Monthly Archives: March 2023

Woe! For our Good God Blinds the Church!

Sermon preached at Clam Falls Lutheran Church, Clam Falls, Wisconsin, March 19th, 2023


“Who is blind but my servant,

    and deaf like the messenger I send?

Who is blind like the one in covenant with me,

    blind like the servant of the Lord?’”

– Isaiah 42:19


Imagine, for a moment, that you are blind.

In physical blindness, you cannot see how to get here or there, and you must rely on others – or use certain tools to grope about and find your way… a good, safe, and dependable way to walk in.

Now, with spiritual blindness, you also cannot see how to get to your destination. 

In order to safely arrive there, you can only do so when you rely on the Light of the World… and the one who is the Way.

In the Bible – like in our Old and New Testament readings this morning! – we sometimes read how God’s people and even appointed leaders are blind.

There is the blindness all men have to be sure – a blindness by nature – but there is, frighteningly, also a blindness that God’s people can fall into… (see, e.g., Matthew 23:2)

Again, this is all throughout our selected readings for today… 

Israel, in Old and New Testament times, rejected God’s will and His promised Messiah…. 

In the Isaiah reading, we not only hear this hopeful word: 

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,

    along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;

I will turn the darkness into light before them

    and make the rough places smooth.

These are the things I will do;

    I will not forsake them.”

But sadly, this:

“But those who trust in idols,

    who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’

    will be turned back in utter shame.

“Hear, you deaf;

    look, you blind, and see!

Who is blind but my servant,

    and deaf like the messenger I send?

Who is blind like the one in covenant with me,

    blind like the servant of the Lord?

You have seen many things, but you pay no attention;

    your ears are open, but you do not listen.”

How can we prevent this? 

Well, in the Bible we are told that if we do what the Lord desires, if we are aligned with His purposes, we will know that we are pleasing to Him…

We are told to taste and see that the Lord is good…

And Jesus tells us that anyone who wants to know if His teaching is from God will find out if he does it… 

The writers of the Epistles in the New Testament are not shy to say that if one does God’s will, walking in the light as Jesus Christ is in the light – with His blood cleansing us from all sins (I John 1) – one will have a true and godly confidence that God is pleased with their actions… 


And as we act, my friends, we are to test everything – everything – with Scripture. 

And we will find out that when we do this, when we really do this, it will put us at odds with the world…

God’s word tells us that man’s greatest problem is idolatry. 

And idols are not just images. Coveting is said to be idolatry (Colossians 3:5). 

The 16th century church reformer Martin Luther helps us to better understand here in his explanation of the First of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me (basically, before my Face)”:

“A god means that from which we are to expect all good and in which we are to take refuge in all distress. So, to have a God is nothing other than trusting and believing Him with the heart. I have often said that the confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust is right, then your god is also true. On the other hand, if your trust is false and wrong, then you do not have the true God. For these two belong together, faith and God. Now, I say that whatever you set your heart on and put your trust in is truly your god.”

God wants you!

God means to covet, to steal, our hearts brothers and sisters… to be the One who consumes us in His Holy, Purifying Fire…

And He is not silent! 

As all truth is God’s truth, all things, created by Him and very good, point to Him, the Truth… 

As G.K. Chesterton once said:

“You cannot evade the issue of God; whether you talk about pigs or the binomial theory, you are still talking about Him.” 


God will be all-encompassing in one way or the other. 

The world, for example, ultimately will make politics and religion one and the same. 

It can’t help itself, because man is religious by nature. Even those who claim to be non-religious – just something like “secular humanists” – end up being religious, for even they have their many idols, things other than God in which they rely for all things.

And even though God is all-encompassing for the Christian in a positive way, as Chesterton said, ultimately we make a critical distinction here: 

Jesus tells us to give to Caesar what is his, and to give God what is God’s. His Kingdom is not of this world, and we are strangers and aliens in this fallen world. 

