2 Corinthians 4: The Light of the World
“Therefore since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. “Paul talks a lot about not losing heart, about not giving up and about not quitting and pressing on. He has given us two reasons why in this one verse: we are now ministers of a God-given ministry and the recipients of God’s mercy. Peter calls us a royal priesthood.
Each believer has a ministry; we are the ministers of the New Covenant based on the Gospel, the Good News. The New Covenant, as Paul described it in Romans 8 is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus which set us free from the Old Covenant, the Law of Sin and Death. God has chosen the time and place we were to be born and when we were born again, the Spirit equipped each of us with a spiritual gift with which we minister to others the ministry God has given us. This is all because of the mercy of God.
And mercy means we did nothing to deserve it. Realizing this truth of underserved mercy, Gods grace, humbles the believer. Paul was a humble servant of God. Now when Paul says ‘we do not lose heart, he in no way says he never has been worried. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 1, he tells the church: “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.” Paul then goes on to explain, God has allowed this so they would not rely on self. Paul knew what it was to despair, and he had come to learn through experience, ‘God was always working things together for good for those who loved him and have been called according to His purpose.’ (Romans 8.28)
Paul was dealing with false teachers who were using deceit and manipulation to bolster their own success. This included distorting the word of God. Our foundation is the Word of God. And remember Jesus Christ is called the Word. He is the cornerstone of the foundation. If a builder does not build on a sound foundation, all will come tumbling down at some time. Jesus said, ‘anyone who hears His words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who builds his house on the rock. The rains came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house, yet it did not fall.’ And then Jesus said anyone who hears His word and DOES NOT PUT THEM INTO PRACTICE is like the man who built his house upon the sand, and when the storms came, it fell with a great crash.
When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, not as their teachers of the law. (Matthew 7)
Jesus set the truth before people clearly and plainly so they could understand it. When we read the teaching of Jesus, described as “The Sermon on the Mount”, listen to what He says: “You have heard it said to those of old, “but I say to you – and then Jesus made it clear that God does not look at outward compliance of the law, but at the heart. For as a man thinketh in his heart so is he. The religious leaders had come up with man-made laws which called for outward actions to comply with the Law of Moses. By performing and keeping these outward man-made laws, they believed they were earning their salvation through their self-righteous acts. Yet Jesus said – your righteousness must exceed the righteousness of these Pharisees, and you ‘must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” “For without holiness, no one will see the Father.” “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” In other words unless your heart is pure, you cannot see God. For man looks on the outside but God looks at the heart. David prayed for God’s mercy and prayed for God to wash him thoroughly from his iniquity and cleanse him from his sin. Create in me a clean heart. Psalms 51. Even in the Old Testament, God revealed what was necessary: “I will give you a new heart and put my Spirit within you: I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36)
We received a new heart when we got saved. This heart is pure. The impure heart with which were born is referred to as a ‘heart of stone’, the seed, which is the Word of God cannot take root here and will wither. This heart is impure, it cannot see God, and it cannot understand spiritual truths. How then does mankind get saved? By responding and turning to the Christ who is the Light who removes the veil which has blinded the mind of the perishing, (the lost).
So instead of manipulating, Paul says, “on the contrary (rather than using distortion and deception) by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience.” We need to understand the difference between conscience and the mind. Conscience is a God-given faculty in man which convicts him of sin and righteousness. The mind uses reason and the mind can be deceived. The mind can also be swayed through emotions. But the conscience responds to truth, for Paul said even the Gentiles who do not have the law know right from wrong. (Romans 2:15) Truth and the sense of right and wrong can convict a person through his conscience when his or her mind is deceived. This is why Jesus’ teaching reached people; this is why they said He taught as no one else did. If we simply do what Jesus did, which is speaking the truth in love; it will bring with it the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Christ. They knew Jesus’ teaching was right. The open, simple, but powerful statement of the truth has the power to attract people. They hear it and their conscience bears witness this is right. We do not count on our intelligence, natural abilities or the power of our personality to reach people. WE simply teach them what the Bible says in language they understand.
The first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord with your whole being. This means God becomes your treasure above all things. The second is like unto the first which is to love your neighbor. Jesus said on these two laws, these two pillars of love all the Bible rested. In I Timothy 1: 4, 5, Paul writes: The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” In I Timothy 4, Paul warns us: ‘ The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teaching comes from hypocritical liars whose conscience has been seared as with a hot iron.’ A seared conscience is de-sensitized, no longer sensitive to the sense of right and wrong and does what is right in their own eyes. It is an attractive message to those who love darkness rather than light.
Sometimes the person with the brilliant mind, the high IQ, the great intellect in their pride reject the light. For this is the truth, ‘light has come into the world but men preferred darkness, for their deeds were evil.’ (John 3: 19) Their conscience bears witness to the truth, they have seen the light but their minds reject it. So how does anyone get saved? Paul then talks to us about spiritual blindness, the god of this age, the veil he uses to deceive and the Light. To do this Paul will take us back to creation when God said “let there be light.” For light is the only thing that dispels darkness.
Let’s pick up in verse 3 through verse 6: If our gospel be veiled (hid) it is veiled from those who are perishing (lost). The god of this age (this world) has blinded the minds of the unbeliever, so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as LORD, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness made the light to shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
The veil of unbelief is a tool and strategy of the devil. He is responsible for the unbelief of men. The veil is the delusion, (remember he is not only a liar, but a deceiver) that we are adequate to handle life by ourselves. We are the masters of our own fate. It is this sense of pride which says I can do this myself.
