2 Corinthians 4:3-4 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
Light, when shining in someone’s eyes can be blinding. Whether it is headlights coming at you in the dead of night or a flashlight shining in your face, or the sudden light in a room that was pitch black; we all have felt that blindness for a moment. But when you and I look into the Word of God, the ‘light’ has a whole different meaning.
When Moses was in the presence of God for over thirty days, he returned to the people seemingly glowing with a light that blinded them. So much so that they had him wear a veil to cover his face so that he could be in their presence.
When Jesus was transfigured on the mount, Peter, James and John saw Him in His glorified body. Jesus also stated:
John 9:5 “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
He also stated that we, who are saved are that light as well.
Matthew 5:14 “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.”
But in the text today, I had to think of the time when I was truly blinded; unable to see.
As a twenty-one year old young man in the Marine Corps, I was stationed in North Carolina for two and a half years. During that time, I went through a time of struggle. I struggled with who I really was. Was I that ‘play it by the rules’ kind of guy? Was I that rebel; always wanting to try something legal, illegal or radical? Was I the religious boy my parents had raised me to be? I was exposed to all kinds of influences that tore in many directions.
I began to realize that I needed something sure in my life, something I could set a foundation upon. I turned to Mom and Dad’s religion. Safe enough – right? Yes, it was safe – but empty. In my time there in North Carolina, I was exposed to some true Christians – ones who exemplified the love of Christ to me.
It all came to a decision point one afternoon when two young men dressed in white shirts and ties appeared on the porch of the home where I stayed. I was the only one home that day and answered the door to be greeted with smiles and a challenge.
“If you were to die today, would you be 100% sure you would go to Heaven?” they asked. “Yes”, I replied. The pressed a bit further; “How do you know?” I replied, “Because Jesus died on the cross for my sins”. “Do you remember the day you made that decision?”. “Friday” I said. “How long ago was that?” Man, these guys were persistent!
I said, “About two hundred years ago – you see because Jesus died for my sins – that is why I am going to Heaven”. The foolishness and ignorance of youth. You see, just days prior to this meeting, the old devil had sent someone to whisper in my ear that should I ever be approached by those fanatical, right-wing extremists who appear on your doorstep with Bibles in tow, here’s what you say to get rid of them.
I was blinded. Blinded by religion. Blinded by my own selfish desires and sinfulness. Blinded to the point of refusing the precious gift of salvation when it could have been mine at age twenty-one there in North Carolina. Ten years later, I was approached again with the same offer. A man at the place where I worked invited me to have lunch with him. It was at that lunch meeting that I was given the pure, unadulterated version of the gospel. Bible verse after bible verse that shot at every pillar of truth that I had set up as my belief system.
I saw that the path I had chosen to walk; the religion I had clung to for hope and Heaven all vanished in the light of what the Bible told me was the only way to Heaven. It became increasingly clear to me as I sat in a bible study in my workplace that I saw that people around that table had something I was missing – a relationship with the God of the Bible.
Don’t get me wrong – I prayed. I went to church. I even threw a few bucks in the plate when it was passed. I directed a choir that played and sang in our church. I volunteered. I was a good man… Or so I thought. Mom and Dad’s religion taught me how to reach out to God. The Bible showed me it was God reaching out to me. For a long time Satan had blinded my eyes; getting me to think I was ‘good enough’ because I was better than some.
I was blind because I didn’t know the truth. All the sins of my past haunted me. Shame and guilt weighed heavy on my soul. The facade of the man I wanted others to see me to be wasn’t who I really was and so, even when others accepted and loved that man I portrayed, I was unsatisfied because that wasn’t the ‘real’ me. Real me was ugly, mean, lustful, scared, addicted and alone.
Confronted with biblical truth, I saw clearly that I was a sinner in need of salvation. I saw that there was no way any of the good works that I would put up in my defense could equal the righteousness of what God required as entrance into Heaven.
Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”
Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
Through the gospel, God tore at, kicked and knocked down every reason; every shred of false belief I had ABOUT Him and showed me that faith IN Him meant I had to solely and wholly accept Him and His free gift of salvation – the bible way.
John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”
I was trusting a man-made belief system that was trying to justify my works, my religious activity; my attempt at pleasing God through the things I did for others was good enough to get me to Heaven. When I saw it clearly, I knew that I had to make a decision. The blindness I had was also bondage. “What will Mom and Dad think?” “You’re turning your back on people you love”, “This is a cult”… All these statements were throw at me by people and the devil to get me to turn away from trusting Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.
It was not so much as a turning away as it was Who I was turning to… As the blinders fell away, I saw Jesus as worthy of my faith and trust. I felt His love drawing me to Him. As I knelt and received Christ, I felt the washing and cleansing of all my sins. That inner man became clean. My eyes were opened and I saw more clearly that I had ever before.
You see the Light that drew me did not blind me, Sin blinded me. Religion blinded me. The traditions I clung to bound my heart to what the Bible exposed as lies.
Mark 7:12-13 “And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”
You see, tradition has the power to negate truth in a person’s life to the point where the Word of God will have no effect on your soul. The people to whom Jesus gave the sharpest rebuke were the religious crowd.
Mark 7:7-8 “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.”
On the porch there in North Carolina, I was blind… but those two young men, before they left, asked if they could pray for me. God so lovingly answered their prayer ten years later and when the blinders came off, I knew that God had truly saved me!
Friend, as you read this this morning, would you purpose to take just a moment each day to thank God for your salvation? And if you have yet to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, would you just send me a message and it would be an honor to show you just what the Bible says we need to get to Heaven?