Galatians 1:6-10 The gospel is not pleasing but offensive, bringing abundant life to all

Galatians 1:6-10 The gospel is not pleasing but offensive, bringing abundant life to all

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Background

Paul’s opening greetings and thanksgiving to God give way to astonishment and anger over the Galatian believers’ departure from the true gospel. The Judaizers had infiltrated the church with a supposedly easier and less offensive way to attain righteousness. Indeed, salvation involves repentance, a turning away from evil towards righteousness empowered by the grace of Christ. Indeed, the gospel is not at all pleasing to the ear but offensive, bringing abundant life to all

Observation

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel.

Paul got wind of the Judaizers’ activities among the Galatian churches. Judaizers are self-professed Christians who adopted Moses’s Law into their practices. Apparently, because of the Judaizers, a sizable number of Galatian believers have started practising the works of the Law. Such turn from the original path because of its arduousness and offensiveness. Here, Paul pulled no punches and accused them of ”deserting” God by embracing a different gospel. The departure was not simply from Paul’s teaching but from God Himself; for they had left God in search of a righteousness apart from Christ’s. What enticed the Galatian believers was the false expectation of a broader and less offensive path that Moses’s Law offered. With Moses’s Law, men look to rules, the mark of circumcision and religious observances to establish their own righteousness as opposed to working towards the righteousness of Christ (see Romans 10:3-4). Inevitably, the practice of Moses’s Law will cause men to slide from the narrow path towards the broad path of worldliness and pride.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

The gospel of salvation is established by Christ Himself who is the only way to righteousness and salvation. Jesus expressly said,

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6

Because the repercussions for distorting the gospel are unthinkably grave and far reaching, Paul warned: “if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”. The Judaizers distorted the gospel by mixing faith with the practices of Moses’s Law; the consequence of which is sin and death. Paul taught,

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:56-57

Moses’s Law causes men to stray from the vision of Christ-likeness that leads to salvation. Moses’s Law falsely purports that by fulfilling a certain rule and religious requirement, they are absolved from the painful endeavour of sanctification.

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?

The Judaizers alleged that Paul, by his brand of gospel is motivated by his personal agenda. He was accused as being a men pleaser who enticed followers after him. But Paul insisted that by virtue of his calling as bond-servant of Christ, he sought to please only God to the extent of dying for Him. In other words, his reward does not come by way of men’s approval but by God’s. As Christ’s bond-servant, Paul is willing to tread the path of the cross to be crucified with Him (see Galatians 2:20).

Truth

While the truth sets people free, falsehood binds them forever

Paul threats the preaching of the gospel with utmost seriousness while unleashing a damning curse on anyone who distorts it. Why such grave retribution? Simply because for the most part, we are the only gospel people will ever come to read. And almost all have no means of verifying if what they heard is true. Because the gospel is the very foundation of sanctification and salvation for all, those who deliberately distort the gospel for personal gain will not be spared from eternal condemnation.

The gospel that Jesus spoke goes against apathy towards the poor, greed, sexual immoralities and social injustice. Entrance into God’s kingdom is provided to those who repent from evil. And only those who believe in His word and walk in it are truly saved. However, the Jews not only did the very things that Jesus condemned, they considered themselves saved by virtue of their heritage as Abraham’s children and as followers of Moses’s Law. Hence, Jesus rebuked them for distorting the truth with their hypocrisies. Through their lifestyle, one can discern the truthfulness of their message (see Matthew 7:15-16). And those who preach the gospel but do not live it invariably communicates falsehood. Regrettably, many who bought into their lies can no longer accommodate the true gospel and were subsequently shut out of the kingdom:

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:13.

He also condemned them for raising children of demons through their falsities:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Matthew 23:15.

While the true gospel sets people free from sin and eternal death, the false gospel raises children of demons. Many churches unwittingly preach the false gospel when they promise salvation without sanctifying and discipling the hearers. Hence, many seek some form assurance apart from the fruit of the Spirit. While the Jews look to the rite of circumcision, Christians look to baptism and church service attendance for assurance of salvation. Indeed, salvation is assured for those who walk in love and godliness, whose hearts do not condemn them of hypocrisy. The apostle John taught,

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him. 1 John 3:18-19

The gospel of repentance is indeed the foundation that determines the trajectory of the hearer’s destiny. This foundation sets the hearer towards heaven although the path is narrow and difficult. Jesus said,

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

Most will shunt the narrow gate. And many who initially embark on it will by virtue of its arduousness turn from it. However, Jesus promises that His grace will sustain believers in their journey right to the end (see Matthew 11:28).

The gospel is not pleasing but offensive, bringing abundant life to all

The gospel has become an offence to humanity at large. It vehemently confronts evil while extending the hope of eternal life to the repentant. The world welcomes a gospel that saves sinners and heals them of their diseases. But the world cannot accept continual sanctification and godliness as evidence to genuine faith. However, there is a minority who prefer the narrow path, desiring the righteousness of Christ above life itself. It is with this minority that the gospel will bear fruit towards eternal life.

Therefore, believers must endeavour to preach the gospel without embellishing it. For signs and wonders will follow the preaching of the true gospel resulting in many being delivered from their sicknesses, curses and sins. On the contrary, a distorted gospel is powerless against sin, sickness and the onslaught of evil. A distorted gospel plays up God’s unconditional love to forgive and to enrich even the unrepentant. It does very little to encourage sanctification by putting to death the sinful passions of the flesh. The distorted gospel does not hold back hearers from setting their eyes on the treasures and pleasures of this world.

Those who buy into a distorted gospel put themselves as more important than God; the end of which is emptiness and utter failure. Those who preach it pander to the greed of the masses in order to raise their own popularity. They have no regard for God or for lost souls thus bringing upon themselves a just and eternal curse.

Application

When preaching the gospel, do you “sell” the gospel story by exaggerating its benefits? Or do you focus on the spirit of the gospel; which is reconciliation with God? Embellishing the gospel will only rob the hearer of the miracles and the blessings promised in the word. Practice preaching the gospel in a clear and concise manner by using your personal testimonies. People will accept the fact that in order to be hired for a job, one will have to fulfil the requirements. Therefore, they will also accept the conditions for salvation put forth by Christ Himself.

Dear Lord, I believe salvation comes through a life of continual sanctification and godliness. Help me live out the gospel and experience its power in greater measure. Use me to preach the gospel in clarity and in signs and wonders. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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