We had only been in Pakistan for a few months, settled in a small stone cottage in the foothills of the Himalayas. On one windy and dark night I had put my family to bed, opened the window to take in the fresh mountain air and had relaxed with my Bible in my lap. I had read less than one chapter when the electricity went out, probably from the high winds.

Sitting in the total darkness I was unsure what I should do. I wasn’t tired and didn’t know how long the lights would be off. I thought back over the passage that I had just read and in an unusually vivid way the words of the last verse came crisply back to my mind: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

I meditated on the verse that was so clear in my mind. I wondered if God had orchestrated the blackout so that I could see just how vital this lesson was. I felt like He was saying, “This is how I see the cosmos.”

Before we act, as disciples, we need to see the world the way that God sees it.

My family was about to engage in a struggle but it would not be against Pakistanis, or Islam, or the difficulties of getting by in a foreign culture. We were to struggle against unseen spiritual entities that share this world with us. This meant that, potentially, there was someone or something that I couldn’t see sitting in the darkness with me even at that moment. As silly as it now seems I did actually turn around in my chair to make sure I didn’t see something hovering in the corner. All I could see was blackness.

More striking than that creepy thought was the emphasis that the writer had placed on the jurisdiction of these spirits. They are described as “rulers,” “authorities,” and “powers” and I realized that every place inside and outside of our compound belonged to them. They were like that land’s mayors and governors and presidents. If we were to proceed with the cause of Christ we were going to constantly come up against authoritative opposition from these established spiritual leaders described as not just having command of the earth but also working against us, as “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Main point: Humanity is almost completely blind to the fact that we are under occupation by spiritual forces in authoritative positions, and they want us to be ignorant of their presence so that we will not rebel.

So what? Every disciple and every church must become acutely aware of this spiritual enemy and of the war in which we are engaged. We fight for God’s kingdom and that is not a thing to be taken lightly.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.