Now man was made in the image of God and God placed eternity into our hearts. We want to be like God, we want to be in control, we want to control others, and we want to control our own destiny. In other words, the devil has taken this God given desire to be like our creator and tell us we can be our own God. This is exactly how sin entered the world. Eve was believed the lie of the deceiver, who told her when she ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil she would be like God.
We want to be god-like. We desire godliness. Peter tells us very clearly: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him, who called us by His own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1) God made us to be like Him, to be His children and the only way we can ever be like Him is through Jesus. Jesus is the secret to godliness. A godly person reflects the character of God.
The great secret the devil wants to hide from mankind is that faith in Jesus Christ is the secret to godliness. This is why Jesus stated this fact: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except by me.”
Does this mean these people had no chance to be saved? No. Because God made the light shine into their hearts. He gave two witnesses: creation and conscience. So man is without excuse. The light has come into the world, but as we quoted earlier, John 3: 19, Jesus said, this is the verdict light has come into the world but men loved darkness instead (rather than) of light, because their deeds were evil.
For these reasons Paul says they are without excuse. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became as fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. “ “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served created things, rather than the Creator.” The words instead and rather both used interchangeably are words of deliberate choice. Which means they chose even though they knew God as creator and their conscience bearing witness to the truth.
The enemy, the devil veils the mind- so even though the facts of creation and the reality of conscience bear witness their minds are deceived.
When we speak the truth we shine the light into the darkness of the hearts of those who are perishing. Mankind cannot remove the veil himself. Many look to find significance and meaning to life through the accomplishments of power, prestige, money, relationships and popularity. These are all things mankind seeks to in order to make them feel like they have become something worthy. If these accomplishments cannot remove it – how can it be removed? Only when they turn to Christ who can remove it.
Paul tells us how: “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as servants for Jesus’ sake. For it is God who said, ‘ Let light shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
The key is to preach Jesus Christ is Lord. If you confess with your mouth Jesus is LORD and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” (Romans 10)
The Lord over all things who is in complete control of everything is the One who saves you. He is the only One who can take away the veil.
When we speak of a person being lost, it means they cannot find their way in life; cannot discern the truth, and are in the dark, in need of light and their life is a mess. This is why Jesus said I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father except by me. Jesus is the Light of the World and in Him is life. Satan is the father of all lies and tells the lost he knows the way to make them happy and feel worthwhile. People are born looking for meaning to life. And only the author of life can explain the meaning of life. We are born into God’s story and when we recognize Him as the Author of Life, we can find the plans He has for us.
“And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” We are to preach the Gospel, the good news for ‘faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” The message is heard through the word of Christ.
Now do you realize the enemy who is called the god of this world’s strategy? He wants to blind the mind of the lost by keeping them from believing the truth of God’s Word. The enemy knows the power of God’s Word. He is working hard to keep them blinded to the glorious gospel of light and salvation in Jesus. He wants people to think less and learn less and use their minds less. In this age of technology, with Google, Smart Phones and personal computers, mankind has to think less, all they have to do is push a button. God has chosen the Word to transmit the Gospel. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. The Word touches our mind, convicts our conscience of right and wrong and the enemy does not want it broadcast. The enemy does not want us to think, read or hear the Word of God spoken so clearly and plainly. The devil knows the Word of God is alive and powerful.
Now when the Bible says Satan is the ruler of this world it means he is the popularly elected ruler of this age. But ‘the earth is the LORD’s and all of its fullness. (Psalm 24) Jesus called Satan the ‘prince of this world’. A prince is always under a king, and Jesus is the King of Kings, the King of all ages. The book of Job reveals God is in control over Satan.
It comes down to something pretty simple: Satan is directing all his energy into blinding us from ever seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.
“In Him (Jesus Christ) was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John (John the Baptist). He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him all men might believe. He, himself, was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. “
How does the Lord Jesus give light to every man? Through creation and conscience. (Romans 1 and 2) All of mankind knows there is a God through these two witnesses. “The heavens declare His glory; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” And their conscience bears witness to right and wrong.
What have we heard in these latter days? WE have heard God did not create the sun, the stars, the heavens, the earth and all that dwells within them? You see what the enemy doing- is putting a veil over the mind of the lost- when they read Moses.
“ Yet to all who received Him to those who believe in his name, He gave the right( power and authority) to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will- but born of God.” John 1.
You must be born again. For flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God, nor can they see it. John 3.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. “(Matthew 5)
When I put my light, the Light of the Glory of Jesus Christ on a stand, I lift Him up. And when we lift Him, the Lord Jesus up, God the Father will draw men to Him.
This is our job, and this is what we should pray. If the enemy’s strategy is to keep unbelievers from seeing the light of the gospel of the Glory of Christ we should pray: God shine Your Light, my light, our light to bind the blinding of Satan, and give the gift of faith to overcome the unbelief which blinds them.
Paul knew what it was from personal experience to be blinded to the truth. As Saul of Tarsus, on the road to Damascus he was struck physically blind and was healed so his eyes both physically and spiritually were opened to see the glory of the Lord.
Like Paul, I was blind but now I see! I was lost but found the way. I was dead but now I am alive. I found the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I found the Light.