Deaf, Dumb, and Blind

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Spiritual pride kills.

John(70) (Part of the Believe(67) series)
by Stuart Johns(118) on January 12, 2020 (Sunday Morning(156))

Pride(2), Repentance(7)

Believe

Deaf, Dumb, and Blind

(John 9:24-34)

 

INTRODUCTION

“When Pierre-Paul Thomas was growing up in Montreal, Canada in the 1940s he couldn't play hockey with his brothers and it broke his heart. Thomas was born blind—long before a cure was available. So for most of his life he could only imagine the world that people often described to him. For years he walked with a white cane to avoid obstacles in front of him. But at the age of sixty-six, Thomas fell down the stairs in an apartment building and fractured the bones of his face. He was rushed to the hospital with severe swelling around his eyes. A team of doctors went to work to repair the bones. Months later he went to be examined by a plastic surgeon for a consultation about repairing his scalp.

 

The surgeon casually asked Thomas, ‘Oh, while we're at it, do you want us to fix your eyes too?’ Thomas did not understand. Nor did he know how to respond. Not long after that, Thomas had surgery and could truly see for the first time.

 

Suddenly his world consisted of bright colors he had never fathomed before. He spoke of being awestruck by flowers blossoming and trees blooming. As beautiful as this story of a sixty-year-old man who was able to see for the first time is, there is a sad reality. He could have had the same surgery at a younger age and been able to see earlier. Thomas had assumed such a possibility was impossible and had resigned himself to a life of blindness when, in reality, he could have experienced the gift of sight decades earlier.”

 

Adapted from Kyle Idleman, AHA: The God Moment That Changes Everything (David Cook, 2014), page 76; original source: Aaron Derfel, "Blind No More," Montreal Gazette (7-27-13).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2014/october/2101314.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Wearing contacts

        • Most of you know that I wear contact lenses

        • My glasses are really thick, so I only use them to get from the bathroom to the bed

        • I have to see the eye doctor every year in order to get a new prescription for contacts

        • They always have me take my contact out and then ask me to read the smallest line on the eye chart

        • I can’t even read to largest line on the eye chart without glasses or contacts

        • Then they put the apparatus in front of my face and begin to flip lenses and turn dials, asking me which one is clearer (1 or 2)

        • Eventually, we get to a point where I can read almost every letter on the smallest line of the eye chart

    • Lasik eye surgery

        • At this point, they are not recommending Lasik eye surgery for me, but perhaps down the road I’ll have that surgery

        • Those who go through Lasik eye surgery eventually don’t have to where corrective lenses or perhaps only reading glasses

    • Dangers of not wearing corrective lenses

        • I need to wear some kind of corrective lenses, especially when driving

        • I could be really prideful and say that I can drive just fine without my contacts in or glasses on

        • It could be very dangerous for me and others if I don’t wear my contacts or a pair of glasses

          • I may not see someone at a distance trying to cross the road and so I wouldn’t slowdown in time to avoid hitting them

          • I may not see a stop sign in time to stop

          • Any number of things could happen that would cause me or other people serious injury and potentially death

        • That’s why my driver’s license has the restriction code of #1 – Corrective Lenses

        • If I allow my pride to go unchecked, it could kill me or someone else

 

  • WE

    • Corrective lenses

        • How many of us wear some kind of corrective lenses?

    • No corrective lenses

        • Is there anyone here this morning that has never had to wear corrective lenses or has never had any kind of corrective eye surgery?

 

Spiritual pride can do the same thing. ​​ It can cause serious damage to us and to others. ​​ The Pharisees are not content with the testimony of the formerly blind man’s parents. ​​ They’ve been challenged by the parents to ask the formerly blind man, since he is of age. ​​ While they have already done that, they don’t know what else to do, so they call him again to question him. ​​ Their spiritual pride makes them blind and deaf to the truth of who Jesus is and what He came to do. ​​ Their spiritual pride will keep them out of heaven, because Jesus is God’s plan to redeem the world, so they can live in heaven with Him someday. ​​ As we will see, . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ Spiritual pride kills.

