A friend of mine has just passed through her own challenging journey with Covid. Three members of her family became sick. They remained at home and were treated with some of the therapeutic drugs available for this virus. While going through some harrowing moments, one of the young children in the family reported seeing angels in the house. My friend, herself, saw a mass of twinkling lights over their bedroom doorway. These events greatly encouraged them. How wonderful it is when God opens the eyes of the heart to see the invisible realm!
My friend shared these stories over coffee at a local coffee shop. I told her, “Your testimony of God caring for you while you tended your family with the medicines available for them, is so uplifting.” She replied to me, “I’ve heard it said that the Jewish people understood the word ‘testimony’ to mean, ‘Do it again, God.'”
She was saying that what He does supernaturally for one, He can do for any one, and He is willing to do it.
But we get encouraged to expect His miraculous help as we become sensitive to spiritual things. This blog is about how God opens the eyes of the heart so we can see the invisible realm.
What stops us seeing the spiritual realm?
My small group at church is going through a book called Freedom in Christ by Neil T. Anderson and Steve Goss. Last week I mentioned this book in my post Everyone Says, “God is Love.” How Do I Accept that God Loves Me? You can read it here. We have just finished another chapter in it on “worldview.”
Worldview has to do with how we see the world around us. It is what shapes our interpretation of reality. The authors of this book talk about a non-western, western, post-modern, and a biblical worldview. These have a lot to do with whether we perceive the supernatural or not.
The non-western, western, and post-modern views
These three ways of looking at the world or at reality are summed up simply in Freedom in Christ. At the heart of the non-western view is a belief that “the universe is controlled by a kind of universal power that runs through everything and by spirits of many types.” (p. 55) With this worldview, when a person has problems, they very likely might consult a shaman or witch doctor.
In the western worldview (which governs many in the US and Europe), you don’t run to a witch doctor when in trouble, but many of this view will look for a scientific or rational explanation for events. They may hold a belief in God, and even other supernatural things, “but [these often] have no bearing on…daily life.” (p. 56) The western worldview generally doesn’t make room for belief in the demonic or for trust in miracles.
The post-modern view, also prevalent in the west, is described this way: It’s a reaction to previous generations who “saw truth as something revealed by God or discovered by science…” (p. 57) Now, many who hold this view see truth as whatever they personally think it is. “People are increasingly absorbing into their worldview a belief that there is no real, solid, undergirding truth.” (p. 57)
What is the result of having a western worldview?
I want to share a short excerpt from Freedom in Christ about the effects of living out of a western worldview (which so many do in the United States):
This worldview “encourages us to live our lives and exercise our ministries as if the spiritual world didn’t exist. When something goes horribly wrong in our lives, many Christians blame God because, influenced by the Western worldview, they leave Satan out of the equation who, the Bible says, is a thief who ‘comes only to steal and kill and destroy.’ (John 10:10)
What about when someone has a mental or psychological problem? The medical profession, influenced by the Western worldview, tends to ignore the reality of the spiritual world and does not even acknowledge the possibility that an issue may have a spiritual cause.
We are whole people – spirit, soul, and body – and we need to take into account both the natural world and the spiritual world.” (p. 60)
Identifying our worldview precedes change
Here is one last quote from Freedom in Christ about the non-biblical aspect to the way we often see the world:
“We say we believe the Bible, but are our decisions made on the basis of what we think rather than on what God is saying? We say we believe in the power of prayer but do our actions really demonstrate that we believe that we can sort out our lives ourselves and use prayer only as a last resort?” (p.60)
Really think about this. Do you believe there are angels and demons as the Bible describes? Do you feel that God can heal you or your loved ones supernaturally? When something goes wrong, do you stop to pray or do you do a google search and/or call a friend first?
There’s no shame in realizing, “Yep! I have a western worldview or even a western worldview mixed in with a postmodern worldview. (I am also starting to say ‘everyone has their own way of looking at things – I must tolerate it all. We each have our own truth.'”) Recognizing how your thinking has been shaped is the first step in changing it.
Adding God to current thinking won’t work
Simply adding God on to the way you already think won’t work. The authors of Freedom in Christ compare this to adding gold plating onto something that’s not so good to start with. It may look shiny and gold on the outside, but if you cut through the middle, you will not find solid gold, but something of poor condition on the interior.
We can’t just add God to a western worldview, keeping most of our current thinking. Using the Bible, prayer, and worship, we need to renew our thoughts and have them governed and shaped by what’s in the Bible. Because, whether we believe in it or not, there is a spiritual realm and it does influence what happens to us.
Consider Paul’s extraordinary warning in Ephesians 6:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:10-12 NIV)
Paul talks about spiritual forces and the devil. We can wish that all away or ignore it. Paul speaks forcefully about it as reality. And yet, not everything that’s in the supernatural realm is dark. Consider the angels such as in Psalm 91:11 who will “guard you in all your ways.”
When God opens your spiritual eyes
I’m sure for some reading this, you might be thinking, “I don’t want to see angels or demons – thanks very much. I don’t need to be aware of the supernatural. I just want to keep two feet rooted in the natural world.”
That’s so totally understandable. But, truly there are only some gifted in a way that helps them see such things. I am actually trying to get at what so many miss out on – real dependence on God because you absolutely believe and being aware that there is much more than meets the eye in so many events.
If we really lose a rational, nature based western view and begin to switch our minds to a biblical view, we sense God is working in the world, and that we can call on Him for healing. We gain hope and sense that though at times all looks lost, God can give us “beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:3). He can “make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5)
Opened spiritual eyes help us to gain deeper meaning from God’s words; cause us to forgive where we couldn’t before. We begin to see opportunities for ministry instead of seeing hopelessness and we gain heightened insight into how to do it.
With spiritual eyes we see causation
We also begin to attribute the causes for difficulties to things like Satan’s interference, the sinfulness of human beings, and our own sinfulness. We stop blaming God for everything because we see that the supernatural world contains many “players” and they affect the events of our lives.
When we truly believe the Bible and that there is a supernatural element to life, we call on God’s help first, we seek the Holy Spirit’s infilling, and so on. This changes everything. We gain strength, confidence, and hope, knowing God is real and that we belong to and have our identity from Him through Christ.
It is so worth seeking to deepen our ability to see the world through spiritual lenses. Studying, drinking in the Bible’s truth and guidance renews our mind to do this.
Here is a small printable poster on how to gain more “spiritual vision.” Click on it and then you can print this pdf out:
A book about opening our “spiritual eyes” that may help you is called “Overcoming Spiritual Blindness.” It is written by Dr. James P. Gills, with an introduction by R.T. Kendall. You can find it here. This book “emphasizes the power and work of the Holy Spirit. What the surgeon does for cataracts that hinder sight in the physical eye, the Holy Spirit does for the cataracts of the heart.” God can help us see things as they really are!
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