Living for Christ in This Present Darkness
Written by Pastor Jim Law
I once pastored an elderly believer who was habitually late. She treated her tardiness as if it was something unusual because she would always give an explanation for her delay.
Of the many excuses given, one sticks out above them all when she said one particular Sunday morning that the devil had made her late because when she had opened the freezer door of her refrigerator a frozen chicken fell out and landed on her toes.
Well, I think her problem had little to do with Satan and more to do with a poorly packed freezer! I certainly do not want to promote a skepticism of Satan’s existence and activity, for he is alive and well in this world. Though a defeated foe, Satan’s plans are to undermine the authority and will of God.
A.W. Tozer wrote with prophetic insight about a lot of things and he was certainly correct when he penned, “The world is not a playground, but a battleground.”
Like the smell of napalm, an honest reading of the New Testament affirms that this world is a war zone. How could we think otherwise when we read commands like I Peter 5:8,9, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion.”? Or, James 4:7 where believers are commanded to “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”?
Who can’t feel the weight of Jesus’ words to Peter when he said to him prior to his crucifixion, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31, 32)
Perhaps the most definitive passage describing this present darkness is Ephesians 6:10-20, and from this section we discover that this battle is not between flesh and blood, but is spiritual in nature. The apostle Paul urges believers to appropriate the armor of God for spiritual conflict in this world. We need spiritual armor and weaponry to press on to live faithfully for Jesus Christ.
These verses also reveal that we have an adversary who is a ruthless and relentless foe and who possesses an arsenal of destructive stratagems. Satan’s methods are incredibly effective: as he seeks to impugn God’s character and undermine his authority; as he makes life difficult through suffering and pressure to conform to this world’s agenda; as he spins false doctrine and confusion; as he causes division in the body of Christ; as he tempts us to trust in our own resources; and a thousand other fiery missiles besides.
When God opens the windows of heaven to bless, the evil one opens up the gates of hell to blast. The victories of the Christian life are realized by a lifelong struggle with this world’s system, our sinful flesh, and the evil one himself. The key to victory is our employment of God’s armor as we are called to pierce this present darkness with the light of the Gospel.
Brian Borgman and Rob Ventura have written a helpful work on the present spiritual conflict entitled, Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical and Balanced Perspective. They write,
“If we were on a battlefield in Iraq or Afghanistan and forgot we were in war, we would be dead in no time. Awareness and vigilance are critical for survival. It is sad that we, as followers of Jesus, so easily forget that we are in a war—an invisible war, but a real one nonetheless.”
Christians are called to spiritual warfare that is a jihad of a different kind from the one advocated by Islam. It is a warfare that has an eternal purpose namely that the Gospel spread rapidly to needy hearts and that every thought at odds with God’s authority be taken captive to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
How we need to be well taught on the realities of spiritual warfare. How the church needs to refocus and determine where the real battle is being waged. How sad it is when local churches and denominations are derailed by intramural skirmishes while the evil one sits in the corner and grins.
The only way for us as followers of Christ to remain true to our calling, and to be kept from being sucked into the vortex of this world’s pull, is to love the truth and be alert to Satan’s strategies. This is an ongoing discipline and is the call of the Christian life.
Martin Luther writing in the context of spiritual warfare called the Protestant Reformation offered hope for the believer as we live for Christ in this world:
“And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.”
May we stand firm in Christ, and may our daily prayer be, “Here I am Lord, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”