Like shopping at the mall, Christians need to be of two minds about what Paul called, "This present evil world" (Gal. 1:4). We might have to shop at Deerbrook Mall in Humble or at Parkdale Mall in Beaumont, but we do not have to buy everything we see. Similarly, Christians have to live among the customs of their times, but we do not have to buy everything our culture is selling.
This Present Evil World
Paul saw through the world's sales pitch. "This present evil world" (KJV), or "the present evil age" (ESV), is Satan's current ad campaign. "The father of lies" (Jn. 8:44), Satan lied to Adam and Eve in the Garden, and he is lying to us still.
You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die (Gen. 2:16-17).
"But the serpent said...'You will not die'" (Gal. 3:4).
Lying contradictions against the direct words of God are the stock and trade of Satan. These are the lies that stock the shelves of "this present evil world." These are the lies that so many believe as they fully embrace "the present evil age."
What's in the Stores?
|God Says...||Satan Says...|
Men and women have complimentarities and differences.
There are many reasons, religious and practical, for maintaining sexual purity.
There are more and better reasons to drink less than to drink more.
Practice moral and ethical discipline, for you do not know when the Lord is coming.
Seek first the kingdom of God.
Add Bible knowledge.
Come out and be separate.
There are no differences between men and women.
Premarital sex, extramarital sex, same-sex sex, whatever: go for it.
You are really missing something if you are not a regular drinker.
Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die.
Prioritize religion after everything else (in other words, last).
Are you kidding?
Fit in Comfortably.
So Where Can We Shop?
Playing a clever game of point-counterpoint, Satan has convinced us that the only alternative to living hip-deep in this present evil world is to cloister ourselves away in a convent or adopt the plain styles of the Mennonites. Concluding that we just cannot possibly live like nuns or the Amish, we conclude that there is no good alternative to living lives that are indistinguishable from the world. But there are more than just two extreme options, and there are perfectly good ways to defy "The god of this age: (II Cor. 4:4).
Like many who no longer got to any malls but who are instead shopping on AMAZON, many Christians are declaring, we live here, but we do not have to live like here. They are choosing to deliberately disengage from our culture, and to purposefully detach themselves from all of its sinful ways. What does that look like?
- They are overwhelmingly emphasizing relationships with strong Christians because, "Evil companions corrupt good morals" (I Cor. 15:33).
- They are choosing fun activities that allow them not to "forsake the assembly of the saints" (Heb. 10:24-25).
- They are heavily editing their choices of TV, movies, and etc. in order to keep their mind away from earthly things (see Phil. 3:19).
- They are not simplifying their lives to reduce tension and stress, but they are desinlifying their lives to reduce tension between themselves and God (see Rom. 6:1-2).
- They are rejecting "the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world" (Gal. 4:9) and returning to "pure and undefiled religion" (Jas. 1:27). "Reject" and "return" are code words for "repent."