Galatians - Speaking the Truth in Love
Galatia is the same region where Paul had been stoned and left for dead and afterward preached the Gospel to those same people who harmed him. And the church that grew there was doing well until a group of Judaizers convinced the people that faith in Jesus was not enough. They told the Christians they needed to maintain Old Testament laws such as feast days, Sabbath days, and circumcision to be accepted by God. These were professing believers in Jesus as the Messiah, yet they said faith in Christ alone was insufficient for salvation.
When the Apostle Paul found out what was going on, he was pretty upset. In fact, the book of Galatians contains some of the sharpest rebukes in all the Bible, yet Paul was willing to communicate the truth to these people out of love for them.
You need to tell people the truth. Sad to say, few Christians today are willing to speak the truth in love if it means offending someone or, worse, getting themselves in trouble. They would rather take the path of least resistance. Telling people the truth won’t always affect them in a positive way. But the truth is the only thing that will set people free, so you’ve got to tell people the truth. Paul’s apostleship was foundational to his message, so he opens this epistle by saying he was an apostle not by the will of man but by the calling of God Himself. He was getting ready to reprimand the Galatians for straying from the Gospel he had brought to them, and he wanted to firmly establish his authority to do so.
But notice how he starts off his chastisement with, “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:3). That’s because the rebuke he was about to give wasn’t because he didn’t love these people; it was because he did love them.
One of my favourite scriptures I use all the time is Galatians 4:16 which says, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” When people set up rules and things you must do to be accepted by God, that’s not the biblical Gospel.
Today, people will say you’ve got to go to church, pay your tithes, and live a holy life to get God to answer your prayers. They embrace the need for Jesus but say you also need to provide your own holiness. That’s a perversion of the Gospel, and it’s exactly what the Apostle Paul is preaching against.
Paul said you’re either saved by grace without any work on your part or you’re saved by works without any grace on God’s part (Rom. 11:6). He is saying salvation is either by Jesus alone or it’s you alone — not a combination of the two. The only thing we contribute to our salvation is our sin.
Scripture says Jesus died for the ungodly (Rom. 4:5). So unless you’re willing to admit you’re ungodly, you can’t be saved. Any person that’s maintaining their own goodness can’t be saved.
It’s hard for some people to understand, but did you know some people’s goodness is the very thing that’s keeping them from relationship with God? Am I saying you shouldn’t live a righteous life or do what’s good? No, that’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is that if your trust is in yourself and in your goodness instead of trusting in Jesus, it will send you to hell.
Grace is so infinitely superior to your having to earn God’s favour and live up to all these things. You’d have to be crazy to accept legalism rather than the grace of God. God’s grace makes everything available to you based on what Jesus did. It’s not what you do for Jesus—it’s what Jesus did for you.
It’s faith that gives us access to God, not our own attempts at holiness and certainly not our meagre performance. We should live holy so we don’t give an inroad to Satan. We should live holy because God has changed us and we’re a brand-new person. But we do not have to live holy to deserve the things of God. And if you think you do, that could be the very thing that’s stopping the power of God from flowing in your life.
The truth is you aren’t worthy. But the good news is you don’t have to be worthy. All you must do is put faith in a saviour who obtained all these things for you by His holiness. And He offers it to you as a free gift. That’s the pure Gospel. Praise the Lord!
I’ve just covered the tip of the iceberg on Galatians here, but I guarantee the full teaching would encourage you and be a blessing to you. We need to humble ourselves to receive God’s grace and quit trying to add anything to it. If you’d like to order my full teaching on Galatians, I encourage you to visit awme.net/SpeakingTruth or call our UK Helpline at +44(0)1922 473300, or just fill out and return the enclosed form.
We love you,
Andrew and Jamie