I had the opportunity to sit down with Steve Gallagher, founder of Pure Life Ministries, to talk about his book, Intoxicated with Babylon. For more information about the book, including how to get a paperback or Kindle copy, visit: Amazon or Pure Life Ministries
Here is the transcript of that recording:
Dustin: I want to thank you for tuning in to the Make Way Ministries channel. I’m the founder, Dustin Renz, and I’m really anticipating this video shoot because I’m here with Pastor Steve Gallagher, who’s the founder of Pure Life Ministries, but also an author of multiple books. One that’s had a significant impact in my life and several people that I know, and I’m sure many more that I don’t know and that’s this book “Intoxicated with Babylon.” Pastor Steve. I know you’ve been a mentor to me over the years and have had a lot of impact. And I just want to thank you for taking time to be with us.
Steve: Yes, glad to.
Dustin: A lot of people in my audience will be familiar with you, maybe even have read the book, but there’s a lot of people I’m sure who’ve never heard the book. Would you just, in a few words, give the premise of the book…why you wrote it and just a brief summary.
Steve: It really came out of a Bible study that I did in 1993. I just got into the Book of Revelation and I ended up absolutely so affected by it. I spent like, I can’t remember, I think it was 1,200 hours that year studying Revelation. And there are things–you’re studying the verses, you’re reading all the commentaries and all this stuff–but underneath all that, the Lord is putting something into you and what was being put into me was just a tremendous awareness of this battle between light and darkness, between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of this world. And those things were just vivid in me. There were times I was having some very powerful experiences as I was going through this–going through the Book of Revelation. And out of that study birthed this awareness, this much greater awareness of how the spirit of the world is affecting Christians and how it has infiltrated the church in so many different ways and how it is creating an environment for the apostasy to grow in. That’s kind of how it all started.
Dustin: You bring up the word apostasy. Maybe you for those who aren’t familiar with what that is biblically, when you talk about the Great Apostasy, what exactly is that? What are we looking for as far as signs?
Steve: Well, there’s several passages in the New Testament that describe the Great Apostasy. II Timothy 3, II Thessalonians 2, Matthew 24, some of the verses in there talk about it. II Peter 2, these different passages where it’s describing what people will be like, professing Christians in an in an end-time setting, who are not walking with the Lord. They have the pretense, they have the profession, but the reality of their life is not exemplifying Jesus Christ. There’s something wrong and there’s a little bit of a debate there. Is it that they never really came into the Kingdom, but they’ve been nominal Christians for their whole existence in the church, or were they with the Lord? Did they have a bona fide conversion experience but then fell away? I don’t know. Maybe it’s different for different people. But I can see the apostasy is already growing right now in the western church. And, of course before it’s over with and by the time the Antichrist comes into power, it will be a complete backslide.
Dustin: Which I know, one of the scriptures that– the one in Matthew 24–that’s where Jesus says that the love of many are going to grow cold. That’s kind of what you’re talking about.
Steve: Yeah, I mean you just look at some practical things, like the way–homosexual marriage–that’s even a discussion in the church? Are you kidding me? But that shows you how far we have drifted away from the passion for God that once exemplified the body of Christ.
Dustin: One of the things that you do in the book in the very beginning–until I read the book, I never made the connections. But you talk about the concept of Babylon from Nimrod the ruler and how what happened in ancient Babylon has actually tied into all that’s going on. Could you touch on that a little bit for people who may not know who Nimrod was and his backstory a little bit?
Steve: Yeah, so go back to the creation and then mankind gets worse and worse and worse. Sin is just dominating the world until the time of Noah. It is so bad that the Lord feels He has to completely wipe out mankind and start over. But within not that long, like a hundred or two hundred years from the flood, mankind is already in bad shape again. But for this time, they are coming together. In the past, it was always individuals giving over to sin, but now it was becoming unified into a national sort of mindset and it all happened around the Tower of Babel. Nimrod is the man who initiated that whole insurrection against God. “We do not want God telling us how to live our lives. And we’re going to build this Tower so we can stay above any flood He could bring on this Earth,” and all that stuff. And that was, out of Babel, that the mystery religions were birthed, like the Egyptian-Canaanite religions, the deities, Astarte and Baal…
Dustin: Fertility cults.
