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Rescued from the Power of Darkness (Col. 1:13)

The Deadly Power of Darkness

All That Opposes the God of Light

The darkness in the world discourages us, but here we are taught to give constant thanks to our Father. He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into his Son’s kingdom of light. However much the city of man sinks into darkness, we live in the light of God’s presence and can never be shaken. This is a remarkable work of God’s grace, for we were once darkness and cut off from the Lord. He dwells in “unapproachable light,” but sin engulfed us with darkness (1 Tim. 6:6; 1 John 1:5). We were created to live in his fellowship, but we turned from his command. When we are confronted with God’s truth, we hate the light. We blink and sputter, like a man who has lived in a cave all his life and comes into the sunlight for the first time. This is man’s state until he is born again. He hates the light, opposes it, and refuses to come to the light (John 3:19-20). His guilty conscience, love for sin, and hatred of the truth give him a deep opposition to all that is holy, righteous, and good.

Satan’s Real Power in the Darkness (Eph. 2:2)

Deepening the darkness is Satan’s authority or power over the darkness. He is the “god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4). This does not mean that he controls the world, for our Lord Jesus is Lord of all, but that all those who live in darkness are under the devil’s dominion. He deceives them (2 Tim. 2:26). The Holy Spirit says that he works in them (Eph. 2:2), for they are disobedient to God, and his kingdom is built upon man rebelling against the Lord. This is a horror that few consider. When we oppose God and walk in disobedience to him, Satan is at work in us. It is not simply by séances, occult games, and astrology that we open ourselves to demonic influences, but by disobedience to God. Satan does all he can in his limited power to obscure the truth, harass and discourage heralds of God’s light, and make darkness seem like light. He does this even with God’s grace, for he likes nothing better than to deceive men into thinking that God’s grace gives them permission to sin and does away with obedience altogether. Satan loves “carnival grace,” lawless grace, self-accepting grace. He hates grace that flows from Calvary, breaks the power of sin and self, and leads to devoted obedience to God. To the degree his leash is loosened, he directly attacks the credibility of God’s word, undermines the authority of preachers and teachers, and discourages godly parents and families so that they grow weary of walking in the light and make a little peace with the darkness.

This Present Darkness

Darkness spreads wherever Jesus Christ remains unknown or among men and nations that turn away from him. He is the light of the world. We should not expect for the world of ungodly men to grow better. “Evil men and seducers will go from bad to worse, deceived and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13). Darkness spreads in our own land, although the men and women who came to these shores in the 17th century were mostly Christians and tried to live by God’s light in their relations and institutions. We progressively forsook the Reformation’s light and embraced commercialism, militarism, and salvation by technology and government. Darkness revolted against the gospel light and liberty rekindled by the Reformation. Generations of secularists have now spread Satan’s darkness everywhere in our land, until the Lord of hosts has given us over as a nation to a reprobate mind. The perversion that is praised, the statism that is welcomed, the entertainment and sports that are worshipped, and the love of money that dominates are the darkness of sin and Satan spreading, choking, and killing our land. The darkness hates the light. It wants to kill the light, obscure it, pretend the light does not exist, and persecute all those who walk in the light and condemn the darkness by their faith and love. Darkness desires to cover all with the darkness of personal libertinism, statist tyranny and totalitarianism, a renewed Babel against God and his authority and his Christ. Our darkness is evil, hateful and deadly, like its father, the devil.

Our Father’s answer to the darkness is to make us children of light and help us to walk as children of light (Eph. 5:8). To walk in the light means that we walk in obedience to our Father’s commands, like our Savior did. We cannot endorse, as some false branches of Christ’s church do, religious polytheism as virtue or the basis of a free society. Muslims, Hindus, and who knows what may have a legal right to practice their idolatry, but those who worship idols worship demons and deepen the darkness of our land (1 Cor. 10:20). There are not many ways to God, but One only (Deut. 6:4), through faith in Jesus Christ. We must worship God according to his word, not what makes us feel close to God. God is not a feeling to be enjoyed but our Maker and Redeemer to be worshipped reverently. To walk in the light, we must not take God’s name in vain by ignoring his mighty works in nature and history but every day reminding those in the darkness that all the blessings of liberty and prosperity are found not in the city of man’s darkness but in the kingdom of our Savior’s light. Does today’s church keep God’s Sabbath but walk in the darkness of a misunderstood, cheapened grace and personal autonomy?

Are we light dwellers or part of the present darkness? Teens, are you honoring your parents and doing what they tell you, or are you walking in the darkness by having a bad attitude and looking forward to the day when you can live as you please? Are we contributing to this present darkness by hating those with whom we disagree, or are we loving our enemies and seeking to overcome evil not with word bombs and real bombs but with good and lowly service? Is the darkness of pornography and fantasy gripping you? Or are you walking in the light of purity, fighting against impurity, and doing your part to end human trafficking by refusing to support in any way the sex industry in this land? Are you, husband and wife, walking in the light by tenderly loving one another or creating separation and opening the door for temptation and infidelity and divorce, which God hates? Darkness spreads whenever we think the worst of each other, do not pray for each other, or put the worst possible interpretation upon one another’s actions and words – rather than the best, preferring one another, and upholding the good name of our neighbor. Darkness dominates where covetousness and envy dominate; light overcomes where there is contentment and delight in every small gift from the Lord. Light rejoices to serve the Lord in any small way and when another believer is blessed.

