I. 2Corinthians 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
II. Verse four describes the situation our world is presently in. “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel.”
A. There is a power at work in this world blinding men from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. It is Satan himself.
B. Is it surprising that Paul refers to Satan as “the god of this world” or “the god of this age”?
1. God rules over all, of course, but just like He allows earthly rulers to have some authority, so He has allowed Satan to rule over this world in certain ways.
2. In John 12:31 and 14:30 and 16:11, Jesus refers to Satan as "the ruler of this world."
3. "The whole world lies in the power of the evil one." (1John 5:19)
4. He has no ultimate power, of course.
C. Blinding people to the glorious gospel of Christ is Satan’s main business.
D. Most of the people we share this planet with are blind to the reality of Christ.
1. This effects their ability to think straight about the things of the Lord.
2. They don’t disagree because they are smarter, or because they know things we don’t know. They reject Christ because they’re blind to Him.
3. Even the Bible experts who are paraded out to undermine the Bible or the glory of Christ are blind to the truth of the gospel. And you can’t do good theology, you can’t come to good Bible conclusions, if your eyes are blind to the light of the gospel of Christ.
E. Why do some of the people we know and love HATE such beautiful truth, such good news?
1. It’s not because it’s not presented well, though it often isn’t.
2. It’s because they don’t see the glory of Christ’s grace.
3. To them the gospel is an insult. And it’s true. The gospel is an insult to human pride.
4. How is the gospel an insult to human pride?
a. Because it says that mankind has failed. Because it says that man cannot save himself. Because it says that people can only be saved by the undeserved grace of God, not by their own competence or cleverness or uprightness. Because it says that a perfect God-man needed to die on a cross to remove their enormous guilt from before the holy God. Because it says that people can only be saved if they are willing to humble themselves before this One and surrender their lives to Him.
5. And proud people can’t handle that.
F. Because of Satan’s blinding work, unbelievers actually prefer the darkness to the Light: "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." (John 3:19-20)
G. And yet this is not the end of the story. Sure, the world dwells in darkness, but Jesus the Light has come! As Satan is the blinder, so the Spirit of Christ is the opener of eyes through the gospel.
1. And when Christ met Paul and called him to be an apostle, He said, "I am sending you to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins." (Acts 26:17-18)
2. “He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” (Col.1:13)
3. If you are an unbeliever, there is still hope for you, as many here have experienced ourselves. And what a privilege it is for those who in our blindness were given eyes to see!
4. “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” (Eph.2:1ff.)
H. The fact that some people are blind to it doesn’t take anything away from the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.
1. Blindness is a tragic reality, similar to physical blindness. But just because some people are blind doesn’t mean there isn’t a world of beauty to see and being seen! It doesn’t mean there aren’t beautiful smiles and sunsets and flower gardens and national parks and snow-peaked mountains!
2. When you’re at Yosemite NP, what’s astonishing isn’t that some people are blind to that beauty. What’s astonishing is that there can be a place that beautiful on this earth.
3. And the same is true with the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, a light which is more beautiful than Yosemite & Zion & Bryce & Yellowstone & the Grand Canyon & all the rest of earth’s beauties rolled into one. The sad fact that some are blind to it doesn’t take away its beauty.
III. This blindness means we shouldn’t blame ourselves when folks reject the gospel we share with them.
A. The apostle here seems again to be responding to a charge that has been brought against him. The men Paul called "false apostles" (11:13), who had infiltrated the church in Corinth, were spreading criticism of Paul in the congregation. They complained that Paul was a poor speaker, that his teaching was too heavy, and that his message was incomprehensible.
1. And so Paul answers these charges here in v.3-4. He says is that if his gospel is indeed "veiled", it is veiled to those who are perishing in their sin. If his gospel is impossible to understand, that’s because the god of this world has blinded their minds, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.
2. The reason that these men do not accept Paul is not because of Paul but because of Paul’s Christ, whom they despise. They reject Paul’s preaching because they reject the Christ Paul preaches. (See 2Cor.2:15-16.)
B. Just because someone rejects our message doesn’t mean it’s somehow our fault.
1. Many Christians tend to take the blame for their children’s lack of faith.
a. We ought to take blame for our sins in raising our children, and seek their forgiveness.
b. (And sometimes there is such a grave sin or pattern of sins that makes it impossible for children to listen to what their parents tell them about the Lord.)
2. They criticized Paul for his preaching. He lacked eloquence, was hard to understand, his preaching was too heavy. But Paul wouldn’t accept that this was the reason some rejected his message. It was because their hearts were blind.
3. Paul was an apostle of Christ, filled with the Spirit, an official spokesman of Christ, and yet he still had critics, he still had people who turned against him, who rejected his message. In spite of who he was, there were people he won to Christ who then turned away from Christ.
4. The same thing is true about even Jesus. He lost one of His children as well (Judas), even though He was perfect. Whose fault was that?
5. The point is that those who are blinded to the gospel will not embrace the gospel, no matter how eloquently it is presented, or how beautifully it is reflected in a person’s life.
A. You might be uncomfortable with the strong language Paul uses to describe his opponents. He certainly pulls no punches.
B. Paul knew who he was dealing with. And he understood blindness to the gospel only too well. He had been there and done that. And now he wasn’t about to negotiate. He wasn’t about to think that the problem with the Judaizers was all just a misunderstanding. He knew them because he used to be one of them.
C. Paul knew about the self-seeking way these men thought about the messiah. In their minds he was all about them, He was coming to restore Israel’s glory and exalt it to worldly prominence.
1. Paul understood this manner of thinking because it’s exactly the way he thought before his eyes were opened to Christ.
2. And since he exceeded his peers in zeal (as he tells us in Phil.3:3-9), he had expected to be near the top when the messiah set up his kingdom.
D. But instead of coming to exalt people, Jesus came calling people to humble themselves before Him.
1. And now Paul has taken all the things which made him think most highly of himself, and he’s dumped them into the trash. The things he used to think of as his best attributes, he realized were actually negatives. He had thought they were things which drew him closer to salvation, but he came to see that they were actually taking him farther from salvation.
2. When he came to see Jesus, his confidence in his own righteousness was thrown aside. Finally here was One truly righteous and whose righteousness was truly able to be received by faith.
3. Philippians 3:7–9 “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
4. In v.4 Paul speaks of Christ in poignant language. He calls him the image of God: “Christ, who is the image of God.”
a. God is not a man and cannot be seen. But God has taken on human form in the person of Jesus, who thus is the image of God. He is the visible, human reflection of God Himself.
b. Of course, mankind was made in the image (or likeness) of God. This means that in many ways man was like God, he was a reflection of God.
c. But Jesus is unique in that He is the full, complete and perfect reflection of God, the physical manifestation of the invisible God:
(1) "He is the image of the invisible God." (Col.1:15)
(2) "He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature." (Heb.1:3)
d. If you want to see what God is like, look at Jesus. He is the perfect representation of who God is. In Him we see God:
(1) "He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me." (John 12:45)
(2) Do you want to know God? Then get to know Jesus.
(3) Jesus said: "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not come on My own initiative, but He sent Me." (John 8:42)