Franklin Graham: This Present Darkness

Franklin Graham, President and CEO, Samaritan’s Purse and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

Darkness is spreading across the land. As the New Year got underway, I posted this on social media amid the flood of New Year’s resolutions:

“As we begin 2023, the world we live in seems to be imploding. A brutal war is bringing suffering and death in Ukraine with every day that passes. Senseless violence is rampant across the United States. Anti-God agendas that once hid in the darkness are now proudly out in the open, demanding acceptance. Developed nations are being overtaken by socialism, removing God from anything and everything in the public square. And if you think things are bad, just wait — they’ll get worse. As followers of Jesus Christ, what do we do? We tell a dying world that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life — no one comes to the Father except through Him (see John 14:6). We urge lost souls to repent of their sins and believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, before it’s too late.”

That’s not being pessimistic, it’s just a realistic grasp of the increasingly sinful, wicked and lawless state in which we find ourselves.

For decades now, America has been gradually abandoning the moral and spiritual precepts that have long informed our nation with God’s objective truth. Now apparently we can no longer discern the difference between men and women, and have come up with a category called transgender to describe something that doesn’t even exist. We have allowed the LGBTQ lobby to forcefully cram their ungodly agenda down the throats of the most innocent — young school children. And an entire political party has staked their claim on the right of women to murder their own children in the womb. Child sacrifice?

I recently heard Pastor John MacArthur say that he believes we have been turned over to a reprobate mind as described in the first chapter of Romans: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28, ESV). A debased or reprobate mind is essentially the point of no return. As MacArthur explained, “A reprobate mind means you don’t even function. There’s no way back because you aren’t rational. You start making laws to protect people who are insane. Why do I say that? Because they don’t know whether they are male or female. How insane can you be?”

Thus the unrepentant heart flaunts its wickedness and holds up its fist to defy God and His Word. God then eventually lets the defiant have their way to eternal destruction.

It all begins with a spiritually darkened mind, heart and understanding. “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).

It then becomes a matter of living in the dangerous, deadly realm of spiritual darkness. “You should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:17-18).

In other words, the unsaved, whether they realize it or not, live in spiritual darkness and deadness. And the Scripture is quite clear that those who continue in such a deceived state are at great peril for eternity. In His midnight conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus warned, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

As rebellion against God and His Word grows in the hearts of men, so darkness spreads across the land.

That’s why the only hope for a people or a nation is to turn to the Light of the World, the Lord Jesus Christ, who opens the hearts of blind and dead men and women to repent of sin and receive the gift of salvation. Jesus focused on that one truth as He talked to Nicodemus: “You must be born again” (John 3:7).

Worldly solutions won’t work. The darkness won’t retreat with more education. The darkness won’t retreat with more financial programs. The darkness won’t retreat with more political power. The darkness won’t retreat with scientific advancement. It is only overcome by those whose hearts have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb and whose eyes have been opened “to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).

Notice how the spiritual darkness and the dominion of Satan go hand in hand. The more the devil has an anchor in the souls of men, the greater the moral darkness.

In the mountains near my home, there is a little country church that built windows into the corners of the sanctuary, so that the devil has nowhere to hide. That’s a good reminder of how we should live. Never give the devil a corner of your life!

Believers are called to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We know we have been called to “proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

I will be proclaiming the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world this year, calling on all who hear to repent of their sins and turn in saving faith to the Lord. And I would encourage you to bring the light of Jesus Christ into every dark corner of your towns, schools and communities. Every soul that is saved becomes yet another living testimony to the Light of the World.

Remember, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5, ESV).


©2023 BGEA Unless otherwise specified, Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. The Scripture quotations marked ESV are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard  Version. Decision magazine, February 2023; ©2023 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; used by permission, all rights reserved. Photo credits: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

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