Steve: …the Fertility Cults. Thank you. That’s what I was looking for. But all that was birthed there. Actually, also astrology and so all of that came out of Babel. So in Scripture, the two cities that represent the Kingdom of Darkness and the Kingdom of Light is Babylon represents the Kingdom of Darkness and Jerusalem represents the people of God. And you see that all the way through Scripture and it all culminates in the Book of Revelation. So yeah, that’s where the whole term Babylon comes from.
Dustin: Something that people would have to understand to really get the thrust of the book… you talk about the term kosmos being the spirit of this world. If someone heard that term “the spirit of this world,” which if you read the book, you’re going to hear it all throughout. That’s kind of one of the main themes. Can you encapsulate what the word kosmos or what that spirit of the world, what does that look like? What is that spirit behind that?
Steve: Well kosmos is a Greek term and I always understood that it meant the world and I think a lot of us kind of get it, you know. When we talk about the world, we kind of, in a vague sense know what that means. But, actually the word means an ordered existence apart from God. And so when you start thinking of it like that, then you start seeing how the people of the world, how unified really they are in their opposition to God. And so the spirit of the world is of course Satan operating in that dynamic, to keep people away from the Lord and the things of God. And so he uses all kinds of different ways of doing that, of course, entertainment and the media and so on, a lot of different venues that he uses to distract people from the Lord who’s trying to speak to them and to keep their ears stopped up, you know, to keep their minds distracted on the things of the world and so they won’t hear the voice of God.
Dustin: Which that ties into a quote on page 29. You talked about this a little bit, you say, “The devil’s ceaseless aim is the deception of Christ’s followers, causing them to believe they can live for the world’s rewards and still maintain a viable walk with God at the same time.” How successful has Satan been in accomplishing this do you feel like in the modern American Church?
Steve: Well, I mean, it’s heartbreaking. It’s very successful. How could it be? Like I said earlier how could it be that we could even be having a discussion about homosexual marriage in the Church of the Living God? How is that possible? But that shows how far we’ve strayed away from the truth. One of the things that has helped me to discern the difference–the change that has occurred. First of all, I’m 65. So I came to the Lord in 1970 during the Jesus movement and I saw what on-fire Christianity was all about. So, I’ve been around for, what’s that been? 50 some years since then. And I’ve seen how this change has come over the church. And it really is the beginning stages of the apostasy and it’s come about as different forms of media have been created. You know, the internet. Man, 30 years ago there was no such thing. And now look at how it dominates our lives and how the enemy can get into any household, before it’s over with–in the world. But even in rural areas of America where the enemy would not have been able to get into 50 years ago, he can use television, he can use radio, he can use the internet to get his message and to capture people’s hearts. And that’s what’s happened in the church. Professing Christians, the reality of their daily allegiance is far more to things of the world than to the Lord.
Dustin: Which ties into a quote I was going to read. One thing that’s fascinated me is reading what people in the past say about worldliness of their time. So, I looked at this quote. It’s interesting, you said around 1970 was when you kind of came to the Lord. So, in 1968, Watchman Nee wrote in a book, “The time has passed when we need to go out into the world in order to make contact with it. Today, the world comes and searches us out. There’s a force abroad now, which is captivating men. Have you ever felt the power of the world as much as today? Wherever you go, even among Christians, the things of this world are the topics of conversation. The world has advanced to the very door of the church and is seeking to draw even the saints of God into its grasp. Never in this sphere of things have we needed to know the power of the Cross of Christ to deliver us as we do at the present time.” It amazes me because you’re talking–obviously I wasn’t alive in 1968–but you’ve seen the progression. So, he was so concerned with worldliness at his time. How much more–I think of today, if he were here, I don’t know what he would think, you know?
