Listen to ““THE EVIL AROUND US: RECOGNIZING IT, BEING DELIVERED FROM IT” #ChurchOfTheUndead” on Spreaker.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read—and finished—the book of Galatians. But this is the first time I had a question about what I read as I was working my way through the first chapter:
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:3-4, ESV).
What does it mean that Jesus delivers us from this present evil age? And how do we recognize the evil around us in today’s present evil age?
Hello, Weirdos – I’m Pastor Darren – welcome to the Church of the Undead.
Here in the Church of the Undead I can share ideas which are relevant to those who suffer with depression, need some encouragement, and for those who love (or are just curious about) the God of the Bible. And it doesn’t matter if you are a Weirdo-in-Christ or just a Weirdo – everyone is welcome here at the Church of the Undead. And I use the word “undead” because here we are DEAD to sin and ALIVE in Christ! If you want to join this Weirdo congregation, just click that subscribe or follow button – and visit us online at WeirdDarkness.com/CHURCH.
Full disclosure – I might use the term “pastor” because I’ve branded this feature as a church – but I do not have a theology degree, nor did I ever go to Bible college. I’m just a guy who gave his life to Christ in 1989 and has tried to “walk the walk” every since – and has stumbled a lot along the way – because, like everybody else, I am an imperfect, heavily-flawed human being. So please don’t take what I say as gospel; dig into God’s word yourself for confirmation, inspiration, and revelation.
That being said, welcome to the Church of the Undead.
What does it mean that Jesus delivers us from this present evil age?
One thing it can’t mean is Jesus transporting every Christian to heaven immediately upon conversion. Heaps of us in the world make this clear. According to the Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, at the time of this podcasts, more than 2.6 billionChristians exist, marking Christianity as the religion with the largest number of adherents on earth.
Romans 10:14 affirms the wisdom behind God’s decision not to zap us straight to our eternal destiny. If every person departed the earth instantaneously after deciding to follow Christ, who would then evangelize and teach and preach the remaining masses?
Delivering us from this evil age can’t mean that Christians live in a bubble either, as though we’re immune to the many perils plaguing the planet. The tragic shooting at a Nashville Christian school shows as much.
Our times have no shortage of hardship indeed. From financial woes to bank closures, all of us are exposed to all of the above—regardless of our belief systems. The $7 carton of eggs isn’t only priced for the witch in the check-out lane in front of us or the atheist behind us. Christians are expected to pay the same amount.
Then there are mental and emotional pressures. Consider how divisive the world has become: Hot-button issues—abortion, LGBTQIA, trauma in the church—force us to side with one group over another.
No, being a believer doesn’t shelter us from societal strife, as evidenced by splits in churches in America and abroad over some of these issues.
So then, what does Galatians 1:4 mean? There are at least three possible answers.
1. No More Working for Salvation
The Passion Translation paraphrases this verse as such: “He’s the Anointed One who offered himself as the sacrifice for our sins! He has rescued us from this evil world system and set us free, just as our Father God desired.”
It goes on to explains that “this evil world system” includes the religious system based on duty and performance instead of love and grace.
So, one way to understand Galatians 1:4 is that thanks to Jesus, we’re delivered from having to work to secure our own salvation.
2. We Have a New Master
Christians have the advantage of belonging to the kingdom of God. Practically speaking, this means that no matter how awful things are down here, they don’t have the final say. If you get fired for standing up for what’s right, for instance, the Lord is able to secure you a better job elsewhere. And while inflation might deplete your hope, because Jesus has sacrificed Himself for us, you have an avenue in praying for His supernatural intervention for your situation.
Bottom line? Because of Jesus, you can expect something satisfactory at the end of your trials. “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
3. Things Are Not Worse
Things may feel bad—especially given how rocky the last few years have been—but they could have been worse. That’s because having a Savior means He’s sheltering us from rock bottom.
If you wish to verify this fact, spend some time reading testimonies from folks who came to the saving knowledge of Jesus. You’ll see a stark contrast between how desperate life was pre-Jesus versus now. Converts to Christianity are living witnesses to the veracity of David’s words: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).
But is this experience YOUR experience? I need to make it a daily practice to read the Bible—and judge areas of my life against it. I should ask myself, “Have I applied the passages I’ve just read into practice?” This would keep me from being stuck in the “hearer only” mode and deceive myself in the process (James 1:22).
Maybe we all should be doing this, what do you think?
With regards to the verses in Galatians I mentioned earlier, it means inspecting yourself and honestly assessing if you’ve experienced Jesus’ deliverance from this present evil age.
If it feels as though you’re constantly broke or fights continue to cripple your relationships, something’s off. Yes, we live in fallen world overflowing with trouble and trials, but Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). As His followers, we can expect to lean on His power to cause us to, similarly, overcome.
This is why Paul could label us more than conquerors “through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
If you haven’t seen the manifestation of Jesus’ deliverance in your life, check the following areas for clues:
Do you nurture an ongoing relationship with God? Do you reserve a quiet time to pray, read, and meditate on the Bible on a daily basis?
How is your prayer life? Do you know how to hear God’s voice? Once you become a believer, hearing His voice is your birthright. As Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
Most importantly – have you invited Jesus to be the Lord of your life? If you’re not sure, let’s take a detour for a moment and see if you truly are a born-again Christ-follower.
No matter your answer, God loves you the same. But there are things He has promised He’d do only for His children. A massive one includes the assurance that no matter how dangerous the world gets, you will remain safe and secure (Psalm 91:1). Another prime promise—the preeminent of all—includes the steel-solid assurance that once your tour on Earth expires, Heaven will welcome you.
So, how do you know you’re TRULY a Christian? The following facts typically correlate with a Christian identity. However, just because you may participate in any of them doesn’t make you a believer.
1. Born in America: Some have the notion that because America was founded on biblical principles, being born and raised here must make you a Christian (or Catholic). It doesn’t.
2. Christian Upbringing: You may benefit from growing up in a family of Christians, but salvation is non-transferable. Even if your parents and entire family are “born-again” believers, as your own person, you need to decide on what to make of the Bible’s claim that Jesus is God.
3. You Have No Other Faith: Just because you don’t follow any other religious or spiritual belief system doesn’t make you an automatic Christian.
4. Church Attendance: While gathering with God’s people is a crucial habit to cultivate, church attendance doesn’t make you a believer. This is especially true given the grim reality of how some churches have morphed into centers for activism and/or social hubs rather than Holy Spirit-empowered ekklesia, the Greek word for an assembly of Christians gathered for worship.
5. You’re A Fan Of “The Chosen”: Real hope is rarer—and more attractive—than diamonds. Because creative Christians cull their inspiration from the Holy Spirit, their crafts often become vessels for hope. This is why everyone (Christians and non-Christians alike) can derive comfort from faith-based content, including by watching the Chosen.
6. Reading the Bible: Since so few Christians read the Bible on a daily basis, it may be shocking to learn that non-Christians can be more devoted to the Holy Book than actual believers. For instance, an atheist by the name of Lee Strobel perused the Word regularly. Nabeel Qureshy, who grew up believing Islam’s indoctrination that Jesus was a mere prophet, did the same. Their time in the Word drove both men to eventually profess Jesus as Lord.
7. You Can Quote the Bible: Unfortunately, even Satan does this very activity, like when he tried to tempt Jesus to sin (Matthew 4:5-6). It’s obvious Satan is not a Christian. Neither is any person who would twist Scripture to advance a diabolical purpose—for instance, a husband who brutalizes his wife while also yelling at her to submit, “like the Bible says.”
8. You’re Surrounded By Christians: Maybe the majority of your friends are Christian. You work for a church, live in a Christian neighborhood, even teach—or enroll—at a seminary. But none of these things, in and of themselves, make you a believer in Jesus Christ.
9. You Give Generously: Christians are taught to tithe (Malachi 3:10-11) and give (2 Corinthians 9:7). However, Christians are not the only ones who practice this self-sacrificial act. Muslims do too, as do philanthropists and those who have learned that giving generates a great payoff.
10. You Have Respect for Jesus: Others may have a bone to pick with Jesus, but not you. You respect Him as a wise sage and founder of a world religion. I’m grateful for your positive view of Jesus, especially since so many profane His name. However, respect for Jesus alone isn’t enough to qualify you as a believer.
11. As An Infant or Child You Went Through Confirmation, Baptism, or Dedication: If you went through confirmation or baptism as a child, someone else—likely an adult who had authority over your life—made the decision regarding this religious ritual. Now that you’re capable to make informed decisions, however, it’s important to weigh these issues for yourself.
• Do you believe Jesus is the only true God?
• Or do you believe there is one God, but prefer not to squabble over the identity of the Divine?
• Are you willing to discard any other worldviews to embrace biblical path?
Your answer to these questions will help determine whether you’re a Christian or not.
12. You Celebrate Christmas: Each year Open Doors releases a list of the top 50 countries persecuting Christians. At the time of this podcast, Indonesia ranks 33rd on the organization’s World Watch List. One recent example involves a mob that forced a church service to disband. Even with this hostile detail, however, Indonesia remains open to Christmas. Malls in its capital city, Jakarta, sport towering Christmas trees and holiday trinkets every December. The first time I witnessed this phenomenon, I was tickled to see banners wishing mallgoers “Merry Christmas!” while carols on the Christ child’s birth crooned in the background. So, no, just because you celebrate Christmas doesn’t make you a Christian.
So Then, Who Is a Christian?
Romans 10: 9-10 provide the answer: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved.”
In other words, the following steps will cement your identity as a believer in Jesus Christ:
• Believe that God raised Jesus from the dead
• Vocalize that Jesus is your Lord.
Once you’ve done both, your first prayer as a Christian can be to ask God to forgive your sins. Feel free to quote 1 John 1:9 at Him as you do so, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Consider your sins forever gone.
Let’s pause a moment so you can take the time to implement these important steps right now. Believe that God raised Jesus from the dead… vocalize that Jesus is your Lord and savior… pray to God to forgive your sins.
Done? Hallelujah and high five! Your ticket to Heaven is hereby confirmed (John 3:16). Don’t rush to get there, though, because there are things you can accomplish down here on Earth. Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Your life has a purpose. The following is a snapshot of what it may be:
Introducing others to Jesus: What would you do if you found a new bistro offering delicious food at an unbeatable price? If you’re like me, you’d be ecstatic to share this news with loved ones. You want them to share your delight, right? The same goes with your faith. Since there’s no other name that can save us (Acts 4:12), now that you’re a Christian, let others hear your testimony.
Utilizing your talents for others: The generous God gifted all of us with talents. Whatever your natural abilities are, cultivate those gifts to glorify your God and benefit others. (If you don’t know your calling, inspect the desires of your heart for clues.)
Encouraging the downtrodden: This can vary in terms of your level of investment, from relatively light—such as cooking a hearty chicken soup for your sick neighbor—to more sacrificial, like giving to a ministry.
Before we continue, I’d like to be the first to celebrate your new identity as God’s child. Please find a Bible-believing church near you and get plugged in. Church of the Undead doesn’t count as your home church either! But let me know if you decided to follow Jesus while listening to this message – and welcome to God’s family!
Don’t be ashamed if you’re not exactly sure how to get started in these areas – this is one reason attending a local church is vital to your growth as a believer. Sitting under a pastor’s teaching and communing with fellow Christians serve as an invaluable source of support when your faith is new and growing, or if your faith feels weak, especially in the unprecedented times we live in… the present evil days we started talking about earlier. Now that you are a Christian you have protection – but that doesn’t mean you won’t have trials. I keep hoping that things will improve in this world. So far, my hope hasn’t panned out.
Sometimes, evil is found in our relationships with others. Navigating relationships on this side of heaven is complicated as it is. We are faced with conflict, stressed out about appropriate boundaries, and attacked with guilt and shame over whether or not we’ve forgiven people correctly. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
“But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 NLT
The work of the enemy abounds in our everyday lives. Instead of recognizing it’s Lucifer’s hand stirring up chaos in our minds and among our people, too often we allow Satan to pull out the professional-grade blender and completely annihilate our personal confidence and connection to others. But remember…
We Belong To God:
“The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.’” Psalm 110:1NLT
Good and evil fight alongside our daily lives on battlefields we cannot see with our actual eyes, but feel in the stirring of our souls. We belong to God, and the countenance of our hearts is only complete through our relationship with Him. “Jesus, as the reigning messianic king, is likewise seated at ‘God’s right hand,’” The ESV Global Study Bible explains, “God will subdue these enemies, making them subject to the authority of the Davidic king.” Christ is King. He is seated at the right hand of the Father. We belong to God, and through Christ share in the victory won through His death and resurrection, defeating Satan and death. In Christ Jesus, we live our lives with renewed perspective, aware and confident of what is True, and able to perceive and defeat lies and evil schemes.
