As Saul of Tarsus sat in the darkness of blindness in Acts 9, Ananias, with his hands upon the head of this one who was the great persecutor of the Christian church, spoke words of never-to-be-forgotten life-changing power to the blind man. “Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, hath sent me, that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And straightway there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight; and he arose and was baptized.”
You can’t have deliverance without a deliverer; for Saul, the deliverer was the Lord who had now captured him. Let us turn for a quick moment to Colossians 1:13. “[God] hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” There is deliverance from sin’s tyranny, with the dominion of darkness broken and the kingdom of light ushered in.
Look at Galatians 1:3-4. Right here in the beginning of the Galatian letter, Paul says, “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age.” Here is deliverance from the world’s grasp. It is essentially godless. There is a vast complex of evil that surrounds us. It is essentially godless because it lives in disregard for God’s kingdom, His laws, and His love. Its heart is set on the perishable. Its ego is the center of its life. It grips us like a vice. It shapes us, dictates to us, dominates us―until Christ sets us free.
How many people don’t shape their environment but are molded by it? That’s why Paul says, in Phillips’ translation of Romans 12:2, “Don’t let the world … squeeze you into its mold. …” This translation hits straight home, for that is what the world is always trying to do. But Christ delivers us, says Paul. He makes us free from the world’s grip, from the clutching grasp of a world system that has its deadly hold upon people.
Or look at I Thessalonians 1:9-10. At the end of this chapter in which Paul has been reviewing the remarkable way in which the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ came to Thessalonica, he says, “… you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven–” Listen: “whom he raised from the dead; Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” Deliverance from sin’s tyranny? Yes. Deliverance from the world’s grasp? Yes. And deliverance–thank God–from judgment’s terror. He has delivered us from “the wrath to come.” Jesus, you will remember, said, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18). This was the vision–the vision of the Supreme Deliverer, that came to Paul, and from which he never departed wherever he went. In the light of this vision, he proclaimed, with such passionate persuasiveness, the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ.
Life in Christ is invariably life with a purpose. One of the great tragedies of our day is the sheer aimlessness and purposelessness of so many young people. Nor are they all underprivileged youth: contrariwise, many are university students bent on finding purpose and destiny for their lives. Paul heard from the Lord on the day of his conversion. He listened to the risen Jesus say, “... to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:18).
He expects from us a witness that shines home as light: “to open their eyes.” It was so with Paul; it is so with us. Christ expects from us a witness that speaks of pardon: “that they may receive forgiveness of sins.” He expects from us a witness that speaks of hope: hope that is purposed to achieve heaven’s destination.