You Mean I Was a Part of the Domain of Darkness?

You mean I was a part of the domain of darkness?  (Col. 1:13-14)
Written by: Pete McClanathan

As we make our way through the current sermon series in the rich book of Colossians, certain words and ideas jump out and demand further thought. Such is the case with Col. 1:13-14:

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Similar words appear in Eph. 2:1-6, 2 Cor. 4:4, Rom. 6:23, and many other places in the New Testament. There is a sobering message in these scriptures if we are strong enough to face it honestly.

It is all too easy to fall into a manner of thinking that views our salvation much too casually. Especially if we come out of a relatively stable middle-class background. We can acknowledge having engaged in foolish and sinful thoughts, words, and behavior and realize we needed salvation in Christ from those things. 

But I suspect there is something in each of us (I know that for sure in myself) that carries on the sense that we are fundamentally good. That our talents and abilities qualify us to be heard. We can approach life with a (correct) sense of comfort that we have that ticket to heaven. But otherwise we easily tend to manage things through the old framework of desires, fears, expectations, and needs that existed prior to knowing Christ as Savior. And as a result we too often think, react, speak, and behave in the manner of our unredeemed selves. And why wouldn’t we default to those things even in the midst of our Christian life? We lived for many years with them as the perspective through which we attempted to navigate through life. 

We become comfortable in our church routines and our daily lives. Our worship can become mechanical and halfhearted. If we’re honest with ourselves we might even find pockets of false pride or self-righteousness. We can feel entitled to judge, to complain, to criticize, and to exclude. And in doing so we short circuit our worship and disregard the very many biblical calls to humility, brokenness, sacrifice, self control, and love.

The Bible refers to this constellation of desires, fears, expectations, and perceived needs as the “heart,” the workings of the inner person...mind, soul, spirit. And God’s Word does not speak favorably about the heart.

Jeremiah proclaims that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick, who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)

Jesus considered this a matter of high importance. He confronted his disciples with these words: 

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, and do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.The good person out of the treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil. For out of the abundance of his heart his mouth speaks.”  (Luke 6:41-45)

And consider these words of Jesus: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. (Mt. 15:19)

Note that some of the “polite” sins, such as lying (false witness) and speaking ill of another person (slander), are grouped with some of the more obvious sins such as murder and adultery. The same root of self-driven attitude drives them all. What does this tell us about how seriously Jesus views our words and conduct? And why? Because they serve as a warning of things far deeper, the workings of our self-driven hearts. The things that may reveal what we are trusting from moment to moment, ourselves and our circumstances, or the presence of the Holy Spirit and His Word seeking to work in our lives. 

We began this discussion in Col. 1:13-14. What is the “domain of darkness” referred to in vs.13? It is the realm of demons, of Satan himself, who the Bible tells us control the earth’s belief systems and seek constantly to deceive and destroy mankind. It is the world of pride, often cleverly disguised as “being right." It is the world of self-righteousness, demanding-ness, entitlement, criticism, jealousy, anger, self-protection and self-promotion. The Bible tells us that these, and more, are characteristics of our demonic foes. And the Bible uses the term “flesh” to refer to how the workings of these things from our unredeemed past can still be affecting our present lives.

So what does it mean that we have been “transferred from the domain of darkness?” Far more than we stop to realize, I fear. We were not once “good” people with a few flaws. We are part of a human race that carries the seed of sin in everyone. There was and is nothing good that we can stand on. The Bible tells us that even our attempts at righteous works are viewed by God as filthy rags. Let’s get beyond the thought that we might have been anything more than helpless sinners dead in sin. The Word of God does not allow for that conclusion. 

The glorious news is that we have been “delivered” from that domain of darkness upon our belief in Christ for salvation. We now reside in the “kingdom of His beloved son” in whom we have redemption (a legal term referring to being bought back out of being lost or in slavery) and forgiveness of sins. From death to life. From darkness to light. Accomplished entirely by Christ’s finished work on the cross. 

We will do well to face these truths with full honesty and amazement. They have tremendous implications for how we view ourselves and how we view God and others. 

Using these truths as a foundation, we will begin to examine our own lives in upcoming blog posts, which should begin to appear soon. Let’s try to get our minds around each discussion as we go. It’s not always an easy or comfortable journey. And if we’re honest, we may encounter some surprising and perhaps troublesome things. But they may be things that we are called to consider if we seek to follow Christ and His Word effectively as His disciples.

1 Comment

Theko Moteane - August 15th, 2023 at 3:00am

Brilliant. Great context, awesome insight