“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
Great darkness is possible. Jesus warned of this in Matthew 6. Light, He said, can get swallowed by shadow — especially the light from self-fashioned torches and fires.
Egypt was plagued with a type of darkness, as we read in Exodus 10. Described as a darkness that could be felt, none of Pharaoh’s subjects could see and so none moved over the course of three days. And, yet, the people of God had light in their homes.
The darkness marked the ninth plague in the progression of judgments upon Egypt. Even this was not enough to break the pride of Pharaoh, however. He drove Moses away from his seat of power. Next came the climactic plague – the death of the firstborn. One of the world’s most dynamic and intelligent empires collapsed because its leader refused to recognize the supremacy of God.
All of the disasters that the Lord brought upon Egypt came to reveal His glory and power. The idols of the land were made small; the god-like one on the throne was shown to be a man unworthy of worship. The cloud of darkness was God’s final attempt to gain Pharaoh’s attention. This ruler ignored the manifestation; he and his kingdom were left exposed to the sting of death. Every household mourned that day.
These were historical and literal expressions of darkness and death, triumphed over only by the Passover Lamb and His blood (see Exodus, chapters 10-12). Spiritually speaking, however, we too can allow ourselves to be plagued to points of darkness and death.
The point Jesus made in Matthew 6 related to darkness of heart and mind. His words came amid His Sermon on the Mount. He said this as He spoke of the treasures of Heaven and those of the earth.
What do we set our hearts upon? That’s the big question, Jesus declared. A single eye, an inward focus sharpened by conviction, makes the believer full of His light and life. If, instead, we choose to fix our gaze on the things of this earth, we can be drawn away from Him.
The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers in particular. Some, it seems, were fatigued from the persecutions and hardships that came with identifying as Christians. A number turned back to their traditional practices and away from the Word of His grace. Their drift tarnished the testimony of Christ and His Gospel.
The writer of Hebrews exhorted believers to “give earnest heed” to what they had heard and to not let the truth of their great salvation “slip away” from them (Hebrews 2:1). To turn the eyes from Him, to make a departure from the ways of the living God, he warned, could produce an “evil heart of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:12). This progression of falling away could lead to “crucifying afresh the Son of God” that would “put Him to open shame” (Hebrews 6:6).
Those last statements are difficult passages for us to read and understand. In short, a drop into a spiritual state of deadness can lead one down into a sense of contempt for Christ Himself. Such as these can be heard lamenting of time wasted and the “shame” of going to church and of living for Him. Mockery and scorn often are directed at those who continue in the faith.
This descent is something of a slow slide. Grumbles and discontentment sow seeds of bitterness. Feelings connected to unfair treatment and unjust actions fester. More and more the light becomes obscured. Or, to put it another way, the garden of their hearts and souls become choked, overgrown with weeds and tares, its ground crowded with unfruitful things.
Stand in Grace and Knowledge
In Judges, we read this certain phrase in four places: “And there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (see Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25).
This perhaps exposes the real issue in darkened hearts – the determination to see things our own way. We become right in our own eyes and blind ourselves to the way of the Lord, just as Pharaoh did and wound up with a heart hardened beyond repair.
A drift from the Way, the Truth, and the Life can dull and mute our consciences. Our faith suffers from a famine of the Word. It thereby becomes frail. Naïve and insecure, we become opened to the subtle craft and seduction that surrounds us in this world system. Our understanding lost, we take our leave, we depart and become wanderers among the dead (see Proverbs 21:16).
It’s very possible to fall into “the error of the wicked,” as Peter called it (see 2 Peter 3:17). We would do well to take this Apostle’s counsel to the “beloved.” He wrote that we should be aware – that we should take heed as the writer of Hebrews put it.We know that this world is temporary and passing away. Therefore, our lives should be ones of holy conversation and godliness. Click To Tweet
We know that this world is temporary and passing away. Therefore, our lives should be ones of holy conversation and godliness. Let us stand in steadfastness and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (see 2 Peter 3:11-18).
Yes, like the parable of the Prodigal in Luke 15, we may leave the Father’s house, venture to far countries, and spend ourselves into destitution. Still, there in the slop of defeat, we may come to ourselves and journey home, for nothing is impossible with God.
Let us draw nearer and nearer to His throne of grace and find help in our times of need.
Let us not cast away our confidence. Our hope must be built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Our eye must be single in expectation of looking full in His wonderful face.
To hear more about this subject, check out “Draw Near, Don’t Fall Away,” a message preached by Thomas Schaller, Pastor of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore.