“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” -Galatians 1:3-5
Most of us (those who have trusted in Christ) stop at the statement that Jesus died for our sins. We rejoice (and rightly so) that while we have “missed the mark” (sinned against God and have fallen short of His glorious perfection) and thus should justly and rightly “miss out on the prize” (eternal life); Jesus, out of His love for us and through His death on the cross, atoned for our sins that we might be forgiven of our sins and granted the gift of eternal life. This is “good news of great joy!”
But the Good News does not end there. It only begins there. The Good News doesn’t only reconcile us to God; it revolutionizes our whole life. It doesn’t only change our eternity, it is to change our life on earth. The verses above in Galatians remind us that Jesus “gave Himself for our sins” not merely that our sins could be forgiven and we could go to heaven when we die…but He gave Himself: “to rescue us from the present evil age.”
We don’t often see this present world for what it really is. But this present world lies under the dark domain of Satan. We live in a fallen world. We live in a sinful world. We live in a world in rebellion against God. We live in a world filled with wickedness. It is simply…evil. Jesus gave Himself on the cross to rescue us from the wickedness of this fallen world system under the devil’s control. He died not only to forgive us our sin; but to set us free from our sin and this present evil age.
Ephesians 2:1-3 reminds us of this reality before Christ came and rescued us: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”
This is grim reality. And apart from Jesus Christ it would be the only reality. But Jesus’ coming and giving Himself on the cross for our sins resulted in a new and beautiful and other reality as Ephesians 2:4-7 goes on to describe: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Picture it like this: we were spiritually speaking, locked and chained in a dungeon with no hope of escape, left for dead. We were “Sleeping Beauty.” But Jesus was the prince who slayed the dragon and by His “kiss of love” caused us to awaken from our sleep!
Jesus changed the eternity of those who trust in Him…and the way we are to live our lives on earth.
So what does this practically look like? How do we apply this to our lives today?
First of all we have to see that this “age” we live in is not merely fallen…but evil. We can’t call “good” what is evil (Isaiah 5:20) or accept as “normal” what God says is “sinful” even if everyone else accepts it or condones it. Until we see and accept the world and its ways as God see’s it, we will continue to live under unnecessary and unhealthy denial, deception and bondage.
Secondly, if Jesus gave Himself to rescue us from this present evil age, how can we “jump” back into its polluted streams and “go with the flow” any longer? Our lives have been radically transformed so now how we live needs to radically change. How we think, what we speak, how we act, what we do needs to be different than the world around us. Colossians 1:12-14 reminds us that God, who is now our Father, He “…has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
We have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of light. We have been rescued from the domain and “dominion of darkness” (Satan’s rule) and brought into the kingdom of light (Jesus’ rule).
Therefore as Romans 13:12-14 calls us: “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
This Christmas season, remember that Christ didn’t merely give you a gift; He gave Himself for your sins to rescue you from this present evil age. Really pause to think about the implications and application this should have in your life…not only for eternity, but even now on earth. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and bring conviction and correction to anything in your life that needs brought under the submission of Christ. Participate no longer in the “deeds of darkness” but choose to be the “light” that we are now called to be as “children of the light.” God has undertaken the greatest rescue operation of history for you! It cost Him everything. It cost Jesus His life. The least we can do is now live our lives for Him in return for Him rescuing us. He has rescued us from this present evil age…to God be the glory now and forever, amen!