We Have a Specific Purpose:
“You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority- the flocks and the herds and all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents.” Psalm 8:6-8 NLT
Scripture reminds us, God has known us since before we breathed our first breath on earth. He formed us in our mother’s womb! He knows us better than anyone, more thoroughly than we know ourselves. He is the only One who loves us with perfectly true and genuine compassion. We live to bring glory to Him, and His specific will for our lives reflects that purpose. The last thing the enemy wants is for our lives to shine the light of the Lord all over the place! Remembering God’s care for us reminds us we are here on purpose.
We Have A Real Enemy:
“So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end, they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.” 2 Corinthians 11:15 NLT
The enemy will use whoever is willing to subject their lives to his ways. Scripture is clear about Who has the authority to judge another person, and it isn’t us. However, we must be wise in the way we navigate our daily lives, and wary of whom we allow to absorb the majority of our time. Jesus didn’t avoid people, even those who were possessed by demons! But, Jesus faced every situation head-on, armed with the Truth and authority of God. We, too, have Truth and authority to wisely confront evil, and stop its progress in its tracks. Not all lives are being used for good, as they were intended to, sadly. Staying closely connected to Christ will help us to navigate every situation with truth and love.
We Can Identify Evil Around Us:
“Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.” Romans 16:18 NLT
Not everyone can be trusted, even those who hold important titles in ministry. We have all witnessed leaders, pastors, and respected Christ-followers fall by the wayside of the sin which plagues us all. Scripture clearly instructs us to filter everything we hear, from every leader, through the Truth of Scripture. Unfortunately, not everyone who preaches Scripture is doing it with pure intentions. Knowing the Gospel truth for ourselves is vital to our everyday lives. We can identify evil by filtering life through God’s Truth.
We Are Not Defenseless:
“But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will ring sudden destruction on themselves.” 2 Peter 2:1 NLT
God is our ever-dependable lifeline when we feel the enemy’s chaos ebb onto the shores of our daily lives. His Truth gives us the power to snap out of any trance-laid web of lies Satan attempts to weave into our relationships. The power of the Cross frees us from the burdensome heap of guilt and shame the enemy uses to decrease our confidence in our salvation. “The false teachers will even deny the truth about the Master (Jesus Christ) who bought them,” the ESV Global Study Bible explains, “They claim to be redeemed because they were part of the church, but their beliefs and behavior show that they are not true believers.” The Holy Spirit of the Living God lives in every believer, providing the strength we need to be victorious over the devil’s schemes.
And Good News… The Victory Has Already Been Won:
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 8:5 NLT
Evil is surely present among us, but it will never be strong enough to take out our good God, and the victory won by Jesus’ death and resurrection. People will be people. (Ourselves included.) None of us will get it right all of the time. Let us all be diligent in praying the enemy doesn’t have any sort of foothold on our lives, and is thwarted from using us for his benefit in any way. Living each day in the victory of Christ Jesus means connecting with Him first and foremost. When our minds and hearts are consumed with meditations of Truth, our souls are protected from the enemy’s schemes. Let those who have fallen victim to another fate rest in the hands of their own consequences. The Lord loves them, and if we have a part to play in their lives He will make it evident. Otherwise, we are to speak the truth in love and fix our eyes on the Author and Perfecter of our faith.
The battle of good and evil wages in the background of our lives. Each day, let’s pray to recognize the work of the enemy for what it is, instead of letting it damage our confidence and relationships. Sadly, it’s not always possible to keep friendships from crumbling and relationships from breaking up. This is a sad reality in our world, but it will not exist in eternity, and if you prayed that prayer of salvation earlier, you’ll get to experience that perfect life in heaven as well.
Meanwhile when life gets difficult, we can picture what it will be like to live in accord with each other in heaven. No jealousy, comparison, selfishness, bitterness, unforgiveness, or malice …no gossip, slander, or blackmail. One day, we will peacefully be able to be friends with everyone. Until then, on this earth we must stay astute and tuned in to the Truth, letting Him guide our daily lives.
If you like what you heard, share this episode with others whom you think might also like it. Maybe the person you share it with will want to join this Weirdo congregation too! To join this Weirdo family yourself, find us on Facebook, listen to previous messages, even find out how to join me in my daily bible studies, visit WeirdDarkness.com/CHURCH. That’s WeirdDarkness.com/CHURCH. You can find the sources I used for this week’s message in the show notes. I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me, Weirdos. Until next time, Jesus loves you and so do I. God bless.