LOOKING CAN HAVE TREMENDOUS POWER
by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)
"Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God and there is none else."
Charles Spurgeon spoke this verse while he was testing the acoustics in a new sanctuary. Some time later he was summoned to the bedside of a man who was dying. The man had heard Spurgeon speak that Scripture while he was up in the balcony doing some work and God used that as the means for the man's salvation.
That man was looking for something, and when a person is actively looking, God doesn’t hide. Instead God makes Himself available, and one who is looking to Him will find Him. There is power in looking.
As the old cliché says, “the eyes are the window to the soul.” Or to put it in other words, the eyes are the gateway which leads to “our minds, our imaginations, and our hearts.”* Looking can be not only powerful but life changing as well. Let's take a look at the power of looking.
A little girl came to her mother and asked her, "How did human beings start?" The mother answered, "God made Adam and Eve and they had children, and so from that all human beings were made." Two days later, the girl asked her father the same question. The father answered, "Many years ago, there were monkeys and human beings evolved from those early monkeys.” As one could imagine the little girl was confused so she went back to her mother. She asked her mom, “How is it possible that you told me the human race was created by God, and Dad said they developed from monkeys?" The mother paused for just a moment and then answered, "Well, dear, it is very simple. I told you about my side of the family and he told you about his."
The Power of Looking Can Bring About Condemnation:
EXAMPLE ONE: EVE - In Gen. 3:1-6 we find such an example in Eve. In 3:6 we read, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
So we find that she looked took, and as a result she lost her place in the garden. She was deceived and the power of looking is what caused her downfall. Adam came along and saw what had happened, and he took a look at her, a look at the tree, and said, “Ah, looks great, go ahead and give me a bite too.” Therefore he also sinned and did so with his eyes wide open…the power of looking was all it took.
EXAMPLE TWO: LOT’S WIFE – In Gen. 19:26 we find another example, Lot's wife. In v. 17 of the same chapter God specifically warned them NOT to look back but she couldn't resist, and as a result she became a pillar of salt…the power of looking was all it took.
EXAMPLE THREE: ACHAN – In Josh. 7:21 we find yet another example in Achan. And boy, by the end of this ordeal he sure was achin.' God’s people were instructed NOT to take the spoils of this battle. But what did achin' Achan do? He went through a process of progression, starting with looking. He saw, he lusted/coveted, and then he took. Taking was the actual act of disobedience, but it started when he looked. The power of one look, then he took.
EXAMPLE FOUR: DAVID AND BATHSHEBA – In 2 Sam. 11:2 we find another example with David and Bathsheba. David looked, he lusted, and then he acted out. The lust of the eyes pushed him to take it even further, and he started down a slippery slope and didn't stop.
James 1:15, “Then, after desire has conceived it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
Men in particular are extremely visual creatures Jesus spoke a stark reality to portray how seriously we must take lusting and looking. He stated adultery is committed in the heart just from looking. He stated, albeit an hyperbole, that we should gouge out our eyes to prevent this. It's something we must take seriously.
This is nothing new. I mean look at the examples we are using from the Bible. Jonah too felt it to be so significant he made a covenant with the Lord: “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” The power of looking... be on guard, take precautions, looking can bring about condemnation.
The Power of Looking Can Bring About Justification:
We have looked at the negative side of the power of looking so far. Let's switch gears now and look at the positive side. How do we use looking in a God pleasing way and what can that do for us?
In Num. 21:8 we see the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness as they were being judged for their complaining, sin, griping, and lack of faith. God sent out serpents to bite them and kill them as judgment. But God also had Moses create a brass serpent on a pole and lift it up high into the air, and all the people had to do was look at this raised serpent and they would live. (The serpent was a foreshadowing of what Christ would do, a symbol or picture if you will, of Christ being made sin for us and being “lifted up”).
John 3:14, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up; And all who look to Jesus can live.” What does it say? All who look to who can live? To Jesus. It didn't say, “look to the pole, look to Moses, look back to what happened to cross the Red Sea.”
They couldn't be looking at the wrong thing, it had to be Jesus. Unfortunately, today we see the same thing happening. We see people looking at, or to, the wrong things: church, baptism, communion, saints, morality, their intent or sincerity. Looking at all of that does no good, it does no good if one is looking in the wrong direction at the wrong things. Our justification is through Christ and that is where we need to be looking.
The Power of Looking Can Bring About Sanctification:
In Matt. 17:8 we find something that the “inner circle” of disciples saw, the transfiguration of Jesus. The verse says, “When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.”
Peter, James, and John were what is frequently called the ‘inner circle’ of Jesus’ disciples. They were the three closest friends of Jesus. They were taken aside to a mountain top where they saw the transfiguration of Christ…in other words, they saw Him in His glory, bright shining as the sun. Some points to be taken from their experience:
- “They were never the same after this.' In fact, they changed radically.
- 'They took their eyes off everything and everybody except Jesus.
- 'Moses and Elijah also appeared that day.
- 'Didn’t say they saw Moses. (law)
- 'Didn’t say they saw Elijah - (prophets)
- 'Doesn’t say they saw each other. (distraction)
- 'Good advice - 'Keep your eyes off of people and on the Lord!'
- 'Who are we following, anyway?
- 'They saw their goal. (be conformed to His image)
- 'They saw their challenge.
- 'They saw the Truth.
- 'They saw the light.'”**
The power of looking was all it took to find real sanctification. And just as we find salvation and positional sanctification when we look to Jesus, the Christian can then go on to exercise and find progressive sanctification (moving on to holy living, being set apart from the world) when we take our eyes off of the temporary impediments of this life and keep our eyes focused (looking) on Jesus.
EXAMPLE: When Peter walked on the water during the storm he began to sink when he ‘saw’ the winds and waves around him, but when he was looking at Jesus he was safe and secure.
What’s the first thing you look to every morning? Toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash, or at least wish your spouse would? A cup of coffee? The morning newspaper? Going to the bathroom? Okay, after the bathroom. I'll give you that one.
Ps. 5:3, “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I will direct my prayer to You, and I will look up expectantly.” Daily sanctification, in the progressive sense, is just a look away. Then, once you enter into your day, you'll start to look at it, and others, differently. Philippians 2:4 tells us, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
EXAMPLES: The Sheep and the Fields.
In Matt. 9:36 we read, “When he saw the crowds, he was moved with compassion, because they were harassed and helpless and scattered, like a sheep without a shepherd.” Don't just look to yourself, your “own things.” Look also at the needs of others, “the things of others.”
John 4:35, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are ripe for harvest.” You will never look at human beings the say way again when you start looking at them through sanctified eyes, looking at each person as one with an eternal soul that will continue on forever.
The Power of Looking Can Bring About Glorification:
1 John 3:2, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be, has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
Well, some things have been made known. What are some of those things?
-The curse will be lifted.
-The power of temptation will lose its grip.
-Sin will lose its power.
- Sickness and death will be overcome.
- In fact, “death will be swallowed up in victory.”
- Disappointment and discouragement will be things of the past.
- Lust, greed, envy, jealousy, heartache, and pain will be gone forever.
Another power from looking, perhaps the most powerful and certainly the most joyful, is the power that comes from looking for the return of our Savior. Looking for His return to right all wrongs and to re-create paradise lost to Paradise restored. That blessed hope of the glorious return of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Cor. 4:18
“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
*Inspired by, and adapted from, “Just One Look” by Jerry Shirley.