Liberation exists for those who seek only to please Christ. #freeinChrist
Galatians 1:10 “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Let’s face it: Paul would not have been a poster boy for Dale Carnegie’s, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” He had been accused of watering down the law so that Gentiles could be grafted into the kingdom, and he had likewise been accused of rigidness in terms of the law so that he wasn’t tolerant of other pagan practices. Paul knew that he had just begun this letter with some hard truths, truths about damnation and judgment for those who skew the gospel in any way. However, this apostle lived by only one principle and guide, and that was pleasing His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This didn’t mean that he sought to alienate everyone. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:33, “I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many,”—don’t miss the rest of that verse—“that they may be saved.” John Piper restated it like this: “It is good to please people provided that pleasing them is a means to their salvation and their edification and to God’s glory.” (“When Not to Believe an Angel,” John Piper, February 6, 1983, desiringgod.org) You see, Paul had a singular purpose, to advance the Gospel of Christ so that man might be saved. This freed him to say and do whatever led to that end, not with the goal of alienation, but with the goal of salvation. How liberating for believers to make every decision and say every word based on what pleases only one Person—Jesus.
Study/Meditation: Read Colossians 4:5-6. How can we be sure that we are saying the right thing at the right time?
*Father, help me say and do only those things that advance the Gospel and bring glory to Your name. Amen.
Teachers do not make the gospel true. The #gospel makes teachers true.
Galatians 1:8-9 “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed!”
Paul uses extraordinary language here, and for good reason. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is one that centers around our Lord’s very life, death, and resurrection; it revolves around His complete lordship and the place He not only deserves, but demands over our lives. To alter it or take away from it is the worst kind of heresy, and there is no leeway for those who propagate such a falsehood or for those who receive it. (1 Corinthians 16:22; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15) The resulting punishment, as Paul states it, is “anathema,” or “accursed.” Paul described this anathema in 2 Thessalonians 1:9, “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” The Apostle Paul is warning us about turning from what the bible clearing teaches toward anything that will bring such destruction, and often these falsities come from seemingly noteworthy sources. Paul says that even if he or an “angel from heaven” claimed something different that the gospel they heard first that they were to flee from that teaching. The teacher doesn’t make the gospel true; the gospel makes the teacher true. We cannot judge the truthfulness of the message by the status of the man or woman delivering it. To do so risks anathema, and our only surety against such destruction is to seek and believe only that which we hear and read from the Word of God.
Study/Meditation: Read 2 Thessalonians 1:5-2:17. How does Paul in this letter further describe the times we live in where these false teachers and false gospels exist? How do we defend ourselves against such attacks?
*Father, give me wisdom and discernment as I live here on this earth. Help me to see beyond any lies I am told about You and Your truth, looking only to Your Word to guide me each day. Amen.
A #gospel outside of the grace of Christ is no gospel at all.
Galatians 1:6-7 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”
What many of us often forget is the subtlety in which Satan deceives the people of this world, including Christians. You see, if Satan wants to pervert the truth, he has to get inside the truth. It would be of no advantage to him to stand outside of the truth and just yell at it. He has to corrupt it from the inside. He takes what is primarily true about the gospel and then adds or takes away a few things. Before we know it, we are turning toward a different gospel, which is no gospel at all. Even more definitive is that Satan’s deceptions will go to the very heart of salvation—grace. He deceives man into thinking that the grace of Jesus Christ and faith in Him is not all that is needed and is certainly not the only thing that is necessary for salvation. What results is either legalism or pluralism, or some destructive and frightening combination of the two. That is what had happened to the church in Galatia and it is still very often what happens today. Paul says he is “astonished” at this desertion. He is surprised, and his word choice is telling. The word he used for “desertion” has military implications, meaning “revolt” or “defect.” He simply can’t believe that the Galatians have literally defected to another belief system that negates the beauty of salvation by the grace of Christ. They didn’t see it coming, and often we don’t either. It behooves us as believers today to ask ourselves, “Have I been deceived into adding anything to salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone?”
Study/Meditation: In what ways has Satan deceived men and women today, both inside and outside of the church, into following a different gospel than the one preached by Jesus and the Apostles in the Word?
*Father, keep me vigilant and wise to the schemes of the enemy. I will find my guidance and my light in Your Word and in Your ways. Amen.
#Deliverance out of this evil age came when God renewed our minds.
