This Present Darkness
By Pete Garcia
In 1986, a virtually unknown Frank Peretti released his seminal and best to date, fiction book This Present Darkness. In it, he uses a small town as the setting and unfolds for the reader the very real power struggle between a local pastor and the growing, conspiratorial sundry of various agencies that are working in a subversive plot to sabotage and overthrow the Christian faith in various areas of the town by way of New Age religious indoctrination. At the very heart of all New Age agenda is the belief that humans can become as ‘gods’. We know that this was the very first lie that was ever mentioned in the Bible, when Satan masquerading as the serpent, presented this half-truth to Eve.
But while the book, in and of itself would be worthy of the read, Mr. Peretti also includes the very real unseen struggle between the spiritual forces of good fighting on the side of God, and the spiritual forces of the wicked one we know as Satan. It is in the second arena I wish to take you, the reader on for a trip down the unseen lane.
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)
The Apostle Paul, by way of inspiration of the Holy Spirit, breaks down the real war that goes on every second of every day here on earth. The battle over the soul of men isn’t fought with swords and bullets, its fought by something much more power…ideology.
As humans, we are unique in all of creation, in that we are first and foremost, created in the image of God. We are given the ability to think, to create, to dream, and to question things beyond our limited understanding. All of these are what has propelled the human race forward in regards to the accumulation of knowledge, and the advancements in technology. Along the way, man has come to the point of his understanding that he began to pervert his knowledge of God. This isn’t some new thing, but dates back to the time of the first family. First, with Eve and Adam’s fall in the garden, but more evident with the willful rebellion of the first son, Cain;
And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Genesis 4:3-7
We all know the story, and how it ends. But the lead up is of unique significance in that God is dealing directly with Cain and Abel. At this point, Cain ignores what he knows and goes with what he thinks is worthy of an offering…which is subsequently rejected causing Cain to allow evil to fester in his heart. At this point in Scripture, the only tradition that can even be alluded too, is that of the covering of skin that God provided Adam and Eve after their fall. (Gen. 3:21) In order for God to have provided skins for them, something living would have had to die in their place. So although not spelled out implicitly, it is demonstrated here through action and the principle that life is in the blood, and that innocent blood must be shed in order to atone for (or before Christ, cover) the sins of fallen man, is a concept that is carried forward throughout the rest of the bible. (Gen. 9:4; Leviticus 17:11; John 6:54)
For the rest of human history, tragedy and wickedness have been an ever-present companion along man’s journey on the earth. By the time Noah comes along (some 1,600 years after Adam), fallen angels had so corrupted mankind that God had to destroy mankind in order to save a remnant of them. (Gen. 6:1-13)
So it is, that in the Bible alone, hundreds of stories play out where men, influenced by evil desires, seek to overthrow good. In certain places, we get a peek behind the curtains if you will, to see that along the lines of national boundaries, there are also spiritual boundaries, in which angelic forces, both good and evil, work to influence men. The book of Daniel records one such incident where an angel (presumably the angel Gabriel) came to speak to Daniel, who by this time, was an old man;
Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince. Daniel 10:20-21
Gabriel here, referring to the other angels (good and bad) as ‘princes’, who hold territorial sway over certain areas, certainly piques the interest of we, the readers. Could it be that our world is broken down into angelic strongholds and that these strongholds, rally forth ideologies that damn men’s eternal souls? Absolutely yes. Simply look across the world and see areas where particular religions hold sway, and understand that these aren’t just geographical and cultural nuances. There is power in these beliefs, and where it not so, they would have died out many years ago. Most of the non-Christian world embraces their religious and philosophical beliefs as one and the same, and it impacts every area of their life. Here are just a sampling of the predominant views in each area;
India- Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism
China- Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism
Iran- Shia Islam
Middle East- Sunni Islam
Africa- Tribal Religions, Christianity, Islam
Europe- Paganism, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox
South/Central America- Roman Catholicism
North America- Protestant, Roman Catholic Christianity, Secular Humanism
The struggles these days, are not necessarily inside the strongholds, but on the fringes, where religious ideology is making forays into areas outside their traditional stomping grounds. For instance, Southeast Asia (Pacifica) is a clash of cultures between the tribal, Islamic, and Roman Catholic worldviews. Enclaves all around the Middle East are fighting between Sunni and Shia Islam with each trying to gain the territorial advantage. Paganism, secular humanism (or atheism), Wicca, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam are all pressing hard into what was once considered “Christian” nations of Europe and North America. But everywhere we look we see competing ideologies burgeoning forth for dominance. These ideologies all have one thing in common, in that there are spiritual forces behind them, imposing themselves into the realm of man.
