Today's Bible passages include Exodus 16 - God sends Manna!, Job 34 - Elihu continues, Luke 19 Zacchaeus meets Jesus and repents!, and our focus passage, which is 2nd Corinthians 4. One of my favorite teachings in the Bible is that we humans are clay pots/jars, but God entrusts His great light, His presence and gospel to us to live in these imperfect dwellings, and we will hear from Spurgeon on that in a moment, but that is not our focus question today. Rather, our focus question is a rather dark one, but an important truth to understand. According to the Bible, who is the 'god' of this age? Before we plumb the depths of that dark question, let us get some light first, so I'll begin with a couple of encouraging words from our dear brother Charles Spurgeon on the wonderful truth that we are jars of clay (earthen vessels, since he quoteth from the King James), with the splendor of Christ in us.
The weakness of the preacher only shows the power of God when he uses such poor means to accomplish so great an end. Never let us refuse to do good because our abilities are slender; let us the rather yield up our weakness unto the Lord that he may use it to his own glory.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1964), 695.
God might have put the priceless treasure of the gospel into the golden vessels of cherubim and seraphim; and he might have sent angels, who would never suffer, who would never err, who would never sin, to preach the Word; but, instead of doing so, he has chosen to send the gospel to men by commonplace beings like themselves. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” and this overflows much to God’s glory; and, dear friends, the great object of the sending of the gospel into the world is the glory of God. He would manifest his mercy to men that his mercy might be glorified; and therefore he has committed the gospel, not to the trust of perfect men, but to the trust of poor, shallow, earthen vessels like ourselves.
C. H. Spurgeon, “Why the Gospel Is Hidden,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 58 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1912), 70–71. slightly modernized
So - let's read 2nd Corinthians 4, and you can see if you can discern who 'the god of this age.' is.
3 But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case, the god of this age 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.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4
Most Christians would probably think that the Bible teaches that the 'god of this age' would be God Himself - and He most certainly is the one and only, overall God of Gods and King of Kings. However, the earth is under the current dominion of Satan at the moment. He is the 'god of this age,' who, according to Paul, is warring against the gospel and blinding the minds of unbelievers so they don't hear the Word of God, or they don't understand it unto salvation. Consider these passages:
19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world is under the sway of the evil one.
1 John 5:19
13 Then he said to them: “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand all of the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 Some are like the word sown on the path. When they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them.
This should be quite alarming to us! In addition to prowling about like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5...) the Bible is telling us here that Satan is warring against the delivery of the Word of God - he steals the word when it is preached, and he prevents people from understanding it. Furthermore, he is the god of this age, and the whole world is under his sway. Not only that - but he controls a kingdom, according to Jesus.
18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?
And twice (in John 12 and John 14), Jesus notes that Satan is the ruler of this world. Let's turn to John Piper for some wisdom on what this means for us:
That is simply a stunning statement: THE WHOLE WORLD LIES IN THE [POWER] OF THE EVIL ONE. What an amazing role and status this statement gives to Satan! He holds the whole world in his power. Is this your view of the world? Do you reckon with a satanic global power that influences all the world so deeply that John says the world simply lies in its power?
This is what we are up against. Not to be aware of it, not to be stunned by it, is to be very vulnerable to it.
But what does it mean? Well, if the whole world lies in the power of the evil one, then the evil one is a ruler of this world, and this world is an evil place to live, and this time we live in is an evil time. This is what we read in other parts of the New Testament as well.
"The Present Evil Age" Take this "world" or this "age," for example. Paul says in Galatians 1:4 that "Christ gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age." The age we live in is simply called "evil." The world lies in the power of the "evil one" and so the age of this world is "evil." In Ephesians 5:16 Paul says, "Redeem the time, for the days are evil." The days are evil, the age is evil because the world and all the days of the world lie in the power of the evil one.
So Paul tells Christians (in Colossians 1:13) that what happened to them when they were converted is that they were "delivered from the dominion of darkness" and transferred into the kingdom of Christ. The implication is that this age is ruled by a "dominion of darkness." It's an "evil age" because the world lies in the power of a dark and evil master. To become a Christian is to be delivered from this dominion, or this authority and power.
"The God of This Age"You can see the same thing when you look at the New Testament descriptions of Satan. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul says, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers." Note the phrase, "the god of this age." It's not surprising that if the whole world lies in the power of the evil one, then this evil one should be called the "god of this age."
Similarly in Ephesians 2:2 Paul says to the Christians who had been delivered from the dominion of darkness, "You all once walked according to the age of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who is now at work in the sons of disobedience." Satan is called the "prince of the power of the air." I don't know any better way to interpret this than literally—that the air we breath, the atmosphere in which we live and move, is permeated by a personal evil power—the "power of the air." And so the whole world (as John says) lies under this evil power. And that power has a prince or a ruler called here "the prince of the power of the air." He shapes the powerful patterns of the age and seems to do this mainly by working (as Paul says) "in the sons of disobedience." He somehow fills the whole atmosphere—the air—with his power, but he is specifically at work inside those who walk in disobedience to Christ. Satan has the greatest freedom to "work" where the human will is most ready to disobey the will of God.
So - that's bad news. I suspect that some of you will be surprised by all of this information. I find that preachers, churches, and even Christian parents tend to minimize the threat of Satan, and to water down what the Bible says about his power and influence in the world. This could be due to ignorance, or it could be due to a greater focus on the power of God - I'm not sure - but I am pretty sure that we should soberly reckon with the enemy we are faced with and what the Bible teaches us about his power. It is frightening, and we can't stand against him at all in and of ourselves. But - there is good news. Plenty of it. We need to realize and rejoice that God wins in the end, and Satan will be utterly defeated:
20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
10 The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
We also have promises that God will protect us:
3 But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen and guard you from the evil one.
2 Thessalonians 3:3
We know that Jesus has prayed for us, and He continues to pray for us, because He ever lives for intercession:
15 I am not praying that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
He has delivered us:
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
And He has called us to stand, resist and conquer (and He will empower us to do so with His Word in us!):
I have written to you, young men,
because you are strong,
God’s word remains in you,
and you have conquered the evil one.
1 John 2:15
He has equipped us with armor and a weapon to resist and be shielded:
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
And he has promised us that the enemy will flee when we resist him:
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
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