The Cause of Blindness
A word or two about the cause. "The god of this age hath blinded." There are two things in that phrase. Firstly, this blindness is not, after all, only natural, it is supernatural. It is not to say everything to say that nature is a blind real. No, there is something very much more sinister than that about this blindness. It is supernatural blindness, but it is evilly supernatural blindness. It is the work of the devil. That is why, on the one hand, spiritual sight-giving is always fraught with such terrible conflict. No one ever really does come to see by the Spirit and understand without a fight, without a price having to be paid, without a terrible amount of suffering. Every bit of real spiritual illumination and enlightenment is a costly thing. For it Paul had to be much on his knees where the saints were concerned. "I bow my knees"; I pray "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Ephesians 1:17). It is something which has to be prayed through, and it is not without significance that prayer in the Letter to the Ephesians comes so much in association with what is revealed in chapter : "our wrestling ... is against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies. Wherefore take up the whole armor of God" - this and that and that - "... with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:12-18). "This darkness" - "praying always": "I pray that He ... may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him." You see, it is all of a piece. But why all this? The explanation lies here, in "the god of this age." We are up against something supernatural in this spiritual blindness. We are right up against the whole cosmic forces of evil, all those intelligences operating to keep people in blindness.
It is no small thing to have true spiritual sight. It represents a mighty victory. It is not going to come to you by just sitting passively and opening your mouths for it to arrive. There has to be exercise about this matter. You are right up against the full force of the god of this age when you are really out for spiritual understanding. It is a supernatural battle. So every bit of ministry that is going to be a ministry of true revelation will be surrounded by conflict. Conflict will go before, conflict will go on at the time, and conflict may follow after. It is like that.
Herein, then, is the need for you to be exercised about light, that, while you hear the thing, you shall not take it for granted that, having heard it, you have got it; that you should afterward have very definite dealings with the Lord, that what He is seeking to break through to you shall indeed be entered into, and that you are not going to delude yourself by assuming that you know now merely because you have heard it in its terms. You may not know it. It may not yet be delivering light; there may be a battle necessary in this matter.
If we did but know it, very great deal of the conflict which arises in our lives is because God is seeking to bring us further on the road, to open our eyes to Himself, to bring us into the light of His Son. God is seeking to broaden our spiritual horizon, and the enemy is out against that, and he is not going to have it if he can help it. Conflict arises. We may not understand it, but very, very often, more often than not, it is just that, namely, that the Lord is after something, and satan says, They shall not see that if I can help it! So there arises a mighty warfare. This blindness is supernatural, just as enlightenment is supernatural.
"The god of this age." That designation may mean more than just a period in time. It may mean all of time, because satan gained kingship over man right at the beginning. That is what he was after, to take the place of God and to get the worth-ship of man's life; to be god, to be worshiped which simply means to take what mans has of worth to himself. God made man with a view to his being a vehicle of bringing something to God for God's pleasure and glory, something worthy of God, that God should have a worth-ship out of man, and satan said: I am going to have that worth-ship; God has something vested in that creation, something He is going to get for Himself; I am going to have it! So the whole of what took place in the Garden was satan's way of supplanting God in man's heart, in man's mind, and getting from man that which was God's right - the worship. Thus, by man's consent and fall,satan gained godship in this world, and has held it ever since. "This age" just means the course of this world. "The god of this age."
Now, the greatest peril to satan's godship is spiritual illumination. he will not hold that ground long once your eyes are opened. Oh, once a heart is enlightened, satan's power is at once broken. So the Lord, consistently with that fact, said to Paul on the Damascus road - "...unto whom I send thee, to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of satan unto God. I repeat that the greatest menace and peril to satan and his position is spiritual illumination. Hence he must find ground on which to perpetuate and maintain his position, his godship, in this age. And what ground will satisfy him in that matter? The answer is, the ground of nature. You get on to the ground of nature and you have given satan right of possession. Every time we do that, satan's hold is strengthened.
The Object of the Blinding Work of satan
Now just to mention and hint at the third thing. What is the reason or object of this blinding work of satan? It is that "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them" (2 Corinthians 4:4). The glory of Christ; the gospel of the glory of Christ; the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ; Who is the image of God; lest that should dawn upon them, and that it should not dawn upon them, the god of this age hath blinded them.
Then what is the object? We are taken back to some dateless time when in the counsels of the Godhead the Son was appointed heir of all things. He Who was co-equal with God was put in the way of inheriting all things. When that was known in heaven, there was one in the angelic hosts in whose heart iniquity as found. That iniquity was the pride of desiring that equality and aspiring to that inheritance. His heart was lifted up, and he said, "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. ... I will be like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:12-14; Eze. 28:11-19), in the saying of which he uncovered his jealousy of God's Son, and out from that iniquity of his heart, that pride, that jealousy of his heart, he lost his place there, and he has come down and pursued his course of animosity all through the ages, that men shall never see the Son if he can help it. That the light of the glory of Christ should not dawn upon them, he has darkened and blinded them. It is to exclude the Son.
That surely signifies something immense where Christ is concerned, if satan, with all his great intelligence and understanding, recognizes that, if men see that Son, it is the greatest thing that ever could happen. Everything of God's intention is bound up with that. All God['s great purpose in the creation of this world, and this universe, hangs upon that. It is all vested in the Son, and if men see the Son, then God reaches His end and realizes His purpose. satan says, That must not be, they must not see the Son! The god of this age hath blinded their minds, lest the light of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God, should dawn upon them.
What a thing it is to see the Son then! I cannot stay now with that immense matter. But let us finish on this note: What a tremendous shout will go up throughout the universe when at last we see Him face to face, when there is no more darkening veil at all in any degree. God has His end then; the Son appears, the Son is seen. When we see Him, "we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him even as He is" (1 John 3:2). That is what God made us for: "foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). But oh, seeing now and seeing evermore unto the perfect day is necessary, for it is as we behold that we are changed into that image.
What is the prayer upon our lips and in our hearts as we go away? Let it not be mere sentiment, let it be a persistent cry and a persistent quest - We would see Jesus! In the seeing of Him all the purpose of God in this universe is bound up.
(continued with - "Seeking the Glory of Christ As Son of God")