"The light of the body is the eye."

Luke 11:34-36.

[04 1863 378] Light manifests the heart of man; but man in his natural darkness avoids and flies from it. On the other hand, in Christ is life, and the life is the light of men. This is grace; and where God acts according to the efficacy of grace, one becomes light in the Lord, receiving the true light in Him.

In Luke Jesus develops in a moral point of view the state of souls, the phases of the combat between light and darkness. He has sown the good seed, God's word; it is perfectly adapted to the wants of man's heart. If the heart is hard, the seed does not enter, and Satan takes it away. If the natural affections receive the word with joy, without anything and because of nothing, produced in the conscience, the seed springs up immediately; but then the first difficulties cause it to wither away. Even where appearances are better, the thorny cares of this life choke its growth and hinder fruit.

It is not the quality nor perfection of the light which is in question here, as in John; but the manner in which the heart receives it. None could deny that Jesus cast out demons, but some imputed the power to Beelzebub; others sought a sign from heaven. Thus, the effect was that the heart manifested what was within, and betrayed its real state. All comes out because the light of God is there; and wherever it shines, it brings out all sorts of difficulties, because it forces every one to show before God what he is. When the heart is stirred, it is like a sink. The more perfect the light, the more the effect is produced. It compels each to take his side for or against the light. Things find their level in the presence of God. We should desire God to act with all the power of His Spirit, that those who love the light may come to the full perfection of it. If it makes our sins evident, it is that they may be put away; for He who is light, makes also expiation for sin.

The power of Satan (Luke 11:21-23) seeks to keep souls in darkness. Are you then for Christ or against Him? A middle course is impossible where He presents Himself; the heart must decide one way or the other; and this settles the question of Satan's power, for "greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world." It is not the light which fails, but faith.

In our gospel, however, the light of the body is not that of the sun, but the eye: because the subject matter is the state of him who receives light from God, and not its manifestation in Christ. It is the eye, the organ of our moral vision; it is the aim and object of the heart. All depends on what is really before the soul when it is a question of seeing clearly. It is certain that all is right in Christ, and that there is enough grace in Him to cause the light to jet out. But morally the light is the eye; and it is important that the light which is in us be not darkness. It is not a question either of ourselves or of a sign from heaven. Faith is not founded on miracles: if its only basis is signs, evidences, etc., it is worth nothing; if it is not a conviction in the conscience, it is not the life of God. Christ had confidence in nothing of the kind (John 2:24, 25). "My sheep hear my voice," instead of seeing miracles, and so believing.

So with Elijah. The Lord was not in the whirlwind, nor in the thunder, but in the still small voice. As to this, one can hardly distinguish between the written word and the living Word: nothing is hidden from it. It discerns even the "thoughts and intents of the heart." It manifests God to the heart and the heart to God. It is the soft voice that we need. There is in the heart such want as causes that the light, while condemning us, does not affright so much as it attracts.

Why was that an "evil generation?" Because they sought a sign. In presence of the light, they asked for a demonstration of the truth. The only sign given is that of Jonah the prophet — too late for that generation to be spared. It was the sign of death and resurrection, and these realities, not signs, were, in the case of Jesus, because He was rejected. His rejection brings on the judgment. Jonah was a preacher without miracles to Nineveh that repented and was saved. Solomon, too, did no signs; yet the queen of the south came from far to hear his wisdom. Does not all condemn that generation? A greater than Solomon or Jonah was there. What was the preaching of the one or the wisdom of the other compared with the light of God in Christ? In truth, it was an evil generation.

Thank God! "the light of the body is the eye," because we thereby judge and desire to be freed from the evil that the light discovers in us. This is the aim of God; even as a man lights a candle and sets it on a candlestick, that people may see the light. There has never been a time nor circumstances so painful as those of Jesus. The priests were the most distant from God; the righteousness of the Pharisees was but hypocrisy. But those who waited for redemption in Jesus, owned it in the babe of Bethlehem; and Anna spoke of it to all such: God had given even then enough light for a witness to the godly.

Now it is a question of conscience. "The light of the body is the eye." It is a matter of eyesight when seeing is the point. "Therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness." If a light do not manifest what you are, it is worthless. The great matter is not whether you can discern between the true and the false outside you; but the light must enter you, and there reveal everything, unveiling your own state to yourselves. Then there is blessing. "Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness." If there is anything for your aim but God's glory, the light is darkness. If the eye is not single, it is evil. There is encouragement here: withdraw not from the light, however painful its action on the conscience. We have not to judge the Word of God; the Word judges the saved soul, penetrates and holds it fast. When a man holds me so that I cannot escape, I know he is strong. "Come, see a man who told me all things that ever I did." The word seizes us; the result is that we are judged and purified. God lays bare all our sin for us to get free from it; for grace and truth are come by Jesus Christ. The truth judges, but it is grace withal. The same Jesus who sounds to the bottom of the heart all the sin that is there, has washed me from my sins in His own blood. If He stirs up all the evil that is in us, it is to take it away. The light in Him is for us always grace. The man who dreams of his reputation, in avoiding the light, avoids grace along with it. God does not leave but love us. He has imposed on Himself the task of blessing us, and of doing us all the good He can. We know that there is in us a quantity of things that the light manifests. Man, in presence of God's purity, is so unclean that his very clothes are ashamed of him. (Job 9, Job 42.) Why did God so press Job? He let Satan act to manifest the evil Himself saw already. How many things there are in us which are not of Christ, but of ourselves! God introduces the light to bring out the hindrances to our enjoyment of communion with Himself. How much becomes a source of sorrow because it connects itself with ourselves! If self-seeking enters the heart of a Christian, there is misery. These things must be got rid of, in order that there may be nothing between God and us: God acts to this end; and this is the history of the Christian life. God cannot bless us in evil, whatever His blessing spite of it. But he does act in grace; and if His action is purity, holiness, light, it is also grace. Confide in Him with entire reliance. He purifies you that you may walk so as to enjoy the brightness of His face.