But the god of this age is also a mindset or a worldview. It includes the ideals, opinions, goals, and hopes of the majority of the people in any given culture or people group. It influences their philosophy of life, their religion, their education, the things they buy, and the places they go. If you were to sum it all up, the god of this age focuses mostly on the here and now, not eternity. The truth of God’s Word contradicts what they want to do, so they refuse to believe it.
It is through this world system that Satan blinds people. Think back to an Old Testament example of this – Pharaoh. His worldview, his system of belief, was centered around false gods. In Exodus 5:2 he said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”
This is the view of humankind in our natural state; we do not know the Lord. We are sinners and without a godly influence, we will naturally follow the desires of the flesh. The entire world system caters to these desires. It tells us to pursue our wants and our cravings, but then it blinds us to the heartache and pain that results from such a lifestyle.
That was Pharaoh, and through the first five plagues, he hardened his heart against God and God’s messenger, Moses. But when you get to the sixth plague, the text says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. So, this blindness becomes self-perpetuating. It’s like God says, “you want to be blind? OK, I’ll help you be blind.” And God uses that blindness to display His power.
Now I want to make a couple of things perfectly clear. First, God is fully sovereign. Satan functions under the authority of God and Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, “all authority is given to me in heaven and on earth…” So, Satan can only do what God permits – think Job, for example. Second, God has revealed Himself to all people everywhere through His creation. They make the choice to not believe in Him and Paul says in another place they are without excuse.
But think about how different your life would be if you’d been raised in a nation or a family that embraced Buddhism or Hinduism, or Islam. All your childhood you were taught to worship and serve those gods. That belief in a false religious system makes you blind to the reality of the true God. Satan wants to preserve that blindness.
In light of this, I’ve often asked people to pray for our Bible teaching programs, especially as they go out over the airwaves and the internet in English and 22 other languages. I’ve asked people to pray that the Spirit of God would remove the blindness from the spiritual eyes of the listeners. I’ve asked them to pray that God would push back Satan and his forces of darkness that are blinding the minds of listeners so that when they hear the Gospel, they can exercise the will to believe.
We know that God isn’t willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, Second Peter 3:9. He desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, First Timothy 2:4. So, to pray and ask God to remove this spiritual blindness from people’s minds and hearts is certainly within His will and we can do it with confidence.
Just like a person who is physically blind can’t see light, these people can’t see the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ. They’re oblivious to it. And you know something, even religious people can be blind to the light of the Gospel. You might recall when Jesus healed a blind man. The record is in John chapter nine, and I encourage you to read that account for yourself. But at the very end of the chapter, the Pharisees came to Jesus and asked him a question. They said, “Are we blind also?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore, your sin remains.” They were religious, but they were spiritually blind.
Like many today they couldn’t see the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who was and is the image of the God they actually claimed to worship. Satan had blinded their minds through their unbelief – and their embrace of his system; a system that’s described in the first part of verse two as dishonest and deceitful.
That spiritual blindness and Satanic system later characterized the church under Constantine, right up to the time of the Reformation and beyond. Millions were kept in darkness both intellectually and spiritually so they could be more easily controlled by religious authorities. Instead of bringing people into the glorious liberty of the Gospel, they enslaved them to false systems controlled by a state church. We are still suffering the effects of that today.
What about you, my friend? Have you discovered the glorious Gospel of Christ? Are you walking in the light and freedom He gives to those who love and obey Him? Or do you persist in your unbelief? If you harden your heart against the truth, you may reach a point where God will allow that process to accelerate, and He may actually help it along. If you think that’s not possible, read Romans chapter one.
I know people, and perhaps you do too, who once embraced the truth and made that the guide of their lives. But as life went on, they began to make a long series of what, in their minds, were little compromises. And today they embrace and celebrate the very things God’s Word calls an abomination. Slowly but surely, their unbelief lowered a veil of darkness across their hearts and minds and today I fear for their eternal destiny.
There is yet one more fact that helps us better understand the light of the Gospel.
The Final FACT is,
It Will be Radiated in Darkness
This is inevitable. When light appears, darkness immediately begins to recede. Not only that but the deeper the darkness, the greater effect the light has. If you light a candle at dusk, its rays are hardly noticed. But light that same candle in the dark of midnight, and it lights up the whole room!
When our children were small, we visited a coal mine in Ashland, Pennsylvania. It was no longer a working mine but had been preserved as a tourist attraction. We rode a small electric train down a well-lighted sloping shaft until we were deep underground. Then we left the train and walked to the spot where miners had actually performed their dangerous and dirty work, digging out the coal by hand labor.
After visiting the work-face of the mine, we returned to the train for our trip back to the surface. Once everyone was onboard the train something unexpected happened. The lights went off! In reality, the lights were turned off. Talk about darkness! I put my finger on my nose and couldn’t see it. Imagine how much light just a single match would’ve made in that pitch-black tunnel. Of course, they turned the lights back on and we made it safely to the surface. But I will never forget how oppressive that darkness felt.
In introducing this fact of the Gospel to us Paul goes back to Genesis to the creation account. He says that the very same God who commanded the light to shine out of the pre-creation darkness is the one who has now shined His light into the deep darkness of our sinful hearts. And He did that to give us the illumination that comes from knowing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. There’s a lot of truth in that sentence from verse six, so let’s look deeper.
God has shined in our hearts. In my earlier illustration from the coal mine, those early miners wore a carbide lamp on their heads when they went into the mine so they could see where they were going. You and I, who follow Christ, carry, in our hearts, a light that’s kindled by the Spirit of God because He lives in us. And we also have the Word of God as described by David in Psalm 119:105 being, “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Light is always revealing; it shows us things that were previously hidden. And darkness can never overpower the light. John points this out in the opening verses of his gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not [overcome] it.”
Without the light of the knowledge of God, His glory is hidden from us, we can’t see it. And it’s this knowledge of God that Satan attempts to blind us to. Notice the similar wording in verses four and six, the glorious Gospel and the glory of God. Satan knows that if we embrace the knowledge of God our lives will be gloriously transformed. Incidentally, knowledge here is not mere intellect, knowing about something; instead, it is the knowledge of experience.
And this glory of God is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ. The face is our primary form of identity, it is how we recognize each other. Our face shows who we are and how we are feeling. To see, with our spiritual eyes, the face of Jesus Christ is to see God. And when we see Him, our lives are flooded with light! We become reflectors of His glory and we need not cover our face as Moses did, because the glory we reflect is a growing and advancing glory!
Because of God’s glorious light flooding our hearts, we proclaim or herald His message, not our own. It’s not about us, it’s all about Him. As Paul mentioned in chapter three, verses five and six, without Christ, we are totally inadequate to be His messengers. But we are His servants and servants to each other as members of the Body of Christ.
And notice our message, “Christ Jesus as Lord.” This truth is central to the Gospel but is often minimized or ignored. What does it mean to have Jesus as Lord of my life? It means that He is in charge; He gives direction and I joyfully and willingly submit to His lordship.
Let me conclude with some familiar verses of Scripture. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority [that makes Him, Lord] has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you [that’s His lordship]; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
As you and I are going, as we are baptizing, as we are teaching, the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ is being radiated through our lives into the darkness of our world. And that light is illuminating the spiritual darkness in various people groups all over the world and many are being called out to be disciples of Jesus.
What is your response to the light of the Gospel? Is your mind still veiled by unbelief? Or has the glorious light of Jesus Christ shined in your heart? He wants to shine His light through you to a world lost in deep darkness.