THREE BASIC PROBLEMS OF FALLEN MANKIND
In chapter eight we have a case involving immorality; in chapter nine, the case of the blind man; in chapter ten, a further definition of the case in chapter nine; and in chapter eleven, the case of the death of Lazarus. In these three cases we have the matters of sin, blindness, and death, the three main characteristics of fallen human beings.
Sin is one of the basic problems of fallen mankind. In chapter eight we have an instance of a particular act of sin. However, in this chapter the Lord Jesus goes on to speak regarding the sin that dwells in our nature. In 8:34 He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.” This chapter reveals that the Son of God can set us free from the bondage of sin (v. 36). This bondage is not merely related to outward sins, to sins in our conduct, but it is related especially to inward sin, to the sin that dwells in our nature. Paul speaks very clearly about this indwelling sin in Romans chapter seven: “But if what I do not will, this I do, it is no longer I that do it but sin that dwells in me” (v. 20).
In Philippians 3:6 Paul could say of himself that “as to the righteousness which is in the law” he had “become blameless.” But in Romans 7:7 and 8a we see that Paul could not overcome the inward sin of coveting: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! But I had not known sin except through the law; for I had not known coveting except the law had said, You shall not covet. But sin, taking occasion through the commandment, wrought in me coveting of every kind.” Paul may have succeeded in keeping the first nine of the Ten Commandments, but he had no way to keep the last one, the commandment concerning coveting. Paul came to realize that within his fallen nature there is something called “sin.” In Romans 7 he could say that this sin deceived him and killed him (v. 11), and that he himself was “sold under sin” (v. 14). Therefore, Paul could say, “For what I do, I do not acknowledge; for what I will, this I do not practice; but what I hate, this I do.…So now it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me” (vv. 15, 17).
In chapter eight of the Gospel of John the Lord Jesus is actually dealing with indwelling sin. Some may claim that they do not commit sins outwardly, but who is without sin inwardly? Apparently, in your outward behavior, you may not commit sins. Nevertheless, you have sin dwelling in your nature. This indwelling sin brings us into bondage.
We need to be set free, delivered, from this bondage not by our own efforts but by the life-giving Christ. What we need is another life, a life that can overcome sin and also carry out God’s purpose and do His will. This life, the divine life, is Christ Himself. Therefore, we need Christ to be our life. If we have Christ inwardly as our life, then we shall be set free from the bondage of sin. The revelation in John 8 is that the Lord sets us free from the bondage of sin through being life to us.
Another basic problem of fallen mankind is blindness. Blindness issues in darkness. When we are blind, everything is in darkness. The case of the blind man in John 9 is the case of a man blind from birth (v. 1), not the case of someone who became blind due to illness.
As fallen people, from birth we all are sinful and blind. This means that we were born sinful and blind. Moreover, we were born dead. From birth we have these three basic problems—sin, blindness, and death. The gospel is preached not only to sinners who commit sins, but also to sinners who are sin. In ourselves we are sin, for we were born sinful. We were born sin. As we have seen, we were also born blind and dead; that is, we were born in darkness and in death. For this reason, in Ephesians 2:5 Paul says that God made us alive together with Christ, even when we were dead in offenses.
Because we were born sinful, blind, and dead, we need a gospel that can solve these problems. We need a gospel that can set us free from the bondage of sin and can give us sight. By receiving sight through the gospel, we also receive marvelous light to see the things concerning God and our destiny. We also need a gospel that can resurrect us. We need not only to be healed—we need to be resurrected. A salvation that frees us from sin, gives us sight and light, and resurrects us will usher us into God’s dwelling place and bring us into the Holy of Holies. Eventually, in the Gospel of John we are brought into the Holy of Holies. We are brought into the dwelling place of God.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 29, by Witness Lee)