header image
Home arrow Writers arrow J.H. Oliphant arrow Delivered From the Power of Darkness
Delivered From the Power of Darkness PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.H. Oliphant   

 

MESSENGER OF PEACE—MARCH 1910

“Who hath delivered, us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.”—Col. 1. 13.

If physicians differ about the disease they will differ about the remedy. If we can see our need in every way we will be the better prepared to judge of what remedy we need. “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.” The dead know not what they need, they are not in pain, nor discontent with their state. This is true of the naturally dead, and equally so with the spiritually dead.

The sinner’s condition would not be so bad if he were dissatisfied with it, but one sad feature is, he loves the disease, and has no heart for the only physician or his remedy. “There is none that doeth good, no not one.” Note the words, “no not one.” “Their throat is an open sepulcher.” As a stench comes from an “open sepulcher,” a horrid odor, so the throat of a sinner sends forth nothing good. “The poison of asps is under their lips.” “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” God sees it this way. As he looks down on men in the ruins of sin he beholds a ruined race.

As sin has reigned unto death.” If sin reigns, it must be true that sin is master, and controls the sinner until God delivers him from the ‘‘power of darkness.’’ If we will look at the lives that men generally live, or if we consider the lives we lived while we were dead in sin, we will see evidence that sin reigns. The sinner feels secure, no groaning over sin, no tears, no sighs. If he be of a religious turn he will thank God “I am not as other men are.” Paul says, “I was alive once without the law.” Satan’s method is to blind men to their real condition. “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not.” A self righteous man never cries, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” and here is comfort to God’s people. ‘They do cry out, “O wretched man that I am,” and this is not the cry of those dead in sin. Where sin reigns absolutely there is quiet-ness and content. “The strong man armed keeps his palace and his goods are in peace. Where sin reigns there is peace, no loss of sleep for sin, no inward crying for mercy, no dread of God’s frowns or displeasure.

The work of grace is expressed by the coming of the law. “When the commandment came,” the particular commandment that came to Paul was, “Thou shalt not covet.” Paul had the commandments in his mind, but there is a coming of the commandment that is followed by “sin revived and I died.” When the commandment comes we see sin as God sees it; we see the depths of it, and all its ruin, and we die to the love of it. “How can we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?” And we die to the first covenant of works as a first husband (Rom. vii. 1 to 4).

When we see tears shed for sin, when we see men who groan over their imperfections, we know the reign of sin is disturbed, that the cruel tyrant has lost his sway. The sinner is not conscious that a tyrant controls him, he does as he will, and feels sure this is liberty. “If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” They answered, “We be Abraham’s seed and were never in bondage.” It is an unfelt bondage, an unseen captivity. And yet it is a real captivity. Paul says, “Without God and without hope in the world.” The self-righteous have hope. Christ said, “Of whom ye say that he is your God, yet ye have not known him.” Christ said to a self-righteous people, “The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” There is a something about the self-righteous that in some sense is worse than those who profess to know nothing. ‘The latter are more open to the word. “If any man will be wise let him first become a fool.” A self-righteous man feels no need of instruction, no need of mercy, no sense of guilt, and he is the. “whole that need not a physician.” He has a hope but it is a spider’s web, a rope of sand.

God’s people have a hope as an anchor of the soul, a hope that supports in time of loss, and when dangers are near. Paul says, “Patience, experience; and experience hope.” The Christian’s hope results from experience, and it is a sweet hope. “Many will say unto me in that day, Lord Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name have done many wonderful works?” A false hope may cling to a man till the last. “Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you.” Here is hope disappointed at the last, and it is hope resting on what they had done for God, and will disappoint in the end.

Let us seriously ask ourselves what is our hope, on what does it rest? “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” The true hope that is an anchor in every storm is Christ in you the hope of glory. Our hope rests on what God has done for us, on his power and immutability, and will in the end prove to be an anchor, when the last cyclone is to encounter them it will be sufficient Let us examine ourselves to see if this hope be ours.

