A Different Gospel
1 Paul, an apostle—not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead—2 and all the brothers who are with me: To the churches of Galatia. 3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. 5 To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 6 I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—7 not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling 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, a curse be on him! 9 As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him! 10 For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Joseph Smith — visited by angel Moroni, guardian of the golden plates which contained the book of Mormon
Muhammad — visited by the archangel Jibrīl, aka Gabriel, who spoke to him and gave him revelation that would start the Koran
A different gospel would be a different way of salvation. A different means by which a person is justified before God. Paul preached that we are justified in God’s sight through our faith, not through obeying the law God gave through Moses. The Galatians were convinced by someone that faith in Jesus was not enough, that you must also follow the law of Moses. In other words, Gentiles must place their faith in Jesus but if they don’t also follow the mosaic law then they will not be justified according to God and therefore not saved. So faith was the way they became part of the family of God but carefully following the law was how they stayed in the family of God.
Paul clearly condemned this line of thinking and teaching.
15 We are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners,” 16 and yet because we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we ourselves have believed in Christ Jesus. This was so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified. 17 But if we ourselves are also found to be “sinners” while seeking to be justified by Christ, is Christ then a promoter of sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild those things that I tore down, I show myself to be a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
You cannot be made right before God through obedience to the Mosaic law. Why? Because it’s just like any law. Law’s show that you are guilty when you break them. Once you sin one time, the law then declares you guilty and therefore it declares you “unrighteous” not righteous. None of us can be found righteous according to the law because all of us have sinned. The only one who can be found righteous according to the law is Jesus who is the only man to have ever lived who did not sin. So Paul said if we could be right with God through the law He had given to us thousands of years before, then Christ died for nothing. If a way for us to be right with God already existed, then there would have been no reason for Jesus to come and die in our place.
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, Everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law is cursed. 11 Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith. 12 But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them.
For all who “Rely on” the works of the law
This next section — Those who after accepting the grace of God through “faith” in Jesus then try to observe the law in order to stay “right” with God, Paul says separate themselves from Christ.
1 For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Take note! I, Paul, am telling you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all.
Now throughout this whole letter Paul focuses mainly on circumcision. Why? Because circumcision was the sign of the Mosaic covenant. It was the thing you did to declare to everyone that you have dedicated yourself to following the law.
3 Again I testify to every man who gets himself circumcised that he is obligated to do the entire law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace.
Notice he said here, you who are “trying to be justified” “by” the law
5 For we eagerly await through the Spirit, by faith, the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love. 7 You were running well. Who prevented you from being persuaded regarding the truth? 8 This persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole batch of dough. 10 I myself am persuaded in the Lord you will not accept any other view. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty. 11 Now brothers and sisters, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also let themselves be mutilated!
And if you don’t know what that means you can ask me after service.
Paul’s point is clear. If you continue to try to justify yourself before God through carefully following the law you do two things. One - you fail to justify yourself because once you sin one time, you are now no longer justified you are guilty. And two - you reject the sacrifice of Christ because by following the law and finding yourself guilty you then perform your own sacrifices in order to be right with God instead of accepting God’s own sacrifice of His Son as sufficient. You know God sacrificed His Son for your sins but then you go out and continue to make your own sacrifices in order to atone for your sins, and Paul is saying - Don’t you see what you are doing? You are rejecting Christ and his death and resurrection and you are trying to atone for your own sins.
4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Old Testament saints were not justified by the law, they were justified by faith. They faithfully followed the law because God told them to, but God gave them the law, not to provide a way for them to be saved apart from Christ but to point toward the sacrifice of Christ. He taught them that only the death of the innocent can atone for the death of the guilty, but it must be voluntary.
22 According to the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
19 Why then was the law given? It was added for the sake of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come. The law was put into effect through angels by means of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator is not just for one person alone, but God is one. 21 Is the law therefore contrary to God’s promises? Absolutely not! For if the law had been granted with the ability to give life, then righteousness would certainly be on the basis of the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise might be given on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ to those who believe. 23 Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed. 24 The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. 25 But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.
The law was given to the Jewish people as a guardian until Christ came. What is a guardian and what do they do? A Guardian is a wise person who protects someone under their care from others and from themselves. The law was given to the Jewish people as a wise protector from outsiders and from themselves. It watched over them and kept them safe and showed them what they must do and what they must not do. It guided them and trained them and raised them up to be godly men and women, but it could not clear them of their guilt. It showed them that a sacrifice would have to be made in order for them to be forgiven, but it could not provide that sacrifice for them. And so Paul pleaded with the Galatians not to submit themselves again under that old guardian, the law, but to live in the freedom that Christ provided through His sacrifice and be free.
