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You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. - Galatians 1:6 (NLT)
Where do you land on the Coke vs. Pepsi debate? Are you the kind of person who would tell a waiter you’d rather “just have an iced tea” if the restaurant doesn’t serve your preferred brand? Please don’t misinterpret me here: I’m not judging your flavor preferences by any means. You do you. I personally don’t have a dog in that fight. Sweet and bubbly? Sign me up.
What I think we can agree on is that none of us would sit down at Buffalo Wild Wings and order a Sam’s Cola. If Coke (or Pepsi) represents “the real thing” of carbonated beverages, the slew of knock-off brands are obviously second-rate.
The thing about the off-brands is that they know they are a cheap imitation. Clamoring for a share of the market, they go above and beyond to make their packaging look like a Coke can, hoping they’ll fool you into picking one up. They are trying to fool you! One taste, however, and you’d know you’ve settled for less-than-best.
This is the situation Paul is addressing as he writes his letter to the Galatian Christians. Well, not soda pop, obviously, but a turning away from the real thing. The Christians were given the Gospel of Jesus Christ and received grace freely by faith. But some other religious influencers, desperate to maintain their own sense of control, tried to add to this Gospel. Despite having tasted and seen that the LORD is good, the Galatian Christians were now settling for a cheap imitation faith.
This, Paul says, is a huge problem.
Pause and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you ways that you may have allowed the Gospel to be distorted in your life. Are there issues of sin, shame, performance, identity, or cultural values that play into your understanding of God? Journal and pray over these issues and ask God to shine a light on them.Share Tweet
I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God who called you to himself in Christ. - Galatians 1:6 (NLT)
When his story gained national attention a few years ago, Noah Carver was a 6th grader running on his school’s cross-country team. What made Noah unique among the field of competitors is the fact that he is legally blind. In order to navigate the courses, Noah recruited a helper—his dad. At every race, Richard Carver would line up next to his son, grasp his hand, and run. Step by step, Richard would call out Noah’s name. For the entire 1.5 mile course, father would call out to son, drawing him forward and leading him on.
This is the kind of intimacy Paul uses to describe the Gospel. God, who called you to himself in Christ. It is God the Father who sees us, reaches out to us, and invites us, through his son Jesus, into a relationship with Himself. There is nothing burdensome or unwieldy about it: Salvation is a free gift from God!
Paul is shocked that anyone would reject this gift of grace and instead embrace a more oppressive expression of religious devotion. In fact, the word translated here as “shocked” is probably better read as “marvel.” There’s a note of sarcasm in Paul’s tone as he writes: I’m in awe—I’m absolutely marveling—at how you have managed to turn away so quickly from this Good Father who called you to himself in Christ.
In Matthew 13, Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a man who finds a great treasure hidden in a field. He sells everything he owns in order to buy that field. Only a fool, Paul suggests, would then forget about that treasure and go back to his old job and old life.
Sometimes the best way to identify and sort through spiritual “baggage” or other harmful thoughts/habit is to enlist the help of a professional counselor. If you need help, fill out the Counseling Referral Form on our webpage.Share Tweet
You are being fooled. - Galatians 1:7 (NLT)
I have two teenage children and a four-year-old at home. Living simultaneously through infant/toddler/pre-school years and pre-teen/tween/teenage years has provided quite the perspective on parenting. My four-year-old is inquisitive as all get-out and relies on us as his parents to understand the world around him. Because we tell him so, he believes in equal measure that God loves him and that I can pull any missing toy out from behind his ear. We say it, we do it, he believes it to be true.
Teenagers are different. They can hear the same message, about sexuality, for example, from their parents, their pastor, their youth pastor, their small group leader, and their camp counselor, and yet they’ll be far more inclined to believe a contradictory message from their peers at school. As my kids grow and increasingly try to understand their identity as individuals apart from their parents, they will give more weight to things they hear from those friends—the people to whom they want to belong. Peer pressure is real, and it can be terrifying for a parent. Bad company corrupts good character, as they say.
Tucked inside Paul’s criticism of the Galatians for turning away from truth is a caution about choosing who we listen to. “You are being fooled,” he says. “You have allowed the wrong voices to hold too much weight in your lives.” Proverbs 13:20 tells us that whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm. There is no greater harm than trading the truth of the Gospel for a lie.
One of the most important things we do in life is to choose who to spend time with. The people we connect with shape us, and we shape them. Choose wisely!
Southland Groups are designed to help you connect with other people who are seeking Jesus just like you. It’s not too late to make a wise choice to surround yourself this fall with people who want to encourage you! Sign up for a Southland Group today.Share Tweet
I say again what we have said before: if anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. - Galatians 1:9 (NLT)
There is a classic scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where King Arthur and his band of knights are nearing the end of their divinely appointed journey. In order to cross the Bridge of Death, they must first each answer three questions posed by a bridgekeeper. Any man who incorrectly answers the questions is thrown off the bridge into the Gorge of Eternal Peril. Going first, Sir Lancelot confidently answers the questions and is granted safe passage. Sir Galahad steps to the challenge and is asked the same questions as Lancelot; however, Galahad falters when asked his favorite color and is promptly cast into the Gorge. The two knights faced the same questions: One confidently knew the truth and continued on his quest; the other tried to give an answer that sounded true but was not and faced eternal peril.
Whereas Monty Python plays the whole scene for humor, Paul has no such lightheartedness as he writes his letter to the Galatian Christians. There are some who are distorting the truth, and the punishment for doing so, Paul says, is most certainly eternal peril. There is nothing funny about it: Twisting the Gospel in any form will lead people astray. Adding any requirement to salvation other than receiving grace through faith in Christ is preaching an entirely different message. Echoing Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 18:6, Paul is so adamant about the seriousness of right teaching that he says it twice: Anyone who preaches a message other than the Gospel is cursed by God. You’d be hard-pressed to find stronger language in the New Testament.
At Southland, we place a high value on right teaching. We want to pass the Good News on to you so that you can do the same to others.
We have resources on our website to help you welcome this Good News. Click here for sermons, podcasts, and other resources.Share Tweet
“You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teaching. And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." - John 8:31-32 (NLT)
“You want answers?”
“I want the truth!”
“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”
This heated exchange between Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise in the 1992 film, A Few Good Men, is one of the most iconic movie scenes of my generation. At the climax of this military courtroom drama, Jack Nicholson’s character, Col. Jessep, berates the young lawyer, suggesting that he is better off staying in the dark. Knowing the truth, Jessep chides, means having to live with the burden of hard choices. Ignorance, he claims, is freedom. Tom Cruise disagrees and goes on to win his case against Jessep as only Tom Cruise can.
While Colonel Jessep may have used the truth to twist his own morals, he wasn’t completely wrong. Knowing the truth does require us to respond accordingly. For example, If you spend a day at the beach and choose not to put any sunscreen on, you’ll soon pay the price for your foolishness.
Jesus consistently tells his followers the same thing. “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds his house on solid rock” (Matthew 7:24). In other words, it’s not just the hearing of the Word that sets you free; freedom is found when you realize you can live as if the words are actually true. “Remain faithful to my teaching and you will know the truth,” Jesus says.
Unfortunately, there are many people who hear Jesus but who can’t handle the truth. It takes faith to trust Him, and that truly is a gift of grace. But when we know the truth and choose to trust it, we can truly live as people who are free.
Living in freedom is a matter of taking one step in faith at a time. What is a step you know you need to take in order to put Jesus’ words into action? Contact our staff to help you.Share Tweet