Spiritual Blindness

Q. In John 9:41″ Jesus said, “If you were blind you would not be guilty of sin, but now that you claim to see your sin remains.”

The part about being blind makes you not guilty of sin–to whom would that apply? Does that mean that if someone is blind to their sin they’re not accountable for it in some way? Or does it mean that if they didn’t know it was a sin, but they acted in good conscience, they’re o.k.?

A. John 9 is about Jesus healing a man born blind and the controversy it created among the Pharisees. From the rest of the chapter we know that Jesus was speaking metaphorically to the Pharisees in verse 41 by comparing blindness to the inability to understand the Scriptures. He was saying that had they not been capable of understanding, He would not have held them accountable for their sin.

But having claimed that they were capable by presenting themselves as experts, they became accountable. Their sin was their refusal to recognize Jesus as their Messiah even though He was fulfilling Messianic prophecies from their own Scriptures right before their eyes.

This analogy helps us “see” that children who are not intellectually mature enough to understand the consequences of sin, along with those who are not mentally competent to do so, are not held accountable for their sins like the rest of us are. If they die before they’re old enough to understand, or if they never become mentally competent, they will go to be with the Lord as if they had never sinned.

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