Eyes of the Heart Enlightened

“…having the eyes of your heart enlightened…” (Ephesians 1:18)

Bible Reading: Ephesians 1:18

The goal of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Christians was that they might know God (Ephesians 1:17). In the verses that follow, he identifies three things in particular that he wants them to know.

Before reflecting on these, it is worth pausing to consider the immediate effect in view in asking for the Spirit’s illumination. Remember, he had prayed that God would give his readers the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (v. 17). Next, he adds, “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know…” (v. 18). That is the immediate consequence of the Holy Spirit’s illuminating activity – he enlightens “the eyes of the heart.”

This unusual expression is important. It points to a specific aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work within us. The Spirit not only enables our minds to have clear and correct conceptions of truth, but his influence penetrates deeper than just our minds – it extends to the “heart”, the core of our being. It results in deep assurance and conviction, joyful acceptance, and firm resolve. It refashions our inward being and consequently, the way we act.

We cannot stress too much this aspect of the work of the Spirit. It is what transforms mere intellectual or mental understanding into deeply held, life-transforming inner convictions. We often lament that we know a lot more in our heads than we are convinced of in our hearts.  Some think this is a mere matter of feelings – that what we are talking about here is emotions.

However, this is not what Paul has in mind. True, when the Spirit opens our eyes to the truth, he also awakens deep feelings. But his work is not simply to make us feel the things we comprehend. It is to bring us to the point where we believe them with an assured, rock-solid faith. The great Protestant Reformer John Calvin believed that the primary work of the Holy Spirit within us was to produce faith. That is what happens when the eyes of our hearts are opened. We not only see things clearly, but we believe them fiercely and respond to them appropriately.

We never reach a stage in our life with God where we get beyond our need for the enlightening influence of the Spirit. There is a fearful danger in thinking that we do – that we know enough to be able to learn on our own. While self-learning may lead to a measure of intellectual or theoretical knowledge, it will never produce the knowledge that satisfies the heart and renews both character and life.

It should be our constant prayer that God will grant us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. Only in that way can we truly come to know him and experience the fullness of life that he intends for us.

Closing Thoughts:

  • Have you experienced the Spirit opening the eyes of your heart, producing an assured knowledge that leads to settled belief, inner joy, and determined action?
  • Do you make a practice of asking for spiritual enlightenment when you read the Bible, or listen to it being explained or preached?

– Andrew Young