God Is Moral Part Fourteen
The Heart’s Reflection in the Eyes
In two previous articles concerning morality, we observed biblical descriptions of various types of eyes that reflect the moral condition of a heart. After examining one more type, we will consider two other areas of biblical teaching concerning the eyes.
Non-seeing Eye. “Hear this now, O foolish people, without understanding, who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not” (Jer. 5:21). The word translated “foolish” refers to a person who lacks both “moral or spiritual sense” and “spiritual comprehension.” He trusts his “own resources, without dependence on God,” has “twisted values,” and is a spiritual apostate.1
The Lord told the prophet Ezekiel, “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house” (Ezek. 12:2).
In Isaiah, He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive’” (6:9).
A person with non-seeing eyes observes visible evidence of God’s existence or sees God’s Word fulfilled but does not discern, recognize, comprehend, or accept its implications for himself. This type of eye reflects a self-sufficient heart of rebellion against God and His truth. As a result, such a person does not comprehend ultimate reality:
Now Moses called all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the Lᴏʀᴅ did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land—the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders. Yet the Lᴏʀᴅ has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day” (Dt. 29:2–4).
The Eyes’ Relationship to Going Astray
Scripture indicates that what the eyes see can lead people to stray into internal and external sin and to make wrong evaluations.
Numbers 15:39 signifies that what the eyes see can incline someone toward “harlotry.”
An example of spiritual harlotry is the worship of the heavenly bodies as a result of seeing them and becoming unduly fascinated with them:
And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lᴏʀᴅ your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage (Dt. 4:19).
Such activity involves worshiping and serving the creation instead of God the Creator (Rom. 1:25).
Spiritual harlotry can also involve the worship of man-made idols as a result of seeing them with the eyes: God said, “I was crushed by their adulterous heart which has departed from Me, and by their eyes which play the harlot after their idols. Their eyes were fixed on their fathers’ idols” (Ezek. 6:9; 20:24).
A person reveals a wicked heart if, as a result of observing things with his eyes, he selfishly withholds what he owes another person and abuses that person by so doing:
Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, “The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,” and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the Lᴏʀᴅ against you, and it become sin among you (Dt. 15:9).
Based on what they see, some people compare themselves with others and think more highly of themselves than they should. Their self-evaluations are faulty and contrary to reality:
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lᴏʀᴅ weighs the hearts. There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness. He [the wicked] flatters himself in his own eyes. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! (Prov. 21:2; 30:12; Ps. 36:2; Isa. 5:21).
When the majority of people in a society function by doing what is right in their own eyes, chaos ensues. This fact was true of Israel during the period of the judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Jud. 17:6; 21:25). The situation led to lawlessness, violence, false worship, perverted practices, and judgment at the hand of foreign oppressors. The period graphically demonstrated the truthfulness of a principle stated in Ecclesiastes 11:9: “Walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.”
A gift offered as a bribe can blind the eyes of a judge or official to what is right: “You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous” (Dt. 16:19). The prophet Samuel asked the Israelites, “From whose hand have I received any bribe with which to blind my eyes?” (1 Sam. 12:3). Samuel, of course, received none.
Certain sights can lead a man into external sexual sin. That was certainly true for King David:
He saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, “I am with child” (2 Sam. 11:2–5).
This situation, in turn, prompted David to arrange the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, to cover up his sin of adultery (vv. 14–17).
Certain sights can also lead a man into internal sexual sin: Jesus said, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt. 5:28).
The Eyes’ Proper Focus
Scripture reveals various ways a person can focus the eyes to avoid being led astray into internal and external sin and wrong evaluations.
First, make a covenant with your eyes to avoid looking at things that could tempt you to sin. Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1). Bible scholar Franz Delitzsch said this verse meant Job determined never to look at a virgin young woman with lustful desire or imagination.2
Second, don’t let your heart walk after evil things that your eyes see. Job requested the following test: “Let me be weighed on honest scales, that God may know my integrity. If my step has turned from the way, or my heart walked after my eyes, or if any spot adheres to my hands” (Job 31:6–7). Delitzsch indicated that Job referred to the heart as following ”the drawing of the lust of the eye, viz. to obtain by deceit or extortion the property of another.”3
Third, refuse to set anything wicked before your eyes, and don’t let evil things cling to you. David declared, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me” (Ps. 101:3). Willem A. VanGemeren stated that David “vows to have nothing to do with any ‘vile thing’ (v. 3; lit., ‘a thing of Belial’).”4
Fourth, turn your eyes away “from looking at worthless things,” and revive God’s influence in your life (119:37). The word translated “worthless” “designates anything that is unsubstantial, unreal, worthless, either materially or morally,” including false objects of worship.5
Fifth, focus your attention on God and His truth. Don’t allow anything to divert your attention from that focus:
My eyes are ever toward the Lᴏʀᴅ, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net. Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. In that day a man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel (25:15; Prov. 4:25; Isa. 17:7).
Sixth, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lᴏʀᴅ and depart from evil” (Prov. 3:7).
Seventh, the righteous, upright person “despises the gain of oppressions,” refuses bribes, “stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil” (Isa. 33:15).
Eighth, Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Mt. 5:29). Jesus was not teaching mutilation of the body. “In fact,” wrote commentator F. F. Bruce, “it is not recorded that anyone ever mutilated himself because of these words in the Gospels.”6 Jesus was saying that you must pursue the course that would have the same effect as tearing out an eye—the effect of preventing you from seeing things that entrap you to sin.
For example, you should permanently rid yourself of all sources of pornographic material. Just as tearing out an eye would require strong, forceful determination or commitment, use that same determination to rid yourself of everything that entraps you to sinful, sexual lust.
Ninth, Jesus said, “anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” (Rev. 3:18). He was speaking of appropriating “the cure for spiritual blindness.”7 The cure involves two ministries of the Holy Spirit: the convicting ministry to remove things that cause spiritual blindness and “the teaching ministry of the Spirit that provides illumination following conversion.”8 Reject the things that cause spiritual blindness and apply God’s truth, which produces spiritual enlightenment or spiritual sight. The purpose of anointing is “that you may see.”
- Louis Goldberg, “sakal,” Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 2:624–625.
- Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Book of Job (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), 174–175.
- Ibid., 177.
- Willem A. VanGemeren, “Psalms,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 5:642.
- Victor P. Hamilton, “shav,” in Harris, Archer, and Waltke, 908.
- F. F. Bruce, Hard Sayings of Jesus (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1983), 55.
- Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1–7 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 316.