Galatians 1:4-5 “(Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ) who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen”
It is absolutely appropriate that Paul saturates his letter to the church in Galatia with reminders of the Gospel, pointing out each and every avenue by which believers are afforded grace and peace. The source of these blessings is in what Jesus did on our behalf when He gave Himself on the cross of Calvary. He died there to pay the debt that we owe for our sins. To what end? He died for our sins so that we would be delivered from this “present evil age.” He sacrificed Himself so that our home would be an eternal one, so that we would be delivered from this system of evil, this age of darkness. Peace comes to us in this deliverance because our minds are set on things above. We know that we are heaven-dwellers, and that is why we do not live in pessimism and fear and anger and selfishness and greed and pride. We find our joy and our contentment in God, not in this flawed world, and inasmuch, we have been delivered from this dominion of darkness. Just as Paul wrote in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” or as the writer of Hebrews put it, “We have tasted of the powers of the age to come.” In His love, it has always been God’s will that we know and live in these great truths. (Colossians 1:13)
Study/Meditation: Read 2 Corinthians 5:17. How does being a “new creation” mean that we have been delivered from this present evil age?
*Father, it is Your love and to Your glory that I have been delivered out of this realm of darkness and into Your Kingdom by the blood of Jesus Christ. Thank You. Amen.
The source of #salvation is grace, and the result of salvation is peace.
Galatians 1:2b-3 “To the churches in Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Have you ever thought much about the way we greet one another? We may say something like, “Hi, how are you?” or “Hello, how are you doing?” Even in our greetings we tend to make the source of concern man-centered. In much the same way, the customary greeting among the ancient Greeks was “Joy to you,” using the Greek word “kirane,” which still centered on the well-being of man in and of himself. However, Christianity brought another kind of greeting, one exemplified by Paul’s address to the church in Galatia. He wished “grace” and “peace” on them, and both had their root both from God and in God. The word “grace” was “charis” in the original language which translated as “an undeserved act of kindness.” Paul was reminding them of the position they now had in Christ, having received the free gift of salvation due to His kindness and His kindness alone. This is the “grace” with which he greeted them; it is positional. “Peace,” on the other hand, was the practical outpouring of having received this grace. “Peace” is “the state of being tranquil and content.” Because of the grace manifestly bestowed on us by God through Christ, we have peace with God. (Romans 5:1) More simply put, the source of salvation is grace and the result of salvation is peace. How much more beautiful is a greeting among brethren that remarks on how we are in and of Christ rather than on the simple states of our emotions or our physical health? We must be, above all things, a people about our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Study/Meditation: Read Romans 5:1-11. How does Paul more explain in his letter to the churches in Rome this grace and peace that comes only from Christ?
*Father, You are the only source of peace in my life, and that peace comes only by way of Your grace unto my salvation. I praise Your name and thank You for it. Amen.
The #bible is more than a vague set of principles. It is the very word of God.
Galatians 1:1-2a “Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers who are with me, …”
Martin Luther really began the Protestant Reformation with writing a commentary on Galatians. In his table talks, he is recorded as saying, “The epistle to the Galatians is my epistle. To it I am, as it were, in wedlock.” Furthermore, it is no coincidence that such a Reformation began with men like Luther and Calvin in the 16th century because they returned to the words of these epistles, and Paul gives us a sense as to why this is so important. The books of the bible were written under direct inspiration by the Holy Spirit, or just as Paul proclaims in this first verse, they were written “…through Jesus Christ and God the Father.” These are the words of our Savior, and the authority in them is undeniable. How often has mankind struggled with problems and trials in this life only to look vaguely at the Scriptures for solutions? Often we treat the Scriptures as a sort of seasoning to our emotions or a punctuation mark added to the ideas of others. Instead of treating the words of the bible as the very words of God, we treat them more like a blur of hazy notions. Luther and Calvin and men like them returned to the very fabric of God’s Word, taking every syllable as truth and giving it its due authority, hence reforming the watered down and vacillating perceptions of mankind up to that point. This book of all books is meant to guide us in every word it bears, in every transcendent thought it conveys. Paul and the elders who were with him want us to take instruction from the words of this letter as that coming directly from Christ, because that is exactly what they are.
Study/Meditation: What do you need to change in your daily time with God so that you are more ardently considering His Word in your life?
*Father, forgive me for the times that I do not consider Your Word in the manner in which I should. It is everything I need for this life and for my good. Thank You for it. Amen.