God rules the world not only through His church, but through any of those He places in positions of political power and authority… all who should do His will.  

The world does everything in order to achieve pleasure, what it thinks will make it happy, give it comfort, and achieve peace in this life. 

We, on the other hand, are to recognize that God’s blessings on earth will always come in the midst of suffering, both in the sense that we receive everything passively through Him as a gift, and that He uses real forms of pain, what we usually call suffering, for our good.  

The world, when at the height of its own natural powers, assigns some men as oppressor and others as oppressed by the power of its Narrative or Mythology – and attempts to control life’s circumstances so that paradise can all at once or progressively be achieved by humanity’s innate goodness and rationality… 

As it further disconnects from God in its drive to do so, it must “tear[] down statues, edit[] old movies, put[] trigger warnings on old books [and even change them], and… cancel[] some historical figures [while] reinvent[ing others] as members of an oppressed group” (Cochran). 

We, however, are those who recognize that all men are God’s offspring, created in His image, and that the True Oppressor is the Demonic One. 

Furthermore, that all men are called to the act of dominion, that is to be stewards of God’s creation who humbly manage it and attempt to improve things in our backyards as we can – even as only Jesus’ return can restore it and make it whole!

We know our fathers were not perfect, but while being honest about their failings, we nevertheless honor them, covering their sins in mercy…

As the world worlds – that is, does what it will inevitably do – it will finally declare most everything of significance to be social constructs, making and assigning what is true… Truth is what works for them, for getting them what they want. This means that nothing is real in itself, by itself, but that by man’s words there is power to make all things new… to make them what the world wants them to be in order to liberate the good people from the bad oppressive ones. For such power is all there finally is…

The Christian however, does not assign, make or create truth but observes it, recognizing both power and authority. He recognizes that highly regarded and influential men of the Western world like Descartes, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Darwin, Marx, Freud, and Foucault were not only wrong in important respects, but disastrously so. For reality always limits us, as it is gloriously real apart from our words… because of the love of God, whose words created everything out of nothing… 

But the world doesn’t care. The world approves of abortion and even infanticide, encourages psychologically damaged kids to cut their bits off and be the other sex, says that marriage is whatever we want, and that any sexual activity is OK if it is consensual, with this age creeping down all the time… 

We are those who know that every life is valuable to God, that He created us male and female, that He means for one man and one woman to be together for life, and that the only proper place for sexual activity is the confines of Christian marriage, the good, true, and proper fireplace for the fire. 

The world, when its fallenness truly ripens (or rots) – and its arrogance feels unbounded – will shamelessly lie to get what it wants. It will say that being privileged is evil, that it is never right to act in accordance with prejudices and stereotypes, that families are whoever cares for you, that no one should ever be called an “illegal alien”, and that it would be best if all groups had an equality of outcome, with quotas being the answer…

The Christian should recognize that nurturing and educating children is theirs and our godly privilege, that fair observations which lead to generalizations about certain groups are part and parcel of life, that natural families have a special bond due to their being flesh and blood, that God implies it is a curse for foreigners to gain influence over a nation, and that He means for some to achieve greater rewards than others.

The world says, in Tower-of-Babel fashion, that we should be citizens of the world, that it would be good if we own nothing but share everything, that hierarchy is evil, that patriarchy is toxic and that we would almost always certainly be better off with women ruling us…

God says that He made all the nations and “mark[s] out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands”, that private property and personal ownership is a blessing and gift, that He chose the Apostle and their successors to rule the church, and that He was pleased to provide good men to lead His people… with women and children leaders being mentioned as curses…


Christians today have been so concerned about not offending anyone – and becoming as innocent as doves – that we never bothered to become as wise as serpents (Cochran)…

Folks, in case you haven’t noticed, the world doesn’t care that it is hypocritical. 

Work needs to get done after all. That men and women like you say you have godly “principles” and care what the Bible says is the problem, and you stand in their way. 

