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see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil October 23 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): John 7:53–9:41

Spiritual Blindness

Most people are familiar with the picture of the three monkeys, and these boys express the same thing: see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. While we laugh at the picture, others prefer to do this with spiritual truth—they refuse to see it, hear it, or speak of it. They are spiritually blind.

Spiritual blindness means to be void of all spiritual discernment. All human beings are born this way (Romans 3:23). We need the Holy Spirit of God to enlighten us spiritually (John 6:44). This happens when we hear the good news of Jesus Christ—he enlightens us to believe his message of salvation, and then the scales of spiritual darkness fall from our eyes. Some people, however, prefer to shield themselves from light and remain in the darkness. As people pull down the shades in their bedroom or other rooms to shield out the light, many people pull down the shades in their minds and hearts. They are spiritually blind and willfully so; they do not want to see the truth. What are some evidences of spiritual blindness?

One evidence is pointing a finger of blame at someone else. As we might have been told as a child, when we point a finger at someone, there are four other fingers on our hand pointing to us. This is well-illustrated by Jesus’ statement in today’s Bible reading.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day catch a woman in adultery. They know that Jesus makes friends with tax collectors and sinners. They bring her to him to test him. They want to see if Jesus will keep the law of Moses by suggesting that she be stoned, or show mercy and violate the law. Jesus kneels down and writes in the dirt, seeming to ignore them. When the religious leaders repeat the accusation, Jesus gets up and tells them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” then he resumes writing on the ground. One by one, beginning with the eldest, they leave the woman. Jesus has mercy on the woman; he does not condemn her. Jesus tells her to go and sin no more (John 8:3-11, NIV).

Another evidence of spiritual blindness is arguing with the truth of God, using our own standards of what is right and wrong. You may have heard these philosophical statements: “Truth is relative” and “What is right for you may be right for you but may not be right for me.” Other people say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.” Do we know people can be very sincere and be sincerely wrong? Where is the truth? The truth is found in Christ but not all people accept that.

Still another evidence of spiritual blindness is pride. “You don’t know who you are talking to. I am ____________________________________. I give a lot of money to charities. I volunteer my time. I am a good person.” The fact is “there is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10, NIV). God is the only one who can make a person righteous, and this righteousness is obtained by believing in the sacrifice Christ made for us on the cross of Calvary (more...).

Shifting the attention off of ourselves is also a sign of spiritual blindness. A person may say, “I don’t want to become a Christian. Christians are hypocrites.” Granted some are but not all. Their unfortunate unfaithfulness, however, does not excuse spiritual blindness. No one is perfect and without any blame. Can anyone honestly say he or she is without fault?

Jesus is the answer to those who are spiritually blind. The Apostle John said of the Lord,

In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it…. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own [a reference to the Jewish people], but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:4-5, 9-12, NIV).

Jesus said, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12, NIV).

Immediately after an argument with the Pharisees (religious leaders) about spiritual blindness, Jesus heals a man who was born blind. Following this, Jesus says,

“For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (John 9:39-41, NIV).

The Pharisees proudly proclaim that they have spiritual discernment, but they are self-deceived. They have not humbled themselves to receive the Word of God, which can save their souls. Have we?

Lessons to Live By

  • Jesus is the answer to those who are spiritually blind. Jesus said, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12, NIV). (more...)
  • When we witness to those who are spiritually blind, let's be compassionate to those who were, like us, born that way. Like Jesus, let's help them to be enlightened with the truth of God’s Word.
  • We must humbly receive the Word of God, which can enlighten our understanding and save our souls.
  • As we witness to the spiritually blind, remember many are willfully blind. No matter what we say, they will not believe. Spiritually speaking, the light is all around them, but they are walking around with blinders over their eyes. Let's walk in the light and not give them a valid reason to accuse us. Let's pray God will pull away the shades from their eyes so they can see and be saved.

Focus Verse

John 8:12: “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (NIV)

Watch a video of this Bible lesson here.

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A Look Ahead: What does Jesus say about family matters like divorce, remarriage, and children? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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