Job 34:1-37; 2 Corinthians 4:1-4; Psalms 44:4-7; Proverbs 14:9-10
NT: “Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up. Instead, we have renounced secret and shameful things, not acting deceitfully or distorting the word of God, but commending ourselves before God to everyone’s conscience by an open display of the truth. But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 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 4:1-4 CSB)
As a minister of the gospel, an ambassador for the kingdom of God and an apostle of Christ, Paul suffered through many challenges, setbacks, false accusations and physical attacks. Yet through it all, he did not give up. How was he able to endure so much and keep moving forward? Paul said it was partly because he had been shown mercy – but it was also because of the great ministry he had been afforded. What was that ministry? It was the ministry he described at the end of chapter 3 – a ministry that carried the power to actually transform lives. Paul was a minister of the gospel of Christ – a ministry that contained a message full of God’s saving power – a ministry that saw people transformed from sinners into saints time after time – a ministry that allowed the glory of God to be on full display through those who believed the message and placed faith in Christ. The privilege and rewards of the ministry were far greater than the challenges he faced, so he did not give up.
Paul’s ministry was not manufactured. He didn’t concoct his own message. His ministry was given to Him by the Lord Jesus Christ. His message was the unadulterated gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, which was the fulfillment of all the law and prophets. He had nothing to hide. Yet despite the openness by which he ministered – despite the countless numbers of transformed lives in his wake, there were still people who were effective at discrediting Paul by falsely accusing him of using deception and distorting the word of God. Beyond the people who were standing against him, Paul saw a greater enemy.
The mastermind behind all of the false accusations and efforts to discredit and deceive was the god if this age, the devil. The devil cannot afford to allow people to see the light of God’s glory – for it is light and light alone that has the power to drive out darkness. So in order to keep people from seeing the light, the god of this age does everything he can to blind people’s minds from seeing, understanding and believing the truth. The reason why people are so apt to believe a lie rather than the truth – the reason why people are more likely to believe the ridiculous instead of the rational – the reason why people so easily fall prey to conspiracy theories than documented facts is that the god of this age, the devil, the accuser of the brethren and the father of lies, is always blinding people’s minds to the truth that would set them free in order to enslave them in a web of deception.
Psalms: “You are my King, my God, who ordains victories for Jacob. Through you we drive back our foes; through your name we trample our enemies. For I do not trust in my bow, and my sword does not bring me victory. But you give us victory over our foes and let those who hate us be disgraced.” (Psalms 44:4-7 CSB)
While many psalms were written in celebration after a great victory, the sons of Korah wrote this psalm after a time of defeat. Paul even referenced this psalm when describing the persecution suffered by believers in Christ. There are forces in the world that are set to destroy people, especially the people whose lives shine forth the life transforming glory of God. In the midst of the present defeat and discouragement, the sons of Korah did not give up on God. Though their situation seemed dire – though it seemed that God had abandoned them, they still were able to stand up and say, “You are my King, my God, who ordains victories for Jacob – it is through You and You alone that we will be able to drive back these enemies that have temporarily driven us back. You will give us victory, and those who have disgraced us will in the end be disgraced by You.” Yes, there is a god of this age that seeks to blind the world to the light of life and cover all of God’s people under a thick blanket of confusion and deception. But there is a light that can pierce the thickest veil and drive back the darkest darkness: the light of God’s glory. Lord, let Your light shine!
Prayer: Lord, what a ministry You have given me: the ministry of reconciliation to God and man – the ministry of proclaiming the powerful, saving and transforming words of the gospel! Help me to not grow discouraged when I am met with trials and challenges. Help me to not give up, even when it seems the god of this age has the upper hand. Help me, through the mercy You show me, to continue proclaiming the unadulterated gospel of the kingdom and shining forth the penetrating light of God’s glory. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.