The Apostle Paul has an urgent message for the Galatians, one which has challenged believers ever since. Paul writes, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you to 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” (Galatians 1:6,7).
Paul is emphatic how important it is that the original gospel is maintained. He adds, “… 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” (verse 8). The potential for some to corrupt the original gospel is a fundamental reason why we need to read God’s word constantly – so that the original message becomes part of our thinking. Verses which might seemingly support humanly devised beliefs, like going to heaven when we die, can be considered in context are soon properly understood.
Why do some turn away from that which is true? There is an interesting example in Numbers 16 which tells how some of the Levites challenged the leadership of Moses; they say to him; “you have gone too far! For all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves … “. Their complaint is, “you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards” (verse 14).
Their minds are focused on positions of prestige and material rewards, but these will only come in God’s good time – in His kingdom. They had a false impression of what it is to be holy. We are reminded of the principle in Hebrews “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord”. (12:14).
Turning to Galatians, there is one key verse that we do well to memorise, for it sums up both Paul’s and Moses’ attitude to things divine. “I have been crucified with Christ,” writes Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (2:20).