“…who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father…”
Verse four launches the theme of the book of Galatians: the law cannot save a sinner nor sanctify a saint. People find salvation only by Christ becoming the substitute for our sins.
who gave Himself
Jesus “gave” Himself for our sins in the sense of grant, bestow, or impart. His death on the cross was an act of grace, an act of giving. It is also the basis of our salvation. Jesus donated His earthly life so that we might have His eternal life. No one extracted His life from Him; He donated it for us willingly. His death on the cross was no accident but within His purpose of salvation.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
“…who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).
for our sins,
Jesus’ death for our sins was substitutional (Galatians 2:20; 3:13; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18). He was our substitute; He took our hell so that we might have His heaven. The righteousness and justice of God required payment for sin; otherwise, God would compromise His perfect character. “Jesus paid it all; all to Him, I owe.”
“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6).
We have nothing with which to pay for our sins. We are totally bankrupt toward God. God’s perfect and absolute character is the standard for heaven, so we can never measure up to that norm (Romans 3:10-23). We have nothing with which we can barter with God. There is nothing that we can give God that is acceptable to Him. We can offer no exchange on earth to the bank in heaven. All that we can do is rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:5; Titus 3:5).
that He might deliver [rescue] us
The word “deliver” means literally to take out. Here it means to take out for oneself. Jesus had a special interest in saving us from our sins. He took pleasure in setting us free or rescuing us from this present evil world. There is no deliverance apart from the work of Christ.
from this present evil age,
Jesus’ death emancipates us “from” (out of) this present evil “age,” from this current world system or worldview. Jesus went beyond saving us from eternal judgment; He saved us from the evil penetrating our age. The culture in North America is full of customs and practices that powerfully influence our daily lives. The attraction of this age still snares Christians. Jesus’ work on the cross spoils us for the allure of the world. Only the supernatural work of Christ can save us from the supernatural work of Satan.
Sin enslaves us to this “present evil age.” Literally, the word “present” means to stand in or set in. The idea is to be present or to be imminent. We need deliverance from time as well as eternity. Jesus delivered us not only from eternal suffering in hell but also from the evils of the present age. The book of Galatians addresses the Galatian Christians about their legalism. His point is not about the need for salvation for non-Christians (although He does clear up distortions about the principles of Christian living by clearing up distortions about the doctrine of salvation).
according to the will of our God and Father
The “will” of God the Father here is His sovereign decree in sending Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Jesus did the will of God the Father from eternity by His death on the cross.
In this pithy verse, Paul draws the shape of the clash that will surface throughout this epistle. If we revert to legalism, we deny the work Christ did for us when we try to work either for salvation or sanctification. The gospel’s good news is that Jesus suffered all that needed to be suffered for our sins. The bad news from religion is that we must suffer for our sins.
Jesus not only delivers us from the penalty of sin but from the power of sin.
Jesus died for more than our sins; He died to help us cope with the influences of our age, the system that influences our daily lives. He does not save us to remove us from our world but to help us cope with it. He does not keep us from the world but shows us how to live in it.
“I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world” (1 Corinthians 5:9-10).
There is a natural tendency for every Christian to revert to legalism, a do-it-yourself system of works, because we feel that somehow we gain God’s approval through effort from us. However, this false doctrine minimizes the work of Christ on the cross. We somehow imply that His work was insufficient, and we must help Him with our salvation. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that we cannot earn or deserve our salvation. We must lean on the finished work of Christ as our only acceptance with God.