“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…”
(Galatians 1:6-7 ESV)
The gospel had been proclaimed to the Galatians, and they had placed their faith in Jesus. But, now, something was different. There were people who troubled them and who wanted to distort the gospel of Christ.
Based on the words of Paul, it seems that many in the Galatian church were turning from the true gospel. They were, instead, turning to the other gospel being promoted among them. And this is a change that took place relatively quickly.
Paul makes it clear that this other gospel was not truly a gospel at all. “Gospel” means “good news.” So this new teaching being promoted among them was not something that would comfort them or fill them with hope.
As we read on in Galatians, we find that this other “gospel” was nothing more than a system of works. It taught the people to trust not in Christ, but themselves. It taught them to trust in their adherence to a system of rules and regulations.
We have the same thing happening in the church today. Instead of trusting in Jesus and his saving work, many have begun to trust in themselves. Even though they profess faith in Christ, and even though they claim the name of “Christian,” they are holding to a distortion of the gospel.
For some, Christianity means holding to the Law. They base their confidence on how well they perform. They base it on their level of goodness, measured by the Law.
Although the Law does reveal to us how God desires for us to live, it cannot save us. And it in no way reveals our goodness. In fact, the only thing it reveals is our sin.
For some, the gospel isn’t even about salvation from sin and death. It’s about loving people in this life. It’s about transforming this present world into something better.
Yes, God desires for us to love people in this life. He desires that we stand against injustice. However, it’s impossible to bring about heaven and earth as long as there is sin in this world.
There are many distortions of the gospel in our world for today. But one thing is true of all of them: They are unable to save. They are unable to deliver us from sin and its consequences.
For this reason, Paul was not tolerant of those who were distorting the gospel. In fact, he called for their judgment. In verse 8, he says: “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.”
This other gospel would not lead to the salvation of men. It would only lead to their condemnation. And, for this reason, it had to be opposed.
The same is true for us today. The false gospel being proclaimed in the world leads not to the forgiveness of those who receive it. It leads only to their damnation. And, for this reason, we cannot accept it as Christianity. We cannot accept it as a reliable expression of our faith. We must faithfully proclaim the true gospel while bringing these false teachings into the light.