Look in the Mirror, Am I Misdiagnosing My Spiritual Health?
Being too close to our own spiritual lives can mean we miss blind spots that need addressing.
“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.”
Psalms 119:18 (KJV)
John Newton, the author of the famous hymn Amazing Grace, became the captain of a slave-trade ship a year after his conversion to Christ. He commanded three voyages over the next four years, enslaving, mistreating, and selling men made in the image of God. As captain of the slave-trade ship, he prayed with his crew and spent time alone in his cabin praying and journaling about his great love for the Lord.
Does this story make you want to scream? Do these glaring contradictions in Newton’s life make your heart and head hurt like they do mine? How could a man who is alive in Christ be so blind to such a horrible and glaring sin?
How could he confess his love for God on one hand while so severely mistreating his fellow man on the other?
Newton answers these very questions: “Custom, example, and interest had blinded my eyes.” (William Phipps, Amazing Grace in John Newton, pg 63.)
In other words, it was the normal custom of the day, everyone influential was doing it, and there was money to be gained by its practice.
He was blind to this horrific sin, but His God in heaven was not.
In Revelation, we read of another local congregation God diagnosed as blind.
If the church of Laodicea had an annual business meeting, their PowerPoint presentation might have excitedly reported: We are rich, we have prospered, and we need nothing! (See Rev.3:17)
But God’s assessment of the church was completely different:
I know your works…You are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm…I will spit you out of my mouth…You don’t realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (See Rev. 3:15-17)
What can we learn here?
What can we learn from John Newton and the church of Laodicea?
- That we can be completely blind to our own sin while claiming Christ, praying, and living the Christian life.
- That the unthinkable, horrific sins of our culture could permeate the church and our own personal lives and we could excuse or practice them.
- That our own assessment of our Christian walk can vary greatly from God’s pronouncement of our actual spiritual condition.
John Newton’s words, “Twas blind but now I see,” testifies to the supernatural change in his own spiritual vision. What he once accepted and practiced and profited from, he now repented of and renounced, by God’s amazing grace!
What is the remedy for seeing sin as it really is and correcting our spiritual malaise? We turn to the Lord and let His Word counsel us.
In His Word
We need to rely on our Bibles as the sourcebook for all truth and wisdom. As we read God’s Word, wonderful things happen:
- We are instructed: “I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.” Ps. 119:102b
- We are illuminated: ”The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.”Ps.19:8b
- We are revived: “Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.” Ps.119:107
- We are enabled to obey: “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statues, and I will keep it to the end.: Ps. 119:33
As you read God’s Word and your own blindness turns to sight, you might be tempted to despair at the awfulness of it all. But the gospel is truly good news for our salvation and for our sanctification. Jesus lived perfectly and died in our place on Calvary. God’s wrath for our sin was poured out in full on Christ, and in Christ, there’s not one drop of wrath left for you. This truly is an amazing thought!
“When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.”
(stanza from hymn, Before the Throne of God Above, Charity Bancroft, 1860)
In Your Life
How would you rate your spiritual temperature? Hot, cold, or lukewarm?
Are aspects of your Christian life a contradiction? Open your Bible, and ask God to reveal any blind spots.
Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges There are so few things that our culture calls sin, yet Bridges shows us that some of the things we tolerate in our Christian life the Bible calls sin like ungodliness, unthankfulness, judgmentalism, worldliness, and pride.
Brokenness, Surrender, Holiness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a wonderful resource for those seeking personal revival.
Sarah Beals is a wife, mother of six, and grandmother of 4. She lives in beautiful New England and writes about Christian living, home education, hospitality, and creative pursuits at Joyfilleddays.com and on Instagram.