I have somewhat digressed. “Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” What David says here we may all say. The best of men were “by nature the children of wrath even as others.” We are the offspring of Adam fallen. He had no sinless nature to impart to his offspring, so we are sinners by nature. Sin has grown with our growth, and strengthened with our strength. It is not natural for men to turn from it. As well may we expect water to run up stream, or the rocks to fly against the skies, as a sinner to whom sin is natural to turn from it.

The question is asked, “Who then can be saved?” And Christ answers, “With men it is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”—Matt. xix. 26. Christ says, “No man can come to me except the father which hath sent me draw him.”—John vi. 44. The state of a sinner is a serious one. He is under the curse, (Gal iii 10,) and in a justly condemned state. He is now exposed to the curse of the law.

“Your time is always ready.” There is no just reason why he should not be cut off at any time. He knows this, yet, “They not only do them but have pleasure in them that do them.”—Rom. i. 32. He seeks the company likely to hold him in sin, knowing that such a course will end in ruin.
Flavel says, “There are but two ways to quiet men about eternal things, the way of faith, or of ignorance and deceit.” By the one we are put beyond fear, by the other beyond fear. Again Flavel says, “Satan could never quiet men if he did not first blind them.” There is nothing plainer than that false religion will quiet the feelings of men. The Jews thought, “We have Abraham to our father,” and this will count much. They relied on circumcision of the flesh (Rom. ii. 25-29). Simon was baptized and yet was in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. He had never been delivered from the power of darkness.”

How serious it is for one to be lulled to sleep in carnal security by being in church David said, “Let their table be made a snare and a trap and a stumbling block to them.” Ordinances are sweet privileges to God’s people, but a snare to the uncircumcised in heart. Ministers should not encourage graceless men, women and children to enter into the ordinances. Ordinances will not “deliver from the power of darkness,” although they may put the conscience to rest. They may add to the minister’s reputation as a revivalist, but ordinances will not save the soul.

How earnest, and active, and persistent men are for worldly things, and few are really serious about their eternal interests. Death and eternity are near, may be very near. The seeds of disease are in every man, and yet men seldom cry out, “What must I do to be saved?” They often seek to know about how they are to excel in the world, but seldom do we meet men that “tremble at the word of the Lord.” Learn from this the blindness, deadness and ruin of the sinner.

There are three things said about our deliverance from sin that point unmistakably to the hand that alone can deliver us. First, it is a creative work. “Ye are his workmanship, created in Christ unto good works.” It is a creation work—it is not a work effected by culture or refinement, it is a work of creation. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This work is associated with creation itself. “But God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts.” Second, it is raising the dead. “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.” To quicken is to make the dead live. Third, it is a being born again. “Not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
What a sad state the world is in! Moral darkness is forever enveloping the minds and hearts of men, nourishing sin and strengthening the hold of sin upon the soul. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” He hath taken its from the society of the world, and given us a home among his people, and here is a test of the genuineness of our conversion. We are taken from our former associates, and placed in new society. “We know we are passed from death to life because we love the brethren.” A professor who does not love his church and love its assemblies is most likely deceived. The first need of the sinner is to be quickened, which is the act of God, to be made alive, to see himself as he is, awake to his danger, to be enlightened that be may know both the ruin of sin and the worth of Christ. “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling.” Sin becomes “exceeding sinful,” and detestable. Paul in setting forth the effects of grace says, “Ye sorrowed after a godly sort; what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves— what vehement desire.” Once one is quickened and made alive, be finds sin a serious matter.

“What clearing of yourselves.” Here is a permanent turning from it. What “vehement desire.” And this results in a change of company, books, conversation, and I may say a change of doctrine. Christ becomes precious, as a reprieve is precious to the condemned, as food is precious to the starving and water to the famishing. The coming of the commandment prepares the heart for a thankful reception of the mercy of God. Some lie many months or years at the pool, and others find the word of pardon soon.

We should not be satisfied about our condition before God if we find ourselves still in love with sin, or if we feel no delight in his service. Surely if sin cost the Savior his blood and life it should cost us a tear and a groan.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 September 2006 )
< Previous   Next >

Purpose

The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.