As a culture we are aware that reality can be manipulated or stretched to promote a certain opinion or view, so we’ve become rather skeptical of many things (while others we take far too seriously as “the truth” as those viral pictures prove!). From the Bible’s perspective there is a reason for this. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving”. Although unnamed in this passage, it is quite clear Paul is referring to Satan, the angelic being who opposed God’s authority and was cast out of heaven (Rev. 12:3-4, 7-9). Across New Testament Scriptures Satan’s character and activities are described via the names used to identify him: accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10), the evil one (Mt. 13:19), destroyer (Rev. 9:11), the father of lies (Jn. 8:44), the tempter (Mt. 4:3), your enemy (1 Pet. 5:8), and more. Several passages particularly associate Satan with the earthly realm, a region he has been allowed temporary control of: the prince of the world (Jn. 12:31), the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Eph. 2:2), the one who leads the world astray (Rev. 12:9), and the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4). Lawrence Richards noted, “Satan is portrayed as one who shapes the kosmos, the world’s system of thought and values. He induces mankind to follow the sinful passions of corrupted human nature, causing people to believe lies and blinding their minds to the light of the Gospel.”
The area where Satan is most actively deceptive concerns Jesus Christ. In the passage at hand Satan has “blinded the minds of the unbelieving”. A literal interpretation of this phrase would read, “The “god” who controls the world system of thought and value has wrapped a cover over the understanding of those who disbelieve so that they cannot understand Christ when He is revealed to them.” How has Satan done this? It has been my observation that by introducing conflicting thoughts on just WHO Jesus is, Satan has successfully muddied the waters so to speak. Have you heard any of these lies? Jesus was a fictional character created by a group of religious fanatics. Jesus was a good man who taught people how to live better lives. Jesus was a revolutionary. Jesus didn’t really die on the cross; he merely fainted and was revived later in the coolness of the tomb. Jesus had a wife and lived a normal life like everyone else. Jesus was a human being like you and I who attained god-like status by living a morally pure life. And I’m sure you can think of a few more!
2 Corinthians 4:4 presents Jesus in a much different light- the light of the Gospel (2 Tim. 1:8-10). When the Gospel is preached it reveals Christ for Who He truly is. In this passage it is revealed that Christ is “the image of God”. But Christ as the image of God is not like a manipulated photo which alters reality or deceives the viewer. The word “image” (eikon-icon) means “a representation, a resemblance, or likeness” on a far deeper level. It appears in several passages that speak of Christ in the same way (Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15; 3:10). More importantly, when Christ as the Son of God is referred to as His “eikon” it indicates as Spiros Zodhiates writes, “the revelatory character of the incarnation.” (Jn. 1:14). Unlike other words which speak of an image being a copy or replica of something, eikon “always assumes that there is a prototype that the image does not merely resemble something, but is exactly the same as the source from which it is drawn” (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Rev. 13:14-15). In other words, Jesus is not a “knock-off” or “imitation”. He is the real thing!
Do you fully grasp the significance of this? It is popular to treat Jesus as our “bff” and “buddy”. It is true that He loves us deeply and calls us “friends” when we trust in Him (Jn. 15:12-15). But we should never lose sight of what this title signifies. As the “image of God” Jesus is not merely a copy of God the Father, He IS God (Mk. 15:33-39). And if we believe as such, then our relationship with Him should reflect it. While we can approach Him as a friend, we must also keep His divinity in sight and give Him the reverence He is due.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 6/26/2016