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Occasionally we hear certain geographical locations referred to as “dark areas”. If I understand the term correctly, it is used to indicate a place where Satan is particularly active. And it is usually heard in the context of an explanation as to why it is “impossible” to stand on God’s Word in that place.
It seems that the believers in Pergamos were unfamiliar with such arguments.
Revelation 2:12, 13:
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
“Where Satan dwelleth!” “Where Satan’s seat is!” That would certainly qualify as a “dark area,” wouldn’t it? Yet the Word of God indicates that the believers in that place held fast to his name, and did not deny the faith.
The truth is, although certain areas may be more prone than others to particular forms of devilish activity, the whole world is a dark area. This should come as no surprise, since the devil is the ruler of it. (See John 12:31, 14:30, etc. For those unfamiliar with how Satan received dominion over the world, I would recommend the teaching of the class “Walking in God’s Power,” which we run locally on a regular basis.)
For many, such a declaration is alarming. They would prefer to believe that “God is in charge,” even though the Word of God and even their own experiences declare otherwise. At times, they have even sought for some island, valley or other hidden spot that sin has bypassed, where believers can live in peace. Unfortunately, if it is in the world, it is under the dominion of the Adversary, and, along with tools, provisions and high hopes, sin will be arriving with the very first settler.
For those who love God and believe His Word, however, there is good news: whatever the condition of the world, He is with me. Consider the following promises, made to believers of the Old Testament, but still true for us:
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
How could we fear or be dismayed, knowing He is with us?
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
Most of us would prefer avoiding floods and fires altogether, but if we should find ourselves in them, He is with us!
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
“The valley of the shadow of death” – sounds like a dark area! He’s with us there as well.
What a comfort to know that wherever I may find myself in this world, God is with me. He will protect, He will provide, He will deliver. And yet, for the Christian, the full truth goes far beyond even these great assurances. Take, for example, these words of Jesus Christ to his disciples.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
The world will always be a source of pressure, especially for a believer. That is promised. Yet we have something to rejoice in: he has overcome the world.
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
As born-again ones, Jesus Christ’s victory over the world has become ours. We carry it wherever we go, for the Overcomer is in us.
You’ll note that the Word of God does not tell us that he who is in us is “adequate”, or “enough to get by on.” He is greater. Greater! And this is wonderful news, for we are not here simply to survive or get by We are here to invade.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Our Lord has given us a job to do in this world, and he has empowered us to do it. Let us never forget this. We are not some group of poor, groveling beggars in this world, fearing the power of its ruler, hoping to pass through unnoticed. We are here with a message. We are here with power. And we are here with authority.
Certainly it is a glory to God when His children manage to prosper in this world, to have their needs met despite the pervasiveness of the devil’s thoughts, the devil’s ways and the devil himself. But let’s not stop there! Our goal is not merely to survive – our goal is to bring God’s Word and God’s deliverance into this world. No matter how dark things may get, we can hold fast to the name of Jesus Christ, proclaiming him to others, that they too might believe.
Philippians 2:15, 16a
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Holding forth the word of life.