Are We Also Blind?

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Reading the Word

John 9:35–41 (ESV)

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus had healed the blind man and given him physical sight. Now, he also gives him spiritual sight. When Jesus asked the man if he believed in the Son of Man, he replied, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him.” When Jesus revealed that he was the Son of Man, the blind man proclaimed, “Lord, I believe.” He had passed from blindness to Jesus’ true identity to spiritual sight.

Not everyone responds to Jesus in the way this man did. He recognized Jesus. The Pharisees, on the other hand, did not. They wondered why Jesus would say that he had come to judge those who could see (verse 39). “Are we also blind,” they asked? The Pharisees thought they knew everything, especially the truth about Jesus (cf. John 9:16, 24, 29), but they were truly blind. Their hearts were hardened towards Jesus and they were spiritually blind. They did not recognize him for who he was. As a result, Jesus was not their Savior, but their Judge.

Jesus, the Messiah, came into the world to save us from our sin. When we see our sin and recognize our need of a Savior, we can call out to him to save us and he promises to do so. When we deny our sin and deny him as our Savior, we prove to be blind and we will stand before Christ our Judge. Pray that the Lord might open your eyes to know him and your need of a Savior.

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A Man Born Blind

John 93 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 9:1–12 (ESV)

1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Once again we read of Jesus performing a miracle. In this instance, he healed a man who had been blind since birth. Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus why the man was blind. Had his parents sinned? Had he sinned? Whose sin was it that caused this blindness? Jesus’ response to his disciples is an important one for us to consider.

In the first century, it was common for the Jewish people to think of life in a cause and effect manner. If a person was good, good things happened. If the person was bad, punishment and bad things happened. So, sickness and disabilities were thought of as a direct result of sin. Jesus corrects this faulty understanding by saying, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Sin was not the reason for the man’s blindness. He was blind so that God’s work could be displayed in him when Jesus healed him. The man’s blindness was not as a result of punishment, but so that God would be glorified through him.

We often interpret the world in much the same way that Jesus’ followers did in this passage. We wonder why bad things happen to us or others. We wonder what we did to deserve some of the bad things that come our way. How often do we stop to consider that the way we handle our troubles and adversities can bring glory to God? Let us find strength and courage in him, knowing that he works all things for his glory. Let us tell of his goodness both in the good things and in the bad, because we know that our troubles are only temporary and one day we will all find healing and restoration in the presence of our Savior.

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You Will Die in Your Sin

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Reading the Word

John 8:21–30 (ESV)

21 So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” 25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this dialogue with the Jewish leaders (cf. John 8:13), Jesus got right to the point with the Pharisees. If they did not believe in him, they would die in their sins. The Pharisees had continually sparred with Jesus and refused to accept him as the Messiah. Now Jesus warns them that if they continue to reject him, they would not be able to go where he was going (i.e. to the Father). As a result of Jesus’ pointed warning, some did respond in belief (cf. John 8:30).

Jesus and the entire New Testament teach us that we are all condemned because we are all sinners. Jesus came into the word to save us from our sin and the punishment we deserve, which is eternal separation from the holy God who created us. Jesus died as a perfect sacrifice for our sins and all who trust in Jesus’ sacrificial work on their behalf will be saved. However, those who do not trust in Jesus will die in their sins and will not be saved. Those people will not spend eternity in the presence of God.

Take this as a strong warning. Trust in Jesus Christ today and find forgiveness and salvation in his name.

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Working on Forgiveness

True Forgiveness

Reading the Word

Matthew 18:15–18 (ESV)

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This passage serves as a basic template of how to handle sin and forgiveness between two believers. The first step is to speak directly to the other person. If that does not work, then getting one or two other believers involved to help is step two. The final step is to bring the matter to the entire body of Christ, the church. If that fails, the person who refuses to repent and who continues to allow sin to cause division is to be removed from the fellowship of believers.

It is important to understand that the removal of a person is a last step. The person should be given every opportunity to turn from his sin and the offended party must stand ready to forgive. Unrepentant sin that causes division between Christians is a serious matter and can have a damaging impact on a church and its ability to be a witness to the world of the redemption found in Christ. This is why such sin must be dealt with and not ignored. Have you ever been part of a church suffering from great division? Chances are the church has let unrepentant sin go unchecked.

Is there a division between you and a fellow believer? Has someone offended you or have you offended someone? Have you gone to the other person to try to work things out? If not, go to the other person. Do not let sin continue to drive a wedge between the people of God. We must be an example of love and forgiveness so we can preach the message of the gospel to the world.

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A Matter of the Heart

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Reading the Word

Matthew 5:27–32 (ESV)

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus pointed back to the Ten Commandments in yesterday’s reading, he does again when he speaks of adultery. He quotes from Exodus 20:14. However, he does not simply repeat what the people had been told through their traditions and other teachers. He tells them that not only is the actual act of adultery a violation of the law, but so is lust. Sin originates in our hearts. It is not only something we do outside of ourselves. Jesus goes on to say that we should treat sin very seriously. He uses the extreme examples of removing our eyes and cutting off our hands to keep from sinning. While Jesus was using hyperbole to make his case, it is clear how Jesus thought of sin.

