2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “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.”

With God’s permission (without God’s permission, he can do nothing), Satan has a measure of freedom to do what he can do to keep man from trusting Christ for salvation. One of his greatest weapons is his ability to blind a man spiritually from seeing truth.

Therefore, that person we see as our enemy is really just a victim of the devil, who is the real enemy we are fighting against.

Because of the spiritual blindness that is passed down to each of us from our natural father, Adam, man’s default at birth is always disbelief in God and reliance on self. That’s why all religions outside of Christianity are works based religions. Do enough good to earn Allah’s mercy. Live a good life so your next life moves you closer to Nirvana. Be true to yourself and kind to others and enjoy inner peace and harmony. Whatever. It all sounds good because, without the spiritual mind to know better, determining one’s own destiny is the best man can come up with.

If we can make the choice to choose God with nothing but what we are born with, we will never choose Him, because our own fallen nature, combined with the spiritual blindness given us by Satan, will keep us far from Him. It is only when God gives us the faith necessary for salvation and the spiritual awareness to receive it that a man can be saved.

The atheist who mocks us or the agnostic who shakes his head at us is incapable of knowing any better because he is still in darkness of the mind. That’s why he can look at the same Bible that has changed the believer’s life and get nothing from it, or look at the same sunset that a believer does and fail to see God in it. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

It is for this reason, the reason of spiritual blindness, that God sends us into the world to preach the gospel, even when we know that it will often fall upon spiritually deaf ears. In Acts 26:18 Paul gives testimony to King Agrippa II concerning the call God had put upon his life. Paul says that the LORD told him, “I am sending you to open their (the unbelievers’) eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

The way people who are in darkness think and look at the world makes no sense to us (I received some pretty non-sensical emails this week as response to last week’s column on atheism), but we need to remember two things. One, we must remember that they are spiritually unable to understand truth, and, two, we must remember we ourselves once lived in darkness.

I remember when God opened my spiritual eyes in November of 1998, when I was a month shy of 29 years old. Almost immediately, my way of thinking changed. I didn’t enjoy sin like I had just days before. I read my Bible and things that had not made sense before were making sense. I had a desire to live for God, when previously that desire didn’t exist. I began researching more closely things that I had ignorantly believed concerning contradictions in the Bible and claims that science disproved the Bible and saw that I had been duped and fooled. My spiritual eyes were opened, and my mind was transformed, and it was wonderful. Still is.

Christian, keep sharing the gospel, the one that pulled you out of darkness into the light. Remember that those who oppose you do so out of ignorance and the inability to understand. Remember that you are no better than the unbeliever — you need Jesus as much as they do. Pray that God would send you to others so that they might have their sins forgiven just as you have. And remember Romans 10:17, which says, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

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Mark Wingfield, pastor of First Baptist Church in Grottoes, is a columnist for The News Virginian. His column is published Saturdays.

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