A message by Pastor Bill Mann on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, at King’s Grace Fellowship.
2 Corinthians 4
I was reading the other day to my online Journal Group (“Pastor Bill’s Christian Life Group”), and this chapter impacted me. It taught in unambiguous language that people refuse to believe the gospel because they have been blinded. Questions began to pop in my head after reading this passage. How have they been blinded? And what can’t they see?
It didn’t take a massive amount of study to answer those questions because it was clearly articulated in the text. But it caused me to look at this passage in light of the unrest we are experiencing in our country. In case you haven’t noticed, we are a divided country. A biblical principle states that a “kingdom” or nation, divided amongst itself cannot stand.
From a perspective that does not include Christ (a natural view), the lines are drawn. Republican, Democrat, gay, straight, male, female, trans, black, white, brown, yellow, religious, atheist, agnostic, Catholic, Protestant, and the list goes on and on and on. There is no shortage of things that divide us.
We are in trouble, folks!
I want to talk for a bit about the problem and the only solution to our mess.
#1 – Satan Has Blinded People
Let’s look first at some scripture that describes the problem from 2 Corinthians 4.
3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the God of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel . . . should shine on them.2 Corinthians 4:3–4 (NKJV)
Paul begins this chapter by referring to what he wrote in chapter 3 about the New Covenant’s glorious splendor in that Christ’s death removed the veil that separated man from God. As a primary tenant of the Christian faith, he wanted his readers to understand Christ’s centrality and access.
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.1 Corinthians 1:18 (NKJV)
The cross of Christ makes no sense to those who have been blinded by Satan. Paul proclaims elsewhere that all believers are in a war that is not of this world.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)
So, we can see that believers worldwide are in a spiritual battle against Satan, who has blinded eyes and deafened ears of those who refuse to believe.
How is Satan, “The God of This World?”
“The phrase “god of this world” (or “god of this age”) indicates that Satan is the significant influence on the ideals, opinions, goals, hopes and views of the majority of people. His influence also encompasses the world’s philosophies, education, and commerce. The thoughts, ideas, speculations and false religions of the world are under his control and have sprung from his lies and deceptions.“
Jesus speaking to the seventy who had just returned from their evangelistic endeavors, said:
18 . . . “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.Luke 10:18 (NKJV)
Elsewhere in Revelation the revelatory writes:
7 . . . war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.Revelation 12:7–9 (NKJV)
Paul, writing to the Ephesians, mentions how God gives us freedom through Christ after living according to the world’s point of view. He names (by the Holy Spirit) Satan as “The prince of the power of the air.”
One commentary suggests that “In each place where Satan . . . is mentioned in 2 Corinthians he is seen to be actively seeking to hinder the work of God.“
And so, he does, causing men and women spiritual blindness. But the good news is that the gospel breaks through the deception and can bring clear vision to those seeking to be free from Satan’s grip. Jesus further exclaimed:
18 . . . I tell you, . . . I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.Matthew 16:18 (ESV)
#2 – Fragile Jars Of Clay That Carry The Perfect Message
The second thing I saw from our text was how incredible it is to be entrusted with “The Message.”
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.2 Corinthians 4:7 (NKJV)
In Eugene Peterson’s “The Message,” this verse comes out even better.
7 If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.2 Corinthians 4:7 (The Message)
Colin Kruse, in his commentary on 2 Corinthians said:
“Earthenware vessels were a commonplace [item] in virtually every home in the ancient Middle East. They were inexpensive and easily broken. Unlike metal vessels (which could be repaired) or glass ones (which could be melted down and the material reused), once broken, earthenware vessels had to be discarded. They were thus cheap and of little intrinsic value. Paul may have had in mind the small earthenware oil-lamps sold so cheaply in the market-places. If so, ‘the light of the gospel’ would be the treasure, while the apostles in their frailty would be the earthenware lamps from whom the light was made to shine in the world.“Colin G. Kruse
I submit to you that this notion applies to all Christians, everywhere and in every age!
As I said at the beginning, I wanted to talk about the problem and the only solution to our mess.
The problem is people are blinded, not because they are horrible immoral people refusing to believe the truth of the gospel. They have been blinded, on purpose by Satan, the god of this world, who is not happy that anyone should see the gospel’s light. They just think they are in control, but they are not. Satan vigilantly works to keep them from the life-giving light of the gospel.
The solution is “The Message” inside us who have been forgiven and reconciled to God by that Message. But we are fragile vessels indeed, bringing the broken pieces of our lives to the cross for redemption. We are learning that God is not only reconciling us to Himself but that He is reconciling us to our fellowman as well.
But we don’t have it all together all the time. We are growing in Christ, learning a new way to live, and a new way to love. Yet, we must not let our fragility become an excuse for bad behavior or ignorance. We must run to Jesus with genuine hearts, humility, and confess our disconnects. We must further guard our hearts and actions, understanding that Satan wants to destroy what God has done in us. This is why Peter said:
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.1 Peter 5:8–9 (NKJV)
Wayne Grudem, in his commentary on 1 Peter 5 said:
“The opposite of this sober watchfulness is a kind of spiritual drowsiness in which one sees and responds to situations no differently than unbelievers, and God’s perspective on each event is seldom if ever considered.”Wayne A. Grudem
Friends, it’s our duty as Christ-followers to evaluate our lives in the light of God’s Word. We must bring everything into the conformity of scripture.
If the people we are to witness to refuse to believe, let it be because Satan has blinded their eyes instead of seeing our lives’ inconsistencies.
As we begin to prepare our hearts for “The Return”, let us humble ourselves before God, pray, and seek His face. Let us turn from our inconsistencies, and then He will hear from heaven, forgive our sins (of inconsistency), and heal our land.
When we are “revived”, back to life as we are supposed to be, then God can work through the jars of clay that we are to open the eyes of those whom Satan has blinded.