Oh my…I have been chomping at the bit to write this week! These verses are so powerful–so full of incredible, freedom-giving, confrontational truth! But I thought I would give myself a couple of days to really meditate on the new verses before I shared. Because honestly they are SO PACKED! It’s hard to pick one thing to share without neglecting the bigger picture of the text (which of course, I would never want to do!) But I will just have to give snippets as we go…
A brief background: The gentile Galatian believers had been told by some Jewish Christians (called the Judaizers) that they needed to be circumcised (which of course all Jews were) to REALLY become a part of the family of God. The simplest description for the “different gospel” (v.6) in Galatia is: Jesus isn’t enough. You need something else too: Jesus plus circumcision.
Without further ado…our worthy teacher, the Apostle Paul.
6 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—7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble 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 the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 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. 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.
The harsh rebuke in verse 6 is due to Paul’s absolute shock by their “quick desertion” of GRACE. Grace is the unmerited favor of God. It is the truth of God’s Word that says to human beings, “Jesus Christ lived the life you couldn’t live, died the death you should have died, and rose to life to freely offer ETERNAL LIFE to you–because He loves you.” Grace. It is unearned, undeserved. We receive Christ’s righteousness as a gift…
This grace of God is what these Galatian believers had received and embraced. They had experienced freedom from the penalty of their sins solely because of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
AND THEY WERE TURNING FROM IT!!! Paul was beside himself.
I want to draw your attention to the word trouble in verse 7. The Greek word is tarasso and means “to agitate, trouble, to cause one inward commotion, take away his calmness of mind, to strike one’s spirit with dread and fear, to perplex the mind of one by suggesting doubts.” Please read that definition again.
These Galatian believers had been told in Paul’s gospel that Jesus did it. His life was enough. His death was enough. His resurrection was enough. His perfect life had been credited to their account. His gruesome death had taken the place of theirs. His resurrection was the promise that they would live forever with Him. Peace. Ultimate peace.
Then, the Judaizers came in and began saying, “Ohhhhh wait, wait, wait….nope, sorry…Jesus is good and all–he’s a good starting point. He’s certainly necessary. But you ALSO need to be circumcised to REALLY be saved.” Jesus isn’t enough. Trouble. Ultimate trouble.
Clearly, Paul has strong feelings against this “different gospel,” calling anyone who preaches it (even including himself or an angel) accursed, damnable, condemned to hell, and doomed to destruction. In fact, he says this TWICE, so as not to be under-considered.
Think back to our definition of “trouble.” These Judaizers had stricken the Galatians with FEAR. They had planted DOUBTS regarding Christ’s sufficiency. They had caused INWARD COMMOTION. They had taken away their CALMNESS OF MIND.
Circumcision is the “plus” to Jesus that Paul is addressing in the letter to the Galatians. What is the “plus” that you are adding to Jesus in your own life, that makes you feel REALLY saved? Is it good works (going to church, reading your bible, sharing your faith, giving to charity)? Is it simply being good (do you tend to feel less accepted by God when you have sinned more)? Is it having the right doctrine? Is it raising godly children? Is it having a godly marriage? Is it your poverty or prosperity? Is it being in Christian ministry? Is it having a certain political view?
As long as there’s a “plus,” we will always be troubled. There is no finality with ANY of those things. ALL of them could pass away or fail us tomorrow or the next day or the day after that.
Only Jesus said, “It is finished.”
He. IS. Enough.