Causes of Spiritual Blindness

Glendol McClure

“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matt. 13:15).

In this text, Jesus mentioned several ailments–heart, hearing, and vision problems–that throughout time, have afflicted many people. These ailments are not the physical type for which many visit medical doctors, seeking to be cured. The ailments Jesus mentioned in this passage are spiritual ailments, which can be cured only through obedience to God’s word. In this article, we are centering our attention on a particular ailment–spiritual blindness.

In Ephesians 4:17-19, the apostle Paul addressed spiritual blindness when he wrote, “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” In these verses, Paul warned the Ephesian brethren about this dreadful disease and its symptoms.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, he also warned the Corinthian brethren of spiritual blindness. He said: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:3-4). Here, he mentioned those who were blinded by Satan, the “god of this world.” Hence, they were separated from God because they refused to believe and obey the truth of the gospel. These few passages establish a truth–spiritual blindness is a serious condition, a condition that leads to spiritual death. Let’s examine some common causes of spiritual blindness.

1. LUST. Peter discussed the remedy for spiritual blindness caused by lust when he wrote, “According as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet. 1:3-4).

In 2 Peter 3:1-3, Peter appealed to the words of the holy prophets and apostles which would purify the mind and provide escape from lust. He wrote, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.” Those who are driven by worldly minds desire to satisfy the lusts of the flesh in every imaginable way.

Drug addiction; cancer of the lungs, mouth, and throat; alcoholism; gambling addiction; Aids; prostitution; child molestation and murder (including abortion) are just a FEW byproducts of the lustful desires that plague many in this world. Some of our own brethren are blinded by sinful “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” Are you among this number?

2. FOLLOWING BLIND GUIDES. Jesus said, “...And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matt. 15:14).

Isaiah wrote, “For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed” (Isa. 9:16). In Isaiah’s day, false prophets caused God’s people to err, and they led them astray. Today, many so-called gospel preachers tickle the ears of brethren who do not love the truth. As a result, these brethren are walking in spiritual darkness.

Solomon wrote in Proverbs 28:10, “Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession.” False teachers are leading many religious people astray.

Jesus warned of false teachers. In the Sermon on the Mount, He said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Matt. 7:15-18). Are you blindly following a preacher because he is YOUR preacher, or do you do, as did the Bereans of Acts 17:11, and search the Scriptures daily to determine whether or not the things that he teaches and preaches are true?

Please read Matthew 23 and note the scathing rebuke Jesus issued to the scribes and Pharisees. He likened these religious leaders to snakes, when he said in verse 33, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Are you allowing those described by Jesus as blind guides, false teachers, and snakes (the two-legged kind) to lead you?

3. FEAR OF MEN. Some of our brethren are reluctant to admit that they are Christians because they fear what others may think. Some of these brethren worry about what visitors might think when a gospel preacher uses the truth of the gospel to refute denominational doctrine. Some denominational preachers practice a “DON’T-ASK-DON'T-TELL” methodology. Some so-called gospel preachers fear that they will lose their “jobs” or become unpopular if they speak the truth about a controversial subject. Neither the pulpit, nor the Lord’s army is a place for fearful men. The Bible teaches that the fearful will NOT enter the kingdom of heaven!

John the revelator wrote in Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful (cowardly–NKJV), and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Notice the company the apostle John grouped the “fearful” with.

Solomon wrote, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe” (Pro. 29:25). The apostles set perfect examples of fearlessness. I call your attention to Acts 5:28, where the high priest said to Peter and the apostles, “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? And, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood upon us.  

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

The apostles went on to say, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him” (Acts 5:30-32).

Peter and the apostles did not cower down to men or cease teaching and preaching the truth. Read verses 41 and 42 of that same chapter. The text says, “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” No, they did not fear other men. They feared God! Who do you fear–man or God? Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

4. PREJUDICE. Some people allow prejudice to blind them. Webster’s dictionary defines the word prejudice as, “preconceived judgment or opinion, or an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or sufficient knowledge.” Prejudice has caused many to reject the truth of God’s word without giving it a fair hearing. Many are entangled in religious error because they are unwilling to examine what they believe, teach, and practice and compare it to what the Bible teaches. I know of a man who refused to listen to the truth of the gospel because he believed the Calvinistic error known as “Limited Atonement.” He believed that God predetermined who will go to heaven and who will be doomed to hell, and that there was nothing he could do to attain his own salvation. How sad. This man went to his grave blinded to the truth by this false doctrine.

The Hebrew writer wrote, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for EVERY MAN” (Heb. 2:9). This passage alone destroys the false Calvinistic idea of “Limited Atonement.” Countless souls have been, and will be, doomed in an eternal flame because of such false teaching as this man believed. Prejudice blinded him.

When the apostle Paul offered his defense in Acts 22, he had to contend with people who were too prejudiced to recognize truth. The Jews were willing to hear him until he mentioned that God had selected him to go to the Gentiles (whom the Jews despised). Then, they went into a rage; they cast off their clothes, threw dust in the air, and demanded that Paul be beaten (Acts 22:22-24).

Let us, like those mentioned in Acts 10, have willing minds. There, a Jew named Peter went to preach the gospel to Cornelius and his household (Gentiles). Notice the words of Cornelius in Acts 10:33; he said, “Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.” No prejudice is evident in this statement. Have you allowed prejudice to blind you?

5. RELIGIOUS CONFUSION. Some people are blinded by religious confusion. In this world, there are many religions. All, except the religion authorized by Jesus Christ, are false and vain. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (Jn. 14:6).

In Matthew 15:7-9, Jesus said, “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

In Matthew 15:13 Jesus said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” Here, Jesus was referring to every false religion and human commandment, which God and his word will defeat and uproot.

In John 17:17-19, Jesus said, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth. As thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” The religion of Jesus Christ is the ONE and ONLY true religion. Peace and unity between God and his people is possible ONLY when people believe and obey the religion of Jesus Christ. Have you allowed religious confusion to blind you?

6. FAMILY TIES. For many, bloodlines run thicker than truth. Some people belong to a particular religion because their father, mother, or other family members were members of that religion. Because of family ties, some justify a family member’s sinfulness, rather than rebuking him for the sin in which he is involved.

Some parents become indignant and enraged when the Bible class teacher tells them that, during the Bible class, dear sweet little Johnny acted like anything but a little angel.

Some brethren “change their tune” on controversial subjects, such as marriage, divorce, and remarriage, because a family member or close friend is living in an adulterous marriage. You often hear these brethren say, “I have re-thought the subject and have come to a different understanding.” No! They have compromised the truth and allowed family ties to blind them.

In 1 Samuel 3:12-13, the text says, “In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not(Emphasis mine, tgm). Eli caved and compromised to family ties when he failed to restrain his sons. What about you, my friend?

In this short article, we have considered six ways in which many are spiritually blind. I urge you not to allow any person or thing to blind you to the truth. Then, Jesus can say of you, as He did of His disciples in Matthew 13:16, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” I pray that God will bless you by opening your eyes that you might see, believe, and obey the truth!