by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3 October 24, 2010 Dayton, Texas
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
1901 ASV Translation:
7 which is not another gospel only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema.
9 As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema.
I. The "Troubling" of the Galatians.
A. The term is used in the New Testament whenever something upsets the calm.
1. In John's Gospel it is used in, among other places, the story of the man by the pool who was waiting for the water of the pool to be "troubled" (agitated so that the typical calm of the surface no longer existed).
2. In the other Gospel's it is used whenever someone experienced something that he/she would have preferred to not experience and describes the state of mind that has resulted from that experience (Herod, at the announcement of the magi; Zacharias at the appearance of Gabriel beside the altar; the disciples when they saw what they thought was a "ghost"; etc.).
3. Luke 24:38 reveals that to be "troubled" means to have contradictory thoughts bouncing around inside one's head that challenge a peace-giving norm of confidence.
4. John 14:27, coming off of 14:1, reveals that "fear" (as reluctant timidity) is involved.
5. Acts and Galatians use it to refer to false teachers who contradict the truth.
6. 1 Peter 3:14 uses it to soothe those who are being subjected to suffering while doing what is right.
7. At the root of "trouble" is this fact: "faith" is absent from the scenario because it is the casualty and its absence is the objective of "those who are troubling you".
B. At issue in Galatians is this reality: the Galatians had been "at peace" with God because of their "belief" that He had forgiven their sins and cleared the way for them to fellowship with Him, but afterwards they had been subjected to the notion that such forgiveness and fellowship were illusory because their "faith" was erroneous. The bottom line is that the condition of their minds was directly affected by the lies to which they were subjected.
II. The "Perversion" of the Gospel of Christ.
A. The word Paul used for "pervert" is only otherwise used in the verb form in the New Testament at Acts2:20 and James 4:9. In those alternative texts the meaning is very clear: something is "being turned into" something very much unlike it. There is no reason to believe that Paul had anything different in his mind. The point: the Gospel of Christ can be turned into the opposite of "gospel" (good news), which is "bad news".
B. In the New Testament there are two alternative schemes for ruining the impact of the good news.
1. Galatians is a clear example of the good news being turned into a demand/performance concept exactly like that of the Law. That this is bad news is obvious to any who ponder how God will treat people if He approaches His treatment of them from a position of pure justice rooted in demand/performance.
2. Jude 4 is the other clear example. Jude addresses the problem of the good news being turned into what our translators call "lasciviousness". A perusal of the use of this term in the New Testament gives the strong impression that it points to an uncontrolled fixation upon the core physical issue of sexual expression -- the explosion of nerve-based pleasure. As an opposite twist of the "good news" into its alternative, "lasciviousness" is clearly antinomian. The Law condemns those who engage in lasciviousness to eternal death. Therefore, the question is this: how can the Gospel of the grace of God be turned into "lasciviousness"? The answer seems to be that whenever "gospel" is used to make it both desirable and possible for people to be fixated upon (and, thus, express) a type of behavior that is under condemnation, that "gospel" is actually being used to promote condemnation.
3. The interesting reality of these two alternative schemes is that they both lead to real, and eternal, condemnation. How does this work? At a fundamental level, they both "work" by preventing the human side of the good news from being exercised. No one can alter or undo what God has done in Christ. The God side of the good news is set in stone. Thus, the only recourse for the opponents of the Gospel is to twist the human side of the issue. Since it is Paul's argument in all of his letters that the human side of the Gospel is "faith", clearly it will be some aberrant form of "faith" that is promoted by the enemies of the Truth and the aberrations will be sufficient to keep a person from actually believing God. On the "legal" side of the twist (the Galatian issue), "faith" is turned into a fixation upon human responsibility before God (turning Promise into Demand) so that God is no longer the object of faith. In all "responsibility" doctrine, man is the ultimate object of faith because it is man's "responsible response to responsibility" that saves him under Law. On the "lascivious" side of the twist (the Jude issue), "faith" is turned from the promise of eternal life into an escapist concept of freedom from Hell. That both of these twists of the true nature of "faith" lead to real, and eternal, condemnation is a clear cut indication that both "twists" keep men from union with God because in neither case do they actually believe Him. For clarification, we must add that the "gospel of lasciviousness" is not "believed" by those who sometimes fall into "lasciviousness" after the fact. Rather, the "gospel of lasciviousness" is "believed" when men are led to "commit to" the notion that "lasciviousness is no big deal" so that they can engage in it and have no compunctions of conscience. The true Gospel approaches man's penchant for sin from the point of view of 1 John 2:1: "My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." The plain fact is this: "faith" does not lead to "lasciviousness", only "unbelief" takes us there. There is a significant difference between "faith" that leads to a dismissal of "lasciviousness" going in and "faith" that falters after the fact in the face of temptation to sexual impropriety. If "sin" is not a great evil for which the "gospel" has a real answer going in, the "faith" that is being exercised is not acceptable to God because such "faith" is actually a denial that Jesus' self-giving was intended to "deliver us" from the evil processes of this age.
4. At a fundamental level, the twisting of the Gospel into an alternative lie is a twisting of the purpose of God into a way for man to fulfill his own purpose.
a. The purpose of God from the beginning was the reestablishment of the interpersonal relationship of harmony between Himself and His created persons so that there could be an uninterrupted flow of "Life" from Him to them. At any time that this purpose is subverted, the message that subverts it is a "twisted" gospel.
b. The purposes of man have always been some form of deviant selfishness. Under Law the purpose of man is self-exaltation so that "boasting" is a legitimate methodology. Under Lasciviousness the purpose of man is self-gratification so that "unrestrained sexual expression" is a legitimate methodology.
c. Paul set the bar with his statement to Titus: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (2:11-14). Here he did not say that grace ought to lead to "denial of evil" and "expectant living"; he said it does. Therefore, we conclude that any "faith" that does not connect with "grace" along these lines is simply not "faith" in any biblical sense.