Periodically, I will go back and re-read books that I find valuable or entertaining. In keeping with this tradition, I’m about to start reading This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti again.
The Bible tells us that what we deal with on a daily basis is not physical in nature; rather, it is spiritual. Failing to understand that basic truth can cause all kinds of problems in your life. There is a war going on for your soul and you will always be a casualty if you don’t know you’re in the cross-hairs of the enemy! Paul clues us in to this foundational truth about life in his letter to the Ephesians:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)
Our struggle is against whom? President Obama? Republicans/Democrats? Blacks, whites, neo-nazis, or Al-Queda? No. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. We struggle against spiritual forces. So many times we set our aim on people, not realizing all along that there is more at play than what meets the eye. Did you ever stop to think on the higher reality that those who cause us difficulty and harm, though responsible for their actions, are under the influence of evil spiritual powers? I really wonder how many of the ailments we see plaguing society are really caused by spiritual influence rather than physical imperfections (split personalities, depression, suicide, ADD, homosexuality, abortion, sexual perversion, etc…). Saying that they are influenced by the spiritual does not give license to condone or practice these activities, but it can shed light as to the source of the problem. Dealing with these types of problems with medicine will never work if they are spiritual in nature. This is not to say that there are not true medical conditions out there that can be treated, but you have to admit that the concept of a spiritual root is provocative and worthy of serious consideration. Along the lines of this train of thought, if there were demons present and active in the time of Jesus, did they pack up shop and call it a day when he ascended to heaven? I think not! That begs to question, “Where did they go?” and “What, if anything, are they doing now?” I submit to you that they didn’t go anywhere and are just as active today, if not more active. But I digress….
Notice that Paul gives a hierarchical listing: rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers. Just like any modern military, there is an order to Satan’s forces, each with increasingly higher power and authority to work their evil. Notice that Paul also clues us into the where: the heavenly places. Where is that? Those are the places you cannot see but exist nonetheless. We now know from science that we live in more that four dimensions. Four you say? Height, depth, width, and time make up the four observable dimensions, but there are others that are not directly perceptible. Science is confirming what the Bible has said all along. Even though we cannot directly perceive the heavenly realms with our eyes, they exist and are populated with both good and evil beings.
The concept of evil and even the use of the word is largely missing in our sophisticated, humanist view of the world at large. But make no mistake, just because we don’t use the word or acknowledge its workings, evil is present, alive, and on the move in the world today. Christians accept the reality of the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If we can accept that each person of the Trinity is actively at work in the world today, then how large a leap of logic does it take to realize that Satan and his angels are hard at work in the world as well?
Sometimes it takes a vivid illustration to make this point and This Present Darkness will snap you out of any sleepy illusion that you may hold regarding the world of the spirit and give you a fictional, but very thought-provoking view of what it looks like behind the scenes in the realm of the spiritual as it collides and interacts with what we see in the physical.
There is a war raging all around you. Not consciously making a choice for one side or the other will not prevent you from becoming embroiled in the fray. The war is real, the stakes are high, and you cannot escape it! If your eyes are not open to this reality, then I pray that you take the time to explore my claims so that you can prepare and equip yourself to be the active warrior and not an unknowing victim.
Fortunately, the hard part is already done for you: Jesus died according to the scriptures, was buried, and rose on the third day according to the scriptures. Putting your faith in him and believing that only he has the power to cleanse you of your sin (another word we do not use much today), break you out of the chains of your current bondage, set you free, and make you a new man or woman truly alive as you were created to be is the solution. And he will also give you the power to stand against the tide of evil washing over the face of the earth…the power to stand against this present darkness!