When Adam and Eve essentially forfeited their rightful claim to rule this planet from Eden when they fell, and handed that “title deed” of the earth, over to Satan. (Gen. 1:28-30) By the time Christ came in the flesh to redeem mankind, this understanding was already well understood. During His temptation, our Lord is confronted by Satan himself who tries to entice Jesus with unlimited authority and a world that would be given back over to Him, at least, superficially…
Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” Luke 4:5-7
And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” (vs. 8)
Notice that Jesus doesn’t dispute the claim made here by Satan. Satan’s offer was legitimate. Had Jesus bowed down to worship Satan, I’m positive that this world we live in, would be 100% “Christian”, at least, religiously. Some might ask why though? I mean, wasn’t the Great Commission meant to convert the entire world make disciples of ALL nations? (Matt. 28:19-20) Yes. But here, Satan is offering the world to Jesus on a silver platter which circumvented redemption, and simply transferred allegiances that would have gained Christ the world, but lost the souls of every man, woman, and child henceforth. This is why Christ rebukes him for it.
Again, this goes back to the principle of Genesis 1:21 and 9:4, and the law as found in Leviticus 17:11…and that man can only be redeemed by the shedding of innocent blood. Christ had to die first in order to be that final, perfect, innocent sacrifice who would satiate that completely holy and perfect justice God the Father demanded…once and for all time (Hebrews 10:10-14). This was the only means that could redeem a fallen man, back to a completely holy and righteous God. Although I’m pretty sure Satan wasn’t entirely sure of what Jesus’s intentions were in regards to the Cross, I think he meant only to offer a shortcut which would gain Christ the “Kingdom”, but damn mankind to an eternity in hell. Had Satan known, I’m sure he would have done everything possible to make sure Christ wasn’t crucified.
However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 1 Cor. 2:6-8
The real battle isn’t over geographical territory, the real battle in the world today is over the souls of men. And this is why all the world’s religions, to include the religion of Christianity, comes up short in offering what man so desperately seeks…which is redemption. Religion cannot save a man. Salvation can only be found through a personal relationship with the one and only, living God…the Man, Christ Jesus. Eternal salvation and redemption only comes to a man when he or she comes to the broken-hearted realization that they cannot save themselves through good works, religious traditions, money, wealth, power, philosophical reasonings, secret knowledge, or any other ‘thing’ or ‘ism’. Salvation is found in no other name than Jesus Christ. (Acts 4:10-12)
This is why Satan has spiritual boundaries. This is why Satan has the world divided up into powers, rulers, authorities, and wickedness in high places. He has to keep the world suppressed and in darkness, to prevent the ‘salt and light’ from overthrowing the illusion he’s so carefully crafted. This is why the world will tolerate drugs, false religions, homosexuality, abortion, racism, euthanasia, pornography, rape, murder, violence, cults, corruption, greed, pollution, abuse, slavery, and every other vile thing that enslaves and destroys mankind, but viscerally hates the name of Jesus Christ.
What we are seeing in this current present darkness, is a satanic world system whose value system is flipped on its head. This is where evil is called good, and good, evil. They (spiritual forces of darkness in high places) realize that their time is running short, and they are in full panic mode. Satan is throwing out all the bells and whistles, and for a brief, brief period of time, God is increasingly allowing it, but only because it serves His purpose, which is to remove the Church, chastise and ultimately redeem Israel, and destroy the world system Satan has spent millennia crafting and suppressing. (Daniel 9:24-27, Jeremiah 30:7-11, 1 Cor. 15:51-56)
Think about it this way, if God is true and the Bible is true, then any narrative that the world presents as ‘truth’ and conflicts with what the Bible says must be a lie because they can’t both be true. For instance, IF the universe and all therein came from an accidental ‘Big Bang’, then the Genesis account can’t be true. IF man came from apes (or Darwinian Evolution model), then man was not created by God in His own image. IF there is no afterlife, and when we die, we just drift off into eternal blackness of nothingness then there cannot be heaven and hell. IF all paths lead to God, then the Bible can’t be true. IF man can earn his own salvation through good works, then the Bible can’t be true. WHY NOT? Because the Bible states that it is only through the finished work of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, that man can be saved.
Therefore, any narrative that conflicts with Scripture is a lie then Satan MUST construct a myriad of lies to help prop up that false narrative. Because once you start peeling away the lies, the whole false narrative starts to fall apart rather quickly. This is why he has suppressed the world into spiritual kingdoms of darkness. Since he himself is a created being, he has to rely on his lesser demons to do his bidding. How exactly their rank structure works, I’m not sure. But know this, that even though he currently holds sway over the earth, he is about to be evicted. Known to the Father, is that point in which He will direct the Son, Jesus Christ, to remove His ambassador’s from the earth. (Philippians 3:20-21) He then will present Jesus as the Lamb of God, and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, who is the only ONE worthy to redeem the earth and all therein. Here is where we pick up the story in Revelation 5:6-10…
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”
Even So, Maranatha!