Our Father’s Rescuing Grace

Unable to Deliver Ourselves

 “Men love the darkness” (John 3:19). Sinners love the darkness and only regret that they must suffer for their sins and finally go to hell for them. Because sinners love the darkness, deliverance must come from heaven. You likely remember the power of darkness in your own life. You tried personal reformation. The darkness descended upon you again and again. You promised to set boundaries upon your sins – they burst the chains every time. You gave up trying to get free, but your chains chaffed you all the more, especially if you lived around light-dwellers, parents and friends who were not chained to the darkness as you were. You despaired, wept quietly, or cursed loudly – the darkness spewing and churning and killing you. If you are in the darkness, you know at some level of what I speak. Everywhere you turn, more darkness. You might open a Bible or try to pray, but the darkness then comes so deeply into your heart that it is a like a hand from hell reaching up to extinguish even the smallest ray of light – and hope.

An Impossible, Glorious Rescue (Ex. 6:6-8)

Then, our Deliverer comes! Our gracious and merciful Father is a rescuer. This is the main idea behind “deliver.” “Deliver” and “redeem” are the same words used in Exodus 6:6-8 in the Septuagint when Moses described the way the Lord delivered his people from their chains in Egypt.  The Lord then brought his people out of their bondage by his strong arm. He rescued and redeemed them for himself. The darkness of sin is like chains. We cannot free ourselves. God alone can rescue us. Remember that thankfulness is the purpose of these words. Remember that you were in the darkness and could not save yourself. Remember the darkness of hell was awaiting you. Remember that you had no power to save yourself, but there is a God in heaven who has mercy upon slaves, who rescues captives, who breaks the power of sin’s darkness and brings us into the light. His delivering grace is so powerful that he makes us his children, light-dwellers, lovers of truth, haters of sin, lovers of holiness, haters of impurity, and empowered to walk in the light.

The Only Deliverer

Deliverance is by the work and grace of God alone. We might try to lessen the impact of our sins or cover them up, but this is not deliverance. It is to weld our chains more tightly to our souls. Thus, we must not listen to those who speak of man’s goodness and ability. They are deceivers. God alone redeems us from our bondage. We must leave this office of rescuer to him and stop trying to rescue ourselves. This does not mean passivity but great energy in seeking the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. As vital as self-renunciation is to our deliverance, so is committal to Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son. In renouncing ourselves, we do not give up, but we give ourselves over to him to deliver us. Learn this gospel lesson carefully and keep practicing it until he brings you to heaven. We are helpless, but he is full of grace and truth. We are darkness in ourselves, but he is light in us. We are sinners, but he is the righteous Savior who puts sin to death by dying on the cross, offering his just soul in our place.  As strongly as we insist upon man’s total depravity and inability, we must as fervently believe and proclaim God’s grace, light, and power to deliver sinners through Jesus Christ. Human helplessness without our Father’s willing, rescuing love and our Savior’s dying love leads to despair and coldness. His glorious grace in redemption without honest assessment of sin’s chains leads to sentimentality and low views of the cross and of the grace of God revealed in his Son. The more honest we are about our darkness, the more gloriously his deliverance shines and the deeper will be our praise and thanksgiving.

Our Removal into the Beloved’s Kingdom

A Rescue from Darkness to Light (Acts 26:18)

The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the light of the world. He came into the world to “open our eyes and to turn us from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith” (Acts 26:18). Here we have in Paul’s personal testimony a compelling explanation of what it means to be delivered from darkness into the light. The Lord opens our eyes. We are all blind men, but Jesus Christ touches our eyes and heals us. In place of our darkness, the Holy Spirit gives us the love of the truth that we might be saved (2 Thess. 2:10). He turns us from darkness lovers to light lovers. We do not hide from God but draw near to him as his redeemed children. We welcome the exposure, for we know the cleansing fountain of Christ’s precious blood. He delivers us from bondage to sin and Satan. He purchases justifying righteousness for us and makes us righteous in life by his renewing Spirit. He rescues us by forgiving our sins, so that our worst darkness is blotted out by his blood. Instead of being doomed to chains of darkness forever, he makes us qualified for our inheritance with the saints in light. This is a glorious deliverance! Bless the Lord and give him thanks!

