Our minds have the amazing ability to not see or hear things we’re not ready to see or hear. This, of course, can be a good thing. But if we’re not brave enough to faithfully question what we’ve believed, we run the danger of being stuck at only believing what we already agree with.
And that brings us to my final objection and the final installment in this series. After showing at length that the popular notion of unbeliever’s separation from God is not true, we’re ready to look at which they might be separated.
Objection seven: It places the wrong emphasis on the problem. As I mentioned in part one, there are various English translations of the Isaiah 59:2 proof-text for separation that I believe are misleading, going from really bad to good. This variance is because translators often insert their bias where there is latitude in the original language. For instance, here is a common translation:
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear. (Isa.59:2 NKJV)
While the New King James translation is usually very good, it fails us here. We’re going to need to go to a more literal rendering of this verse, without any translational interpolations. Fortunately, Young’s Literal translation can help us here (emphasis mine):
But your iniquities have been separating between you and your God, and your sins have hidden The Presence from you — from hearing. (Isa.59:2)
First, notice that it doesn’t actually say that God is the one not hearing the sinner. We have assumed that. We added it to what it actually says. You can see for yourself here (the words, “His” and “He” are not in the original Hebrew in the second phrase).
If we take off our little “Orphan-Adam” glasses, we can see that it’s our sins hiding the Presence from us–from our hearing. This is quite different that supposing that God is hiding and not listening to us!
We are the ones with the seeing and hearing problem. Our sin blocks our ability to perceive God’s presence.
Like with Adam, sin makes us feel and act like we’re separated, even though we’re not.
John says a very interesting thing in John 1:5…
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:5 NKJV)
I want you to notice two things here:
First, the light is shining IN the darkness…both are obviously coexisting here.
Second, the darkness is hypostatized here. IT doesn’t comprehend the light.
How can this be? We’ve been taught that darkness is the absence of light. And shining the light always dispels the darkness! Yet, that is evidently not the case here.
This strange phenomenon is actually pretty easy to illustrate. A totally blind man may walk in the brilliant sunlight, yet he will not comprehend it.
The bright sunlight and his blindness are coexisting. The light shines on him, yet he doesn’t see it.
This is how the Bible describes our separation from God. Even though the knowledge of God is manifested in unbelievers (Rom.1:19-21), their foolish hearts keep them in the dark. Notice the language that Paul uses (emphasis mine):
21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Rom.1:21 NKJV)
Again, the light is shining in them, yet they believed lies and became darkened. The darkness does not perceive the light. Do you “see” it yet?
Like with Paul’s conversion in Gal.1:16, when we receive the Christ that’s working in us, we go from blindness to having sight. But nothing changed on God’s side. He didn’t move, we opened our eyes for the first time!
Notice how Jesus says the following? (Emphasis mine):
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NKJV)
Our problem with God and His Kingdom is a perception problem, not a spatial one.
You’ve probably heard that we don’t live according to reality, we live according to our perception of reality, This is true. But how were we blinded to His reality? Again, take careful note of Paul’s wording here (emphasis added):
3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (2 Cor.4:4-5 NKJV)
Notice some key words here…veiled…blinded…light…shine. The sad truth is, the light is shining in everyone, but it’s “veiled” because of their unbelief. To borrow a Morpheus quote (Matrix), the “god of this age” has pulled his world over their eyes.
This world system is Satan’s “construct” that we think is the truth, but it’s a counterfeit narrative, going all the way back to Adam being talked into eating from the wrong tree. Because of our “tragic flaw,” or mistaken view (See “Missing the mark“), we see God, and reality, the way the “accuser” wants us to see it, not the way it actually is.
As Dr. Baxter Kruger puts it, we see God painted with diabolos’ brush. And when we don’t see Him as He is, as Jesus painted Him, we create theology around this faulty construct.
But, praise God, Paul continues by saying that Love sent His only Son to shine the light of truth in our hearts! He took our “tragic flaw” to the grave! He rose again and gave us His Spirit of adoption, His mind, and His view of life! All we have to do is let Him open our eyes by His empowering grace to see this glorious truth already residing in us. And that is the miracle of all miracles!
6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor.4:6 NKJV)
As Paul also says in Romans 10…
6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom. 10:6-10 NKJV)
The Living Word is not “out there” or “up there” somewhere…He’s in your mouth and in your heart! God has poured out His Spirit on ALL flesh (Acts 2:17)! “All” means ALL!
The Gospel is not the news that we can receive Jesus Christ into our lives; the Gospel is the news that Jesus Christ has received us into His life! (C. Baxter Kruger)
And now we, if we will but believe it, have the ability to understand and walk in His reality:
20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (John 14:20 NKJV)
Hallelujah! I was blind, but now I see! Amen.