Light Requires Sight

by A.W.Tozer on August 30, 2022


Light Requires Sight  By A.W.Tozer  

TO FIND THE WAY we need more than light; we need also sight. The Holy Scriptures are the source of moral and spiritual light. "The entrance of thy words giveth light.” says the psalmist; and again, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” I believe in the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures as originally given, and I can sing with the hymnist, "We praise Thee for the radiance That from the hallowed page, A lantern to our footsteps, Shines on from age to age” Yet I consider that I cast no aspersion upon the hallowed page when I say that its radiance is not by itself enough. Light alone is not suffIcient. Light is a figure which the Bible and religious teachers often use when they mean knowledge. As long as men do not know, they are said to be in darkness. The coming of knowledge is like the rising of the sun. But sunrise means nothing to the unseeing eye. Only the sighted benefit from the light of the sun. Between light and sight there is a wide difference. One man may have light without sight; he is blind. Another may have sight without light; he is temporarily blind, but the coming of the light quickly enables him to see. The Philippian jailer had good eyes, but he "called for a light" in order to find Paul in the darkness. But all the light of the sun, moon and stars could not help poor Samson, for the Philistines had bored out his eyes. It is always night to a blind man, and it is always day to the man with a lantern—provided he can see. A couplet from the Hindu Book of Good Counsel points this up: "Though a blind man hold a lantern, Yet his footsteps stray aside." What does all this say to us? Simply that religious instruction, however sound, is not enough by itself. It brings light, but it cannot impart sight. The text without the Spirit's enlightenment cannot save the sinner. Salvation follows a work of the Spirit in the heart. There can be no salvation apart from truth but there can be, and often is, truth without salvation. How many multiplied thousands have learned the catechism by heart and still wander in moral darkness because there has been no inward illumination. The assumption that light and sight are synonymous has brought spiritual tragedy to millions. A blind man may face a beautiful landscape with eyes wide open and see nothing; and a blind heart may hear saving truth and understand nothing. The Pharisees looked straight at the Light of the World for three years, but not one ray of light reached their inner beings. Light is not enough. The disciples of Jesus were instructed in the Scriptures. Christ Himself had taught them out of the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms; yet it took a specific act of inward "opening" before they could grasp the truth. "Then He opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures" (Luke 24:45).  When Paul preached at Philippi a certain woman named Lydia heard, believed, was baptized and immediately put her house at Paul’s disposal. But one highly significant little phrase explains the whole thing: "whose heart the Lord opened" (Acts 16:14). Lydia received sight as well as light. The apostle discovered very early in his ministry that, as he put it, “not all men have faith." And he knew why. "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). Satan has no fear of the light as long as he can keep his victims sightless. The uncomprehending mind is unaffected by truth. The intellect of the hearer may grasp saving knowledge while yet the heart makes no moral response to it. A classic example of this is seen in the story of Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield. In his autobiography Franklin recounts in some detail how he listened to the mighty preaching of the great evangelist. He even walked around the square where Whitefield stood to learn for himself how far that golden voice carried. Whitefield talked with Franklin personally about his need of Christ and promised to pray for him. Years later Franklin wrote rather sadly that the evangelist's prayers must not have done any good, for he was still unconverted. No one could doubt the intellectual brilliance of Franklin and certainly Whitefield preached the whole truth; yet nothing came of it. Why? The only answer is that Franklin had light without sight. He never saw the Light of the World. To do this requires an act of inward enlightenment wrought by the Spirit, something which Franklin apparently never received.  The inward operation of the Holy Spirit is necessary to saving faith. The gospel is light but only the Spirit can give sight. When seeking to bring the lost to Christ we must pray continually that they may receive the gift of seeing. And we must pit our prayer against that dark spirit who blinds the hearts of men.