Looking beyond what we can see
The ability to see has been associated with many things in the biblical record. It has been linked to wisdom (Job 42:5), to salvation (Eph. 1:18), and to discernment (John 7:24). This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it helps to expand our understanding of seeing with spiritual eyes. Seeing with spiritual eyes help us to “look beyond what we can see”.
To see or not to see
The prophet Jeremiah was a heartbroken prophet with a heartbreaking message. He labored for more than 40 years proclaiming a message of doom to the stiff-necked people of Judah.
Hear this now, O foolish people, Without understanding, Who have eyes and see not, And who have ears and hear not: (Jeremiah 5:21-29)
Despite Jeremiah’s many warnings, they did not see that their behavior was headed for a collision with the judgment of God. Judah continued to worship idols, disobey God’s covenant, and practice social injustice. Their lack of vision and refusal to surrender to God’s will resulted in exile to Babylon for 70 years. Judah’s loyalty had become divided and had blinded her to the things of God.
Barriers to seeing spiritually
The “usual suspects” stand as barriers to seeing with spiritual eyes. They are our flesh, the world, and Satan.
Our flesh is the natural or “unredeemed” part of us that take us away from the purpose of God. Our flesh sees with natural eyes and refuses to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. Paul the Apostle notes that it is impossible for the natural man to see with spiritual eyes (1 Cor. 2:13-16).
The world is that which is contrary to the things of God. It includes the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). We are told by the Apostle John, that those who love the world do not love God (1 John 2:15). Divided loyalty ultimately leads to disobedience (Titus 1:16; James 4:8).
Satan does what Satan always does: he discourages, he deceives, and he destroys. Of all the barriers, Satan is the greatest challenge. Why? Because most people don’t believe he exists. He remains the unseen “puppeteer behind the curtain”. But be assured he is very real. Look for him where there is conflict, confusion, and chaos. However, to see him, we will need spiritual eyes.
Our flesh, the world, and Satan keep us from viewing the world as it really exists. In addition, the postmodern, 21st century worldview has created a “distorted” picture of what we see. This is especially true with identifying sin.
Our “spiritual sensibilities” are slowly being dulled. The ultimate goal, of course, is complete spiritual blindness.
How do we gain spiritual sight?
First and foremost, we need to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Jesus shared with His Disciples the importance of the Holy Spirit in guiding them in all truth (John 16:13-14). Each day it is important that we invite the Holy Spirit to join us through reading scripture, meditation, and prayer. As we do, we train our spirit man to “listen for the Spirit’s voice” as He communicates with us.
Secondarily, we can practice the presence of the Holy Spirit. Practicing the Holy Spirit’s presence acknowledges the fact that God, in all His fullness, is always with us (Ps. 139:7-12). Because of that, we should not limit this practice to our devotion and prayer time only but also include it in our “normal rhythm of life“.
Finally, we must be intentional in our pursuit of the knowledge of God and our growth in Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). Seeing with spiritual eyes is not a natural attribute for believers. Therefore, it must be developed. The Apostle Peter describes this process as “giving all diligence to add to our faith” (2 Pet. 1:5-8). Diligence translated means earnestness in accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything. Peter describes the results for believers who lack that diligence: “They are short-sighted, even to blindness…” (2 Pet 1:9)
Let us make a commitment today to develop spiritual eyes. While it’s been said that “the eyes are the windows of the soul”, it is more important to believe that seeing with spiritual eyes will “keep your soul.” (Mat. 6:22-24).