What we see has much do to with how we respond to situations and how we go about our lives. Recently as I was walking back to my car I saw an older man trip over the curb and fall into a busy street. He did not immediately get up and he was in one of the lanes. My reaction along with several other men was to run to assist him. We saw that not only was he potentially hurt, but that he was in danger of oncoming traffic. What we saw made us realize that this man needed help. He was in danger. Imagine if I was in an unfamiliar area and this same thing happened. Only this time, I was the only man who ran over with any urgency. The other men simply asked the man “are you okay? Do you need any help?” Their response would seem strange and even out of touch. I saw a man in the road hurt and in danger of oncoming traffic. But the other men knew something I did not. Recently the road had been closed, there was no oncoming traffic. Both I and the other men saw the same thing, but they had some knowledge I did not have and it affected their response to the situation. You could say that though we saw the same circumstance they saw something more. They saw the situation accurately. They had a depth to their perception that I would have needed in order to fully understand the situation.
Christians see the same things that those around them see, but by God’s grace they see much more. The unsaved are blinded (1 Corinthians 2:14), but by sovereign mercy the saved have eyes wide open to God’s purposes in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18) and can have a continual and growing enlightenment to all that they have in Christ (Ephesians 1:18). Victory in the Christian life is only possible if we live according to this spiritual knowledge that God has given us. Living according to God’s purposes in the mundane and the notable circumstances of our lives requires applying who God is and what He has promised by faith to what we see before us. The growing Christian flourishes by God’s grace in what we might call “spiritual depth perception.”
All believers know what it is like to face a circumstance and later realize that we were only looking at it from a natural point of view. In Numbers 13 we read of a very familiar story in the Bible. There is a command by God coupled with a promise and a response by 12 men. Some responded with the eye sight of merely the natural man. Some responded with faith. Both saw the same things, but those who responded with faith were living a God conscious life.
The Command: Israel was been redeemed from Egypt and is on the brink of realizing God’s promises that He had made to their forefather Abraham regarding the Land of Canaan. Here is the command:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses saying, “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:1-2a).
The Promise: Not only does God give a command, but there is a promise. This is really a restatement of the land promise made to Abraham their forefather (Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:14-18 etc.)
“Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel…” (Numbers 13:2b)
The Response: In the instructions that the Lord gave to the spies they were told to consider the nature of the people, their cities, the land, and its produce (Numbers 13:17-20). That is exactly what they did (Numbers 13:21-24). Ten of the spies explained the land and showed the remarkable fruit and then they said that faithless word which we are tempted to say or think in situations like this: “Nevertheless.” It goes like this often: “Yes, I know the Lord has revealed His will in this situation, nevertheless, I am not sure how it would work out for me.” Or, “I know what God has said and has promised, but I am just human and this does not look very promising.” In the case of the ten spies their “nevertheless” had to do with the fact that the people in the land were strong and their cities were impressively fortified (Num. 13:28-29, 31-32). In essence they said this: “We know what God commanded and promised, but we cannot see how this could possibly work out.”
The second response given by Joshua and Caleb was very different. They saw the very same impressive land with its remarkable fruit and bounty. They saw the very same strong people and fortified cities that would certainly be obstacles for the people of Israel inhabiting the Land of Canaan. And yet, they had sight that was characterized by “spiritual depth perception.” They had eyes of faith. What was their response as communicated by Caleb?
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30).
How could Caleb say “we will surely overcome it” in the face of such overwhelming opposition in the land? Was he being reckless? Was he naive? Was he foolish? It would certainly look that way to those who did not have faith in the God who commanded taking the land and promised He would in fact give it to Israel. Do you see how what we see has everything to do with how we live the Christian life?
Today we are not called by God to go possess the Promised Land inhabited by formidable foes. We are however told to do many things in the Christian life that take this same kind of “spiritual depth perception.” We have to come to grips with the fact that the world around us, the flesh within us, and Satan against us all encourages us to live our lives with merely natural sight. The world, the flesh and the devil all encourage us to take the “spectacles of faith” off and merely see what everyone else around us sees. But by God’s grace we have been given eyes of faith. We have spiritual depth perception. We do not have to be taken captive by the tyranny of mere natural sight.
The Christian life requires walking by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We certainly have our eyes wide open to the difficulties of this life. There is no downplaying the realities of sin, suffering, and complexities in this life. There is an honest acknowledgement that these realities are coupled with our own remaining sinful weakness. But in order to have victory in the Christian life we must not only have our eyes wide open to what the natural man sees, we must also have our eyes wide open to who God is and what He has promised. If God has said it and God is faithful, then by faith we can act upon who He is and what He has said and expect His gracious enabling.
Living this life of “spiritual depth perception” is a life that is only possible by virtue of our union with Jesus Christ. In Him, God’s promises are “yes.” And as we live our lives in Christ by faith then our lives become an “Amen” to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 1:20). What do you see? May God grant our eyes to be wide open with faith enabled spiritual depth perception.