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The twentieth-century British pastor D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “If we only spent more of our time in looking at Christ we should soon forget ourselves.” Fixing our eyes on Christ is the first step and the entire path of the Christian life. We don’t look to Christ in faith to be saved and then look to ourselves to persevere. We trust Christ alone as our Savior and look to Christ alone and follow Him as our Lord. In order to look to Christ as our Savior and Lord, we need new eyes and a new heart. We are born spiritually dead and blind in sin, with our eyes fixed on ourselves and our own glory, but God the Holy Spirit strips the inherited blindfolds from our eyes and graciously rips out our hard hearts and gives us new hearts that love Him and new eyes that see Him. Yet even as Christians who have been declared righteous by God the Father through faith in the perfect life and sacrifice of God the Son, Jesus Christ, we remain sinful this side of heaven and daily struggle against the world, our flesh, and the Devil. In our struggle against our own self-centered sin, it might seem like an obvious remedy to focus our eyes on the sin itself in our attempt to deal with it. Yet, God says otherwise.
The author of Hebrews writes, “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:1–2). As we grow in the grace and holiness of our Lord, being enabled by God’s free grace to die more and more unto sin and live unto righteousness, we’re called neither to fix our eyes on ourselves nor to fix our eyes on our own sins that entangle themselves around our ankles. We’re called to run with endurance by looking to Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of our faith. We are united to Christ and are made able and willing to turn our eyes upon Jesus — away from ourselves — so that by looking to Him, we are motivated to joyful, cross-bearing obedience as we “walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him . . . for all patience and longsuffering with joy” (Col. 1:10–11). For when we take our eyes off our Lord and set our eyes on ourselves, the Christian life becomes not only miserable but impossible.
Our greatest need before conversion is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and our greatest need after conversion is the same gospel. We never move on from the gospel, only deeper into the gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). As we continue to believe the gospel, our eyes remain centered on Christ, and if they are centered on Christ, they are centered on God Himself, who is not simply at the top of our priority list, but the fountain and center of every priority in all of life.