Deliverance!

[The following article, written by Pastor M. H. Reynolds, Jr., discusses five areas of life in which we as Christians are "delivered" or "made free" due to the person and work of Jesus Christ. In an age in which so many people find themselves in bondage to sin, fear and uncertainty, it is a blessing to know that we are free!]

 We Are Delivered from the Power of Darkness (Col. 1:9-14)

Darkness is always associated with evil (Eph. 5:11) and with God’s judgment upon sin (2 Pet. 2:4,17). Darkness is the exact opposite of light, and the two cannot co-exist (2 Cor. 6:14). First John 1:5 tells us that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Jesus Christ said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12).

Colossians 1 brings wonderful assurance to every believer as we are told that Jesus Christ has delivered us from the power of darkness; we have been translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son; we have redemption through His blood; we have the forgiveness of sins (vv. 13-14).

Today, there is great confusion as to what constitutes both light and darkness. Some claim there is no difference; some say it is a matter of personal opinion; others claim to be engaged continually in a search for “light,” and some falsely claim they have found the “light” as they follow some false religion or cult.

The truth of the matter is that all who reject Jesus and the Bible have no light at all (Isa. 8:20; Jn. 3:14-21). The problem is that those who reject Christ and His Word are being deceived by Satan who appears as “an angel of light.” I have never heard of any false religion or cult that did not deceive its followers by claiming to provide wonderful new “light” and truth.

As a result, many today are walking in darkness who think they are walking in light. Believers must not find fault with those who are thus deceived; rather, we should turn on the true light—witness to them concerning Jesus Christ who is the Light of the world. And, we should give them the Word of God, the Bible, for “the entrance of Thy words giveth light…” (Psa. 119:130).

It is wonderful to know that every believer has been delivered from the power of darkness, and we should be continually giving thanks to God for His wonderful mercy and grace (v. 12). Our continual desire should be to “walk in the light, as He is in the light” (1 Jn. 1:7), for it is only in this way that we can “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleas­ing” (v. 10).

Let every believer rejoice in Christ’s wonderful deliverance from the power of darkness, and let us “walk in the light” daily as we tell others the good news about our Savior who is the Light of the world.

We Are Delivered from This Present Evil World (Gal. 1:1-5)

Not only are believers delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, but the sac­rifice of Christ that made this deliverance possible also delivers God’s children from this present evil world (v. 4).

This is a very important truth in our day when so many who profess to be God’s children are so deeply involved in “this present evil world.” Instead of recognizing the world as an enemy, they treat it as a friend. Instead of repudiating the ways of the world, they foolishly claim they can use those worldly ways to win the lost to Christ.

But what does God’s Word say? What is God’s will for His children—every one of them? Look again at verse four. One of the reasons Christ gave Himself for our sins was to deliver us from this present evil world; and furthermore, God says that this is His will for us.

Frequently we hear from believers who are deeply troubled about the worldliness in their own church. So often they ask, “Is some­thing wrong with me? When I express concern about the increasing worldliness of our group, I am considered a trouble maker; I am accused of being unwilling to change; I am told that the old ways just don’t work with this modern generation; I am commanded to wake up and realize that the new ways really work and produce sensational results.”

No, there is not something wrong with a believer who warns that the world is an enemy—not a friend. The problem lies not with a faith­ful minority but with a compromising majority. The Word of God is very clear on this matter. Too many who claim to be evangelical or even fundamental because they do not deny the major doctrines of the Christian faith are ignoring the strong warning God gives in 1 John 2:15-17 to those who love the world.

Worldliness never produces benefits for the believer; it is always costly! In 2 Timothy 4:10, we read of Demas who had the great privilege to be a companion of the apostle Paul, one of Christ’s greatest ministers. But he lost that priceless fellowship because he “loved this present world.”

Fellow believer, there is no question but that the world has many attractive programs to offer, whether it be in music, worship or even evangelism. However, to enjoy God’s best, we must accept Christ’s deliverance from the world rather than to be deceived and con­taminated by it!

We Are Delivered from Every Evil Work (2 Tim. 4:16-18)

Thank God for the deliverance we have through Jesus Christ from the power of darkness and from this present evil world. But His abounding grace provides yet another deliverance as set forth in the above text—deliverance “from every evil work” (v. 18).

In a day when there is much false teaching concerning what a believer may expect in this life, it is doubly important to find out what the Bible says about the walk and work of God’s children. The Christian’s future is glorious, but the period between salvation and our being gathered unto the Lord is one of burdens as well as blessings. God says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer per­secution” (2 Tim. 3:12).

Today, many churches have been infiltrated by false teachers who twist the Scriptures and deceive Christians into believing that if they live for Christ they may expect health, wealth and popularity. As a result, when trials and testings do come (as they always will), these believers think there is something wrong with them. Instead, they should realize that God permits His children to experience trials and testings for their good and His glory.