The Beloved’s Kingdom of Light

Our deliverance is called a “translation,” a transfer from one place or situation to another. When we were in the darkness, our situation was bleak and hopeless – without God and without hope in the world, without heaven in the future, only hell to receive us. But now in Christ, we are brought into a new relationship with him through the finished work of his Son. We are receiving a kingdom (Heb. 12:28). It is the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. Love defines his kingdom, for it is the kingdom of the beloved – God’s love for his Son and is revealed in his Son (John 17:23-24), the Son’s love leading him to give himself for us on the cross, the Spirit’s loving fellowship with us, and our responding love to the Lord and to one another. Our Savior’s kingdom is light – love for God’s truth, power in God’s truth by the Spirit unto righteousness, peace, and joy (Rom. 14:17). The kingdom of the Father’s beloved is not an earthly kingdom of palaces, crusades, and cathedrals, which are all monuments to man. His is a kingdom of lowliness, of cross-bearing, of overcoming evil with good, of withstanding the devil with the sword of God’s word, of responding to injury with forbearance and forgiveness. This is light. The world will always, always hate our Savior’s kingdom. And because we are in the light and reprove its evil deeds, the world will always hate us – until the Lord Jesus returns and throws all that offends into the lake of fire.

By calling Christ his Beloved Son, the Father is highlighting our deliverance from darkness. “The Father loves the Son” (John 3:35; 5:20). This is a profound revelation of the triune nature of God. It also highlights the Father’s love for us, that he would deliver us from darkness by the blood of the Son he loves so much. One reason we are often so unsettled by life’s troubles and doubt God’s love is because we do not consider how much the Father’s love permeates all he has done for us. He did not deliver us at no cost to himself. He gave us his Beloved, the One in whom his soul delighted (Isa. 42:1). When he made his Son’s soul an offer for sin, when he looked away from his Son as he bore our curse instead of looking away from us forever, he is also telling us how he feels about us. He loves us. He cannot love us less because we pass through fiery trials. He is with us and has ordained all our crosses to reveal his strength and his love. He wants us trusting him and being satisfied with his love as his Beloved was. This is very stabilizing for our faith. No matter what happens to us, the Father loved us so much that he delivered us by the blood of his Beloved. The Lord Jesus loved us and gave himself for us. All of this was done that we might know the Father’s love for the Son and the Son’s love for his Father. Such love has delivered us. It changes us now to know it. It is one of the richest parts of our inheritance, to be one with the Father and Son in love (John 17:21).

“Kingdom of his Beloved” teaches us that our Savior’s kingdom is built upon the love of Father and Son, and the redeeming grace shown to sinners. Jesus Christ rules over a mediatorial kingdom of redeeming love. Its home is not in political conservatism. He does not rule to build a competing city on earth. His kingdom is not of this world. It does not have a capital on earth but in heaven, at the Father’s right hand. His kingdom, his royal, redeeming rule spreads as we proclaim the Father’s life and love to a dark and dying world. His kingdom comes as we live in love toward one another. This is the way all men know we are Christ’s disciples – not how nasty we can be when others disagree with us but how lowly and forgiving. His kingdom is strong and growing among us when we learn to take the lowest seat, seek nothing for ourselves but prefer others to ourselves, and serve without drawing attention to ourselves or complaining. The kingdom of the Loved One starkly contrasts with Satan’s kingdom of division, pride, murder, hatred, self-seeking, and trying to play God. We must be more influenced by our Savior’s true kingdom, which grows and prevails in the world’s darkness when we live in the light of our Lord’s love.

This Is Our Story, Our Song, Our Witness, Our Warning

We are children of light. This is overwhelming grace – from darkness to light, from enemies of God to indwelled by God, from dominated by sin’s darkness to children of his light and grace. And living in this present darkness, we are to shine as children of light, to let our works be seen by men so that our Father is glorified (Matt. 5:16). We must not hide our light under the bushel baskets we weave – fear, indifference, loathing for the wicked, or smug arrogance because men will not listen to us. No, our story is very simple and direct. The God of light brought us out of sin’s darkness. This is one way we shine as lights – tell others about the light, let them see Christ’s light in action, his light loving and bearing injury patiently, his light speaking with wisdom about the evils of our times and explaining them as departures from Christ and his word. The light is our story – not that we rescued ourselves, have it all figured out, or any other way that pride talks to obscure the glory of God rescuing us. Men who are rescued speak of their rescuer, not of themselves. If we want to be fitter for our Master’s use and give a truer and more compelling witness in the world, we must pray for grace to boast in God’s grace and our Savior’s cross alone.

And this is the reason we must give thanks. Our Father has done this for us. He loves us. We had nothing to commend us to him, for we were children of wrath under Satan’s domination. He rescued us. Give him thanks. Thank him hourly that he has made you a child of light, that you have his word to be a “lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path.” Do not think so much about your continued failings as his grace to you. Thank him for loving you and giving his Son for you that you might not perish. Think of the price Jesus Christ paid to rescue and redeem you and give him thanks. Think of how much the Father loves you to make you a part of the only kingdom that will survive the dangers of our warfare and the fires of judgment when our Savior returns. Think what it will be like to see face to face the One who rescued you. Think what it will be like to enter heaven and know you were delivered from everlasting hell, the moment of your first joy in heaven, the first time you see the face and hear the voice of Jesus Christ.  Think of being with him forever, when the Father’s Beloved becomes your Beloved far more than in this life. Give the Father hearty, constant thanks. Let his light of thanksgiving shine in you. His light drives away the darkness and builds Christ’s kingdom of light.

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