A Study of 2nd Corinthians 4:3-4
Satan’s attacks are always aimed against God’s glory in salvation. It is in this context that we understand the wiles of Satan. Satan’s goal is to keep sinners in a state of darkness, and his main weapon is deceit concerning the glory of God and the ground of salvation. Satan’s attacks are always aimed against God being glorified in the hearts of sinners.
2 Corinthians 4:3
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
2 Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
The sad fact is that the vast majority of people in this religious generation who claim to be saved, who even claim that their salvation was by Christ alone and by grace alone, believe and support a system of doctrine that dishonors the Father and the Son. This is not to question the sincerity and morality of such people. Most of them sincerely believe that their doctrine gives glory to God. But, as we will see, they are deceived by Satan. This religious generation believes, for example, that men and women already know God and that all they need is to accept Christ as their “personal savior” for salvation. This kind of thinking is opposed to God’s Word, opposed to God’s glory, and opposed to the Gospel.
When a sinner believes in Christ, he must of necessity be convinced that he was formerly an idolater. It is impossible to know the true and living God apart from knowing the only true Christ and what He accomplished in the redemption of sinners. Until we see how God, the true and living God, the God of redemption, can be just to justify the ungodly based on the merits of Christ’s righteousness imputed alone, we worship and serve a god who cannot save, a god who is no god at all. Until we see God as just to justify us based on the righteousness of Christ, to the praise of His glory, we cannot know God as our Father.
Salvation is a change of gods. It is a change from being a servant of sin, worshipping a god of our own imagination, to being a servant of righteousness, worshipping and serving the true and living God (Romans 6:17-18). Salvation involves a change of doctrine, but unless this change of doctrine involves true repentance where we change our minds concerning God, then there is no salvation at all. Many have changed doctrines who have never changed gods. For example, many have come from being “free-will Arminians” to being “five-point Calvinists,” but who still insist they were saved under that system of doctrine that dishonors every attribute of God’s redemptive character, casts shame and reproach upon the Person and work of Christ, and leaves room for the sinner to boast. They have never truly believed the Gospel, and they have never truly repented.
Being lost is directly related to not knowing the true character of God in redemption. Being converted is directly related to knowing the true character of God in redemption (Jeremiah 9:24). To be lost is to be without an acceptable approach to God. Many, in the name of morality and religion, attempt to approach God without a proper mediator, i.e., without God appointed Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, based on His righteousness alone. Most who claim that Christ is their savior have never even heard of an imputed righteousness. When such a sinner attempts to approach a holy God, without regard to the imputed righteousness of Christ, this gives evidence of ignorance of God Himself. Apart from Christ and His righteousness God is a consuming fire full of wrath (Hebrews 12:28-29). If we are truly saved we continually behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We see the true nature of God’s holiness and love which we could not see apart from Christ’s Person and His atoning work. This is the only proper ground for any sinner to approach a holy and just God and find acceptance. By nature we do not know the God of salvation and the only true way of salvation (Romans 3:10-12).
How can we know the only way of salvation apart from knowing the true character of God and Christ Jesus whom God sent?
As stated before, many who have changed doctrines but who have not repented contend that they were saved while they preached, believed, and/or supported a system of doctrine that dishonors every attribute of God’s character and which casts shame and reproach upon Christ’s Person and whole mediatorial work, His atonement. Satan’s goal is to keep them from seeing this awesome reality in light of the glory of God. Satan uses many false doctrines that appeal to men by nature and which make salvation, or some part of it, conditioned on the sinner. For example, one such false doctrine is universal or indefinite atonement. Consider the following:
1. Universal or indefinite atonement states that Christ died for all without exception conditionally. It states that His death was a sincere attempt to save everyone, but that it secured the salvation of no one, except those who meet certain conditions, usually faith, repentance, and/or perseverance. This false notion teaches that Christ’s death did not actually save anyone, but it merely makes sinners savable.
2. There is a more subtle heresy derived from universal atonement. Many say that Christ’s death was sufficient for all without exception but effectual only for God’s elect based upon their meeting the conditions of faith and repentance. They are quick to say that God gives His elect faith and repentance, but it is still a subtle heresy in that it diminishes the value of the death of Christ, His righteousness, and exalts the value of the work of the Holy Spirit in the sinner. This is more subtle than universal atonement, there is no real difference since both ultimately make salvation conditioned upon the sinner.
Satan is a clever, subtle devil, and the natural heart is:
…deceitful above all things and desperately wicked…
This means that it is opposed to God’s glory. Satan has his goal to blind the hearts of sinners from having honoring views of God’s redemptive character. The carnal mind, being at enmity against God, will always take sides with Satan in this matter. It may seem to honor the Father and the Son to say that God loves everyone and that Christ died for everyone. But this actually dishonors the Father and the Son, because it means that God’s love does not actually secure the salvation of anyone and the death of Christ did not actually merit any spiritual life or blessings for anyone. It would be like saying that Christ redeemed everyone but that He actually redeemed no one.
Universal and indefinite atonement may seem to put much value upon the precious blood of Christ, when, in fact, it puts no real value at all upon Christ’s blood, in and of itself. It teaches that notwithstanding Christ’s all of Christ’s efforts in His humiliation, sufferings, and death, He did not actually earn salvation for any one sinner. It teaches that Christ’s atonement, His death, His righteousness, in and of itself, does no more for those in heaven than it does for those in hell. In fact, it teaches, as one false preacher has stated, that hell is really a monument to the failure of the Father and the Son to do what they set out to do.
How dishonoring to the sovereignty, faithfulness, justice, love, and mercy of God!
If sinners fail to meet the conditions, they will perish regardless of God’s love and regardless of Christ’s whole mediatorial work of redemption. In this kind of system, it not God’s love nor Christ’s death that makes the difference between heaven and hell. It is the sinner’s faith, repentance, and/or perseverance. In this kind of system, God’s love and Christ’s death are merely, as Augustus Toplady stated, “pedestals upon which a sinner can boast of his free will.” A sinner would have to be deceived to believe such error.
Can such a faith that denies the infinite value of the precious blood of Christ be the gift of God?
It is worse than useless. It is an abomination unto God. No one would preach, believe, or support such a system of doctrine if they could see the God-dishonoring, Christ-denying implications. Such doctrine denies that which the Scriptures set forth as the only ground of salvation, the imputed righteousness of Christ (Romans 8:31-34), and it denies the foundation of the security of the believer, God’s infinite love (Romans 8:35-39). Sinners by nature do not know and understand such implications. We who believe the Gospel must have enough love and compassion for sinners to raise these issues and clearly state the implications, even at the expense of being persecuted. This is why Christ would not compromise the Father’s glory with the religionists of His day (John 5:41-44). This is one of those areas in which true believers are to seek to be conformed to His image.