Study Guide: Out of the Darkness

Sunday August 28, 2011 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

It’s impossible to live in this world and not see the evil that happens. This evil happens because of the free will of evil forces in creation. But there is hope in this darkness. In this sermon, Greg explains how we lived in the kingdom of darkness and have been brought into the Kingdom of God.

Extended Summary:

1 John 5:19 says this world is under the control of the evil one. The original, 1st century context of the Bible thought there were different levels of evil agents that affected the world. These evil agents were individual, local, regional and worldly agents, just to specify a few different levels. Our world today is still oppressed by these evil agents, even though it can seem like a fairy tale to modern science.

Many people, including Christians, have trouble believing this concept of oppression. We, as Christians, can believe in a supernatural, all-good being, but it can be difficult to believe in evil beings that are in control of this world. For one thing, it makes our understanding of the world a little messier. If we don’t believe in evil agents, then it’s easy to believe that this world is mostly good outside of a few acts of God and some immoral people, but God will deal with them. And hey, if science keeps progressing, we’ll eventually fix most of the problems in this world.

An overly positive view of this world can be a reason that people view themselves as fairly good, and not in need of any saving. In one religious survey several years ago, 90% of people believed they deserved to go to heaven. This is funny because only 84% were sure there was a heaven. Many people believe that we’re not perfect, but not bad. Maybe we need some forgiveness, but we’re certainly not as much as some other people. And we might need some moral encouragement, but we don’t need to be saved.

Even though we have unsurpassable, intrinsic worth, we are not intrinsically “good.” This can be a tough pill to swallow, especially in our individualistic, self-help culture. And the biblical prognosis is that we’re sinners who are in need of saving.

The good news is that God sent us a savior. Even though we’re dead in our sins and can’t pull ourselves out of the quagmire of sin, God made a way for every person to be saved.

This doesn’t mean that God chooses who is and isn’t saved. God empowers everyone to accept Jesus through the Holy Spirit. However, everyone has a choice of rejecting the Holy Spirit. It’s not that God chooses some and doesn’t choose others. Rather, he creates the space for anyone to choose and some – because of their free will – don’t choose him.

The good news of a savior can be difficult to understand when evil still exists in this world. To better understand this, we should take a look at the original context of the words “brought out of” in this passage of Colossians. The word methistemi means to transfer or relocate and was the word used to describe the Romans taking a group of people from one geographical location to another. The Romans would conquer a province and displace those who lived there to another place in the empire. So when this word is used to describe our being brought into the Kingdom of the Son, it means that in some sense we’ve changed addresses in this world. Where we once resided in the land of darkness, we now reside in the Kingdom of Light.

Even beyond an address, the Bible says that we actually reside IN the Son. In some way, whenever God looks at us, he sees his Son. This is not only good news, but the best news. This world of darkness, that we once lived in and could not pull ourselves out of, is no longer our dwelling place.

Our call is to live worthy of this new address. Not in a sense of repaying a debt, but more of living a life congruent with this new address. We should align our thoughts, minds, and actions with this new citizenship. We’re no longer under Satan’s authority and condemnation, and we should dwell on that fact and live a life manifested with this good news.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. Why does “being dead in our sin” feel unnatural in our culture in America?
  3. If we’re relocated to a different address in Christ, why do you think evil still exists at this new address?
  4. What would being “saved” look like if we were naturally “good?”
  5. It seems like it takes a lot of convincing to know that we’re living at a new address in Christ. What are some practical ways that you can remind yourself of this truth in order to live it out in your life?