 

This did not need to be the case with the Pharisees. ​​ Had they believed in Jesus when He was on earth, they could have been healed from spiritual blindness, deafness, and dumbness. ​​ Unfortunately, they continued in their spiritual pride, which meant eternal separation from God when they died.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 9:24-34)

    • Bold witness (vv. 24-25)

        • The Pharisees summon the formerly blind man to interrogate him and question him again

          • Tell us the truth

            • When they tell him to “Give glory to God” they are not meaning to worship or praise God for the miraculous healing that took place (although that is what he does, as we’ll see in moment)

            • Rather, they are asking him to tell the truth about what really happened to him

            • “The statement “Give glory to God” is not a praise statement but the equivalent of a Jewish oath, which the authorities employed to call the man to give an honest witness and confess any sinfulness in his testimony.” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 321]

              • Joshua 7:19, Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord the God of Israel, and give him the praise. ​​ Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

              • Jeremiah 13:15-16, Hear and pay attention, do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken. ​​ Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. ​​ You hope for light, but he will turn it to thick darkness and change it to deep gloom.

            • They are basically saying to the man, “We know that this healing didn’t really happen, that perhaps you weren’t really blind from birth, so just tell us exactly what happened.”

            • They had made up their minds about the man, the healing, and Jesus

            • As a way of helping the man “tell the truth” (the truth they had already accepted) they primed the pump for him

          • Putting words in his mouth

            • “We know this man is a sinner.”

            • The expected response would have been the man breaking down and admitting that Jesus hadn’t actually healed him, but that he had been playing the part of a blind man, since birth, so he wouldn’t have to work

            • True life crime stories and even fictional crime stories inevitably have a scene where the police have a suspect in custody and they are questioning him/her

              • The best evidence for the police is a signed confession from the suspect

              • They’ll use all kinds of tactics in order to get the person to confess

              • Sometimes they’ll make statements that begin with these words, “We know that . . .” (then they lay out what they know or suspect)

              • The hope is that the suspect will finally break and tell them what they want to hear

              • In some cases, this process takes many hours and the mental and physical duress cause the suspect to give a false confession or testimony, because they just want the interrogation to stop

              • It’s similar to what the Pharisees are doing here

            • They want the formerly blind man to recant his previous testimony about what Jesus did and how he is now able to see

            • If the man who was blind will agree with them, that Jesus is a sinner, then that will go a long way in proving that Jesus is not from God

              • The Pharisees are unwilling to see and hear anything that contradicts their beliefs about who the Messiah would be and what He would do when He arrived

              • Spiritual pride kills

                • It kills our ability to hear truth

                • It kills our ability to see truth clearly

                • It even kills our ability to speak kindly and act godly when confronted about it

                • Ultimately, it kills us physically and spiritually (eternal separation from God)

            • The Pharisees were desperately trying everything to marginalize and discount God’s plan of salvation and redemption through Jesus Christ

          • But the man doesn’t take the bait

        • The man’s response

          • He doesn’t agree with the Pharisees and he doesn’t argue with them

          • He simply states the facts, what he knows (“I was blind but now I see!”)

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s desire is that we faithfully share what He has done in our lives.

            • “. . . decisive faith is characterized by the testimony of personal witness.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 373]

            • Our responsibility is not to convince or to save people

            • Our responsibility is to faithfully share how Jesus has transformed us by the power of the Holy Spirit, how God has healed us (physically, spiritually, emotionally)

            • We are to plant and water the seeds of faith and trust God to give the increase (1 Cor. 3:6-9)

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Share at least one thing that God has done for me (physically, spiritually, emotionally) with a family member, neighbor, or coworker.

              • Take time right now to write down a couple of things that God has done in your life

              • Testimony time (allow individuals to share what God has done for them)

          • While the man doesn’t mention Jesus’ name here, we know from the greater context that, he is talking about Jesus healing his eyes and giving him sight

            • The Pharisees want him to tell the truth (“Give glory to God”)

            • He does tell the truth and in the process gives glory and praise to God (“I was blind but now I see!”)

        • When we are bold for Jesus Christ and tell the truth about what He has done for us, we should expect spiritual attacks

    • Spiritual attacks (vv. 26-34)

        • Looking for inconsistencies (vv. 26-27)

          • Perhaps the reason the Pharisees asked the man to repeat what Jesus did to him and how He opened his eyes was in hope that he would make a mistake and contradict his earlier testimony

          • Maybe they were looking for inconsistencies that would render his testimony void

          • Instead of repeating his story of healing, he challenges them and then asks them a question

            • Challenge – “I already told you, but you didn’t listen”

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – Self-righteousness and pride causes spiritual deficits.

