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What did Jesus mean when He said, “The eye is the lamp of the body” (Matthew 6:22)?

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Jesus said, "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light" (Matthew 6:22). Here our Lord describes the eye as a lamp which lights the entire body. Our eyes are the entrance to our hearts and minds and, as such, they provide a doorway to our very souls. When He referred to “good” eyes, He meant eyes that not only see well, but also perceive well. It is not only what we see, but how we perceive what we see that makes the difference between godliness and ungodliness, between light and darkness. Bad eyes lead to bad perception, but if our eyes are good, our whole person will be illuminated. If we are in a lighted room, we see everything clearly. We can move around obstacles and locate whatever we’re looking for. But walking in darkness results in stumbling, falling, and groping for some secure thing to hang on to.

Our eyes can be used to see that which is good or evil, that which is beneficial or harmful, and the things we see and perceive affect our whole being. If we perceive goodness, that will radiate outward from within our hearts and minds. But if we allow our eyes to linger on evil, we are so affected by what we see that darkness actually begins to emanate from within and can corrupt us and those around us.

The Bible tells us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. That’s his great deception—to make people think they’ve found the light when in fact it’s the darkness of false light (2 Corinthians 11:14). His intention is to blind us to truth and corrupt our minds, and he uses our eyes to gain entrance to our hearts. He parades before us all manner of evil, from the deluge of pornography on the internet to the endless barrage of the world’s goods that appeal to our materialistic impulses. He deludes us into believing that these things will make us happy, fulfilled people, when all the while they are robbing us of the very joy we long for. He wants us to allow more and more darkness into our minds through the books we read, the movies we watch, and the images we allow our eyes to linger upon. In that way, the light of the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ is obscured to us. Although the light is everywhere, like the sun at noonday—blazing, blinding light—if our eyes are continually focusing on sin, the light we perceive is no light at all. If we want to be filled with the true light, we have to turn from sin, repent, and ask God to forgive us, cleanse us, and open our spiritual eyes. Then we must commit to being careful where we allow our eyes to go. We guard our hearts and souls by guarding our eyes.

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What did Jesus mean when He said, “The eye is the lamp of the body” (Matthew 6:22)?
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This page last updated: February 26, 2024