If we long to have (more) spiritual sight and insights, we must be prepared that God will take us through many, many severe sufferings. Who wants this? Surely, our old nature hates suffering. And this is why God takes us through these things. He knows that our new spiritual nature that is opposed to the flesh will finally come out victoriously. Below I offer you an excerpt from T. Austin Sparks’ writings that deals with the topic I have just touched on. Sparks described here the cause of spiritual blindness that both springs from our old nature and Satan’s work in our soul.
A word or two about the cause. “The god of this age hath blinded.” There are two things in that phrase. Firstly, this blindness is not, after all, only natural, it is supernatural. It is not to say everything to say that nature is a blind realm. No, there is something very much more sinister than that about this blindness. It is supernatural blindness, but it is evilly supernatural blindness. It is the work of the Devil. That is why, on the one hand, spiritual sight-giving is always fraught with such terrible conflict. No one ever really does come to see by the Spirit and understand without a fight, without a price having to be paid, without a terrible amount of suffering. Every bit of real spiritual illumination and enlightenment is a costly thing. For it Paul had to be much on his knees where the saints were concerned. “I bow my knees”; I pray “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17). It is something which has to be prayed through, and it is not without significance that prayer in the letter to the Ephesians comes so much in association with what is revealed in chapter 6: “our wrestling… is against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies. Wherefore take up the whole armour of God” – this and that and that – “…with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:12-18). “This darkness” – “praying always”: “I pray that He… may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him”. You see, it is all of a piece. The explanation lies here, in “the god of this age”. We are up against something supernatural in this spiritual blindness. We are right up against the whole cosmic forces of evil, all those intelligences operating to keep people in blindness.
It is no small thing to have true spiritual sight. It represents a mighty victory. It is not going to come to you by just sitting passively and opening your mouths for it to arrive. There has to be exercise about this matter. You are right up against the full force of the god of this age when you are really out for spiritual understanding. It is a supernatural battle. So, every bit of ministry that is going to be a ministry of true revelation will be surrounded by conflict. Conflict will go before, conflict will go on at the time, and conflict may follow after. It is like that.
If we did but know it, a very great deal of the conflict which arises in our lives is because God is seeking to bring us further on the road, to open our eyes to Himself, to bring us into the light of His Son. God is seeking to broaden our spiritual horizon, and the enemy is out against that, and he is not going to have it if he can help it. Conflict arises. We may not understand it, but very, very often, more often than not, it is just that, namely, that the Lord is after something, and Satan says, They shall not see that if I can help it! So there arises a mighty warfare. This blindness is supernatural, just as enlightenment is supernatural.
“The god of this age”! That designation may mean more than just a period in time. It may mean all of time, because Satan gained kingship over man right at the beginning. That is what he was after, to take the place of God and to get the worth-ship of man’s life; to be god, to be worshipped; which simply means to take what man has of worth to himself. God made man with a view to his being a vehicle of bringing something to God for God’s pleasure and glory, something worthy of God, that God should have a worth-ship out of man, and Satan said: I am going to have that worth-ship; God has something vested in that creation, something He is going to get for Himself; I am going to have it! So the whole of what took place in the Garden was Satan’s way of supplanting God in man’s heart, in man’s mind, and getting from man that which was God’s right – the worship. Thus, by man’s consent and fall, Satan gained godship in this world, and has held it ever since. “This age” just means the course of this world. “The god of this age”!
Now, the greatest peril to Satan’s godship is spiritual illumination. He will not hold that ground long once your eyes are opened. Oh, once a heart is enlightened, Satan’s power is at once broken. So, the Lord, consistently with that fact, said to Paul on the Damascus road – “…to whom I send thee, to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:17-18). The two things go together: From darkness to light; from the power of Satan unto God. I repeat that the greatest menace and peril to Satan and his position is spiritual illumination. Hence, he must find ground on which to perpetuate and maintain his position, his godship, in this age. And what ground will satisfy him in that matter? The answer is, the ground of nature. You get on to the ground of nature and you have given Satan right of possession. Every time we do that, Satan’s hold is strengthened.