But always remember what Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:12-17:

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

So, this morning, it is appropriate that the Apostle Paul leads us as he does…

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light…

Even though the Bible translation we used this morning doesn’t clearly indicate this, Paul does go on to tell us to “make fruit of goodness, truth, and righteousness” and to “put your stamp of approval” on what pleases God (the text we read says “find out what pleases God” but that is not the best translation…).

He then says: 

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light….”

All is to become illuminated, enlightened… by God’s Word.

Again, the problem is that the world, stealing and then modifying some ideas from God’s word and will, think that it is Enlightened. 

And believers are not immune to this virus, this virus that actually does not cause sight, but blindness…

Even fellow Christians may persecute us, as full of the world’s Spirit, they are confident of what they condemn us for. 


This will leave us confused, as this is a burden and a sanctification process that is extremely difficult:  Being driven back to Scripture to find out what God’s law – God’s love – really looks like. 

But we should not give up, because Jesus said we will suffer.

Always keep in mind it is not our suffering or even confusion that saves us. 

It is the One who suffered for us who saves us in the midst of suffering… even when the world is working us over, gaslighting us… and even our own hearts are mistakenly condemning us….

Again, with spiritual blindness, you cannot “see” how to get to your intended destination. You do not even understand what that destination is..

In order to arrive safely to it, you must rely on the Light of the World… 

This, the Bible tells us, is going to get much harder. Jesus, after all, tells us the love of many will grow cold and asks whether when He comes back he will find faith on earth.

He says that He and the world are fundamentally at odds.

That if the world hated Him it will hate us.

That the way, the path, of light and not darkness, of true sight and not blindness, is narrow – and that few find it. 

Mark my words, you will be called a Fundamentalist and worse. 

Get ready. No matter how sweet you are, no matter how kind your words and actions, no matter how much good you do in the world, you will almost surely be called a prude, fascist, a racist, a Nazi, an anti-vaxxer, a homophobe, a transphobe, an Islamophobe, an anti-semite, and a sexist… maybe even in the church.  

Not because the Bible tells anyone to do truly evil things. 

Not because the Bible encourages us to hate anyone… 

Not because God wants to be against them and not for them (we know God desires that all would know the truth, to repent, to be saved). 

…but simply because as the world, in its blindness, does what its heart wants – as it chases false and foolish promises, hopes, desires – Christians who get in the way will need to be dealt with. 

They will need to be hated: that is, shamed, marginalized, excluded…

As Jesus’ death on the cross draws many to Himself, others will pass Calvary by en route to setting up new locations of persecution and punishment for those who are alien, foreign to it.

Where Christians can be lifted up and exposed to public shame and scandal. 

The Christian is like the immigrant to a new country that can never fit in, that never quite manages to adopt the other’s culture…

Because He can’t. Because this world is not our home. 


This will only get worse as with our Evil Woke World Government reveals itself to in fact be religion more and more and more. A friend of mine, Matt Cochran, puts it bluntly:

“G.K. Chesteron famously wrote: “You cannot evade the issue of God; whether you talk about pigs or the binomial theory, you are still talking about Him.” Well, the Marxist would say the same about class and the Queer Theorist the same about heteronormativity. Feminists likewise view everything through the lens of men oppressing women. Critical race theorists view everything through the lens of whites oppressing people of color. Every individual, institution, social custom, and field of knowledge is placed under the judgment of Critical Theory’s narratives[, that is, the pragmatic view of truth devoted to revolutionary progress…] Nothing is immune, including other religions. And in every one of those narratives, goodness is defined purely in the pragmatic terms of successful liberation of the oppressed from the oppressors…”

Baptized children of God, you who have been brought out of darkness into His glorious light…

…again, the godless among us borrow biblical metaphors like Enlightenment or being awake in order to undermine the Bible itself.

Of course, again, these Woke people claim that they are awake. 

They are not sleeping, but there eyes are opened…. They see, they “get it”. 

