Summary: 1) PAUL’S WONDER ABOUT THE GALATIANS’ DEFECTION (Galatians 1:6) 2) PAUL’S WISDOM REGARDING THE FALSE TEACHERS’ DECEPTION (Galatians 1:7) 3) PAUL’S WARNING OF GOD’S DESTRUCTION (Galatians 1:8–9)
This week, a U. S. soldier who was deported after his refugee claim was dismissed in Federal Court. This is nearly three years following his arrival in Canada and he may now face a number of consequences for army desertion. Robin Long, believed to be the first military deserter to be sent back to the United States from Canada, was escorted by Canada Border Services agents to the United States from Vancouver. The 25-year-old filed a refugee claim with the Immigration and Refugee Board in 2005, arguing that he would suffer irreparable harm if he were sent back to the United States. He also claimed that he would be forced to participate in "war crimes" if he were stationed in Iraq.
Mr. Long is being transferred to Fort Carson in Colorado, where he will continue with his former unit until it’s decided how his case will proceed, said Ryan Brus, a spokesman for Fort Knox, Ky., where Mr. Long was stationed before he deserted. "The unit commander will look at the facts and make a decision about what disciplinary actions will ensue," Mr. Brus said. "A recommendation will be made about what will happen to this soldier." U. S. deserters who are returned to their military base can face penalties including criminal charges, being required to complete their military contract or being given an undesirable administrative discharge from army service. (Given that the United States is in a time of declared war, deserters may also face the death penalty, although this is unlikely.) An estimated 200 American army deserters have sought refugee status in Canada. Nine are facing immediate deportation orders this summer. (http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/story.html?id=657044)
In Galatia, some of the Christians we facing a desertion of a different kind. Judaizers were persuading some of the Christians in Galatia to desert the gospel of Grace taught them by the Apostle Paul, and embrace a system of bondage to ritual. The consequences not only impacted their Christian lives, their testimony to others but the testimony they portrayed about the nature of God and His means of Salvation by Grace.
The book of Galatians is Paul’s only epistle in which he has no word of commendation for those to whom he writes. After his brief salutation he immediately launches into the reason for his writing: his extreme concern and perplexity about the false teachers who were undercutting the gospel of grace he had so carefully preached and expounded while he ministered in Galatia. He was deeply grieved that the truth of God’s sovereign and gracious offer of redemption through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ alone was being corrupted by the teachings of salvation by works, namely, that a) a Gentile had to become a Jew surgically and ceremonially before he could become a Christian and that b) all Christians had to obey and honor the Jewish law and traditions in order to obtain and maintain righteousness from the Lord.
How do you think people come to faith? What difference does it make if you believe that you can either earn your salvation or sustain it by the things you do?
What does this say to others about our power or about God’s expectations? The answers found here impact faith, assurance and who we say God is.
In Galatians 1:6–9 we see the dangers of: 1) Defection, 2) Deception, and 3) Destruction.
1) PAUL’S WONDER ABOUT THE GALATIANS’ DEFECTION (Galatians 1:6)
Galatians 1:6 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-- (ESV)
Paul could hardly comprehend that the Galatian believers were already abandoning his apostolic teaching. He was astonished/amazed (thaumazô, a strong word, meaning to be astounded) and bewildered. He could not fathom why they were so quickly deserting Him, that is, God, who called them by means of the grace of Christ. He was not surprised by what the false teachers were doing but was shocked by the favorable response they received from Christians in Galatia.
The apostle was especially surprised that the defection had come so quickly. Tacheôs (quickly) can mean either easily and readily or soon, and sometimes both, as was probably the case with the Galatians’ deserting the true gospel. The believers apparently offered little and ineffective resistance to the false teachers and therefore were fickle in their allegiance to the truth. They quickly and easily came under the influence of heretical doctrines.
Illustration: Embracing heretical doctrines leading to Apostasy is likened to “a story which is told of a man who, resisting the cost of oats for his mule, decided to gradually substitute sawdust in its diet. Everything went fine for a while—but by the time the mule was satisfied with sawdust, he died. The same is true spiritually. The changeover from truth to error is sometimes a slow process, and the people don’t always know the difference. But, before you know it, they are dead. (Michael P. Green. (2000). 1500 illustrations for biblical preaching. Includes indexes. (23). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.)