In view of what we have been sharing about walking in the light of His countenance, I wonder if I don’t hear someone thinking, what are you talking about, do you know anyone who enjoys this kind of light, this New Covenant glory you are talking about?
In fact I know many who enjoy this… in measure. It’s that inner sense of His shining face, a sense of illumination as to His will, and the steps He is leading us in. He has lifted up His countenance upon us; He is smiling; He is pleased. There is the assurance of His love.
But I also know at least one person who knows the times when darkness veils His lovely face, times that call for us to “trust in His unchanging grace.”
And remember that in the very passage we have been dwelling on (2 Cor. Ch. 3) Paul says:
Seeing, then, that we have such hope we use great plainness (openness) of speech, and not as Moses who put a veil over his face…
Hope? This seems to imply that we may not be experiencing the full reality of what Paul is setting forth—not yet, that is. Do I see His shining face? Well, yes, in measure. We enjoy this light of His countenance in measure. But there is much more to come, and I don’t want to cheat myself of that. So I nurture hope in my heart. It is in the sphere of hope that we embrace these things—that in the New Covenant we have the hope of seeing the face of Jesus Christ shining with the glory of God, and our being changed into the very same image… from one measure of glory to another… to another… It is with this confident hope and expectation that we unveil our own faces in every step of our walk, and continue to turn our unveiled faces with anticipation upward. We know we will not be disappointed. For “hope does not disappoint,” anchored, as it is, “within the veil.”
And so we seek to war a good warfare on the basis of this hope. Yes, warfare. We must recognize that we are in a war; this new-covenant hope is intensely resisted by the forces of darkness. They are able to affect even our own thoughts. This is perhaps the most difficult thing we Christians have to go through—the darkness of our thought life. There are night seasons when His lovely face is hidden from us, and our minds are prey to darkness. That lovely shining countenance we love so much… now we are sure it is a frowning countenance. In such times let us recognize our thinking for what it actually is—just that—darkness, not light. Let us be on our guard, then, and beware lest we start believing that what we are thinking is actually true. All those doubts, fears, evil surmisings, dark forebodings… let us recognize all that for what it is—darkness, not truth!
So let us keep this living hope ever before us, more and more seeking to gird up the loins of our mind, to discipline our mind not to dwell on darkness. Let us put on the armour of light. Let us guard against meditating on the darkness in times of darkness. Let us meditate on the Light in the night watches—not on the night (Ps. 63.6). Wrong thinking, if we do not recognize it for what it is, can become an enemy stronghold in the mind.
It can become a habit of mind to meditate on darkness—on some problem or evil circumstance or failure. Or… have you ever entertained an imaginary conversation with someone who had done you wrong, and you are doing warfare with that person with your imaginary words? Once when I was doing this myself, the Holy Spirit intercepted my thinking with a question. “What are you thinking?” I suddenly became aware that all I was thinking… it was just darkness! I was embarrassed at the time, but I am grateful for that question now; it has helped me many times to dismiss thoughts that are darkness. David cried out, “Search me O LORD and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts…” (Ps. 139.23). This is what that question did for me. It was God knowing my thoughts, and thus I was able to know them myself. We deeply need this kind of input from our God, showing us the nature of the thoughts and intents of our heart. Without it, and all unawares, darkness is seeping into our hearts as we think on these things. Our adversary is building his own stronghold in our very thoughts when we do this.
Paul spoke of weapons that are effective against the strongholds of darkness.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;
Casting down imaginations (reasonings, arguments), and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ… (2 Cor. 10.4,5).
Paul is speaking of the enemy strongholds in the minds of those who were calling in question his apostolic authority and accusing him of a mere human agenda. No, he cautioned; he might be walking in flesh, but he did not war after the flesh; he had weapons which could bring these strongholds down.
But it is vain to think we will have any success against the strongholds of darkness in the minds of others before we ourselves have brought into captivity every thought of our own mind to the obedience of Christ.
And so Paul continues:
And having in a readiness to revenge (avenge) all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
Your in this verse is plural. Meaning “you as a church,” which is how Weymouth translates it.
Let this become our seeking then. God has spiritual weapons with which we can pull down strongholds and bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. This would indeed be a formidable church. But first it will take discipline in our own thought life– not dwelling on the darkness, but rather earnestly seeking to fix our eyes on Jesus’ shining Face. This will create another stronghold that the Prince of darkness cannot invade. Let us gird up our minds, then, let our minds be filled with the light of faith, and hope, and love. We have the hope of certain victory. We will yet see the light of the glory of the Gospel of Christ triumphant over all darkness.