They see reality, what everything critical is all about.

But they don’t. They are deceivers, also being deceived.

Remember though you may not have been born physically blind, you too were born spiritually blind, in darkness.

Jesus, however, has healed our blindness and will keep us from falling into blindness again…

Even if your church, more concerned about what the world thinks then what God thinks, were to exclude you…

Like the blind man, you could, perhaps, be kicked out of your congregation… or perhaps, at least, lose any position of influence you may have…

But God will never cast away those who humbly depend on and even cling to His every word… 


Children of the Most High God, of the King of Heaven and Earth, listen:

We can imitate Jesus’ wisdom – arguably like how the man born blind did in our Gospel reading today! (John 9) – no matter how intelligent we are…

We can learn, we can see, how Jesus was wise to His enemies’ schemes and traps.  

When the world uses your principles against you and demands that you denounce this or that on their terms, you are under no obligation to do so. 

Rather, always make your condemnations on God’s terms and not your enemies’.

You see, the world’s accusations have no credibility because they, despite their power, have no credibility… because they have no respect for the truth. 

They undermine and twist true authority. 

And so when the “culture war” finds you as it comes knocking at your door…

…as revolutionary religion that is no respecter of a separation of church and state, that is no respecter of some distinction between religion and politics, shows its face more and more…

…and as the world inevitably infects the church and steadily gains influence within…

…remember God’s words, and remember the implications for all those who are caught up in it will be absolutely lethal … 

As Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians:

“They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God [ – yes God – ] sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness…”

O love not the world! 

Love not the world! 

This world that perishes and will ultimately burn in the flames!

Do not let that be you! 

Do not let that be your Christian leaders! 

Do not let that be your teachers, your pastors! 

And do not say “I am just a layperson, how can I know what is true?”


Please, my friends… for the sake of Jesus Christ, I urge you to get ready. 

Don’t think your Sunday meal here is enough! 

Fill yourself with the meat of His word!

Learn to love God’s ways – which are not ours! – now, this side of heaven! 

Drink His Spirit like never before…

Do things like devotions with spouse and/or kids, spend time each day reading the Bible, worship with all God’s people whenever it is offered, set aside time exclusively for prayer, and practice small acts of kindness you might not otherwise attempt.

And realize God may be calling you also to get others ready, particularly your family, your friends, and your closest neighbors… 

That you might say unto them: 

“Wake up, sleeper,

    rise from the dead,

    and Christ will shine on you.”

Because unlike you, even if others may never pick up a Bible to read it, they will read you, and they will see the light of Christ shining through you…

My brothers and sisters in Christ, as all these things happen to you remember how our passage from Isaiah ends:

“It pleased the Lord

    for the sake of his righteousness

    to make his law great and glorious.”

And remember always that no matter how far you might fall, failing yourself to reflect the light of Christ… failing yourself to be a light-bearer because you are dwelling in your own darkness… that Christ is always there, knocking at your door.

Yes, perhaps that creates some anxiety. After all, this is the Self-Same One who we heard this morning:

“lay[s] waste the mountains and hills

    and dr[ies] up all their vegetation;

turn[ing] rivers into islands

    and dry[ing] up the pools…”

And yet, unlike the power-brokers of the world, He is not looking to make you dependent on others, to demand reparations from you, threatening to fire you from your job until you conform to His artificial and unnatural whims.. or insisting you just be willing to endlessly “dialogue”, or rather just “listen”… 


His heart is the opposite of such as these, for His Heart of True Love has already overcome the world…

He is coming to eat with you, to spend time with you, to teach you to overcome the world too, and to offer you pardon and power, sweet and free forgiveness and a new life that goes and sins no more… 

For He has promised that He will never leave you nor forsake you, even if all else, father, mother, sister, brother, pastor, church, might…


Let’s close with a short passage from I John: 

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them.”


with notes:

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Posted by on March 19, 2023 in Uncategorized