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Lord, That I May See
By David A. DePra
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)
But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:14)
In today’s church, you rarely hear these passages discussed. If you do hear them discussed, it is assumed that if you are saved – it is assumed that you SEE. But that is not what Jesus said, as recorded in John 3:3. He did not say that salvation guarantees that you WILL see. Rather, He said that salvation makes spiritual sight POSSIBLE.
Jesus says that seeing the kingdom of God is not possible unless you are born again – the Greek means, "born all over again from above." In short, being born from above gives us the capacity to SEE. But being born from above does not immediately result in the reality of spiritual sight.
We read in I Cor. 2, and in many other places in scripture, that the capacity for seeing does not automatically result in actually seeing. In fact, most of the NT is written to believers with the capacity for seeing, but whose vision has become blurred and out of focus – or, in some cases, their spiritual vision has never developed at all. Again, the capacity to see does not equal actual seeing.
For example, Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus:
(I) cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. (Eph 1:16-18)
There is no doubt that those at Ephesus were born again. In fact, this was a healthy church. But Paul nevertheless prayed that they might see and know Jesus Christ. Isn’t there always MORE to Christ than we presently see? Yet Paul did not point them merely to the teaching in this very epistle – as true as it was – he did not say, "Just read what I’ve written and you will SEE." No. For anyone can read what the Bible SAYS. It takes God to reveal to us what He MEANS – in the Light of His Son. Thus, Paul’s prayer was that God would give them revelation as to the meaning and reality of his words to them.
Today we usually ignore such passages of scripture. There seems to be little desire to know Christ, or to SEE. Indeed, people don’t even KNOW TO KNOW that there is the possibility. The church is asleep. Either folks think that they already see all there is to see, or they don’t knowing that they have the need to SEE. But the church at Ephesus was a healthy church, and Paul prayed that they would SEE. Where are we?
In this matter of seeing, there is value of comparing being born from above to a natural birth. When a baby is born into this natural world, there is usually no sight. The eyes are closed. Indeed, even after the baby can see, they don’t understand what they are seeing. That changes, of course, as the baby grows – we are talking about a normal, healthy baby. But there is a correspondence to the spiritual birth. Someone born from above – as is the case with a natural baby – has the capacity birthed into them to see. But that capacity has to be developed through growth – as does the understanding of what we do come to see.
Jesus talked much about the necessity of seeing. We might gather up all that He said and consider it summarized in one sentence from the Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall SEE GOD.
Well, if one must be pure in heart to see God, then it only follows that those who are not pure in heart cannot see God. And make no question, there are many professing believers who are NOT pure in heart. Purity of heart is a singleness of mind towards God. It is a unconditional commitment to allowing God to have His purpose in and through us. God will do a work in us unto this end. That is part of how we are able to come to develop the spiritual sight made possible through the new birth.
Could it be that the real reason that believers do not see is that there is, in the church today, a general lack of those who are pure in heart towards God? I can only go by the Word of God. Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." But we do NOT see. I think we have our answer – at least for some cases. This is the problem for quite a few Christian people. But it is also true that many do not even know what it means to be pure in heart towards God. Others are not pure in heart. Either way, God desires for us to SEE JESUS – to see the kingdom of God. And thus, He desires to purify our hearts so that we can.
One of the greatest errors in the Body of Christ – both corporately and individually – is that we assume that we DO see -- but we don’t see. We are sensing and thinking and discerning with our natural senses, natural mind, and with our psychic or soul capacity. And we think that this is spiritual discernment. We think it is real spiritual vision. It isn’t.
Most Christian people do not know the difference between that which is of the flesh or soul realm, and that which is of God. Indeed, in this day and age especially, some of the people who think that are the most spiritual are the most deceived – they are operating completely in the natural, soul realm, but think they are having spiritual experiences that are of God.
In the Bible, we are continually given a contrast between, "walking according to the Spirit," and, "walking according to the flesh." What does it mean to, "walk according to the flesh?" It means more than just sinning in some carnal way. To, "walk according to the flesh," means to order my life, and to be governed, by that which is of the flesh, natural, or carnal realm. In short, I walk according to the flesh when I walk according to ME – I use all of my natural capacities to determine the Truth, discern, and to try to live the Christian life.
To walk according to the flesh means that I live from out of myself and the natural resources I possess. For most believers, this does not mean SIN, or immorality. It usually means legalism, religion, self-righteousness, and the seeking first of that which affirms and pleases me. To walk according to the flesh is really nothing more than trying to live in resurrection life – but to do it by side-stepping the personal Cross.
Have we yet learned that there is nothing in us that is good? Or are we still trying to live from out of ourselves to please God? I would dare say that most of us know of NO OTHER option. It is entirely possible to think that I am walking in the Spirit, but to be, in fact, walking completely within the flesh. This is not only the goal of Satan, but millions have fallen for it.
The solution is the work of the Cross. The work of the Cross will bring you to where you become fully convinced – usually through failure – that it is futile to try to live from out of yourself. You will see that trying to do so is actually faith in self – it is self-righteousness. But no. If we allow Him – and this gets back for the need for a pure heart – God will set us free. He will show us what it means to be, "crucified with Christ." Only then will we be able to say, with Paul, "nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God."
