Robert C. Oliver
Many are concerned with their physical health and rightly so. You only have one body and if you do not take care of it, it will soon deteriorate. Because of this we have seen many exercise programs, diet programs and other programs designed to help us keep our bodies fit. However, there are spiritual ailments, illnesses and diseases that are far more dangerous. They are more dangerous because they bare eternal results rather than temporal ones. As Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). John writing to the well beloved Gaius said, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (III John 2). The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians about their abuse of the Lord’s supper said, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” (I Cor. 11:30). This wasn’t physical weakness, sickness and death, but many of them were spiritually weak, spiritually sick and spiritually dead. Let us consider a few such illnesses. We will look at just one in this article and others in upcoming articles.
First, there are audio impairments or loss. In other words, some have loss of hearing to some degree. It is a simple fact that many cannot hear because they do not want to hear. As Stephen attempted to get the Jews to hear the word of God, the text says, “Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord” (Acts 7:57). A similar incident took place in Ephesus. As a Christian named Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defense unto the people, “when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians” (Acts 19:33-34). The fact is, many do not want to hear the truth! Isaiah said, “this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isa. 30:9-10). Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word; be instant in season, and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (II Tim. 4:2-3). Many can’t hear God’s call for salvation. Jesus quoting Isaiah said, “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matt. 13:15). Many can’t hear God’s command to obey His Son. The writer of the book of Hebrews stated, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9). Many can’t hear the promises of God concerning a home in heaven for those who are in Christ. Paul wrote, “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (II Tim. 2:10), Neither can they hear the promises of eternal damnation for the disobedient. Paul said that when the Lord returned he would come “taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (II Thess. 1:7-9). God’s word abounds with warnings of the consequences of failing to abide by His word.
It is also true that there are some who have been able to hear God’s commands and have obeyed them, becoming one of His children, only to be unable to hear the warnings about falling away and being lost again. The apostle Peter wrote, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment…” (II Pet. 2:20-21). The Hebrew writer warned, “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Heb. 4:11).
What happens to the hearing impaired? Peter quoted from Isaiah saying, “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:23). If one will not hear God, then God will not hear him. Isaiah said, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2). Years later Peter wrote, “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (I Pet. 3:12).
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