What does it mean to be delivered from the present evil age?
According to Galatians 1:4 Jesus “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age.” In some versions the key verb is “rescued.”
Rescued, delivered… like a powerless victim brought out of a burning building.
It reminds me a little of the prayer of Jesus in John 17:15: “Father don’t take them out of the world, but keep them from evil.” Do you agree with the connection I’m making? The “present age” is overwhelmed and saturated with evil because sin would seem to have such a strong grip on our minds and lives.
Someone said to me that it seemed like “Satan ruled the roost.” In fact, he’s called the “prince of this world” and in 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” Things happen that suggest the dominating influence of evil, and the internet monkeys (as in the above pic) make sure that that message gets out.
“Bad news on the doorstep. I couldn’t take one more step.” Etc.
But you don’t have to think that way.
And for those who trust Christ, a liberation has begun to take place. Colossians 1:13 makes it explicit (and puts it in the past tense!): “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”
I’ve been singing -in fact I can hardly stop singing- “I’m no longer a slave to fear.” The reason we are no longer enslaved to the fear and guilt and anger and pessimism and selfishness and greed and pride of the “present evil age” is that “we have tasted the powers of the age to come ” (Hebrews 6:5), or as Jesus said, “the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20). “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and that “New” that has come is a new age, with new powers and new ways, which has broken in to deliver us from the present evil age.
The experience of deliverance from the present evil age enables us to bear witness with our lives that we belong to another King and another kingdom and another age.
And it begins with a changed heart and a changed mind.
Paul said, in a poignant moment, (in 2 Tim 4:10), “Demas has deserted me, in love with this present age.”
That is to say, that deliverance must mean a counter love affair, a change of heart, and what someone callled “the expulsive power of a new affection” so that we become enraptured with a different way of seeing life altogether.
In Romans 12:2, Paul said: “Do not be conformed to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
How hard it is to not be conformed to this age! We learn its values through our newspapers, books and films. We imbibe its moral conclusions through a hundred soap operas and through the lives of its “celebrities.” We are taught to admire and covet money, sex and power, and our children are force-fed almost twenty years of non-Christian education, backed by a pervasive 24/7 barrage of TV enculturation. How on earth can we not conform?
But you don’t have to think that way.
Despite every appearance to the contrary, “He that is in you is greater than he who is in th world.” Here’s the context in 1 John 4: “Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and is already in the world at this time. You, little children, are from God and have overcome them, because greater is He who is in youthan he who is in the world. They are of the world. That is why they speak from the world’s perspective, and the world listens to them.…”
Deliverance from the present evil age means freedom not to think like this age.Total mental freedom -imagine that! “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1). Jesus Christ died to deliver you from the curse of the law—glorious forgiveness!—and he died to deliver you from the conceptions of our age—glorious freedom and independence of mind!
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!… Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4)