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February 4, 2012

Back to Basics

Part Five

Let Him Be Accursed!

Galatians 1:8-9

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    Paul defended the doctrinal basis of the Gospel of Jesus Christ against all attacks by false teachers.  Evil men with evil motives attacked the Galatians, trying to teach them a new gospel, that was not really a gospel at all.  The Galatians were deserting Christ, by adopting this false gospel.  So many believers think that doctrine does not really matter.  In Galatians, Paul described the close link between the Gospel that saved you from sin by faith, and the same Gospel that keeps you safely in Christ, without doctrinal distortion, so that you are not disturbed.  If you find that you have been wandering away from close fellowship with Christ, or if you are disturbed in your faith, read with me today and consider whether you have been disturbed in your basic understanding of the Gospel.  Truth from God will always shape our lives in Christ, and the absence of that truth from God in our lives will always disturb every true believer.  So, today, we will study the danger of false teachers wearing sheep’s clothing, who come into the fellowship, spreading their false teachings.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

Galatians 1:8

      We or an Angel from Heaven.   In Galatians 1:8, Paul identified a problem I see among people all the time.  Most people I know, including many Christians, tend to believe what someone they trust told them, rather than rely upon reading the Bible to understand the truth of God.  You see, the truth of God stands independently of what men say, and the truth will always be the truth.  Remember that Jesus proclaimed: “I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).  Jesus personified truth, and He represented the truth of God in bodily form.  In John 14:6, Jesus emphasized when it comes to salvation, He alone was and is the only true way of salvation.  He alone provided the way of salvation, but notice too that Jesus was telling us that He alone was the life of salvation.  We continue to live in the strength of our salvation for eternity, because we live with Jesus abiding within us for eternity.  Once He saves us, He keeps us in Him and He abides in us forever.  He lives in us and we are in Christ.  So, my point from the texts is that we should not think of the Gospel as something that only saved us, but it also continues to keep us close to Jesus for eternity.  The Gospel embodies the relationship we have with Jesus Christ every day, not only as a Savior who died once and for all, but also the Savior who lives within us moment by moment, and who will return to earth to reign.  So, in Galatians 1:8, Paul separates the messenger from the message.  If any messenger brings a different gospel, reject that messenger and his message.  Paul included himself in that warning.  Paul did not consider himself as the fount of knowledge and biblical doctrine.  He recognized that all his understanding of the Gospel came by means of direct revelation from Christ Jesus.  He was not imparting his own cleverly devised tales about Christ, but rather the truth of an eyewitness who had seen Christ after His resurrection (compare 2 Peter 1:16-21).  So even if an angel from heaven comes to you with another Gospel, do not imagine even for a moment that angel has been sent by God.  Consider the claims of Joseph Smith, the founder of the cult of Mormonism.  According to the writings of Joseph Smith, the angel Moroni came to him first on September 21, 1823.  That angel told Joseph Smith about “golden plates” buried near his home in western New York in the United States of America.  Later, Mormons became confused about whether the angel appearing to Joseph Smith was Moroni, or Nephi.  In either case, we see that Joseph Smith listened to an angel, and a cult completely opposed to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ began to distort the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Although like many cults, Mormons use language similar to Christianity, Mormons do not believe that Christ is divine, just like God the Father.  Instead, they view Christ as created by the Father, just like the Father created satan, so that satan and Christ are brothers in that sense.  In contrast, the Bible teaches us that Christ was never created, but always has been God, without beginning or creation (John 1:1; John 1:14).  As fully God and fully man, Christ died on the cross, to forgive sins as only God can forgive sins (Mark 2:1-13).

       Let Him Be Accursed.  In Galatians 1:8, Paul used very stern language.  He describes the false teacher as one who should be “accursed” (“ἀνάθεμα”).  Paul used this same word in 1 Corinthians 16:22, to describe anyone who does not love the Lord Jesus.  Paul did not distinguish ultimately between men or angels when he inveighed against everyone who preaches a false gospel.  Such angels and men must be accursed, and rejected by believers just as God rejected them and their evil teachings.

As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

Galatians 1:9

        Let Him Be Accursed.  In Galatians 1:9, Paul drove home his point again regarding false teachers.  No matter who comes, listen to the message of the preacher.  If that message does not match the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached by Paul, and received previously by the Galatians, that man must be accursed.  The message always trumps the messenger.  I frequently tell people at the beach that I do not care what your preacher said.  I do not care what your priest said.  I do not care what your church said.  I often add that I do not expect my friends to care about what I said.  The sole authority for the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Bible itself.  It contains the revelation of Jesus Christ, and it is complete and without error of any kind in the original autographs.  As you read this study, do not focus upon my words, but consider the Bible verses we are reading.  My words should help you understand the Word of God.  Jesus must always be the focus of our study, and never the messenger.  If the messenger speaks a different Gospel, then that messenger, even me, must be accursed.  Paul warns us never to get caught up in the cult of personality, but look beyond the messenger to the message.  See if the doctrine comes from the Bible, or if it contradicts the Bible.  God will always help us know the truth when we rely upon Him and His word.

        So we learn more about false teachers who must be accursed today.

    ●  You must carefully examine the message of every preacher, and compare the message with the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    ●   If any apostle, angel, or person comes to you with a gospel different from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, let that one be accursed.

    ●   Never imagine, even for moment, that every gospel leads people to heaven or promotes a better life among believers.  False teachers spread false doctrine among believers, and in local assemblies, to corrupt the life of believers, so that we are disturbed by the distorted gospel they peddle.  Paul repeated himself to warn us that a new or improved gospel is no gospel at all, but rather evil news trying to replace the good news.  Be very careful to see the message, and examine it carefully.  Listen carefully to the pastor, elder, teacher, and everyone else in your local assembly.  Examine the message they preach and teach and compare it with Scripture.

Application for Today

     As I walk through life today, by the power of Jesus Christ I intend to examine the message of people who talk with me about God.  No matter who they are, I will examine carefully what they say.  I will stay on guard against everyone who distorts the Gospel of Jesus Christ, knowing that God says they must be accursed.  Will you be examining the message of everyone today?