Steve: Well, the thing is, that book may have been published in 1968, but he was in a communist prison in 1968 and he was about to be killed within a couple of years. He wrote that, it would have been the very early 50s, when he wrote that. And I’m not trying to correct. I’m just trying to bring balance to it that, man, he wrote this in the early 50s. He was already…he could see the progression of what was going on in the church, even at that early stage. And then, man, by the 60s it had already by then gone a lot further. Then we had a resurgence through the Jesus movement. A lot of people got radically saved. So, there was–it looked like some real hope then. But that kind of died off and we came into the megachurch era, which were still in, and it’s like it has become all about just making people happy who don’t really want the narrow way, you know? Making them feel comfortable in church.
Dustin: So there’s a little bit of my testimony, which you know. When I came to Pure Life, we were one of those people. We were living in the church. I was in ministry. I wouldn’t have thought myself as worldly. I didn’t see it that way at the time. And there’s a couple scriptures to me that now mean so much different than they did. But in I John 2:15, he says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the father is not in them.” And James 4:4, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God. Therefore anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” My question is, how can a Christian who understands maybe the Bible to some degree, has some kind of church experience, how do people read that verse and not see that it applies to them if they really are worldly. Like, how are they reading that and repackaging it so that they don’t feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit?
Steve: Well, maybe this is a little off subject, but I believe that there is a religious system that has become entrenched in the Evangelical Church. It’s all been done under the guise of grace. And it’s such an encouraging message. And God’s grace, in its true form, is a powerful, awesome thing. I mean, I love God’s grace! It’s what saved me. It’s the only reason I could be saved. It was because of His long-suffering, His grace, His love. But it’s like that’s become everything to the exclusion of His Holiness, His righteousness, His standards and so on. So, when people see verses like that, it’s all been explained away. And they’ve become so numbed by the spirit of the world that they are just like, almost on a psychotropic drug. You know, where they’re still doing life. A person on psychotropic drugs can do life, but they’re in kind of a haze, in a fog mentally. And if you’ve ever tried to talk to someone, have a deep conversation with someone on drugs like that, you just can’t really connect in with the heart issues. And that’s what the spirit of the world does. He inoculates people from the truth by giving them, just tiny little bits, but you know in that haze kind of environment.
Dustin: Yeah. And that’s one of the quotes that you said specifically about that is, “One of the primary problems,” this is on page 142, “One of the primary problems as American Christians is that we allow the mores of our society to influence our lives more than God. To state it another way, our lives have been shaped more by popular American culture than by God’s word. Life for the newly saved believer in the United States generally goes on much the same as it did prior to his confession of Christ as Lord of his life. Sadly, even after were saved, we remain Americans first.” My question is, so someone’s watching this, they hear the message and they see the issue. How does–if in the American church, if people are, let’s say they’re a new Christian, how do they prevent the natural progression of kind of falling into the culture of the church…kind of the watered down, sloppy grace kind of thing? How do they prevent that? So, we see the problem, but what’s the solution for somebody if they wanted to know, “How do I stay clear of those things?”
Steve: Really, the bottom line answer is hunger for God, of course. I can only speak for myself, Dustin, that the things that really helped me over the years was, first of all, I was constantly always reading biographies of great Christian leaders from the past. You know, missionaries, Hudson Taylor, Jonathan Goforth, David Wilkerson. All these stories of men of God who did exploits in the Kingdom of God. So, I was constantly, and I say constantly, for probably 40 years, there’s been on my nightstand a book like that. I have one right now that I’m reading. And so I have, over the years, just like immersed myself in that kind of Christianity. And so I had been doing that and then when I started getting involved in ministry, and I’m starting connecting with big names and, you know, television ministry, radio ministry and stuff and I’m starting to see the lifestyles of many of the church leaders and I’m thinking, “Man, the lifestyle I’m seeing is not like what I’ve read about,” with someone like Jonathan Goforth or these other men of God. It’s just a complete different thing and that is what helped me to recognize and hunger for and desire a real life in God and not just be satisfied to slink down into this nominal Christianity, this lukewarm Christianity, this dead Christianity. Yeah. I guess I’ve just been ruined because I’ve seen what the real thing is like. And so that’s one thing people could do. Go down to the Christian bookstore, go online, and order those books and read them and just keep reading them and it’ll change your perspective.