But freedom from the Mosaic law does not mean freedom from God’s moral law. This is where many people today go astray and many in the first century church as well. It has been a problem since the very beginning, because we carry sinful flesh and our flesh looks for any excuse and reason to sin. Many see a conflict when you say, you no longer have to follow the Mosaic law, but you do still have to obey God’s laws not to sin. But Paul saw no conflict and God saw no conflict and so we should not either. Paul went on to say:
13 For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another. 16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
All of these things that are listed as sinful. How do we know they are sinful? How do we know that God opposes these things? We know them from the law. We know God opposes these things because He condemns them in the law. But someone who wants a license to sin will say, but God said we are no longer under the law and if we try to obey any part of it then we separate ourselves from Christ and are cursed. But they are just looking for an excuse to sin. They are not actually concerned about what God actually wants them to do and doesn’t want them to do. They just want to be able to do whatever they want and feel secure at the end of the day that they will not be held accountable or face judgment for their living in sin.
God does not change. He is the same God today as He was 3,500 years ago when He gave the law. We know what God hates and what He considers sin through the law He gave us and He has not changed His mind. Paul condemned trying to be justified by obedience to the law, instead of by faith in Jesus Christ. He did not condemn studying the law in order to know what God considers holy and sinful. God didn’t want everyone to live holy lives under the law and then after He sacrificed His Only Son because we sinned, then change His mind and decide that He no longer cares if we sin. God still demands that we live holy lives after the sacrifice of His Son in the same way that He demanded that we live holy lives before He sacrificed His Son.
45 For I am the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God, so you must be holy because I am holy.
16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.
How do we know how to be holy. God has told us in the law. He has shown us what is right and wrong, and that has not changed. To know that I am forgiven and made right in the sight of God because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ does not mean that I now can live my life against Christ. He has a plan for this world, and He has a plan for my life. And His desire is for me to live in this world the way He did and fight back against the enemy and deliver people from the bondage of Satan and rescue people from the devastating effects of sin. And it is nothing less than a direct rejection of Christ Himself to say to Him, I want you to save me when I die so that I won’t be punished in hell, but I’m not going to turn from sin, I’m going to enjoy it, and I’m going to devote my life to my own concerns, not yours. I’ll see you when I die and when I need something from you. When you treat God that way… to live your life concerned about yourself and call on God when you need Him but to ignore Him the remainder of the day and week and month, is to treat Him as your servant, instead of submitting yourself as a servant to Him. We are His servants, He is not ours. How many times have you been upset with God because you called for Him for some request and He didn’t come. Or at least you feel like He didn’t. He’s not our servant, we are to be His. So ask yourself, How many times has He called for you and you didn’t come? Far too many times than I’d care to share, if we’re all going to be honest. We must stop treating God like our servant and we must start living as His.
After warning us not to use God’s grace and mercy as an excuse to reject His Son as our Lord through living in sin, he tells us to watch out, not only for ourselves, but also each other. If someone does give in to temptation and sins against God, we are to try and restore that person gently, being careful that we don’t get sucked into their sin, but instead help them to repent.
1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted. 2 Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Let each person examine his own work, and then he can take pride in himself alone, and not compare himself with someone else. 5 For each person will have to carry his own load. 6 Let the one who is taught the word share all his good things with the teacher. 7 Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap, 8 because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9 Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.
You are either saved or you are not. If you are saved, then you have been transformed by the Holy Spirit and you desire to do what is right. Your spirit and your flesh are at war with one another, but you have been made into a new creation by God.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!
He has changed you and causes you to desire to do His will. He gives you the power through the Holy Spirit to put to death the deeds of the body
13 because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
In the parable of the soils Jesus taught that His disciples are those who both are willing to suffer for Him and who turn from sin for Him. Paul closes with these words.
11 Look at what large letters I use as I write to you in my own handwriting. 12 Those who want to make a good impression in the flesh are the ones who would compel you to be circumcised—but only to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even the circumcised don’t keep the law themselves, and yet they want you to be circumcised in order to boast about your flesh. 14 But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world. 15 For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation. 16 May peace come to all those who follow this standard, and mercy even to the Israel of God! 17 From now on, let no one cause me trouble, because I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. 18 Brothers and sisters, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.