Summary: In the life of the churches, Paul feared nothing so much as false doctrine, since it is the underlying source of ungodly behavior. His deep concern for the spiritual welfare of the Corinthians believers would be fully as concerning for the church today.
Devoted to Destruction
The New Testament speaks of two general categories of people whom God devoted to destruction. The first category is “anyone [who] does not love the Lord.” The second is false teachers, who in Galatians 1:8-9 Paul twice calls accursed. Jesus Christ himself warned His disciples that “false Christ’s’ and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”
In the life of the churches, Paul feared nothing so much as false doctrine, since it is the underlying source of ungodly behavior. His deep concern for the spiritual welfare of the Corinthians believers would be fully as concerning for the church today. The reason for letter to the church of Galatia was made very clear from the get go. Paul had an 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 Gentile had to become a Jew surgically and ceremonially before he could become a Christian and that all Christians had to obey and honor the Jewish law and traditions in order to obtain and maintain righteousness from the Lord.
Here in our text today, the apostle Paul gives us three features involved n his strong opposition to that grave and damning heresy: his wonder, his wisdom, and his warning. Let’s consider those as we take a look at those devoted to destruction.
I. Paul’s Wonder about the Galatians’ Defection (v. 6)
• Paul could hardly comprehend that the Galatian believers were already abandoning his teaching.
o He was amazed and bewildered.
o He could no fathom why they were so quickly deserting God, who called them by means of the grace of Christ.
o 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 after him being with them.
o The believers apparently offered little and ineffective resistance to the false teachers and therefore were inconsistent in their allegiance to Paul and his teaching.
o They quickly and easily came under the influence of sacrilegious doctrines.
• The Galatians had been privileged to be taught by the great teacher the church has ever known apart from the Lord Himself; yet they readily rejected the truths of grace they had learned from him.
o There is still a great and urgent need for preaching and teaching that continually repeats the central truths of the gospel.
o It is possible even for longtime believers to lose a firm grip on those truths and allow themselves to be weakened and altered by ideas that purportedly improve on the pure and plain teachings of Scripture.
• These Galatians were true believers who had come to salvation in the power of the Holy Spirit.
o They were Christian brothers who had become seriously confused.
• The Galatian Christians not only were being confused and weakened in their confidence to live by grace but were actually deserting.
o These believers were in the process of removing themselves from the sphere of grace.
o The false teachers were accountable for their corruption of God’s truth, but the Galatian Christians were also accountable for being so easily misled by it to pursue legalism.
• To desert the gospel of grace that has been taught, was not simply to desert a doctrine, but to desert God, the God that called them to salvation.
• The only gospel of God is the gospel of grace, which is the gospel of divine redemption totally apart from any work or merit of man.
o We live in grace from the moment of salvation, and if grace ever stopped, we would lose our undeserved salvation and perish in sin.
o The grace of Christ is God’s free and sovereign act of love and mercy in granting salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus, apart from anything men are or can do, and of God’s sustaining that salvation of glorification.
• The most destructive dangers to the church have never been atheism; pagan religions; or cults that openly deny Scripture, but rather supposedly Christian movements that accept so much biblical truth that their unscriptural doctrines seem relatively insignificant and harmless.
o We need to remember though, that just a single drop of poison in a large container can make all the water lethal and deadly.
o And a single false idea that in any way undercuts God’s grace poisons the whole system of belief.