Dustin: Which one thing, while you’re talking that reminds me. I just was reading the other day, someone was describing how they teach federal agents how to handle money, how to find out what’s false. They were saying they put them in a room, and they hand them all real bills. And then, after a couple days, they’ll slip in a counterfeit. And they say it’s really easy, once you get used to handling real money, to find out the counterfeit. And that’s kind of what you’re saying. When you’re so focused on the real thing–scripturally and in other people’s lives who’ve really lived their lives for Christ–that would give you a perspective that will be easier when you hear the other message, that it’s okay to be worldly and sins not that big of a deal. If you see the real thing, then you’ll be more apt to discover the counterfeit that’s out there.
Steve: Yeah, I mean that’s a perfect illustration of what I’m talking about. And like I said, I go back far enough that I did see the real thing even in the American church, at least partially. So, then as things started changing. Yeah, I mean I it was just obvious to me.
Dustin: So, a little bit of a tie-in to Pure Life Ministries. For those who don’t know, Pure Life Ministries helps men and women–but they have a residential program for men–getting them free from sexual sin. And as well as women through the OCAH program at home. Do you see a correlation that you’ve been working…is Pure Life almost 30 years of ministry?
Steve: I think it’s 33 now.
Dustin: 33? So, in that time, you’ve dealt with a whole lot of men here and people that are coming out of sin, a lot of them Christians, or professing Christians at least, some are ministers, pastors, missionaries, like I was. Do you see a correlation between where they are in their bondage to sin and the worldliness that you talk about in the book?
Steve: Yeah, I mean worldliness creates–I think I said this somewhere. I don’t know.– It’s like an incubator. If you have a worldly lifestyle–and you’re going to church. But if you have a worldly lifestyle, that’s an incubator for sin to thrive in. One of the things the Lord led Kathy and me to do early on, this is in 1985, before I even went back into Bible school, was to get rid of our television set. And at the time it just seemed crazy. I mean, no one was doing that. Everyone I knew watched television. I couldn’t understand, why would God ask me? But I knew it was him. So, we did it and we got rid of our television set. It took some time, but after a few months or a year, or whatever it was, I started seeing…I’d get around a television set and I could start seeing the reality of what it was doing to people. And so, you think about all the Christians that have been raised in television and been raised on the internet and the whole environment of the internet–the online atmosphere. And then mix church in there with that. Yeah, I mean sin is not that much of a step beyond. Well I’m saying sin. I mean, pornography is not that big of a leap from just secular television. You know, it’s raunchy trash, most of it on television. And so, something like pornography is not a big leap. And then from there, that opens the door to all kinds of acting out.
Dustin: Which when you talk about TV, and a lot of people have heard my testimony know, we made the same leap and still wonder if we’re crazy sometimes, because there’s not really many people we know that–it’s kind of like everyone looks at you like, “what’s going on?” But somebody would hear that–and I get it sometimes, or talking about the internet or all these different things. They would look at this whole concept and just say “It’s legalism.” They’d say, “You’re just a bunch of legalists.” Kind of like when I came to Pure Life, I thought that for a while. “Well, they’re just preaching legalism.” What would you say to the person who had that rebuttal? “I hear what you’re saying, but I really feel like that’s just legalistic and we should be able to live in grace and freedom.” What would you say?
Steve: I would say, “What’s the motive behind it?” If the motive is to somehow earn your way into God’s favor than it is legalism. That is what legalism is. But if it’s to remove something that is hindering your life in God, then that is on-fire Christianity. And you know, Jesus said, “If your eye offends you pluck it out.” He’s talking about some serious severing that you have to do in your life. If you have something in your life that is causing you to lust, causing you to be separated from God, then you’re going to have to make some sacrifice. You’re going to have to do something to set yourself apart from this fallen world system. If you are doing the same things, watching the same TV shows, into the same sports, into the same things as the world, where’s the evidence that you belong to Jesus Christ? Because you go to church? That’s it? So if you’re really in the Kingdom of God, living in that realm where God is real to you and the things of God are what you live for, you are not going to have that strong of an appetite for the things of the world.
