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The Blinding Effects of Our Iniquity

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Strangers devour his strength, yet he does not know it; Gray hairs also are sprinkled on him, yet he does not know it. (Hosea 7:9)

Sin renders our hearts more calloused. Pride blinds. Idolatry, among many things, keeps us hard of hearing and dull to the perils, pains, and consequences of our woeful estate. Self-absorption, quite ironically, produces in us a heightened sensitivity to everyone else’s evil, but far less sensitivity to our own.

 As leprosy diminishes the sensitivity of skin and muscles, so the proud and idolatrous cravings of our flesh dull our spiritual senses and lessen our ability to perceive the reality of our languishing estate.

Today I sat with a man who, after 20 years of daily alcohol consumption and drunkenness, looks 20 years older than his actual age. If you saw him now, you would believe he was near 60 years of age, when in fact he is barely 39. Years of debauchery have ravaged his body. The toll on his soul has been greater. Strangers devoured his strength, yet he does not know it. How deep are the wounds of our transgression! How easily they escape our notice! How great a mercy God extends when He opens our eyes to see, our ears to hear, and our hands to feel the truth of our depraved and dying estate!

The prophets sent to Israel and Judah were emissaries of his mercy. Through Hosea God was attempting to help his people perceive their overcooked and rotten condition. Their hearts, like ovens, stored and stoked the coals of adultery, murder, and idolatry. They identified themselves with the one true God, but lived for money, sex, power, and personal fame. They longed for the approval, praise, and honor of man. Though many attended the proper prayer services, sacrifices, and religious festivals, their hearts were far from God, and their religious activities were proud attempts to justify themselves and feel better about their spiritual condition. They lived in a state of perpetual denial and self-assurance.

I don’t think we should not assume the people to whom Hosea was speaking were very different from ourselves. The blinding effects of iniquity are alive and well today. We may sit every weekend upon our church pews, singing hymns of praise to God, perhaps casting money in the offering box, and hearing the Word of God pronounced. We may know great things about Jesus Christ and even tell others to trust in His name, yet without real affection for Him in our hearts. All along we can be cold to our spouses at home, slandering our neighbor on the corner, and exploding upon our children when they disturb our precious plans. We can nurture bitterness, love wealth, and live under constant anxiety, all the while believing we walk by faith and carry great love for people. Such hypocrisy defines the human estate apart from grace. One goal of the Scripture is to cure our blindness and help us deal honestly with our condition.

Likewise, a first goal of counseling is to open, read, and apply the Scripture to those human hearts seeking counsel so that they may see the truth of their dangerous estate. In our counsel to one another, we strive to awaken our senses to the reality of our condition. We pray for the Holy Spirit to illumine our souls to our desperate need for the Savior.

Attempts to counsel one another will fall flat upon the ground if this first step is neglected. The gospel cures spiritually sick people. It has no value to those who believe they are well. “And hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”[1] Let us not pretend we are better or stronger than Scripture suggests. We are sick, but offered healing in Jesus Christ, our eternal Physician. He is our only hope, and a grander hope than we could ever imagine.

[1]Mark 2:17

Posted on February 23, 2013