Summary: Christianity is about making a choice. Do I choose to do things God's way, or mine? Do I choose to follow His wishes, or the wishes of others who disagree with Him? The Bible repeatedly tells us: "Make a choice."
There is the story of the “good old boy” who came down out of the mountains one day. He was all dressed up and carrying his Bible. A friend saw him and asked, “Elias, what’s going on? Where are you going all dressed up like that?” Elias said, “I’ve been hearing about New Orleans. I hear that there is a lot of free-running’ liquor and a lot of gambling and a lot of real naughty shows.” The friend looked him over and said, “But Elias, why are you carrying your Bible under your arm?” Elias answered, “Well, if it’s as good as they say it is, I might stay over until Sunday.”
Now, obviously, that’s a joke. No one would really do stuff like that… would they? Well, actually they would. There are people who live one way at church and live entirely different the rest of the week. They do things throughout the week, that they wouldn’t dream of doing at a church building. They’ve bought into a strange theology. They don’t mind being religious, just not TOO religious … and just not quite all the time.
Paul tells us … he never bought into that kind of theology. In Galatians 1:10 he writes: “am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
What’s that mean? It means Paul made a choice between Jesus and something else and Jesus won. That also means - WE have a choice - a choice to please Jesus, or a choice to please the world?
John said it this way: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15
SO… MAKE A CHOICE!
The thing about making a choice is that if I choose FOR one thing, I have to choose AGAINST something else. As Jesus said: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other....” Matthew 6:24
Now, the issue here in Galatians is – there was a theological conflict at that church. The churches at Galatia were pretty much uncircumcised Gentiles. And there was this bunch of circumcised Jews who tried to tell them that they weren’t Christians unless the Gentile believers got circumcised. In other words: They had to become Jews before they became Christians.
Now, the problem was, God had already said NO! Circumcision was NOT required anymore. Gentiles who believed/ repented/ confessed Jesus/ and were baptized - they didn’t need to get circumcised.
Later in Galatians 3:27-28 Paul told them “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (i.e. you don’t need to do anything else) There is neither Jew nor Greek (i.e. you don’t have to become a Jew 1st) there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
So Paul was saying you have to make a choice. You can choose God’s way of being saved… or you can listen to someone else’s way. But you’ve got to make a choice. But you need to understand… God’s way is the only way that will work.
As Paul wrote: “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. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8-9
There are false teachers out there (let them be accursed). There are people who try to get you to accept ANOTHER Gospel (let them be accursed). There are people who teach a Gospel contrary to the one that Paul preached (let them be accursed).
What do you mean accursed? It means – they are CONDEMNED BY GOD!
You see… this is serious stuff. This isn’t a theological dispute about what angels look like. This isn’t a squabble over what color of carpet you ought to have in the sanctuary. This isn’t a quarrel over whether you should sing hymns or choruses. THIS IS A FALSE TEACHING that perverts the hope we have in Jesus. It robs the blood of Jesus of its power. It distorts the message of Christ on the cross.
Here’s what’s going on. Most people believe they can be saved (loved by God) if they just follow the right set of rules. For example, the people Paul is condemning here in Galatians… they believed that those rules could be summed up in the Old Testament lawbooks. They believed that if you could just obey enough of the rules in the Old Testament, you were a shoe-in. And only people who did everything right would make it in the gate.