                • The Pharisees had already heard his testimony, but they did not listen

                • They were spiritually deaf to the truth of Jesus

                • Spiritual pride kills (it kills our ability to hear truth)

                • Application

                  • The same is true of us today

                  • Self-righteousness and pride causes spiritual deficits in our lives too

                  • Trying to justify our own sin (gossip, lying, adultery, hatred, pornography, addictions, bitterness, etc.) causes us to be spiritually deaf to the truths of God’s Word

                  • God wants us to be healed and whole, but that means letting go of our self-righteousness and pride

                  • It means listening to His voice through His Word and the wisdom and counsel of other believers

              • It’s probably at this point that the man realizes the Pharisees only what to hear their truth

              • They’re not concerned about fairness, but about pushing their own agenda and “truth”

            • Question – “Do you want to become his disciples, too?”

              • The man’s question reveals that he is perhaps already a disciple of Jesus, but not yet saved (that’s coming next week)

              • This man is not afraid of the Pharisees and will not be bullied into believing the way they do about Jesus

              • He has to know that his question will garner an emotionally charged response

          • That’s exactly what happens

        • Attack #1 (vv. 28-29)

          • They begin to insult him

            • John doesn’t tell us what insults they use, but in verse 34 they accuse him of being steeped in sin at birth

            • We can also imagine that they were probably questioning his intellectual abilities and knowledge of the law (“How dare you lecture us!”)

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Self-righteousness and pride causes spiritual deficits.

              • The Pharisees are unable to treat this man with dignity and kindness

              • They’re unable and unwilling to express the fruit of the Spirit toward this man

              • The sin of self-righteousness and spiritual pride will do that in our lives – we will act unkind and ungodly toward others

              • That happens simply because we want to be right and are unwilling and unable to hear the truth

          • They try to create a difference between being a disciple of Moses and a disciple of Jesus

            • Disciples of Jesus

              • They refuse to use Jesus’ name, perhaps because they believe that by using His name they are somehow validating Him

              • Instead, they just say, “this fellow”

            • Disciples of Moses

              • ​​ “The Pharisees knew that God had revealed his will through Moses. ​​ This law of God embraced not only the written word (which we refer to as the Pentateuch), but also a mass of oral tradition handed on from generation to generation.” ​​ [Carson, 374]

              • John agrees with their statement that the law was given through Moses, but the total fulfillment of the law comes through Jesus Christ (John 1:17)

              • As disciples of Moses, they should have understood that he was writing about Jesus in the Pentateuch

              • John 5:39-40, 45-47, You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. ​​ These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life . . . “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. ​​ Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. ​​ If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. ​​ But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

              • “The Pharisees were cautious men who would consider themselves conservatives, when in reality they were ‘preservatives.’ ​​ A true conservative takes the best of the past and uses it, but he is also aware of the new things that God is doing. ​​ The new grows out of the old (Matt. 13:52). ​​ A ‘preservative’ simply embalms the past and preserves it. ​​ He is against change and resists the new things that God is doing.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Volume 1, 326]

            • The Pharisees claim that they don’t even know where Jesus comes from

              • They are not referring to Jesus’ earthly hometown at this point

                • They knew that He was from Nazareth in Galilee

                • They knew He was the son of a carpenter (Matt. 13:55)

                • John 7:27, “But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”

                • “There was a popular tradition that the Messiah would simply appear.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for John 7:27]

              • Instead, they are referring to where Jesus’ authority comes from

                • Even though they weren’t there to see Moses come out of the Tent of Meeting with his face shining like the sun, they believed the tradition that had been handed down from generation to generation

                • Moses had spoken with God, and they believed it!

                • John 8:14, Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. ​​ But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.

                • They didn’t believe that Jesus had come from God and that He would be returning to God after completing His mission on earth

                • If the Pharisees had believed that, their entire belief system and teachings would have to change

          • This simple man who had been born blind did not have all of the self-righteousness and spiritual pride to wade through in order to see that Jesus was from God

          • We see in his response that the experiential wins over the theological again

        • The man’s response (vv. 30-33)

          • The man is shocked that the Pharisees can’t see or understand something so simple

            • “What was incredulous to him was that the officials who supposedly represented the perspective of God actually failed to recognize the work of God.” ​​ [Borchert, 322]

            • “He healed me from the blindness I had since birth, so isn’t it obvious that He’s from God!”

            • If He wasn’t from God, He could do nothing

          • God does not listen to sinners. ​​ He listens to the godly man who does his will

            • This was a general belief for Jews and early Christians

            • We know that God does hear sinners, especially when they pray, seeking salvation

            • We also know that sin can hinder the lines of communication between us and God

              • Psalm 66:18-19, If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.

