Avoid Distorted Gospels
In Galatians 1:1-5, the apostle Paul reminded the brethren of their deliverance “from this present evil age” by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This deliverance was God’s will. Knowing the brethren were fully aware of this information, the apostle Paul was astonished as to how the brethren had “so quickly” deserted Jesus Christ, turning to a distorted gospel.
In Galatians 1:6-10, the apostle Paul addressed the brethren’s departure and the ultimate outcome of those who would teach another gospel. Let us take a few minutes to consider a few observations regarding this text.
From Paul’s letter, it would seem several of the saints throughout the region of Galatia had turned away from Christ. The apostle Paul wrote, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ . . .” (Galatians 1:6a, ESV). While this new gospel might have resembled the gospel of Christ, it was not from Jesus Christ. By turning to a “different gospel,” the brethren were deserting Jesus Christ, the one who had delivered them from this present evil age (1:4).
Despite any resemblance there may have been, this “different gospel” was a perversion or a distortion of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul wrote, “. . . not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:7, ESV). Any distortion of the gospel of Christ is sufficient to create a false doctrine. However, in the context of this letter, it seems Judaizing teachers were distorting the gospel of Christ by attempting to bind the law of Moses on Christians. For instance, looking ahead to chapter 3, we read, “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3, ESV). In chapter 3, we also read, “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Galatians 3:23-26). In chapter 5, the apostle Paul wrote, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law” (Galatians 5:1-3, ESV). Paul strongly encouraged the brethren not to submit to this distorted gospel.
The source of a distorted or perverted gospel is irrelevant. The intentions of the one preaching the distorted gospel is likewise irrelevant. God will destroy anyone who teaches a distorted version of the gospel of Christ. Take notice of Paul’s warning: “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. 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, ESV). If anyone, including an “apostle” or an “angel” preaches a gospel different from that which Jesus and His apostles taught, then that person will be accursed (destroyed).
There are many people today who claim to be led by God, spoken to by an angel, or directed by the Holy Spirit to teach something different. However, no matter what a person claims, an altered version of the gospel is a perverted gospel, regardless of the one who is teaching. In other words, anyone who claims guidance by God, by Christ, by the Holy Spirit, or by an angel, while teaching a distorted gospel, is lying.[i]
We do not need a different gospel. We do not need a distorted gospel. The apostle Peter wrote, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1:3-4, ESV). God, through His word, has already given us all things which pertain to life and godliness. This “all things” comes through “the knowledge” of Jesus Christ. Jesus has called us and has granted to us His “precious and very great promises” so we can become “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world.” Why would we want to throw all of this away for a distorted version of His gospel? It is spiritually tragic for a child of God to be led away by a perverted gospel. Yet, just as Paul warned, some Christians would be unwilling to accept the sincere word of God. To Timothy, Paul wrote, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, ESV).
Do not take for granted what God has done for you when He sent Jesus Christ to deliver you from your bondage to sin. Take the time to study His word every day so you can “test the spirits,” being able to properly discern between truth and error. (cf. 1 John 4:1; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 5:12-14)
[i] God guides people through the written word. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to teach the apostles all things and to bring to their remembrance everything He had taught (John 14:25-26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15). The Holy Spirit fulfilled His task and delivered the faith once for all to the saints (Jude 1:3; cf. 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). This is the gospel which was preached through the words of Christ and the apostles.