2 Corinthians 4:1-6 – Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world 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. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
A lone tree painted in light stands in contrast to the dark February skies. Caesar Creek State Park, Waynesville, Ohio.
I took this shot while a professional photographer friend spent about two minutes highlighting the tree with a flashlight (to see some of his excellent work visit the MD Herald Fine Art Photography website). This technique is known as light painting and it produces a great image to go along with today’s passage, nicely emphasizing the message of letting the “light shine out of darkness.”
Paul begins this passage by acknowledging that his strength to continue in the ministry of preaching the gospel is only “by the mercy of God.” Considering all that Paul suffered in order to share the good news of Christ, it is all that much more poignant when he speaks of not losing heart.
He then points out a problem present in the church during the first century and one that is alive and well today, that of false teaching. And, though there are many sources of false teaching in the world, Paul here is specifically pointing to those who “practice cunning or…tamper with God’s word.” These are teachers with malicious intent who cloak themselves in Christianity by using passages out of context, or twisting the meaning of passages by adding to them, or by using the language of Scripture without any regard for the actual meaning behind it.
Paul next admits that the gospel he and the other apostles are preaching is not understood by those who stand outside the Christian faith, “those who are perishing.” In fact, he even says that the “gospel is veiled” from them because Satan, “the god of this world 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”
Paul then gives us a clear way to discern true from false teachings, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.” A great test of false teachings is what, or rather who, is at the center of those teachings. If it is supposed to be a Christian message, and Christ is not at the center, beware! The promises of the modern day prosperity gospel for health, wealth, and abundant happiness sound appealing, after all who wouldn’t want all those things; but these teachings are false because they put us at the center, and not Christ.
Finally Paul gives us the only means by which we can find salvation, the only light that can illuminate the darkness of this world, and it is not of our own doing, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts
© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.