These verses in Galatians chapter 1 really set the scene for this whole letter. The essence of this whole book is to instruct a church that has rejected the gospel of freedom in Jesus Christ and accepted a different gospel, which is a mishmash of law and bondage.
Paul is frustrated, astonished and amazed that the Galatians church has been torn apart by false teaching and lies from people who are supposed to be representing Jesus Christ. False teachers had come among the Galatians and are leading them back into bondage, and Paul is quite clearly horrified by it.
He says they have been taken captive by accepting a different gospel, and then makes the point that there is not, and cannot be a different gospel. There is only ONE gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. Anything else, anything that purports to be a different gospel is a lie and will not lead to freedom, but to bondage.
This is how serious Paul has taken this issue and why he wrote this letter.
When a person or in this case a church, turns to a different gospel, they are deserting Jesus Christ. There is the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ and then there is this false gospel that had the Galatians under the spell of some false teachers that is NOT from Jesus Christ.
The gospel of Jesus Christ leads a person to freedom. The false gospel, or ANY different gospel will lead a person or a church to bondage.
Anything other than the true gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ is a false gospel and those who follow such teachings have deserted Christ. And the worst part is, the Galatians didn’t even know they had gone astray from the truth! They were following these false brethren, as Paul calls them later in the book, and they had strayed and were not following Jesus Christ.
The Situation Today
What do you think? Is the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ being taught accurately in the churches today? Do you think the problems that Paul was so aghast about in the Galatians church have gone away and are now resolved?
Having spent many years looking at the teachings of churches, and having been a Christian for almost half a century, I can confidently say that if anything it is worse today than when Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians. The teachings and doctrine of the modern church are a mess, and in some cases are worse than the issue Paul was concerned with in Galatia.
The issue Paul was concerned about in Galatia is that the church was going back into accepting the old covenant law. They were being falsely instructed to be under the law.
The problem with trying to live under the law is that no man can keep it. And with the law comes the knowledge of sin. And with sin comes condemnation. And with condemnation comes bondage and death.
No man will be justified in the sight of God by works of the law as it says in Romans 3:20.
20 For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. (Romans 3:20-22)
Look at what Paul told the church in Rome. You cannot be justified, that is to be made righteous, in the sight of God through works of the law. And as you can see in the rest of the verse quoted above, righteousness and justification have now been made manifest, “…apart from law.” Righteousness is not possible under the law because it brings about the knowledge of sin. Righteousness can only come by faith in the working of God and what He did to separate us from sin and the law through the death of Jesus Christ.
Any church, preacher, teacher, minister, pastor or priest who is teaching that you must be under the law, has fallen into the same snare and trap that the Galatians church fell into. And as we see from the first verses of Paul in this book, he was shocked, astounded and horrified that they had succumbed to this false doctrine. Look at what he says.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)
Look how astounded he is about it. These people who have led the people away by taking them back into sin by putting them back under the law have PERVERTED the gospel of Jesus Christ!
And so many churches today are teaching and preaching the law and doing the exact same thing as these false brethren in Galatia. Today the ministers and teachers who are telling the people of the Lord that they must be under the law, they must keep the Ten Commandments, they must pay tithes, and all of the other things that are part of the law; are perverting the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Does this mean there is something wrong with the law? Absolutely NOT!
But you cannot live in Christ and live under the law at the same time. That is where the perversion of the gospel occurs. As I have said many times in this blog in the past, you cannot be free from the law and live under the law at the same time. You cannot be set free from sin and call yourself a sinner at the same time…and many Christians do. They say, “I am a sinner saved by Grace.” But they are wrong because if they have come into the New Covenant and are living in the freedom that comes through faith in Jesus Christ, they would say, “I WAS a sinner, saved by Grace.” WAS is past tense, but AM is present tense and you cannot be a sinner and set free from sin at the same time. Apart from the perversion of the gospel issues, it is not even logical!
What To Do
So what should you do about this, especially if on reflection you find that you are indeed under a ministry that is based upon law, as the Galatians were, rather than freedom in the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ?
Study these things for yourself. Find someone who does NOT teach law and who will not put you under law and bondage to guide you. Best of all, and most important of all…pray. Ask God to guide you in the Holy Spirit to find the truth. Ask His counsel and He will show you because that was His promise to all who call on the name of the Lord.
7 “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
Ask the Lord to show you the truth. Knock on His door by searching the Bible and studying for yourself. Seek the truth in your Bible and the Lord will show you what you need to know. And these things are merely the foundation teachings of Jesus Christ (freedom from sin, freedom from law, etc.) There is much more that we need to know to build our structure on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ, but first we need the solid foundations so the structure will not fall.
To that end then I recommend my free eCourse on the Nine Steps to become a Christian, which is essentially a detailed study on the TRUE foundations of Christianity. You will not find a call to be under law in this information but rather a full working knowledge of what the New Covenant teaches and how it works.
As we get deeper into the study of the letter of Paul to the Galatians this issue will get even more obvious and it will become even clearer as to why being under the law will not be of any help to you as a Christian. In fact it is a hindrance, and hopefully you will see this more clearly as the study continues.
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