Summary: Paul is absolutely astonished that men can voluntarily decide to be enemies of that which is most precious and beneficial to them.

Saint-Exupery was a French aviator who wrote a number of

books that have been an inspiration to many. He was recalled to

military service in World War II. On July 31, 1944 he was flying an

observation mission in a plane with no guns. He was shot down that

day by a young man from Germany who was writing his doctrinal

thesis. Believe it or not, he was writing his thesis on the works of

Saint-Exupery. When the young gunner learned that he had shot

down his own hero, he went to pieces and had to be taken to a

psychiatric hospital. All he could say was, "I killed my master, I

killed my master."

This true story is a perfect illustration of how men can become

the enemy of that which they most love. This perplexing paradox

began in the Garden of Eden where man was persuaded to take

sides against himself and spoil paradise. Sin might well be defined

as man's incredible ability to be persuaded to cut his own throat.

All God wants for man is for his own good, and yet he is so easily

persuaded to forsake God's plan and follow a path that leads to

sorrow. Man is his own worst enemy. It is easy to say, when you do

that which makes you an enemy to yourself, that the devil made me

do it, but the fact is, you are held personally responsible for the

choices you make.

Paul is amazed that the Galatian Christians would choose to desert

the Gospel of grace and turn to another gospel. He is

absolutely astonished that men can voluntarily decide to be enemies

of that which is most precious and beneficial to them. Here are

people who are actually joining the forces of those who threaten to

destroy them, and like the young German gunner, they are in

danger of opposing Him that they most admire. Paul is trying to

save them from themselves. He does not let them off the hook by

saying the devil made you do it. Paul is fully aware of the power of

Satan, what he does not always assume that Satan is to blame for the

folly of believers. They are responsible agents who can be guilty of

foolish choices on their own.

Paul is dealing with two categories of people in this paragraph,

and both of them are considered to be free agents who can do

something different from what they are doing, and so they are

responsible for their decision. The two categories are the deserters

of the Gospel, and the distorters of the Gospel. We want to look

more closely first at-


Paul is appalled that they would alter the altar before which they

bow, and change from the cross of Christ to the law of Moses. The

KJV has, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed." The RSV has, "I

am astonished that you are so quickly deserting." The Living Bible

has, "I am amazed that ye are turning away so soon." Stephen's

Epistles of Paul in Modern English has it, "I am surprised that so

soon after your conversion you should have deserted the doctrine of


Paul is actually accusing them of desertion from the army of

Christ. They are turning from the Captain of their salvation and

are marching under another banner in which Moses is their

commander. The issue here is not the great battle of Calvinism and

Arminianism concerning the once saved always saved theme. There

is no question about their salvation, but rather their loyalty to

Christ and the Gospel of grace. When we get to the distorters of the

Gospel we will see that even many of them are saved men. There is

no doubt as to their love of Christ, for even Peter and Barnabas

were persuaded by them to joy their ranks. The battle in Galatians

is not between believer and unbeliever, but ones priorities. Is Christ

central, or is the law of Moses still first in the Christian life?

What these deserters of the Gospel are illustrating for us is that

it is possible for a believer to become an enemy of the one he loves

most. It is possible for a born again Christian to be persuaded to

follow a false cult, for example. He may love his Lord and yet join

forces with those whose doctrines subtly undermine the centrality of

Christ. He is a deserter taking shots at his own master, and he may

not even be aware of his folly, as were the Galatians before Paul

enlightened them with this letter.

Martin Luther's greatest discouragement in the Reformation

was due to the ease with which Christians yielded to seducing

spirits. He complained that after long labor to build up people in the

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