Dustin: That’s good. And as far as somebody who, they feel conviction, they’re in a place–you know, I’ve talked to people where they kind of come to me and say, “I just feel convicted about my lifestyle and things.” You talk a little bit in the book about how to make your home a sanctuary for the Holy Spirit, which may be a foreign concept. Like you said, people–I grew up watching TV. We had TV on all the time. That was the atmosphere in our home and that was normal. So, when we stopped watching it, for a while it felt like there’s a void because there’s something missing. So how would you practically step someone through if they say, “Listen, I want to examine my house and make it more of a sanctuary for the Holy Spirit.” What are some practical things people can do to accomplish that?
Steve: Well, let me put it this way. Anything in your home that is carnal should go. I mean, that’s just the bottom line, just a simplistic way of saying it. But I will say this, I talked about how Kathy and I got rid of our television set and we didn’t have a television set for years. And then we got one and we got a–well actually it was a VHS player back in those days–and we could buy movies. In the early days, it was nothing but animated or Christian. But if you can do something like that to where you can purchase something and you go online, you figure out what the content really is. You don’t just go out and buy the latest trash. And just control how much you watch and what you’re watching. But people don’t do that. They just turn the TV on, they surf the channels and they are just, their spirit is being immersed with this heavy presence of the world coming in and influencing their spirit. So you can have, you can watch a little bit of TV if you can control yourself. And the only way I know that most people could control themselves is to not be hooked up into the system– like cable or that sort of thing, but to just get DVDs or something like that to where you’re not having commercials, you’re not channel-surfing, you know, “I’m going to watch this one show,” maybe it was it’s a show out of the 60s or maybe a movie out of the 50s. You’re going to do this, you know it’s going to be 90 minutes, and that’s it. You’re not going to spend hours doing it. Then you can control your environment. And as you know, if you’re having a solid time with God in the morning that’s not going to affect you much. But if you’re spending hours every night and you’re just letting the atmosphere of television fill your home, forget it. It’s a lost cause.
Dustin: One of the things you say on page 171, “Churchgoers who think they can live for years as slaves of kosmos and then suddenly declare their freedom from it are in great delusion. Such people are preparing themselves to receive the mark of the beast, and in a certain way, in their hearts, they’ve already taken it.” Some people reading that might have the attitude, “What’s really the big deal?” Kind of that, “Why make such a big deal out of something or TV or Internet or the world? What’s the big deal there?” Can you kind of expound on that quote and why it’s such a sobering thing. It should be for us, when we examine our lives.
Steve: Well, it should be, but I think most people would think that’s crazy. It’s a crazy thought because they watch the rapture movies, the Left Behind movies, you know, and the Antichrist is this this evil man and it’s all the evil people and all us Christians get whisked away in the Rapture and we go to heaven and all of that. Part of it is the message the church has put forth about the Lord and about the things of God and about Satan. And it’s just so weak and watered-down that everyone who goes to church is convinced they’re going to heaven. And you know, “I would never take the mark of the beast. Are you crazy?” But they don’t understand the power of the deception that Jesus prophesies about. I mean that word is used some, I think 17 different times in those certain passages about the end times. The word deception is the adverb that’s used more than any other word. Over and over and over Jesus, Paul, Peter, James. They’re all warning the end-time believers, which I believe is us, to beware of being deceived. But people, because they’re full of head knowledge about Christianity are prideful about it. They think they’re somewhere they’re not spiritually and they convince themselves that there is “no way I would ever follow the enemy” but they are already doing that. Really, the reality…Yeah, they go to church on Sunday. They say they’re a Christian. But the reality is that their heart is in the things of the world and so it’s not going to be a big step when it finally gets to that place and this smooth-talking guy shows up that has all the answers and he doesn’t look like the devil. He looks like some good-looking nice man. They’re going to be very prone to his message.
