To Deliver us from the Present Evil Age - "Sunnyhill" Herne Bay Evangelical Free Church

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To Deliver us from the Present Evil Age

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Text:

Gal.1:4 "(he) gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,"



To Deliver us from the Present Evil Age


Introduction
Christians don’t always get things right as they try to live out their Christian lives. Sometimes the mistakes they make are relatively minor, sometimes not. The Christians in Galatia were in danger of making a very serious mistake, a mistake which would lead them completely away from the truth they had already heard.

Paul had originally preached the gospel to them and they had been transformed by it as they received it. The reason it was effective amongst them was that the gospel Paul preached originated with God. It was God’s gospel and it was the only gospel there was.

It was, and still is, a wonderful message that centres on Jesus Christ and him crucified. The blessings of the gospel are enjoyed when men and women respond by exercising faith in this crucified Saviour.

Faith is always fundamental in the Christian’s life – and to turn from it is desperately serious. Yet this is just what the Galatians were doing and so Paul charged them with being fools. They were, however, fools to be reasoned with. In doing just that Paul would touch upon various aspects of the gospel. He wanted them to realise that if they were to abandon this principle of faith by focusing now upon their own efforts then they were in reality turning away from the true gospel with all its attendant blessings.

As Paul here writes about the gospel he gives us yet more detail concerning the blessings that flow from the cross. He tells us a little bit more about exactly why Jesus died.

And so our text this evening is taken from the opening verses of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Let me read it to you again and then we will go on to look at it more closely:

Gal.1:4 "(he) gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,"



The Truths of this Verse Outlined

This a wonderfully rich verse. It contains a number of important and interesting truths. Let me highlight them for you. It tells:

  • Who the giver was – the Lord Jesus Christ (v.1)

  • What he gave – himself. He held nothing back this giving of himself went to the limit – this self-giving involved the death of the cross

  • What he gave himself for – our sins were the cause, they were the problem that could only be dealt with by his death

  • The end for which he died on the cross – our deliverance from the present evil age

  • All this in harmony with the will of God the Father


This is a verse well worth learning by heart!


Deliverance - The One Truth we’re Focusing on this Evening

This evening we are going to consider just one part of this verse Gal.1:4. This is it:

"to deliver us from the present evil age"


So what do these actually words mean?

The crucial phrase is "the present evil age" and it refers to the time in which we are now living. We all live in this age and will continue to do so until either we die or Christ returns. The Christian will be fully delivered from "this present evil age", in a final and ultimate sense, when he is removed to heaven – but such a deliverance does not take place the moment he believes. Paul here is not primarily thinking about heaven at all but about deliverance from the power of the evil one who holds sway in this present age.

In this Paul was following the example of the Lord Jesus. Do you remember how Jesus once prayed for his followers? Speaking to this Heavenly Father, Jesus prayed:

Jn.17:15 "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one."


Jesus prayed like that because in this "present evil age", Satan, the evil one, has power to deceive and to destroy. Christians go on living in the domain where Satan exercises his power and influence but Jesus prays that his followers be shielded from that negative influence. Sure Christians may be troubled at times but Satan has lost the right to rule over them because Jesus died for their sins that he might set us free from our old, hateful master.

Satan’s influence is always negative. The apostle John tells us that "the whole world lies in the power of this evil one" (1Jn.5:19) and for that reason he is called "the god of this world". He endeavours to use his power and influence to keep people in spiritual darkness so that they never understand the gospel for what it really is:

2Cor.4:4 "the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."


The language that the Bible normally uses to refer to "this present evil age" is the word "world" which is to be understood not as referring to the beautiful created order but to the rebellious, anti-god system where Satan holds sway, the domain of spiritual darkness and spiritual lifelessness.

To live in this world of godlessness, to belong to this present evil age, dominated by its principles and perverted values, is the natural lot of every single human being who is born.

Hence Paul wrote to the Galatian Christians wrote about the deliverance they had experienced when they received the gospel by faith. If they had never been under Satan’s sway they would have needed no deliverance but they had and they did!

Writing to a different group of Christians, this time in Ephesus, Paul expressed this exact same truth in a slightly different way:

Eph.2:2 "you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience’


And what does all this mean for us? It means that we were all once, whether we knew it or not, dupes of the devil. And if God had not begun to stir us up we would all have been quite content that things stay the way they were.

Paul used some vivid language to describe this state in which every single man, woman, boy or girl finds himself by virtue of being human: he speaks of having been taken captive, of imprisonment and of being placed under the restrictions of a guardian, he speaks of slavery.

