To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God…
Should anyone ask, "What does Christianity want to do in the world?" point the inquirer to this verse —
I. "TO OPEN THEIR EYES."
1. Any religion that proposes to open our eyes is presumptively a true religion. Superstition says, "Keep your eyes closed." Christianity, then, does not want to shut me up in some prison, priest-locked, roofed in with superstition, wound round with darkness.
2. There are no blind Christians. The Christian is a wide-awake man — all reason, all life. Christianity is rationalism because it opens the eyes.
3. Do not, however, suppose you understand it in a moment. This is a daily process in our education — namely, seeing things more clearly, noting their relations, proportions, and final issues.
4. There is no mission so sublime! It is almost like creating a man to give him sight. The greatest gift of man to man is the gift of idea, thought, new vision. To open the eyes is to give wealth. The poet cannot give me the acres of my lord, but he can give me the landscape that belongs to the poorest of the children of men.
II. "TO TURN THEM FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT." That is upon the same line of thinking? Not to open their eyes to see the darkness as seven fold greater than they dreamed it to be. Yet men will follow any demagogue who will delude and befool them, and turn their back upon the man who wants to lead them out of darkness into light. What a turning is this! Who can measure the distance from darkness to light? These are terms that transcend arithmetic.
III. There is another turning — namely, "FROM THE POWER OF SATAN UNTO GOD." Christianity is the upward movement of the world. "Nearer God!" is the watch cry. We know what is meant by "the power of Satan" — the power that victimises us, that gives us promises which end ever in disappointments; the power that unmans us, breaks upon our self-control, mocks our prayers, and points us to the grave as the sad end.
IV. So far this is in some sense negative. Now we come to what may be termed a blessing more positive: "THAT THEY MAY RECEIVE FORGIVENESS OF SINS." No man ever invented that! Man has invented forgetfulness of sins; but Christianity will not administer narcotic to me; it will fight the battle right out, and the end shall be "forgiveness." "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin." Conclusion: Is it worth our while trying to open men's eyes, etc. In this faith I would serve and count all other programmes mean as lies. Then will come the "inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me" — new character, new brotherhood, new riches. This is what Christianity wants to do; and when this work is done, earth will be heaven.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
WEB: to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'