The darkness cannot prevail, though for the present it pervades certain limits within the cosmos, permeates our world, and presides within the nature of man. It has dominion over us. It blinds our perception. It is suffuses every affection. It is the cause of a radical enmity towards God and an alienation from him. We have been seduced by the devil’s lie which has been inserted at the core of our nature, and are in ardent pursuit of his programme, willing slaves to his designs, his co-operative and consenting captives, even though he marches us in chains to the horrible fate of the second death – the abyss that awaits him and the furnace that awaits us. The darkness is the tragic condition and nemesis of our race yet it scarcely registers in our awareness, because along with his seduction Satan administers the sedatives of his carnal satisfactions and we amble towards disaster in a dizzy stupor and state of torpor. Satan casts his spells and we succumb to his illusions, a life of vanity filled with vain hopes and vain dreams, only to awaken from a nightmare that has become an alarming reality – the eternal estrangement from God.
The reference to “the darkness” is a grim reminder of our plight. It points to the necessity and power of Christ’s redemption and impels us to grasp it. It explains the enmity of the world and why we have no truce with it, and cannot agree with the fundamental ways of man that are in conflict with the will of God. Our common humanity, which is at one in its need for healing, cannot concur with or bridge our differences with the fallen morality of this world and its loquacious pundits. We live on a different plain and are guided by another wisdom to which sinful man cannot submit. He does not see the light, but hates it, and avoids it. The grounds for amicable and successful debate are absent. Where the light and love of the Spirit do not commend the precepts of the Word to the conscience there is no disposition for obedience. We are at odds with the world and the witness we must give cannot compel assent unless the Lord persuades the unwilling. The darkness is overwhelming. It is not passive but resistant. If it were to recede men would pull it back and wrap themselves in its multiple folds. Darkness is preferred until light breaks through and drives it away with superior force. Our arguments are futile until affections are changed by omnipotent grace. The world lies in darkness and men have no desire to move from its shadows or any longing to see it dispelled. The darkness hinders and handicaps our faculties because it distorts our vision and dictates our appetites. The tendency and tastes of the godly differ sharply from the direction and desires of the unregenerate. Born supernaturally from above the elect look upwards to him. Even if the faculties of reflection and expression of the children of God are feeble and inferior they have a sense of the distinction between the policies of contradictory kingdoms – the realms of light and darkness. The conflict between those endued with the mind of God and those who are darkened in their understanding is not a battle of wits between them that has to be won by clever debate. The grounds for disagreement lie in attitude. Believers apprehend that they are not their own and in meekness align themselves with the will of their Lord who has revealed himself to them. The disobedient evince a stubborn resolve, “not to have this man rule over us”. They despise the kingship of Christ and have contempt for the divine plan of salvation realized in him.
The darkness is barely tolerable because God makes existence sustainable thorough the maintenance, to some degree, of natural reason and the remnants of humane instincts with which man was endowed at his creation. Common grace, the influences of the Holy Spirit that do not result in salvation, ensures that man does not collapse into total self destruction through the forces of his utter corruption and the pressures of the spiritual tyrant that manipulates him. Nonetheless, our world is the tempestuous arena of savage warfare where the enemies of God seek to deface his image, renounce his proprietorial rights over everything he has made, and foil all his purposes. The perpetual violence of man in all its forms, physical and psychological, is a vicious thrust at the one created to be an icon of God. The perversion of sex, especially gender confusion, is an attack on the union of man and woman together as a “two part” representation of God with the power to perpetuate human life to the glory of God who has called us into a unique and honourable partnership with himself. The rape and exploitation of the earth for selfish gain rather than our moderate needs is a robbery of the treasury of God meant for us all to share and enjoy. The pride, the greed, the envy, the aggression of our race, replicate the nature of our wicked rebel commander. The infection of his evilness has putrefied the essence of our being and produced all our disorders.
The Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, abandoned the Christian faith of his Reformed forebears because he believed they failed to recognize the reality of evil. Our current superficiality and sentimentalism confirm that insight. Until we confront the darkness within and around us we shall never truly understand or trust the Lord Jesus. We shall not respect his status or his Saviourhood, nor worthily comprehend why and how he came to destroy the works of the devil (I Jn 3:8).