The mind-set of this godless world is that it is only the material world that matters, it is the temporal, the immediate, the here-and-now that is worth living for. The spiritual world if not ignored is devalued and ridiculed. If any religious thought is to be allowed in this world it is the self-help religion that sings "I want it all" or "I want it now" or "I did it my way".

Jesus’ death upon the cross dealt with the problem of our sin and dealt with this problem of ensuing slavery. As Jesus thought and spoke about the coming climactic moment of his life he declared:

Jn.12:31-32 "Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."


And so he delivered us from this present evil age by delivering us from the power of Satan. Satan’s power has been broken and we have been set free and consequently we do not need to live any longer dominated by his evil influences.

As Jesus declared in the same prayer to which we have already referred the Christian might live in this world but he is no longer a part of it. He is no longer at home and at ease in this world – he is a stranger of a pilgrim passing through. The Christian’s life is no longer dominated by the thoughts, values and dreams of this world.

The Christian is free to live with a new set of values, free to pursue spiritual interests and realities, free to know and enjoy God. Whereas before he had been spiritually blind now he has begun to see clearly and his mind which was once conformed to this world is now in the process of being transformed and completely renewed as he learns more and more the truth of God’s word.

The world might still try to squeeze the Christian into its mould:

  • bad laws may be passed which generally lower the moral standards of society;

  • systems of justice may make unwise decisions approving what is shameful and condemning what is right;

  • peer-pressure which exerts such a force on young people in particular as it weighs heavily on them

  • but it’s not just young people who are susceptible to outside pressure or to the siren voices that call us onto the rocks as they sing "everyone does it."

  • the advertising industry would have us keep up with the Joneses

  • some feel the need to keep up appearances

  • the technological junkie must have the latest bit of kit

  • the dedicated follower of fashion must be forever renewing the wardrobe


And we’re tempted to find our value and our worth in the things we have or the jobs we do or the holidays we go on...

What a tiresome treadmill the world is! And the only place it’s headed is a lost eternity. What a joy it is to be delivered from it! To know we are loved and valued by our Heavenly Father who willed and planned our salvation at the cost of his own son’s lifeblood! What a joy to know that no longer is the future a dead-end when we hit the buffers – we’re no longer of this world – heaven is our home and we’re homeward-bound, heaven-bound!


Final Words
Jesus has by his death delivered us from this present evil age, from the rule and the domineering influence of Satan but this does not guarantee us automatically an easy life. Satan will still try to give you orders and he will still try to make you toe the line – how he would love you to forget what the Bible tells you about him being a defeated foe; how he would love to draw the wool over your eyes and bring to think that your experience is more trustworthy than the Bible’s promises and affirmations!

You’l get yourself into a mess and a needless pickle if you listen to his lies. You’ll end up taking wrong decisions, losing your joy and wondering whether Christianity has failed you. You may even conclude that it simply hasn’t worked for you and give up.

I wonder whether you remember the child’s game that goes by the name "Simon Says". One player takes the role of Simon and tells all the others what they are to do. However the others are only to do what they’re told when they hear the words "Simon says" preceding the order. Well in the past Satan played "Simon" and he told you what to do all the time. But now it is as though Jesus victory over him on the cross has made him unable to speak those two words. It doesn’t stop him from issuing the orders but he no longer has the slightest authority. But you know well in the child’s game how easy it is to do what is said even when the special words are omitted.

The Christian has no need any longer to follow Satan’s bidding but we do need to keep our wits about us. We do that by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ. We do so as we meditate on the truths of Scripture such as the one we have been thinking about this evening.

Our Heavenly Father who planned our salvation is committed to helping us even here – he freely gives the Spirit to those who ask him and he provides a way of escape from every difficult set of tempting circumstances. Satan would love to be able to make us blind all over again but he can’t. Don’t let him cloud our thinking by forgetting to read and to reflect on God’s word.

The Christian who has thus been freed by Christ will not necessarily find life easy – those who still live in spiritual blindness and bondage will not understand you and may very well oppose you – life may be very difficult and at times lonely – but remember you are free and if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.(Jn.8:36).

The freedom that Jesus has brought us into is not a blank cheque to do anything that might take our fancy (that is more akin to the evils of this present age) rather it is the freedom to do what is right and good, to carry out the will of God, to be made more like the Lord Jesus himself.

The deliverance that Jesus secured for us is to be followed up with wise behaviour:

  • Don’t go back to your old pre-Christian ways:


Gal.5:1
"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."


  • Remember God’s plan and purpose and serve others:


Gal.5:13 "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."


  • Don’t abuse your freedom – you’re not what you were but you are now a servant of God:


1Pet.2:16 "Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God."


And to God alone be the glory.

Amen.




 
 
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