The Galatian believers were becoming confused. Although they had believed the gospel which Paul taught (Galatians 1:10-11), trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ and becoming born again, false teachers were seducing their minds with a different ‘gospel’. Of course, there is only one gospel (good news) which can bring people into eternal life; no other religious philosophy has God’s saving power (Romans 1:16).
In his day, Paul was criticised by teachers who wanted Christians to follow the Jewish rules or to dilute the gospel with pagan ideas. He wrote ‘Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.’ (1 Corinthians 1:22-24). How quickly the Galatian Christians turned away from Christ. Their faith was not firm enough to withstand religious lies. And so Paul wrote to reaffirm that Christ is the centre and foundation of the gospel, so that they could be confident as they trusted in Him alone.
False teaching is attractive. The only protection is to understand why the gospel message is the only way to salvation through Jesus Christ. Family and friends, culture and community may want to pull us back, but the Word of God and His Spirit want to lead us on. Without regularly feeding on the Word of God, welcoming the Holy Spirit to challenge our ideas, our faith will become unstable: and very quickly too. New believers are especially at risk; like new born babies they need to suckle from the milk of the Word of God (1 Peter 2:2-3). But more established believers can become proud, thinking that they know better than the Apostles, and encouraged by local preachers and internet prophets. Pretending to be wise, they confuse themselves and others. The challenge is to accept the Apostle’s doctrine and keep watching out for those who are going astray bringing them back to the Scriptures (Jude 20-23).
© Dr Paul Adams