But you see, if we try to side-step being, "crucified with Christ," and try to possess our selves – even religiously – then Christ cannot live in or through us. What will happen is that we will try to live, not by the faith of Christ, but by faith in self. We will seek to live the new life under the power of religious soul. And it is possible that we will become so deceived that we will no longer realize what is wrong with us – we may even think we are completely right with God.
The inability to discern soul from Spirit is a great plague in the Body of Christ. You see the incredible damage everywhere. You hear and see evidence of it even in some relatively little ways. For example, on Christian TV, you hear such statements as, "I feel in my spirit." The problem is that FEELINGS are of the natural man. They are not spiritual. You also hear, "I feel the anointing in this place." But you cannot feel God. God is Spirit. FEELINGS are natural. Such statements are used to lend credibility to what is being preached. But rather, they are an indication that such folks are operating in the psychic or natural realm, and mistaking it for the Spirit of God. This mistake is further evidenced by the fact that often when they make such statements they are teaching and practicing error. God would never affirm such a thing.
Emotions and feelings are what natural man uses to REACT. We do not believe with our emotions – neither do emotional reactions indicate Truth or error. So yes, it is possible for people to react emotionally if God does something. But it is also possible for people to react emotionally or from their soul if they simply THINK God is doing something. The feelings will be real in either case – their reaction is real. But what they are reacting TO is not necessarily of God. It is not necessarily the Truth. People are capable of crying tears of joy, and rejoicing, over terrible error and even sin – IF they are deceived by it. People are likewise capable of being absolutely callous to the Truth and love of God. The emotions mean NOTHING. The question is whether they are seeing and embracing by faith the Truth.
To see the Truth, as the Bible defines it, does not require that we turn off our brains and turn our emotions ON. The fact that I might have a great emotional experience does not prove anything, nor does my lack of an emotional experience prove anything. Truth comes by revelation – Paul said so. And that Truth may result in an emotional reaction. But the emotional reaction isn’t the evidence of Truth. Jesus is the evidence, based in God’s Word, of the Truth.
If human beings, even those who are saved, were able, through our own efforts, to reach up to God and drag down revelation, Paul would not have PRAYED for such revelation. He would have known that the Ephesians were capable of finding revelation without the need for God. And you will also note that NOT ONCE does Paul ever point to any emotional experience, or the ability, "to feel God," as the key to seeing. No. Thus, when we are talking about spiritual revelation, we are talking about something OTHER THAN what natural man can produce. It is from GOD.
Satan is the master of the counterfeit. He deceives most often by offering a substitute for the real. Indeed, even the name, "antichrist," doesn’t mean, "against Christ," but rather, "along side of Christ." Indeed, Satan is said to masquerade as, "an angel of light." Well, that means Satan offers, not darkness, but false light – he offers a substitute for Truth in the form of something less. Those who are deceived therefore think they HAVE IT. They don’t. They are deceived – taken up with something other than Christ.
It is one thing to be aware that you don’t see the Truth – it is one thing to KNOW you are blind. At least then you know you are in need and can cry out. But it is another thing to not know you are blind – because you think you see – because you see a substitute for the Truth. You may then believe you are seeing. But you are not. You remain blind to the Truth, even though you might be fully at ease in your blindness and deception. This is the condition that Satan desires to create and keep us in.
But Satan cannot deceive us unless he can find ground for doing so. That ground is always found in our natural man. There will be some point where we are blind, or where we are not surrendered to Christ – not necessarily due to rebellion, but perhaps simply due to inexperience. Satan will satisfy something in us with a substitute.
Of course, God will allow Satan to do so. Why? So that down the line we might see and confess the very point upon which we were deceived. If we seek the Truth from God, He will bring it. It is at that point that we will have to confess that the ground of our deception was found in ourselves.
If the pure in heart shall see God, and the impure in heart cannot see Him, then clearly Satan will try to find places where we are impure in heart – places that we may not even be aware of. Yet God is faithful to expose those places, and in doing so, use the very weakness we have had to bring us into a purity of heart that can then see God. God will bring the Truth out and face us with the Cross. It will be up to us as to whether we will LOSE this part of ourselves so that we might find real life in His Son.
Jesus IS the Light
According to Jesus, unless you have the ability to see the kingdom of God BORN INTO YOU from above – you cannot see spiritually. It isn’t a matter of God not allowing you to see. You CANNOT see. There is no point in arguing about it. The capacity to receive the things of God, and to discern the Truth – the ability to see Jesus Christ – these are all capacities of the new creature in Christ. They are impossible otherwise.
What this means is that our old man in Adam – the Adam creature; the Adam race – cannot see. The Adam creature is blind. That is all it can be. To obtain the capacity for spiritual sight you might be crucified with Christ – then Adam – your Adam – takes his place in His death. Only then can you be born anew from above – and be born the kind of creation in Christ with the capacity to SEE.
