The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness” (Luke 11:34 NKJV).
This text has to do with our perception of truth, how we view things. This is important because Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Mat 5:14 NKJV). Then within two verses He connects our light with good works that glorify God. That means that while we are to have an active witness for Christ we need to be sure that we are not “blind leaders of the blind” (Mat 15:14 NKJV) which was one of the problems the Pharisees had.
It wasn’t that the Pharisees weren’t witnessing, but rather what their witness consisted of. Jesus made that clear when He said to them, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Mat 23:15 NKJV). This becomes important to us because part of the Laodicean message is that we are “poor, blind, and naked” (Rev 3:17 NKJV). We need to understand that part of that blindness is not knowing that we are indeed blind. We think that we have it all, when in fact we have nothing. In the end the whole thing becomes a vicious, deceptive cycle that feeds itself.
There are many factors involved, but perhaps the one thing that starts it off best is the fact that people are going to believe what they want to believe. Paul’s testimony to this problem is that, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess 2:9-10 NKJV). He goes on to say that because of that they will receive “strong delusion” (2 Thess 2:11 NKJV) which usually is a fatal condition.
As an example let’s look at s problem surrounding the sixth commandment, with a brief discussion over the change from the word “kill” to the word “murder.” Some would contend that it is only a matter of semantics while others will argue for the word “murder” as being a more accurate translation.
Actually the words are interesting in themselves. Killing is not necessarily murder, but murder is always killing. In other words the term murder is a narrowed down subset of the word kill. When someone goes into the military and is engaged in combat, usually someone dies. It is never considered murder even though one person kills another. When someone defends himself from a lethal attack and kills the aggressor, it is always considered justifiable homicide, never murder. Murder, therefore, is considered to be the previously well thought out act of killing someone (premeditated) which is really killing under certain circumstances.
When Jesus commented on the Ten Commandments He never restricted them but rather He always expanded their meaning. To Him adultery wasn’t just physical; it had its base in the heart and was committed by a thought. When He got to the sixth commandment He said,
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, `You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, `Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, `You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire” (Mat 5:21-22 NKJV).
Later on He would explain what He said, ”But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” (Mat 5:39 NKJV). He, therefore, constantly advocated forgiveness and restoration and put down all thoughts of retaliation and violence. Toward the end of His ministry on earth He would demonstrate that in dying on the cross without a fight and even pray, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34 NKJV).
Those in the early church understood Christ’s instruction and refused to defend themselves in the coliseum when facing gladiators. So, why do we want to narrow down the commandment against killing another human being when Christ gave no such authorization?
I would like to suggest a couple of things:
- By narrowing down the meaning it answers to our sinful nature. We want to be able to do that which God says not to and often we attempt to circumvent those kinds of things for that purpose. Besides, we love to get even and are basically bloodthirsty critters cheered on by Satan.
- The model of God that we have accepted tells us that God is much like we are. He carries a big sword and doesn’t spare any of His opponents. Many times we see that He has little patience with those that go the wrong way and often kills in a very public display of anger.
As Ellen White has said often enough in many ways,
“Man will rise no higher than his conceptions of truth, purity, and holiness. If the mind is never exalted above the level of humanity, if it is not uplifted by faith to contemplate infinite wisdom and love, the man will be constantly sinking lower and lower” (PP 91.2).
In other words, if our concept of God makes Him the same as we are, then there is little hope of anything other than sliding right into hell. Jesus established the importance of a correct concept of God when He said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3 NKJV). So, perhaps what we need most is a little eye salve in order to clean up our vision so that we can get a better concept of God’s character.