As believers, we hear a lot about God in our heart; and I often speak a lot about God changing us from the inside, but it occurs to me that we haven’t studied how that actually happens, (at least we haven’t for a while); and this is another aspect of our identity that is vital to our proper understanding and of who God is, and living through the relationship with Him.
So since this question comes up quite often, today I’m going to share with you, how exactly God changes a person from the inside; how exactly a right relationship with Him, actually effects your heart, in the best possible way. And by seeing this truth, you will understand how “religion” has greatly sold your personal relationship with God very short… and how Jesus has done a much greater work than what you can possibly imagine, and He loves you more than you have ever thought possible.
This is a really important topic, and it’s one that I really enjoy talking about, because the wonderful work of Jesus, and His heart always comes through so clearly. Religion has so distorted and corrupted this message, and people have been held in bondage because of lack of teaching on this, (and flat-out wrong teaching on this), and I love it when people actually realize the truth and the goodness of God, and you see their eyes light up and the smile on their face – I just love it!
Let’s not waste any time and get right into it! Beginning with 2nd Corinthians 4:1-6:
“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
The first thing that we can see here, as that we have a ministry; and we also know that since this statement is a continuance from the previous chapter, we know what this ministry that we have is… it is the ministry of beholding Jesus, seeing Him, with an open unveiled face. Think about it.. today, because of the finished work of Jesus Christ, we are able to to today, what the Old Covenant, prophets, writers and priests could only dream of – we are able to see Jesus, without a veil over His face. We are able to behold Him, to see His glory, His goodness and His loveliness. The fullness of His character and nature, to know Him in an intimate and personal way unlike anything that they could do before – all because of Jesus’ redemption of us.
We see that we have received mercy in the same way (this all comes by faith and believe on Jesus)
and because we have received all of these things, we do not faint (get discouraged, lose heart, run dry of strength). Now this is interesting right here because if you talk to the average Christian today, they will usually tell you that they spend the majority of their time discouraged, beat-up, disheartened, etc! This should not be!
The reason why is though, is precisely because they have not really been beholding Jesus! I know that is a controversial statement – and people usually push-back by saying “Not true! I go to church regularly! I read my Bible all of the time! I pray diligently!” – and to that I always reply the same way: “Yes, you may do all of those things… but are you actually seeing Jesus?” Are you actually beholding Him and His Glory? Are you actually receiving His Life? Drinking His living water, which causes you to never be thirsty? Are you actually dining on His Bread of Life, which causes you to never be hungry?
I ask this, because I encounter people in churches all of the time, dutifully performing all of their religious traditions and requirements, and they are still starving to death spiritually, just like the people who have no relationship with Jesus at all – because while they may be engaging in all of their religious service, they still aren’t receiving the ministry of Jesus for them. And if they were, as it says here… they would not faint.
So now that we have diagnosed the issue, and we know that God does not want us to remain in this weak state, what is the solution?
It is found in verse 2. Renounce the hidden things of dishonesty. Now some of the modern translations render this differently and make it sound more like this is referring to sinful deeds or actions – but as we have studied many times before, sinful deeds or actions are merely the out layer, and as we are studying today as well, God is interested in your heart. He’s not interested in mere behavior modification, but actually transforming you from the inside-out, and He does that through a personal relationship with you.
Remember the context of all of this is Beholding Jesus with an unveiled face. These “hidden things of dishonesty”, if you study the Greek, actually has to do with a sense of shame and disgrace. And we know that in Christ, we are never to be ashamed (Psalms 34:5, Romans 10:11), so what causes such shame, today? Well, the answer is in the rest of the verse: walking in craftiness, handling the Word of God deceitfully.
Again if you research these Greek phrases (or know Biblical Greek) you will see that the craftiness being spoken of here, has to do with “false wisdom” – which again in this context of beholding Jesus unveiled with an open face, would be to present Jesus falsely, or in an untruthful manner… and let me tell you, there are a lot of people doing that today! And this goes to the very heart (pun intended) of our study today about how Jesus changes our hearts.