Note that we are here NOT talking about some ability that God dishes out to people. Rather, we are talking about a sight that comes by being made one with Christ Himself. Spiritual sight is the result of seeing Jesus Christ – and then by extension, the result of seeing all else in the LIGHT OF HIM. HE is the Light. HE is the Truth. You cannot divorce the capacity to see from the Person.
Jesus said, "You cannot see the kingdom of God unless you are born from above." What is the kingdom of God? It is Christ within – the kingdom of God is Christ in us, the hope of glory -- and all that extends from Him. The kingdom of God is the realm of God embodied in a Person, the King of that kingdom.
One might put it this way: We must see Jesus – in an inward way. We must know Him. But if we are growing to know Him, then we are more and more going to see all else through HIS eyes. Paul calls this, "having the mind (or motivation) of Christ." Since Jesus Christ IS the Truth, and IS the Light – and since God has made up to be unto us WISDOM (I Cor. 1:30), we are wasting our time trying to see or know anything except it be BY HIM.
Try to explain the Bible without personally knowing HIM and you will be left to your own brain, background, bias – or to even your own emotions. This is why there are so many differing Bible interpretations. People don’t KNOW HIM. Indeed, the possibility of knowing Christ isn’t even being discussed.
THAT IS BLINDNESS. It is blindness to have no sense that we need to know Him, or to have no realization that He is KNOWABLE in an inward, personal way. Again, if we recognized that we are blind and that we need to know Him – that would be cause to cry out. It would be evidence that God is working in us. But to be blind to the possibility of seeing Jesus – or to think that I do know Him when I don’t – this is tantamount to thinking the things of God are unnecessary. I will think knowing Jesus is unnecessary FOR ME. I will remain blind and be comfortable doing so.
To discern what belongs to the Truth I have to know the Truth Himself. I cannot discern the Truth with my brains, my feelings, or with soul power. How something affects me is not what indicates the Truth. I can know the Truth only if I know Christ.
You will note that Paul wrote in I Cor. 2:14 that natural man will think that the things of God are foolishness. Now, perhaps you think that when Paul said that – that the things of God are foolishness to natural man – perhaps you think he was referring to atheists and agnostics. No. There are millions of professing Christians who think that the things of God are foolishness.
How so? Well, you have to understand what the word, "foolishness," means. It does not mean that people will necessarily laugh at the things of God – although some might. Rather, the Greek word means, "unnecessary." Thus, the natural mind will consider the things of God – which is really the Truth of God in Christ – the natural mind will often consider the Truth to be unnecessary.
Tell someone who thinks they already see that they are blind and they will say they have no need to see. This is deception. It is what Satan wants.
Those who are living in the futility of their natural mind – including carnal-minded Christians – are blind. They will sense NO NEED for the Truth. They will have no response to it. They are quite comfortable as they are. When you are blind, but don’t know you are blind, then you will have no need for seeing. No frame of reference. You will not recognize the Truth as the Truth, and worse, you will not respond to it as the Truth, because you have no personal need for it. To you, it will be unnecessary.
Paul actually gave a tremendous example of this: The Cross. He wrote:
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Here are people who consider the Cross to be unnecessary. Why would they do that? It is usually because they sense NO NEED in themselves to be delivered through the Cross. They don’t SEE any need in themselves. So to them, the Cross, at best, is just a doctrine. They don’t really see any need for a personal Cross. They don’t know what it means to be, "crucified with Christ."
Land in a spaceship on a planet where everyone is born blind. Ask them if they want to see. They will answer, "What is seeing? What are you talking about?" If you try to make them realize they are blind, they will think you are insane. To them, blindness is normal. YOU are abnormal. It is like this with those who are in Adam. It is also like this with those who profess Christ, but live in the natural.
The most complete deception is when I am blind but don’t know I’m blind – it is when I am blind and think I see. I’m not even looking for Light and Truth – I have accepted my blindness AS the Truth. Thus, when God begins to work with a person, usually the first thing He does is – not give them sight – but make them aware that they are blind. A person who is aware they are blind can at least cry out, "Lord, that I may see!"
This ought to be encouraging. For it means the if you have a great sense of need – if you are in despair over yourself – if you have realized that there is nothing in you by which you can live – this is evidence that God is at work. He is showing you THE TRUTH: You are nothing and have nothing IN YOURSELF. But we cannot leave it there – we are not left to forever cry out, "Lord, that I may see!" God wants us to actually SEE. Then we will put our faith in Christ.
To see that I am blind is actually seeing the Truth. To see that I am blind is actually the result of LIGHT. I may not yet actually see – but I, "see," that I don’t see. I may not yet be born from above. But God has made me aware of my condition. He has made me accountable. I KNOW I am blind. I know I am in need.
Jesus said, "You must be born from above to SEE….." But before we are born from above God will show us that we DON’T see. That is the pivot point. John wrote, "This is condemnation, that light is come into the world, but men loved darkness, rather than light." God isn’t going to cause natural man in Adam to see – but He will cause natural man in Adam to realize that he doesn’t see. In short, this is conviction. It is the realization of NEED for Christ. How we respond determines our eternal direction.
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