Galatians 1:1-9 (ESV) 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, To the churches of Galatia: 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. 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. 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.
Question to consider: Why did Paul say that anyone who preached a different gospel should be accursed?
Paul felt the need to write this letter to the churches of Galatia because there was a group of people in the church called the Judaizers who were teaching that in order to be saved, gentiles needed to be circumcised. According to Paul, adding the requirement of circumcision was distorting the message that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. This is a serious enough issue that Paul actually declares that those who add to the finished work of Christ should be accursed (eternally separated from God). The reason for this is that any other gospel is not a saving gospel, and those who teach it are not just condemning themselves but everyone they deceive.
Although we do not have Judaizers in the church today, there have been those who preach a variety of false gospels. How about the gospel of Purpose? It’s nice that we are “saved” by grace, but are you fulfilling your God-given purpose? I mean, “I know the plans he has for you! Plans to prosper you and not to harm you! Plans to give you hope and a future!” Is Jeremiah talking about a personal plan of prosperity, or is he referring to the everlasting covenant which would be ushered in by the Messiah? Or how about the gospel of “Your Best Life Now!” All we have to do is completely love God and our neighbor, and we’ll get blessed beyond measure and have shiny white teeth. Wait, isn’t it because we can’t completely love God and neighbor that Jesus came to begin with?
Lord God, we live in a time where there are many false teachers who proclaim things that are contrary to what is clearly taught in your word. Help us to know our bibles well enough to be able to recognize a false teacher and teach others to cling to the truth that Christ alone has paid the penalty for our sin and that there is nothing we can add to this in order to be saved. In doing so, help us to remain strong in the midst of the persecution that will surely follow. Amen.