Bible Study Opportunities
The God of this Age
By Jon W. Quinn
As I grew up, I was surprised and troubled that the real world was not what I had thought it was. As a young child I thought that good and evil was always easily distinguished. I thought that the black-hatted "bad guys" would always be stopped by the white-hatted "good guys." I had seen it happen time and time again with Roy Rogers, Sky King and Hop Along Cassidy. I thought that children enjoyed a certain protection from evil because even among the most wicked there would be very few who would ever harm a defenseless child. I thought that about ninety-five percent of the world's people were good. This means that they would never cheat you, lie to you or mistreat you, let alone do worse things to you. I thought that practically all husbands and wives loved and respected one another. I thought that America would always be strong and safe because of its focus on God and His providence. I thought all these things because I was yet to be exposed to the real world. And sadly, the real world was becoming less and less like what I thought it was; moving in the opposite direction. I would have never guessed that one day faith would be so openly ridiculed by our media, universities and courts. Not in our nation! But as I have grown up, and as our nation has grown away from its moral foundation, the unthinkable is happening. We have lost our way. The gospel is considered outmoded and foolish by the wise and clever of our day. Our nation seems to be swallowing that lie.
Paul wrote about the same thing which had happened to his world. He said, "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." (II Corinthians 4:3-6).
So, we see that "the god of this world" is responsible for the lie that is ruining our nation and the lives of so many of its citizens. We need to be aware of him, that his darkness may not overwhelm us.
"You are of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in Him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies." (John 8:44). Satan is a liar. He uses deceit to blind his subjects to the truth. He is real. His name, "Satan" means "adversary" or "enemy."
He uses the world and the things in the world to persuade men and women to reject the gospel. Demas forsook the Way because of "having loved this present world." The Scriptures urge us not to love the world or the things of the world; the "lust of the flesh", the "lust of the eyes" and the "boastful pride of life" (I John 2:15-17). These are precisely the gimmicks Satan uses to entice the blind to their own destruction, which the Bible graphically describes this way: "...if anyone worships the beast and his image...he will also drink of wine of the wrath of God... and the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest day and night..." (Revelation 14:9-11). This is the end result of the lifestyles of those who reject God. These may mock the Lord at this time, as they do almost constantly. But this is where their lives are heading. This is the end result and only those who accept Satan's lie will deny it.
"I (Jesus) will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in me." (John 14:30). John refers to Satan three times in his gospel as "the ruler of this world." Paul refers to him as "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2). In our text, II Corinthians 4: 3-6, Paul refers to him as "the god of this age." Satan uses the things of this world to undermine God's spiritual authority over the human race. Satan will challenge our allegiance unto God by appealing to our materialism, lusts, pride or greed. Those who love the world will swallow the lie. Those who love God will say, "Begone, Satan. It is written..."
It simply is not worth it. Satan offers nothing that endures, because this world is passing away. Satan is the ruler over a temporary domain heading for certain destruction. He will share a part with you, but you will have to forfeit much more. Yes, even the most strident unbelievers and mockers have a god. Those who ridicule righteousness owe their allegiance to their god and lord as they do his bidding, willfully blind to the eternal ruinous destiny to which he is leading them.
"...being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart." (Ephesians 4:18). Satan's goal is to make us blind to the glory and hope of the gospel of Christ. Our text says, "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing" and that Satan has "blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (II Corinthians 4:3,4). Though Satan has been beaten already at the cross and then at the empty tomb, he is not finished yet. At God's discretion, that time will come when the last enemy is subjugated and the victorious Son delivers His kingdom up to the Father. Until then, it is Satan's
purpose to keep you out of that kingdom and oblivious of its glory.
"And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds be exposed." (John 3:18,19). It is only those who are willing to be mislead and blinded that Satan can succeed in making his subjects. Those what love darkness shun the light. Their blind condition is therefore their own doing. As they revel in the darkness and cast insults toward those who walk in the light, they show the accuracy of both Jesus' and Paul's statements about them.
But those blinded by the world will find that the more they feed on its fruits, the hungrier they become. The outrages grow, the depravity deepens from one generation to the next and the spirit is deprived. No wonder that many resent and hate those who have found peace and contentment in Christ.
Satan is real. He is the god of this age, but he is not invincible. In Christ, the victory is yours. Even though some battles with him may be lost, the final outcome is assured victory if you walk by faith. Peter suffered a tremendous defeat but won his war. "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world - our faith." (I John 5:4).
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois October 2, 1994