Apparently, similar kinds of thinking (really, non-thinking) are common among Christian “believers” today. These folks style themselves “born again,” “saints” or “holy,” who “believe in Jesus, and got saved.” Whereas they call “unbelievers” “sinners,” these “saved” Christians think that they really “do not sin,” and have nothing to “put to death” in their lives, in their souls. They always do God’s will. Or so they imagine. Spiritual blindness takes many forms.
Would that these “saved” Christians studied the New Testament documents with open minds, and not with the blinders of their hardened beliefs. In one passage after another, early Christian writers tell all human beings—Jews, Gentiles, Christians—to keep undergoing a change of heart, conversion, growth in holiness. Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.” I suppose these true believers would answer, “Oh, but we always do the will of God.” Therein lies the problem. It could be called self-deception, or lack of self-awareness. It is the same attitude of the Pharisees who belittled the teaching of Jesus and his call to conversion and holiness. It could be our attitude more often than we wish to admit.
Everyone—“believer” and “unbeliever” alike—needs to take seriously the words we hear from the Apostle Paul this Sunday (Romans 8:13): “If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Either one is continually putting to death one’s self-will, selfishness, greed, lust, hatred, pride, laziness, and so on, or one is sliding into a spiritual death. What does spiritual death look like? Surely it looks like “holier-than-thou” attitudes, it looks like a hardened heart towards others, like a neglect of one’s own spiritual life, like a desire for more and more “stuff.” Spiritual death also takes the more subtle form of a culture bent on “having fun,” constant entertainment, simply ignoring the need to seek God daily. Spiritual death looks like the abyss of darkness in my heart and in yours, if we will but face the truth about ourselves, and daily seek to live Christ, not act out of our own darkness.