This Present Evil World
From: The Glad Tidings, Chapter 1, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”
Christ gave Himself for our sins,
4 …that He might deliver us from this present evil world.
He will take from us that which He bought, which is our sinfulness. In so doing, He delivers us from this “present evil world.” That shows us that “this present evil world” is nothing but our own sinful selves. It is:
1 John 2
16 …the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
We ourselves make all the evil there is in the world. It is man that has made the world evil.
12 By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
We need not try to throw the blame upon somebody else; we ourselves provide all the evil that can possibly injure us.
The story is told of a man whose besetting sin was a violent temper. He would frequently become very angry, but he laid all the blame upon the people with whom he lived, who were so exasperating. Nobody, he declared, could do right among such people. So he resolved, as many others have done, to “leave the world.” and become a hermit.
He chose a cave in the forest for his dwelling-place, far from any other human habitation. In the morning lie took his jug to a spring near by to get water for his morning meal. The rock was moss-grown, and the continual flow of water had made it very slippery. As he set his jug down under the stream, it slid away. He put it back, and again it was driven away. Two or three times was this repeated, and each time the replacing of the jug was done with increasing energy.
Finally the hermit’s patience was utterly exhausted, and exclaiming, “I’ll see if you’ll not stay!” he picked the vessel up and set it down with such vehemence that it was broken to pieces. There was nobody to blame but himself, and he had the good sense to see that it was not the world around him but the world inside of him that made him sin. Doubtless very many can recognize some experience of their own in this little story.
Luther, in his monk’s cell, whither he had gone to escape from the world, found his sins more grievous than ever. Wherever we go, we carry the world with us; we have it in our hearts and on our backs—a heavy, crushing load. We find that when we would do good, “evil is present” with us:
21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
It is present, always, “this present evil world,” until, goaded to despair, we cry out,
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?
Even Christ found His greatest temptations in the desert, far away from human habitations. All these things teach us that hermits and monks are not in God’s plan. God’s people are the salt of the earth; and salt, no matter how good it is, is of no use if shut up in a box; it must be mingled with that which is to be preserved.
That which God has promised, He is “able also to perform.”
20 [He] is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.
24 [He] is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.
He gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us, and He did not die in vain. Deliverance is ours. Christ was sent:
7 …to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
Accordingly He cries out to the captives, “Liberty!” To them that are bound He proclaims that the prison doors are open, Isaiah 61:1. To all the prisoners, He says, “Go forth.” Isaiah 49:9. Each soul may say, if he will,
16 O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, and the son of Your handmaid; You have loosed my bonds.
The thing is true whether we believe it or not. We are the Lord’s servants, even though we stubbornly refuse to serve; for He has bought us; and, having bought us, He has broken every bond that hindered us from serving Him. If we but believe, we have the victory that has overcome the world.
1 John 5 [RSV]
4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.
33 …be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
The message to us is that our “warfare is accomplished,” our “iniquity is pardoned.” Isaiah 40:2. We have but to shout, as Israel did before Jericho, to see that God has given to us the victory.
68 [God] has visited and redeemed His people.
26 …There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
1 Corinthians 15
57 Thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Bond-Servants and Free-Men
From: Christ and His Righteousness, Chapter 12
The power of faith in bringing victory may be shown by another line of Scripture texts, which are exceedingly practical. In the first place, let it be understood that the sinner is a slave. Christ said:
34 Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin.
Paul also says, putting himself in the place of an unrenewed man;
14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin.
A man who is sold is a slave; therefore the man who is sold under sin is the slave of sin. Peter brings to view the same fact, when, speaking of corrupt, false teachers, he says:
2 Peter 2
19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
The prominent characteristic of the slave is that he cannot do as he pleases, but is bound to perform the will of another, no matter how irksome it may be. Paul thus proves the truth of his saying that he, as a carnal man, was the slave of sin:
15 For that which I do I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing; for to will is present with me: but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19 For the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.
The fact that sin controls, proves that a man is a slave; and although everyone that commits sin is the bond-servant of sin, the slavery becomes unendurable when the sinner has had a glimpse of freedom, and longs for it, yet cannot break the chains which bind him to sin.
The impossibility for the unrenewed man to do even the good that he would like to do is shown from the following:
7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall your seed be called.
8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.
How many people have in their own experience proved the truth of these scriptures. How many have resolved, and resolved again, and yet their sincerest resolutions have proved in the face of temptation as weak as water. They had no might, and they did not know what to do; and, unfortunately, their eyes were not upon God so much as upon themselves and the enemy. Their experience was one of constant struggle against sin, it is true, but of constant defeat as well.
Call you this a true Christian experience? There are some who imagine that it is. Why, then, did the apostle, in the anguish of his soul, cry out,
24 …wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Is a true Christian experiencing a body of death so terrible that the soul is constrained to cry for deliverance? Nay, verily.
Again, who is it that, in answer to this earnest appeal, reveals himself as a deliverer? Says the apostle,
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In another place he says of Christ:
14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same;
15 That through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Again, Christ thus proclaims His own mission:
1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.
What this bondage and captivity are has already been shown. It is the bondage of sin—the slavery of being compelled to sin, even against the will, by the power of inherited and acquired evil propensities and habits.
Does Christ deliver from a true Christian experience?
Then the bondage of sin, of which the apostle complains in the seventh of Romans, is not the experience of a child of God, but of the servant of sin. It is to deliver men from this captivity that Christ came; not to deliver us, during this life, from warfare and struggles, but from defeat; to enable us to be strong in the Lord and in the Lord and in the power of His might, so that we could give thanks unto the Father,
13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
How is this deliverance effected? By the Son of God. Says Christ:
31 If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed;
32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.
This freedom comes to everyone that believes on His name:
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
The freedom from condemnation comes to them who are in Christ Jesus:
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
And we put on Christ by faith:
26 For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
It is by faith that Christ dwells in our hearts.