Colossians 1:13, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:”
This morning, a quick perusal of the various information outlets reveals that sin and evil are alive and well in our world. Though mankind has lived in a sin cursed world from the day of man’s fall in the Garden of Eden, today’s world seems to either manifest the sin to greater degrees than before or provide the means for seeing it more than ever before. With the rise and advent of instant access, we see man’s depravity on display all around us. As Paul told the Galatian brethren (Galatians 5:19), the works of the flesh are “manifest.” One thing that seeing all of this around us can do is paralyze us with fear, depression, or apathy. As broken creatures ourselves, we can either be overrun with emotions that do us no good spiritually or want to “quit the fight” as seeing all the evil works of darkness in this world.
Our study verse is found in the midst of one of Paul’s patented “long sentences.” Paul’s writing style is known for laying foundational points together over long spaces. Much like in Ephesians 1, this chapter is chock full of rich information about how God has taken His children to Himself. During this rich, foundational discourse, Paul declares that we do not belong to this old world. We have been translated (transferred or transposed) from the hold of darkness into a kingdom that is not of this world. As Enoch was translated from this world to heaven itself (Hebrews 11:5), we have experienced a change from one realm to another. Enoch’s translation put him completely away from the shores of this world, and while our translation still keeps our abode here, we have been removed from its grip.
Sometimes it helps me when reading the Bible to consider what a text is “not saying” as that aids me in not making the wrong application or drawing the wrong conclusion about things. Too many times today we hear people say, “I don’t understand why so many good people suffer in this world.” Without addressing the merits/demerits of this statement, let us consider that statement from our study verse. The text does not say that we have been delivered from the “presence” of darkness. We have been delivered from the “power” of it. Whether considering the darkness of the world in general or the darkness of our old nature, God has mercifully delivered us from the power of it. Since the presence of darkness remains, we still must fight for the cause of light, verity, and goodness.
But, what about this fight? Have you ever fought the spiritual warfare with a defeatist attitude? Perhaps your prayer life was in motion only, without ever really expecting the prayers to be answered? We are commanded to pray in hope and anticipation of being heard and blessed. (Mark 11:24) The vestiges of our old nature (post regeneration) try to hold us back from our duty and service to God. The body of death makes us wretched, unbelieving, and sometimes darkish in our walk.
When we fight against the tendencies of our natural state, we need to fight with the knowledge that its power has been taken from us. Though we still fall victim to it (through its presence), we need to understand that we can do better. Why? He has abolished its power, thereby strengthening us to do all of His commands through Christ. (Philippians 4:13) When we fight the dark influences of the world and our adversary the devil, we need to fight with the knowledge and understanding that we can win the battle. Part of the fight comes from some blessed knowledge of the outcome of the war.
When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with an older deacon at the church who taught me how to hunt, fish, etc. He had no fear of things on this earth, and he manifested it by ripping snakes’ heads off with his bare hands. I watched him take apart cottonmouths and other serpents with the simple explanation, “They ain’t put together too good boy.” However, he told me when he pulled apart a venomous beast, “Don’t go near the head boy. He’s dead, but he can still bite, it will still hurt, and I’ll still have to take you to the hospital. Then momma won’t let you come with me no more.” How fitting an analogy for our warfare here!
Satan’s power of darkness has been taken from us, but like a mortally wounded or dead snake, he can still bite us when we are too close to his devices. Yet, those trips we take to the hospital do not change the fact that the war is won! Our Lord took down the snake’s head with His heel on Calvary, and our battles do not change the outcome of the war. But consider how our mindset becomes! We fight – knowing we have won – like we can lose, and our adversary fights – knowing he has lost (Revelation 12) – like he can win! Beloved, we should not allow sorrow or other emotions to overrun us nor fall prey to apathy and wondering “What’s the point?” when the power that gripped us no longer masters us.Not only has the power of darkness been mercifully taken from us, God has transferred us to a kingdom that is known as light. Since light dispels darkness, we have been equipped with the tools and armour to wage a successful fight against dark forces. God has given us a book of light (the Bible), with a nature of light (new man), and a family of light (people of God) that are facets of His kingdom that we belong to. Is the world still dark and wicked? Certainly. Is there light in the world? Absolutely. Instead of focusing on all the darkness, we should rather seek let our light so shine.
Consider how Gideon’s force looked before and after the trumpets blew. Before the trumpets blew, they were a little band encircling the armies of darkness. From the ground, they were badly outnumbered and weaponless. From above (God’s perspective), they were a ring of lights (the candle in the earthen pitcher could be seen above but not around) around the host. When we stand in our place in this world, we are lights in earthen pitchers, but when the trumpet of the gospel kingdom blows, it breaks our flesh and destroys the pride that gets in our way. Then, the light God sees becomes light that is seen all around. May we understand that though we live in a dark world its presence does not signify power over us. May we hold our lights high with our lamps trimmed and full of oil. Finally, may we do this knowing who it is we belong to so that we always remember that our war is won when we fight our daily battles.