“But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
Much commentary has been written on this particular teaching by Jesus, and rightly so. It is especially vital that we grasp the meaning of the phrase, “the light that is in thee.” John Peter Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures (Zondervan) gives us a good interpretation that, for the sake of brevity, I will quote here in part:
“the eye [bodily eye] is evil [not working properly] if it lose its power of perceiving, or begins to wander and miss the object set before it. Then the whole body will be full of darkness, or enveloped in night. But the darkening of the mind [the light that is in thee] has more sad consequences than that of the body… The capacity of the inner eye of reason to become the organ of knowledge is evidently here alluded to, although the expression has a more special meaning. It is not the inner eye of reason itself, but the light of the inner eye, or the Old Testament revelation so well know by the Pharisees and scribes, which had by their carnal views, been perverted into error…The real peril lies in the eye seeing falsely or double, because in that case the light of the sun will only serve to blind, which is worse than utter darkness….But just as when the external eye is not simple [clear, undivided] or double in its sight the outward light only serves to dazzle [blur], so also in reference to the inner eye and the light of revelation. How great is that darkness!”
Personally, I believe we are encountering the type of darkness in today’s society that Christ gave reference to in this powerful verse of scripture. And Lange gives an accurate portrayal: we have eyes but they are evil. Ezekiel, a prophet who was not unfamiliar with confronting the darkness of his day, describes it with these words, “Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house (Ezekiel 12:2).
I have talked for hours with many men and women over the years who have chosen not to align themselves, neither their hearts nor minds, with the Apostolic doctrine and holiness, not because they don’t understand it, but because their inner eye does not desire it. They reject the light.
Knowing of the light and walking in the light are two different things. As is knowing the truth and walking in the truth. When the heart is set on eternity and the promises that belong to us in Christ, our eyes naturally look for the light. We seek after it, desire it, yearn for it and the illumination that it brings to our lives and to our souls. Our inner eye sees clearly because it is free from distortion – it has no fellowship with darkness. It is only possible to serve one master. If our hearts desire fellowship with Jesus, then we must desire Him alone. Not money, not fame, not power, not the world, not carnal living — no one can serve God and Mammon. He is the only Light, the only way.
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18).
As Jesus taught, the eye is the only way that light becomes a factor to the body. Light makes it possible for one to see, move confidently, and fully understand the physical world. Such are the eyes of understanding; once enlightened, one may then come to know and thus understand. However, when one rejects knowledge, he, as a result of his own action, becomes blind. If we choose blindness, choose darkness, it is a greater force in our lives than if it were subjected upon us and we resisted it.
If those who have known Him and have walked with Him in the light of the revelation of His name, His Godhead, in the light of the baptism of the Holy Ghost in the light of righteousness, and in the light of godliness and holiness… if they should reject that light – and then set aside or pervert that light to satisfy their own will… then indeed how great is that darkness! Dear reader, take careful note. Christ makes this proclamation as a declarative statement. How Great is That Darkness! It is not a question.