Study Notes

Galatians 1:6-9


Paul is writing to the Christians in the region of Galatia. Last week, we looked at the first five verses of the letter, seeing a clear picture of grace. Now, as we pick up the next four verses, we discover the reason for Paul's letter.

1:6-7 The Grace Of Christ

As you recall from our study last week, grace is God's unmerited favor upon us.

It is the fact that God loved us when we despised Him. It is the fact that God adopted us as children, even though we were rotten creatures. It is the fact that Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins, when we didn't even care about our sins. God gave us everything when we deserved nothing.

Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy

Rom. 5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Last week, we talked about how you can see grace - when you see undeserving and un-religious people being completely forgiven of their sins. Nothing that they did - everything that God did. That is how Barnabas witnessed the grace of God (Acts 11:23), and that's how you can tangibly see grace.

But human beings being who they are, we have a real tendency to corrupt anything that God does. And with grace, the Bible addresses two problems that we as sinful humans introduce. The first is the abuse of grace. "If I'm saved by grace, not by my works, then I can sin all I want, because it's all covered by grace!" Jude wrote of,

Jude 4 ...ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness...

And Paul addressed this as well.

Rom. 5:20-6:2 ...where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

The first problem we introduce to grace is the tendency to turn grace into a license to sin.

A Different Gospel

The second problem that we introduce to grace is the exact opposite. And that is when people believe that in order to maintain grace, you must work for it. You must perform your religious rituals, and obey your rules and regulations in order to deserve it or qualify for it.

In the days of the New Testament, the group that taught this were called the Judaizers. These were men who taught that in order for a Gentile (non-Jew) to be a Christian, he must live under the law like the Jews did.

From their perspective, it sounded right. The Jews were generally holy people, while the Gentiles worshiped false gods, and involved themselves in immoral practices. It was a given in their mind that people should become Jews, and then become Christians.

That attitude is still far too common in the church today. judgments are made against people who enter the door of the church. "Look at him - he needs a haircut! Did you hear that satanic music she was playing in her car as she pulled into the parking lot? Look at that skull and crossbones on his shirt! She needs to get rid of that leather jacket and buy some decent clothes!"

Sometimes, the ministers come right out and say it. "You need to cut that long hair, throw away that evil music, make yourself respectable, and then come to Jesus and be saved!" But that's not how it happens. Grace is undeserved. It is not that we take the first few steps, and then God jumps in. It is that God is the initiator. He saves them when they are completely lost.

And so the message of the Judaizers was very dangerous. It was not the gospel. It was a different gospel. And today, too many are preaching a similar gospel - which is really no gospel at all. It is a message of good works to earn salvation, good works to deserve salvation, and good works to keep salvation.

Disturbing You

Can you see how that would disturb people? After all, why do people love God? Why do people repent of their sin? Because of God's conditional love - that He saves us after we try really hard to earn it? No.

Rom. 2:4 ...the kindness of God leads you to repentance

1John 4:19 We love, because He first loved us.

The word "gospel" means "good news." And the gospel of grace is fantastic news! Telling sinners that God loves them right here, right now and wants to forgive them, that He's done it all, that the price has been paid in full for their sins is great news!

But what is not a gospel, what is not good news, is the message of, "if you try really hard to do good, to live right, to shape up, to walk straight," then God will save you. That's not good news to a sinner. If they've still got a conscience, they've already tried to do that - and failed miserably! That is certainly a disturbing message! That is clearly a distortion of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

1:8-9 A Curse On The Messenger Of A Different Gospel

Paul lays it on the line here: "It doesn't matter who is preaching it. If it's salvation by anything other than grace, it is completely wrong!" And the messenger of that wrong gospel will be judged.

It doesn't matter how the message came, or from who. Whether it is a man of God like the apostle Paul, or even one of the angels of heaven, if it's a different gospel, if it's contrary to the Word of God, it's just not true.

One of Job's so-called friends claimed to have gotten a revelation. Eliphaz the Temanite claimed to have gotten a word from the spiritual realm. He said,

Job 4:12-17 "Now a word was brought to me stealthily, And my ear received a whisper of it. Amid disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men, Dread came upon me, and trembling, And made all my bones shake. Then a spirit passed by my face; The hair of my flesh bristled up. It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance; A form {was} before my eyes; {There was} silence, then I heard a voice: ‘Can mankind be just before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?'"

The spirit supposedly revealed to Eliphaz that Job was not just before God. He was not pure in the eyes of God. It sounded very spiritual, but it was completely untrue. We know this because the opening sentence of the book of Job says,

Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil.

He claimed to have a supernatural message - but it wasn't from God.

In 1Kings 13, we read the story of a young prophet of Judah who was used by God to prophesy the coming judgment upon Jeroboam's altar of a golden calf. After speaking the word, the prophet headed back home. But an old prophet approached him and said,

1Kgs. 13:15-17 ..."Come home with me and eat bread." And he said, "I cannot return with you, nor go with you, nor will I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. For a command {came} to me by the word of the LORD, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water there; do not return by going the way which you came.'"

God had clearly told him what he was not to do. But the old prophet said,

1Kgs. 13:18-19 ..."I also am a prophet like you, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.'" {But} he lied to him. So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house and drank water.

A man who knew what God had told him stood strong on it. That is, until someone sounding very spiritual came with a contradictory word. This deception cost the young prophet his life. He was killed by a lion that very day for violating the command of God.

The old prophet had claimed to have a supernatural message - but it wasn't from God.

In 1823, an angel appeared to a guy named Joe that lived in New York. While Joe lay in bed, this angel revealed to him where he would find a new revelation. The new revelation was inscribed on golden plates, called the plates of Mormon. And Joe, whose full name was Joseph Smith, Jr. became the founder of one of the largest cults today - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

He claimed to have a supernatural message - but it wasn't from God.

A spirit, a prophet, and an angel. All bearers of different gospels. Deceiving those who heard their messages.

What is the end of these messengers, and those people who propagate their messages? They will be accursed. The Greek word there is "an-ATH-em-ah," meaning "something set aside for destruction." It has also been directly brought into our English language. The word anathema today means "a detested thing."

Saints, it is so important that we not be deceived by a different gospel. When a word is taught, when a revelation is brought, when a prophecy is given, we must hold it up to the Scripture and see if it is the same message. And there is no greater doctrine that we must maintain the purity of than salvation by grace.

The hour before Jesus was arrested, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. And He said,

Matt. 26:39 ..."My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt."

If what was possible? If God could restore fellowship with these sinful human beings any other way than the cross of Jesus Christ. If man could make it by doing good. If there was another solution. If there was a "plan B" in the works. If it was possible, Jesus wanted to avoid the horror and torture of the crucifixion. But there was no other way. And there is no other way.

Acts 4:12 "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."

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