In verses 31-32, we read about the issue of divorce. In these verses, Jesus addresses the “easy divorce” culture of the time. It was common for men to divorce their wives for any reason they wanted, even if it was trivial. Jesus swings the pendulum the other way and tells them that marriage is supposed to be lasting. It was designed to be life-long. Divorce should be rare and only in extreme circumstances.

In these verses, Jesus teaches us that sin is ultimately a matter of the heart. We do not please God simply by going through all of the external motions of religion. That is what the Pharisees did and Jesus told his disciples, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” God desires true righteousness and holiness from his people. He desires pure hearts.

If we are honest, we know that we do not measure up to the standard that Christ lays out in his sermon. However, he told us that he came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17). He fulfilled it on our behalf. When we admit our need of a Savior and turn to Jesus, we receive his righteousness and he takes our sin upon himself. That is why he went to the cross. He went to pay for the sins of the world.

Praise the Lord for our righteous Savior whose righteousness belongs to those who trust in him. Now, as we walk in the forgiveness of Christ, let us set our hearts on holiness and righteousness as we show our love for him.

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A Defense Against Sin

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Reading the Word

Psalm 141:1–10 (ESV)

1 O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me!
Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
keep watch over the door of my lips!
4 Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
and let me not eat of their delicacies!

5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it.
Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.
6 When their judges are thrown over the cliff,
then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant.
7 As when one plows and breaks up the earth,
so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol.

8 But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord;
in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!
9 Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me
and from the snares of evildoers!
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
while I pass by safely.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this psalm, David calls on God to protect him from sin. He asks that the Lord would guard his mouth and his heart that he might not speak or desire evil (vv. 3-4). He also asks that God would make him receptive to the correction of the righteous (v. 5).

It is difficult to admit when we are wrong. It is especially difficult to admit we are wrong when someone else lets us know it. We immediately become defensive and seek to justify our words and actions. We must remember that God has placed others in our lives to help us defeat sin. Others are able to see things that we may be blind to or help us deal with sin that we have become callous to. Let us pray that the Lord would keep us from sin and that we would be receptive to the words of others who are there to help us grow and turn from sin.

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Fools, Sin, and Thanksgiving

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Reading the Word

Psalm 107:17–22 (ESV)

17 Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; 18 they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 20 He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. 21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 22 And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The third group that God has delivered are described as “fools through their sinful ways”. Though they were foolish in their sin, when they cried out to God he delivered them. The right response is to praise God in thanksgiving.

When we consider our own lives, it is an amazing thing that God, who is holy, would save any of us. We are sinful. Scripture says that we have all fallen short and rightfully deserve condemnation and death for our sin. Yet, when we call out to God, he responds in grace and love. He gives us salvation through the atoning sacrifice of his Son, who died as a payment for our sins. God gives foolish sinners eternal life. If you have not done so, call out to him today. He will save. And then let us offer our thanksgiving!

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They Soon Forgot His Works

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Reading the Word

Psalm 106:13–18 (ESV)

13 But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel. 14 But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert; 15 he gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them. 16 When men in the camp were jealous of Moses and Aaron, the holy one of the Lord, 17 the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram. 18 Fire also broke out in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Even after all God did for the Israelites in delivering them from Egypt, “they soon forgot his works”. They complained about the food and the leadership and longed to return to their former lives of slavery. As a result, God sent them the food they desired and punished them for their sinful attitudes.

These words are a warning for us because the people of Israel are a reflection of the human heart. God does great and wonderful things for us, but we quickly forget and desire more and more. At the same time, we grumble and complain in our hearts wanting our never-ending appetites to be satisfied. Let us learn from the words of this psalm to be thankful and content with the good things God has done. And may we replace our desires for more with praise and thanksgiving to the One who causes his grace towards us to overflow.

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Jesus, Our Champion

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Reading the Word

Psalm 94:16–23 (ESV)

16 Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers? 17 If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. 18 When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. 19 When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. 20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute? 21 They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. 22 But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. 23 He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses begin with two questions: “Who rises up for me against the wicked?” and “Who stands up for me against evildoers?” The answer is “the Lord”. God is the One who proves to be the help the writer needs. It is God who is a stronghold and a refuge. And it is God who will destroy the wicked because of their sin.

Believers have a Savior we can count on. Jesus Christ not only paid the price for our sins, but he also promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He bought us at a high price (the price of his own life) and he will never let us go. It is Jesus who will stand as our Champion in the end as he defeats Satan and destroys evil once and for all. Let us, as his people, find assurance in our Savior and know that the days of the wicked are numbered.

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God Speaks Peace to His People

Colossians 119–20 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 85:1–8 (ESV)

1 Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 2 You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah 3 You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. 4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! 5 Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? 6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. 8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses describe a restored relationship between God and his people. God, in his grace, forgave the people of their sin and showed his love for them.

Our sin is a great offense to God because he is holy. We are told that our sin separates us from God and that we stand condemned as a result. Yet, God is gracious and forgiving towards those who will repent of their sin and call out to him for forgiveness. He speaks peace to the repentant and restores the lost relationship. No longer does our sin condemn us, but we are called the people of God.

How is this possible? Because of the cross. Jesus Christ suffered and died in our place. He paid for our sin so that we could go free. The cross is the reminder that peace with God has been made possible for all who believe. Praise the Lord for his salvation!

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