Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins; that is certainly true. St. Paul said, The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost (1 Tim 1:15).
St. Paul mentioned another truth, however, one we too often forget. It came during a benediction to the people Galatia:
We wish you the favor and peace of God our Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, to rescue us from this present evil age, as our God and Father willed—to him be glory for endless ages. Amen (Galatians 1:3-4).
So Jesus came to rescue us from “this present evil age.” What is this evil age? It is more than a mere period of time. It is the collection, the confluence of philosophies, ideologies, powers, illusions, and sinful attitudes that are arrayed against us. The world and its prince seek to draw us into their realm, to win our loyalty, our very heart.
This is our foremost daily battle. We live in a world filled with loud sounds, flashy lights, vivid imagery, and enticing morsels. In an age dominated by various media, there is rarely a moment that is not filled with distractions and “come hither” seductions that appeal to our fallen nature. Although it is orchestrated by Satan, the prince of this world, many willingly connive in the deal, for there is enormous profit to be made and the glory of power to be had by those who participate in the system.
Behind the bait of glittering lights and tempting morsels is a hook that easily ensnares us and can only be removed with pain. While there are lawful pleasures from God to be enjoyed, too often what is offered is not from Him. This can be discerned by the fact that the fake gifts of this evil age are distorted by excess or are directed to the wrong end.
Christ Jesus came to save us from our sins as well as from this present evil age. Is this clear to us? Does the idea even appeal to us? Most Christians seem quite content to expose themselves completely to the age and accept even its most sinful propositions without question. These views are accepted uncritically because they seem popular, while the gospel is criticized as irrelevant or even hateful. We willingly spend hours exposing our minds and hearts to this world and its values yet find it challenging to pray for even ten minutes a day.
St. John said,
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:15-17).
St. James added,
Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility with God? Therefore, whoever has chosen to be a friend of the world is an enemy of God (James 4:4).
Thus we do indeed need to be saved from this present evil age. Our hearts are weak and we are easily swayed by apparent, passing goods away from what are true, lasting, true goods. Without Christ we are easy targets.
Help us, Lord; our wounded hearts pine for all the wrong things in all the wrong places. Save us, Lord, from this present evil age!