Whether we’re talking about our relationship with God or with other people, the quality of our relationships can never go beyond the level of trust the relating parties have in each other’s character. We cannot be rightly related to God, therefore, except insofar as we embrace a trustworthy picture of him. To the extent that our mental picture of God is untrustworthy, we will not rely on him as our sole source of life. This is why the first thing that Satan went after was Eve’s conception of God. The story reflects the truth that the root of our alienation from God and our bondage to fallen powers is our own untrustworthy and unloving mental pictures of him.
This is as true today as it was in the garden. Paul tells us that the gospel continues to be “veiled … to those who are perishing” because the “god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” And notice, the seeing Paul is talking about is a seeing in our mind (2 Cor. 3:14-15). Nor can those who are yet under Satan’s blinding oppression receive the “light” that God wants to “shine in [their] hearts to give [them] the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ (2 Cor 4:3-4, 6).
Only when the Spirit lifts the veil from our minds and hearts can we form and embrace a truly accurate picture of God. Only when the Spirit frees us from the blinding oppression of the “god of this age” can our hearts and minds see the glorious beauty of the God revealed in Christ. And only as we “with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory” can we be “transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor 3:17-18).
What this shows is that the revelation of God in Jesus, most clearly reflected on the cross, is the foundation of the new covenant because it is God’s definitive refutation of all false images of him. Jesus described himself as “the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). The Greek word for “truth” (aletheia) has the connotation of something “uncovered” or “not concealed.” While we’ve been, to one degree or another, blinded by our sin and the “god of this age” from seeing the true, glorious character of God, he is finally fully unveiled in Christ.
This is why Jesus is also the “way” to the Father as well as the “life” of the Father. We can only experience the life that God wants for us when we know and trust his true character as it’s unveiled in Christ.
And we are making the same point from the opposite direction when we point out that, when Jesus fully unveiled the true character of the one true God on the cross, he “disarmed the powers and the authorities,” vanquished Satan and his minions (Col 2:14-15), and thereby set free all who would accept this truth. On the cross, the light expelled the darkness, the truth vanquished all deception, and the beauty of the true image of God destroyed the ugliness of all false images. And so now, for all who will yield to the Spirit, as the veil over our minds is removed, we can see “God’s glory displayed in the face of Jesus” (2 Cor 4:6) and be set free to enter into the loving, trusting, and transforming relationship God has always wanted to have with his people.