Whenever I go to a doctor I expect a diagnosis before any treatment. I dislike taking medicine just to alleviate symptoms. Treat the underlying condition and the symptoms will vanish. Similarly, it is important to understand the roots of spiritual deafness and blindness so that full health can be restored. One of the main reasons that people sometimes find it hard to hear God’s voice is that they do not have ears to hear or eyes that see.
Jesus talked about the syndrome in His Parable of Parables (Matt. 13:9-16). Several times Jesus ended His message with an exhortation like, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”.1 Spiritual deafness and blindness prevent people from deeply grasping the truths about the King and His kingdom. Our reception of God’s word depends on our ability to hear deeply.
The people of Israel suffered from the condition and were known as a “rebellious house” because of it (Deut. 29:4; Ezek. 12:2). Doctor Paul exposed the roots of Israel’s problem when he pointed to worship of Ba’al (Rom. 11:3-8). Paul quoted Isaiah who said that the loss of wisdom and discernment is a symptom of empty religion. When people pay lip service to God but heart service to others it results in spiritual stupor (Isa. 29:9-14). So, how do empty religion and spiritual adultery make it hard to hear God?
Diagnosis: It is a spiritual law that we become like the idols we worship:
Our God is in the heavens;
He does whatever He pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of man’s hands.
They have mouths, but they cannot speak;
They have eyes, but they cannot see;
They have ears, but they cannot hear;
They have noses, but they cannot smell;
They have hands, but they cannot feel;
They have feet, but they cannot walk;
They cannot make a sound with their throat.
Those who make them will become like them,
Everyone who trusts in them. (Ps. 115:3-8. See too Ps. 135:15-18)
Many times, the prophets mocked pagan idols because, although they were represented by clay and wooden figurines with tiny body parts, their eyes were blind, their ears insensitive to the cries of their worshipers, and their hands unresponsive to people’s needs. Not so God; He hears and sees and acts. However, the most important point to remember is that “those who make them will become like them”. It’s a spiritual principle that when we put our hope in something that is senseless and powerless, we become spiritually senseless and powerless.
This principle applies in many different ways, beyond blatant idolatry. Idolatry can be very subtle.
- It is easy to depend on human resources and ingenuity to survive or succeed in life. Those things can be idols. To whatever extent we substitute them for God, we shut God out.
- Our dreams (even the ones we pour out to the Lord in prayer) may just be pre-conceived ideas that need surrendering to Him to make room for His exceeding abundance (Eph. 3:19-20). How much easier it is to receive from the Lord when we approach Him with empty hands and open hearts.
- Perhaps we look to significant people to satisfy our need for acceptance and love. They give it to a point, but never so completely as our heavenly Father.
It is hard to trust a God who makes promises but gives no advanced guarantees of His care and capability. God relates to us as a formless voice (Deut. 4:12); it takes faith to obey Him. Idols suggest something more tangible because we can see them and feel them (and they obey us).
Prescription: It takes humble willpower to discard our clutter of idols and trust in God. Deal with idolatry, and function will return to our spiritual senses. Try it!
Prognosis: The positive side to the spiritual principle is that when we hope in God alone, we begin to hear His voice and deeply understand His will. That seed finds room in our hearts to grow and bear fruit in and through us.
Please share these Bible devotionals with others who might be blessed.
- Matt. 11:15; 13:43; Mark 4:9, 23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35; Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9. [↩]