Because if you are not being shown an accurate and truthful picture of Jesus, then it will become very difficult, or even impossible to have a relationship with Him… you won’t even know who He is! That’s why the writer Paul says here that they have renounced these things, they have renounced the handling of Jesus deceitfully (He is the Word of God, remember!) They have renounced the dishonestly regarding Christ that holds so many people in the bondage of guilt and shame.
You know there are a lot of condemning and legalistic preachers out there… some of them teach that way because of ignorance – they just don’t know any better, and I have regular conversations with them, and my heart and my prayers honesty goes out to them and to their congregations, that the Holy Spirit would open their eyes to Grace and that the legalistic bonds would be broken by the truth of Jesus Christ.
There are others however, who preach and teach legalism to purposefully hold the people in bondage. \
Those who purposefully and intentionally hide the truth of Christ, hide the glory of who He is, and hide the truth of what He has done for you. And the reason they do it? Power, control and profit. The same as it was in Jesus’ day… there is nothing new here.
Paul though, says that He has renounced those things, and the effects of those things.
It is exactly what I had to do when I truly saw who Jesus was. There was a time when I was in the ICU of a hospital, when I was first introduced to Jesus, where I had to make a decision, to totally forget everything that I thought I knew about God. I had to throw away all of the legalistic, teachings and traditions of men, all of the religious brainwashing I had been fed all of my life, and make a choice to let God show Himself to me, and to receive who He truly is… not just what religious institutions had told me that He was.
This is what Paul is writing here… to renounce those dishonest and deceitful lies about the Word of God (Jesus) – to renounce those lies that suggest that Jesus didn’t finish His work… the lies that tell you that you are still dirty, still guilty and still a person of shame. Because the truth is my dear friend, today in Christ Jesus, you are not any of those things!
Those lies that make you still feel the guilt, the shame, and the remorse for things that Jesus suffered to remove from you, those lies are nothing but dishonesty and deceit, designed to keep you in bondage, when Jesus came to free you.
Those lies are designed to hold your heart captive and in-chains when Jesus came to break those chains and give you a new and clean heart washed by Him (Hebrews 10:22)
You see, verses 3 and 4 of our text, makes it clear that the enemy, Satan, tries to hide this truth about Christ, because the genuine Gospel, the good news of Jesus and what He has done, is actually life-changing, it brings light, not darkness… it brings glory, not shame. It brings life not death! It is the glorious Gospel of Jesus. The glorious and powerful good news of Christ!
The enemy must blind the eyes of people, because it is so good, that whoever sees it clearly will be drawn to it! This is why I have never agreed with the aggressive approach that some ministers have. I don’t ever think that a person needs to beat someone to death with the Bible.
Whoever needs to do that, isn’t presenting the genuine Gospel – because the genuine Gospel is attractive all by itself.
And this leads to verse 6, and take special notice of the details in this verse. It starts with For God, so we know who the active agent is… this is the very same God who commanded the light to shine from the darkness in Genesis. Well now, He has done a similar thing on the inside of us. What has He done exactly? He has shined in our hearts.
Now why would He do this? Why would He bring light to our heart? Some preachers today would have you believe that He shined light into our hearts to expose how filthy we our, to uncover our sin, or to bring us new rules and regulations… to awaken the Law of Moses in us even deeper than before in the Old Covenant.
Well, if that’s what you think, if that’s what you have been told all of your life, then prepare to be surprised just like I was, because none of those things are what the scripture actually says! The real reason that God has shined His light into our hearts, is to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!
That is the reason, given directly by the scriptures. Anyone who tries to tell you any other reason, is spouting the same lies that we need to be renouncing, as we read earlier.
God shines light into our hearts, to show us the glory of God, His majesty, His power, His goodness, everything and every way in which He is altogether beautiful! To show us Jesus, to look on His face… and to see your Savior, and know that He loves you, unconditionally!
This is how Jesus changes your heart… by showing you Himself, without reservation, without restraint, and without any veil. A true, open and honest relationship, with a God that loves you, all the way into eternity!
To claim that the focus here is behavior and rules, is to completely miss the point.
So I encourage you today, let the light of Christ shine in your heart, receive Him, and receive His love, and know the God of all creation the way that you were always meant to: in Christ Jesus.