On Facebook where we regularly post articles, discussion topics, and ministry announcements, Chris has this two part question: If God wants all people to come to Him, why does He in both the Old and the New Testaments harden their hearts? Or, as 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says blind the minds of unbelievers and veil the Gospel to those who are perishing? So in essence Chris is asking: Why does God blind people’s hearts? Why does He veil the Gospel? Why does He harden people’s hearts, after all He wants people to come to Him, why would He do that?
Well, first of all, hardening—the first part of the question—is interesting in that if you read the Word of God, you will see that mercy from God becomes the occasion for hardening. The quintessential case in point is Pharaoh. Every time God showed mercy to Pharaoh, Pharaoh responded by hardening his heart (Exod. 3-15). So God’s mercy is the occasion for hardening, but as the text explicitly tells us, Pharaoh also hardens his own heart (cf. Exod. 8:15).
With respect to the second part of Chris’ question: context, context, context! 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 does not say that God hardens the hearts of people or veils their hearts or blinds them; rather, this passage says, “the god of this world” does those things (cf. v. 4a). For example, Paul says the Gospel is not veiled but the Gospel is set forth plainly in the very verses that precede the passage that is noted by Chris (cf. 3:12-4:2). So the Gospel is not veiled, it’s plainly revealed. That’s what the text says. And then the text goes on to say that even if it is veiled, it is not veiled because God is veiling it, but it is veiled because “the god of this world,” or Satan is veiling it. It is he who blinds the minds of unbelievers. And then, says Paul, Satan becomes the de facto ruler who all who willingly subject themselves to his masterful deceit.
If we don’t belong to God, the God of the ages, then we belong to the god of this age. If we don’t belong to the Sovereign of the universe, we belong to Satan. There are only two kinds of people in the world—those who love darkness and those who love light. Jesus said to Nichodemus, “Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). In other words, they want darkness, they don’t want light.
Good question by Chris, but once again, it is not God who veils the Gospel, it is not God who blinds the mind, it is the god of this age, which is precisely what Satan is called.