Dustin: And that kind of ties into one question I was going to ask, but maybe you could encapsulate it. I was going to ask what is your–I know you’ve got a heart for the American church– I’ve heard through speaking, through your books, a passion, a brokenness for the church. What’s your biggest concern for the American Church of today?
Steve: I think just self-satisfaction, just being content with what they have. Maybe there’s a good degree of hopelessness in it that they just don’t feel like there’s anything more. That they just kind of throw up their hands and just go along with the crowd. That’s my concern is that people are not waking up and fighting to have a life in God. And there’s just no real resolve, there’s no hunger, there’s no determination, you know the kinds of things that Jesus said about the end times. That should be, I mean, how do I say it in the right way? They should be blared on loudspeakers in every church, to wake up, to be awake, be on the alert, to beware of deception, all those kinds of things. You don’t hear that stuff. And if you do hear it, it’s not like what I’m talking about. It’s about, you know abortion or something outside the church. It doesn’t have much to do with the reality of their hearts and lives.
Dustin: So, I know that part of the reason the book came about, getting back to this. This is kind of my last question is, obviously you wrote this book to bring the message that’s in your heart to people, in the church who are in that place that you’re talking about. If somebody goes online, after this interview, they watch it and they purchase the book. What would you hope would be accomplished in their life when they read “Intoxicated with Babylon”?
Steve: That they would just get set on-fire to know the Lord. To really come into a real relationship with God and start living on the level that the Lord desires for them. For them to come into that kind of intimacy with God and not just talk, and not just emotional goosebumps in a nice worship service or something. But I mean, really walking in the reality of God. That’s all I care about. You know, television and all that stuff, that’s secondary. That’s just the means to the end. The end is Jesus and just stripping away all the distractions and all the things that are dragging us off towards the Kingdom of Darkness. That’s all that’s about but the point of it all is to know the Lord.
Dustin: So, the book, for those who are tuning in, is “Intoxicated with Babylon: the Seduction of God’s People in the Last Days” by Steve Gallagher. I know you can get it on Amazon. It’s available in paperback as well as Kindle. Probably through purelifeministries.org, the store there? Is there any other place they should go to if they’re looking for it?
Steve: One of those two would be fine. Either one.
Dustin: I wanted to ask if you would close in prayer. Just praying for those who are going to watch the video. Just praying that the Lord would have his way. However you feel led.
Steve: Sure. Well, Lord, I do believe that people who are watching this interview, you have led them to this. I know Satan didn’t lead them into this video. And so, I believe you’re speaking to them Lord. And I pray that that seed that you put in their heart through this conversation, that they would not quickly move on and let the devil steal that seed. But Lord, that you will cause that seed to grow, that you will call them, that you will speak to them, that you’ll cause them to do radical amputation in their lives. At least until they can get to the point where they can really see clearly and discern and hear your voice. At least shut down the roar of the world’s voice long enough to where they can hear your voice. And quiet their souls and spirits so they can know what your presence is like and to shut off the distractions for a time, so that they can start to get a sight of your Kingdom. Lord, I pray that you would be able to call people into that separated lifestyle. So that you could know them, so that you could have them for yourself for eternity. Save souls, I pray, Lord. Bring people into your Kingdom who, maybe they’ve done the Christian thing all these years. They’ve never understood why their life–their spiritual life–seems so dull and lifeless and like there’s just no reality of you in their lives, Lord. I pray that you would speak truth to them and show them that there really is the real thing. It is there available for them if they’ll fight for it and go after you for it and repent, repent and repent of the self-centered living and a worldly lifestyle, a carnal lifestyle. Help people, Lord. Speak to them, and draw them to yourself in a real way. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Dustin: Amen. So again, I know you have a busy schedule and you’ve taken some time out. So, I appreciate that. I don’t take it lightly. But thank you for sharing your heart and we’ll just believe God is going to do what He wants to do with it.