The apostle Paul, one of the greatest missionaries, pastors, teachers and evangelists who ever lived, did not expect nor did he always enjoy a bed of roses. In verse 16 we learn that in a time of special trial, no man stood with him—all men forsook him—he was left alone, humanly speaking. His faithful testimony stirred up evil men who did everything they could to silence his voice and discredit his message. Was something wrong with Paul? Of course not!

Through the years of his ministry, Paul had learned “in whatsoever state [he was], therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11); he knew that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6); and, he knew that “if we suffer (for Him), we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:12).

But notice also verse 17 where we find that, although men had forsaken Paul in his time of need, the most important One of all—the Lord—was with him! As a result, Paul was strengthened; his preach­ing ministry was greatly extended; and, he was “delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”

Then, looking ahead, we can and do rejoice in the precious promises of verse 18 for future deliverance from every evil work and divine preservation unto His heavenly kingdom. How wonderful!

We Are Delivered from Fear of Death (Heb. 2:14-18)

Fear of death is part of the bondage of sin (v. 15). All men are sinners (Rom. 3:10, 23) and therefore all have a fear of death, no mat­ter how loudly they may boast that they have no such fear. However, God’s Word is very clear on this matter. All who have not trusted Jesus Christ as Savior are “all their lifetime” subject to this bondage of fear. And it often happens that those who deny any fear of death when things are going well do, indeed, evince the great anguish of soul all unsaved people experience when death appears imminent.

But, thank God, deliverance from fear of death is available to all who put their trust in Christ. The Word of God (the Son of God) became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn. 1:1-14). He became man and by His death and resurrection triumphed over sin, Satan and death (vv. 14-15). Only our Lord Jesus Christ, holy God and perfect man, could have paid the penalty for our sin. He died, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. He arose and ever liveth to make intercession for us that we might be delivered not only from fear of death but from every fear (Psa. 34:4).

Once we fully understand and appreciate the fact that we have been delivered from the power of darkness, from this present evil world, from every evil work and from the fear of death, our own faith (confidence) increases so that God can use our testimony to be of help to newer, younger Christians. Instead of being stumbling blocks to others, we will find grace from the Lord to “lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees” (Heb. 12:12). Instead of being filled with fear, we will be filled with faith.

What a comfort it is to know that Jesus Christ, our perfect Savior from sin, is also our perfect Deliverer from all fear. We all know by experience, and the Word of God tells us, that “fear hath torment” (1 Jn. 4:18). But this same verse reminds us that perfect love, Christ’s love, casts out fear.

Furthermore, Jesus Christ is our perfect Intercessor—our Great High Priest. Unlike any human helper, He fully understands our weak­nesses and the severity of our trials. He is both sympathetic and empathetic to us in our present difficulties. Most important of all, He is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). What a wonderful Savior! What a wonderful Deliverer!

We Are Delivered from the Wrath to Come (1 Thess. 1:5-10)

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Do you believe Jesus is coming again? He said He would (Jn. 14:1-6). The New Testament is filled with references to Christ’s return, and 1 Thes­salonians 4:14 plainly tells us that if we believe Jesus died and rose again, we should also believe that He is coming again.

A proper understanding of this text is of critical importance to any Scriptural consideration of Christ’s return. The believers at Thes­salonica heard the gospel, believed the gospel and began preaching the gospel to others (vv. 5-8). As a result, their lives were changed, and they turned from idols to serve the living and true God (v. 9). They knew what affliction was, but they also knew real joy in the midst of affliction (v. 6). They set a good example for others (v. 7). They were waiting for God’s Son from heaven. They were assured that their Savior had already delivered them from the wrath to come (v. 10).

Now this was very good news to those early believers as it is very good news to us. Many of those in Thessalonica were undergoing such terrible persecution that they thought they might have missed the rapture and were going through the great tribulation. The Holy Spirit was quick to assure them that such was not the case (note 1 Thess. 3:3-4; 4:13-18; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:1-12).

Today there is a revival of false teaching concerning the return of Christ, the rapture of the church and the tribulation, similar to that which evidently existed in Thessalonica (2 Thess. 2:1-2). Believers are being taught that the church will go through all or part of the great tribulation (Rev. 6:16; 16:1, 19). But 1 Thessalonians 1:10 specifically states that Jesus has delivered us from the wrath to come.

Does this “wrath to come” refer only to eternal punishment in the lake of fire? Believers, of course, have been delivered from that. But those who will take time to study what the Bible teaches concerning God’s wrath will find compelling evidence to conclude that believers have been delivered not only from eternal punishment but also from the coming wrath of God that will be poured out upon the earth in full measure during the tribulation.

As believers, we anticipate the joy of the “blessed hope,” not the fear of the wrath to come. Keep looking up! — M. H. Reynolds, Jr.