              • The Psalmist is saying that if he had refused to repent of his sin or when he holds on to certain sins, that a wall is erected between him and God

              • Fortunately, the Psalmist was not holding on to unconfessed sin – he had kept a short list with the Lord and knew that his prayers were heard

            • “His comment reveals something the reader would otherwise not have known, that Jesus accomplished this miracle (and by extension all of his miracles) by prayer . . . the man born blind is not so much excluding sinners from praying and being heard as simply insisting that the prayer itself must be an act of ‘doing the will of God’ (see Mt 6:10; 1 Jn 5:14).” [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 562]

              • Remember what Jesus said to His disciples in John 9:3, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

              • This was an act of doing the will of God, so God answered Jesus’ prayer and healed the blind man

              • So, if God answered Jesus’ prayer, then Jesus is from God

          • Healing the blind

            • “Healing the blind is extremely rare in the Old Testament, and connected with extraordinary circumstances (e.g. 2 Ki. 6:8-23). ​​ Jewish tradition reports one or two instances of the blind being healed (Tobit 2:10; 11:10-13). ​​ But nowhere is there a report of a healing of a man born blind (v. 32).” ​​ [Carson, 374]

            • What Jesus did for this man was perhaps unprecedented – it had never happened before

              • That’s why this man says that Jesus was from God – He had done something that no one else had ever done

              • It was probably also why the Pharisees doubted that it actually happened (the reason why they summoned his parents to verify that this was their son and that he had been born blind)

          • The Pharisees don’t appreciate the man’s response

        • Attack #2 (v. 34)

          • Feeling defensive

            • First, they didn’t like being characterized as sinners and ungodly

            • Secondly, they probably didn’t like the history lesson about this kind of miracle never happening before

            • “So convinced are they that Jesus is at best a charlatan, at worst a dangerous sinner, that they do not remember the ancient promises that one of the signs of the dawning of the messianic age is the restoration of sight to the blind (Is. 29:18; 35:5; 42:7).” ​​ [Carson, 375]

          • They basically admit that the man was born blind

            • “You were steeped in sin at birth.”

            • The Pharisees return to their traditional belief, which Jesus’ disciples had referenced in John 9:2, that physical ailments were a result of sin in a person’s life

            • They’re trapped in their own argument and don’t see a way out, so they throw the man out of the synagogue

 

  • YOU

    • PRINCIPLE #2 – Self-righteousness and pride causes spiritual deficits.

        • Spiritual pride kills

          • It kills our ability to hear truth

          • It kills our ability to see truth clearly

          • It kills out ability to speak kindly and act godly when confronted about it

        • Perhaps you’re struggling with spiritual pride today

          • God has spoken to you through His Word and through the counsel of others, but you’re refusing to listen – you have stopped up your ears to the truth

          • Maybe spiritual pride is causing you to not see God’s plan and purpose clearly, because you believe you know better

          • When you refuse to hear and see God’s truth, then you very quickly lose your ability to speak kindly and act godly towards those who confront you

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess my spiritual pride to the Lord, so I can hear Him, see His plan clearly, and speak and act in a way that is pleasing to Him.

 

  • WE

    • This should especially be evident within the church

    • Seeing 20/20 in Unity – Unity in Relationships

        • “I am committed to speaking positively about people, ministries, leadership, and the mission of Idaville Church.”

        • “I am committed to patience, forgiveness, and non-judgment toward others.”

        • “I am committed to following biblical principles of reconciliation in all circumstances where I feel hurt or division. ​​ These principles are:

          • Forgive and overlook when possible

          • Do not gossip about the offender

          • Approach in humility and with a goal of reconciliation

          • Take responsibility for your part in the conflict

          • Take a trusted brother or sister with you if necessary

          • Take the issue to the church leadership if necessary

 

CONCLUSION

“Whenever we find ourselves valuing the letter of God’s law above its spirit; whenever we find ourselves unable to rejoice in the saving and renewing of lives simply because the instrument used was not someone who dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s of our theological group; whenever we lose the daily, hourly sense of joy in the grace of God by which alone we know him and live before him, then we need to beware. ​​ ‘Lord, is it I?’ ​​ The only security against Pharisaism is grace, which is perhaps the reason the Lord may from time to time permit us to stumble in our Christian walk so that we may have opportunity to rediscover it.” ​​ [Milne, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of John, 142].

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