    As you say, this can be observed in those we are witnessing to, and generally the worldly, unseperated folks.
    But also as you say, the Lord does do his miracles, and sometimes the “worst” sinners are the ones that He chooses to bless and save!
    It has been said that most conversions come at a very young age; 14 years old, or so.
    But I can testify of many known personally to me that were saved at 64, 81, 70, etc.
    Glory to God!


  4. “God will not keep those who are His in this darkness forever, but will do what it takes to draw them out…” and this is why we keep praying for the miracle of God to break through the calloused hearts of our brothers and sisters who are where we once were!

    I was not ejected, but had to literally break free of the emotional and spiritual bondage, and run!

    Great article! Thank you so much for your in-depth study and thorough explanation! Blessings!


  5. Amen Mike.
    When you see that Jesus Christ is noticeably absent from your church, you realize you cannot stay there. God shows you this and leads you out from it. His sheep want to hear His voice.
    Bless you!


  6. Hi Mike
    As you said “Think of those to whom you have tried to share the Gospel or God’s truth and and you actually saw a stone-hard look materialize on their face. The longer you talked, the harder they got.”

    This is so sadly true. And more often than not, we may end up in an ‘argument’ that they get so defensive and offensive too. Because of the background and wrong teaching of the church I came from in my youth, the pressure was on for us to ‘save’ people from their blindness and so would try and ‘wrestle’ them into believing.

    I cannot tell you how agonising it was, without the correct understanding that it is not us, but God who takes away their blindness (just as He did with us), as I tried in my own strength to get people to understand. My guilt went on for years as I really battled to speak to anyone at all and the self-condemnation was immense. God had to become really real in my life and heart and it took Him to take me to a place where I began to understand that my right to myself had to be handed over to the Lord, so that it would become not “Do, do, do”, but “Be, Be Be and I will do through you.” (This is how Oswald Chambers puts it)

    Many tears were shed along the way until one day the Lord showed me that it is not ‘me’ that does anything other than share the Gospel as He leads me to. That it is not ever about me, but Him and it always will be.

    We cause offense with those who do not want to see. That is a given. I know that in my past I have hardened my heart towards God at times and it was a conscious thing I did, as the ‘I’ wanted it my way.

    I have both heard and read some extreme vitriol towards kind, solid Christians simply because the offense of the Gospel is so cutting and the conviction of the Holy Spirit is so gloriously harsh, and yet even then, they refuse to see. Romans 1:18-32 is fearful reading and no man will stand with any excuse on That Day.

    There is not a day goes by that I do not marvel at the Salvation of the Lord in my life and many brothers and sisters whom I know and have come to love, in Him. His graciousness is overwhelming and we so undeserving.

    Bless you brother 🙂


  7. Thanks for this.
    So sad.
    I am one who was “ejected”, after 20 years.
    I truly believe it was the will of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    I pray for those still there, who have cause all the trouble that they not become hard-hearted, or that repent from their hard-heartedness if they are.
    His will be done.


  8. Witnessing has been on my heart lately, too. I keep plowing with my unsaved family. It is in HIS hands, though.

    1Cr 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

    Kathy, it’s no nice to hear that. It is never too late in this life!


  9. So well said Steph. I had one of those awful, full off vitriol comments not long ago after I posted a video by Paul Washer. The fellow actually called Paul Washer a heretic for being so precise in what the Gospel is what it isn’t. I never posted the comment because that fellow has violated the rules for commenting here in the past so often that he has lost the privilege for that, but he fits the bill for one is full of resentment when the real Gospel is given in clear precise ways and shown that everything else that claims to be it is not. The callousness or hardness, the blindness to the truth there is truly amazing.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  10. Yes it is sad Berean Gal and when I meet those friends from our old church it always a warm thing, but it never last long when the subject comes to “church.” Yes, His will be done.


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