QUESTION: What does it mean to be spiritually blind? I did not think our spirit has physical features. Please clarify.
ANSWER: We often contrast the spiritual with the physical. We also employ the term “spiritual” to refer to our religious life, our relationship to God. When we say we were born spiritually blind, we mean to say that we had no natural ability to see the great things God does for us. We are using a figure of speech.
Paul wrote: If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them (2 Corinthians 4:3–4).
When His disciples asked why He taught in parables, Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them’” (Mark 4:11–12).
In His Word, God reveals to us the natural condition of all people at birth. We were born blind to God (spiritually blind), dead in transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2), and God’s enemies (Romans 5:10 ff). The Bible teaches that people are born with a body and a soul or spirit. The spirit is synonymous with soul. Body and soul together make up the human being. They are separated by physical death.
The above passages teach about our sinful nature before coming to faith. It is not that our spirit is blind. Rather, our natural body and soul cannot see God and the good things He has done for us. Jesus performed many miracles, some of which were seen by His enemies. They could not realize what those miracles meant. They claimed that He did these miracles by the power of Satan.
Those who are spiritually blind are not just blind in their souls. Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, was born, lived, and died to earn forgiveness for all people. When He rose triumphant on Easter, He declared that a world of sinners was justified, that is, they are not guilty of their sins before the holy God. Through His Word, God reaches out to all people, inviting them to see all He has done for us. But the Spirit of God must give us eyes to see that which we can’t see by nature because we are blind to God (spiritually blind).
As Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem for His passion, He met two blind men sitting by the roadside. They cried out to Him, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” (Matthew 20:31). These two, who could not see with their physical eyes, knew the truth about Jesus and recognized Him as the promised Messiah (the Son of David). All around Him, Jesus met people with good eyesight, but they couldn’t see. They were blind to God. They were blind spiritually. Seeing, they could not see, and hearing, they could not hear.
We thank God that He has resurrected us, who were dead in trespasses and sins. He declared, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20). But God has given us a new spiritual birth in Baptism for both body and soul, with eyes that can see all that Jesus did for us. The Bible defines spiritual sight: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
Rev. Charles Keeler
Resurrection Lutheran Church
Winter Haven, FL