Delivered from the Kingdom of Darkness

Dr. Brian Allison

There are many who read this article who know that they are Christians. There are others who may not be sure whether they are Christians. Moreover, perhaps there are a few who know that they are not Christians. For those who know that you are Christians, I have this question for you: What actually happened to you when you became a Christian? Please do not despise the simplicity of that question. Now, I suppose that one could answer that question on a number of levels, or from different perspectives. For instance, maybe you are saying, "When I became a Christian, I felt incredible joy and I wanted to tell others about the Lord Jesus Christ." Others may respond, "I was filled with deep gratitude to Christ and I wanted to read His Word and serve Him." Still others may say, "Well, when I became a Christian, I lost my taste for horror movies and hard metal rock, and I just wanted to be holy, just like Jesus."

Now, when I raise this question, "What actually happened to you when you became a Christian?", I am thinking in terms of your state of being or existence. Accordingly, Colossians 1:13 reads, "For He [God] delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son." At your conversion, a tremendous spiritual transaction occurred. Something deeply radical and revolutionary took place: you moved from one state of being to another.

You were once in the domain of darkness

Before you became a Christian, you lived and existed in the sphere of the power or dominion of darkness. Another translation of that phrase, "the domain of darkness," is simply "the authority of darkness." The point is this: before you became a Christian, you were controlled by spiritual darkness, you lived for spiritual darkness, you were bound by spiritual darkness; you were a child of the night – self-willed, bent on pleasure-seeking. You were existing and functioning within a particular spiritual dimension, a dimension that is just as real as the stratosphere that is above the earth.

The physical environment of a squid is water; the physical environment of a slug is the earth; the physical environment of a sparrow is the air. Human beings have a physical environment as well; and just as they really live and exist in a physical environment as physical beings, so they live and exist in a spiritual-moral environment as spiritual-moral beings. Every non-Christian lives within this spiritual-moral environment of the domain of darkness; they are under the power and authority of the prince of darkness.

When we talk about the 'domain of darkness', we are considering a state of being or existence that is opposed to God. It is, of course, contrasted with light. Thus, 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with the darkness?" The domain of darkness is the natural and persistent state of every non-Christian, and that domain is characterized by at least three elements: 1) falsehood and deception; 2) evil and indecency; 3) unrighteousness and unholiness.

First, the domain of darkness consists of falsehood and deception. For instance, we read, "In Him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men [i.e., Jesus was, and is, the truth]. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend [grasp] the truth.... And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light...But he who practices the truth comes to the light" (Jn 1:4,5; 3:19a,21a).

Second, the domain of darkness consists of evil and indecency. For instance, we read, "And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by men in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by light, for everything that becomes visible is light" (Eph 5:11-13).

Third, the domain of darkness consists of unrighteousness (lawlessness) and unholiness. So, we read in Romans 13:12-14, "The night is almost gone and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts."

What we have here (with the domain of darkness) is a three-pronged pitch fork of sin. Now, those who are in the domain of darkness are not necessarily always involved in such activities or behaviours, but the point is this: their nature and behaviour are naturally and consistently inclined to such activities and behaviours. They even enjoy these activities and behaviours. Before you became a Christian that is exactly where you were; you were in the domain of darkness. For instance, you watched smutty programs and read smutty literature; you lied to get yourself out of a jam; you used the Lord's name in vain, and terrible profanity spewed out of your mouth. Some of you reading this article are yet in the domain of darkness, and you know it. You are controlled by darkness. Your will has been taken captive by Satan, and you are his marionette. He is calling the tune and he is playing you; he is paying the piper and you are dancing the jig. You have no choice. But God can set you free.

God has delivered you from that domain

My Christian friend, though you were ensnared in the domain of darkness, something wonderful happened. God did something, and only God could effectively do something. If we are to be changed, He must change us; and that is what He did – "For He delivered us from the domain of darkness." This word 'delivered' can be translated 'rescued'. It presupposes a state of danger or misery. Recall the language in the Lord's prayer, Matthew 6:13, "Lead us not into temptation but deliver [same original word] us from evil."

This past week we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. In 1917, commencing on April 9th, Canadian troops, led by Lieutenant General Julian Byng, attacked the ridge occupied by the Germans on the north east of Arras, France; and they rescued and secured it. That is exactly what God has done. God has gone on a rescue mission, and He has taken our Vimy Ridge, and He has secured it. He has released us from the bondage of Satan and from the chains of sin. He has released us from the grip of death, and that through faith in His Gospel and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

I want to emphasize this truth: God has really rescued you. Does that sound too simple? God has set you free. The Lord of glory left the realms of heaven on a rescue mission for His people who were ensnared and held captive in the domain of darkness; and He burst through the gates of the kingdom of darkness, and entered in and retrieved us from there. Doesn't that cause you to rejoice? Isn't that wonderful? He really sets free. In my last year of university, I sat in the office of a pastor on a Sunday evening, in my haughtiness and pride, not knowing how strong the chains of sin around my soul were or how much of a grip Satan had on me; and this pastor spoke into my heart the Word of God, and God miraculously entered into my darkness and delivered me; and He did the same for you, Christian. At a point in time, God came after your soul and set you free. That is the Gospel!

God has brought you into a new spiritual sphere

As though deliverance from the domain of darkness was not enough, God also convoyed us to a place of eternal rest, safety, and bliss – "[He] transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son." Isn't that wonderful? God translated us from one state of spiritual existence into another one – from the domination of Satan and the control of sin to the governance of Christ and the control of the Spirit. God did that, in a moment of time. Through the manifestation of His power, He took us from one realm and convoyed us to another.

The term 'transferred' simply means to move across; it is the same notion that is used of Enoch and Elijah. "And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him" (Gn 5:24); and, "Then it came about as they [Elijah and Elisha] were going along and talking, that behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven (2 Kgs 2:11). Enoch and Elijah were translated. What I am saying is this: what happened to Enoch and Elijah physically, God did for us spiritually.

So, in becoming a Christian, you spiritually moved from one dimension of being to another, just as real as you moved from a foyer or narthex into an auditorium when you attended church. By His Spirit, you entered into the heavenly sphere and now that is your environment every day. That is where you are. For instance, we read in Ephesians 2:5,6, "Even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." My Christian friend, this is not simply abstract, theological language. That is exactly what God did; He spiritually transported you into heaven. That is where you are right now. You cannot see it with the physical eye, but you can see and know it through faith. So, right now you are seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus; and God put you there.

As a Christian, in that sphere or dimension you perceive and experience things of which the world knows nothing. Do you understand what I am saying? Consider the account in 2 Kings 6, in which the king of Aram wanted to dispose of Elisha because he was revealing his military movements to the king of Israel. A great army of the Arameans came and surrounded the city, Dothan, in which were Elisha and his attendant. We read, "Now when the attendant of the man of God [Elisha] had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, 'Alas, my master! What shall we do?' So he answered, 'Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' Then Elisha prayed and said, 'O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' And the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (vv. 15-17). Our real situation, as Christians, is that we really live and function in a higher spiritual reality which is always with us.

God has brought you under the reign of Christ

Do you see specifically into what God has spiritually translated you, Christian? – Christ's kingdom; that is, the realm of His spiritual reign. Simply, God has translated you into the presence and rule of Christ. If you are a true Christian, that is now your state or sphere of existence. You need to recognize that, identify that, acknowledge that, and yield to that. You can no more leave that sphere or dimension than you can leave this world (by your own power and might). My friend, it is real; and when you begin to understand that, and believe that, then you will know the power of it. You are, in a real sense, a citizen of that heavenly kingdom where Christ Himself is Lord. You are to bow before Him; you are to walk softly before Him; you should understand from the depths of your being that He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and that His eye is upon you.

Each morning when you awake, you awake in the presence of God and under His reign and rulership. I was speaking to a pastor friend of mine recently and he said, "Every morning when I wake up, I pray something like this: 'Lord, I am wholly dependent upon You; my life is in Your hands. I can do nothing without You. You are the King of my life and the Lord of my existence. I recognize that, I acknowledge that, and I yield to that now, and, by Your grace, throughout this day.'" That is how we all should speak.

So, you are either in the heavenly sphere or you are not. Those who are there know exactly what I am talking about. Christian, God has delivered you from the domain of darkness and has translated you into the kingdom of His dear Son. This is your sphere of existence, this is your daily environment; this is where you live, move, and transact, whether you are at the office, behind the counter, or at your desk. Whether you are driving in your car or watching TV, you are in the kingdom of Christ, always before His throne, and He sees you. Believer, do you understand and appreciate what actually happened to you when you became a Christian?

My non-Christian friend, you are still in the domain of darkness, and I suspect that you do not know how dark it is. The sad thing is that you think you have the light, you think that you know where you are going. You are making your plans, you have your goals, you believe that you have many potential and fruitful years ahead of you; and you do not realize that you are in deep darkness, that you are a lackey of the devil, and that his bony fingers are wrapped around your neck, ready to pull you down to hell. Even though you may not say it with your lips, or think it with your mind, you are saying to the prince of darkness in your heart, "Master, what do you want me to do?" Satan is your master; yes, he is. But I have good news for you, if you will receive it. God is still on a rescue mission, and He wants your soul. He will deliver you from the domain of darkness and transfer you into Christ's glorious kingdom. If you hear Him, respond to Him now. The choice is yours. Won't you come to Jesus? May God give you grace to come.