Subverters of Souls
Galatians 1:6 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 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.”
Some time after the Galatian Church was started and was well on its way to maturity something horrible happened to it. In fact, something so dreadful as to cause the apostle Paul to question the profession of the people there (Gala. 4:11,19). The problem Paul was facing head on, was that the people were turning from the true gospel to a false gospel. Paul is amazed that this happened so quickly to the people of the Galatian Church. How did something so horrible happen to a Church that started out so well? We find the answer in verse 7, “but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” As one reads the book of Galatians they will discover that trouble makers entered in and started teaching that Christians must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses. This very same problem was dealt with by the apostles, elders and brethren of the Church of Jerusalem in Acts 15 (Acts 15:1,5). In Acts 15 the apostles, elders and brethren said that those who taught that a Christian must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses were tempting God and putting a yoke around the neck of the disciples that neither they nor their fathers could bear.
Acts 15:10 “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”
They also said that those who taught that a Christian must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses were subverting souls and that they themselves never gave such a command, which means that those who taught this did so on their own authority.
Acts 15:23 “And they wrote [letters] by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren [send] greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: 24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, [Ye must] be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no [such] commandment:”
Notice Acts 15:24 teaches it was those who taught that a Christian must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses who were the troublemakers. Galatians 1:7 teaches the same. In fact, Paul teaches in Galatians 1 that those who taught that a Christian must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses were teaching a false gospel. Preaching a false gospel is a serious sin, in fact Paul said "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." These are strong words that should strike fear into the hearts of those who teach this false gospel. Yet, even with such a strong curse to anyone foolish enough to teach this false gospel, the Church today has it’s own troublemakers teaching the very same old age false gospel found in Galatians 1.
Gala. 2:1 “Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with [me] also. 2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. 3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”
Titus was living proof that a person could be a Child of God without having to keep the law of Moses. The Word of God says that Titus went with Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem and was not compelled to be circumcised. Yet, those who would subvert the souls of those who listen to them, teach that one must be circumcised according to the law of Moses in order to be saved. Titus was living proof to the contrary. Notice carefully what Paul has to say about those who teach that Christians must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses. In verse 4 he calls them false brethren, which means that they were not even saved themselves. This is ironic for the very fact that these unsaved subverter of souls were trying to teach others how to be saved. We remember the Words of Jesus as he confronted the Pharisees over this type of hypocrisy in Matthew 23:
Matt. 23:13 “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”
These false brethren were spying on the liberty of the real Christians and trying to bring them under bondage to the mosaic law. Paul was earnestly contending for the faith when confronting these subverter of souls, so much so, that he would not give place to them for even a moment. Like Jesus, Paul had sharp rebukes for these lost religious people and fought earnestly against their false gospel of works. Today we have these same subverters of souls in our midst who teach that Christians must keep the law of Moses. They, like the troublemakers of the past, can’t stand the true liberty a child of God has in Christ Jesus and insist that they be put under the bondage of the Mosaic law. They are enemies of the cross and pervert the true Gospel of God and like the Pharisees of old, make their converts twofold more the child of hell than themselves. Thank God for the true Gospel of Jesus Christ which truly sets a soul free.
Gal. 2:21 “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness [come] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
Law and Grace cannot be mixed. The apostle Paul made this clear in verse above. The Greek word for frustrate in the above verse means: to do away with, to set aside, to disregard, nullify, to make void, to reject, refuse. Those who think that they are establishing righteousness by the deeds of the law have frustrated the grace of God. No wonder Paul announced such a severe judgement on those who taught that Christians must keep the law of Moses (Galatians 1:6). They were leading people to damnation rather than salvation. In doing so, they became enemies of the cross as Paul shows in the last part of the verse “for if righteousness [come] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” The cross of Jesus Christ is the single most significant event in history and those who teach righteousness by the deeds of the law turn this grand event into nothing. This is the exact thing that happened to Israel as a whole. They rejected the righteousness that Jesus gained for those who believe on Him and instead set out to establish their own righteousness by the deeds of the law.
Rom. 9:30 “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Wherefore? Because [they sought it] not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”
The horrible consequences of trying to be righteous by the works of the law, is that those who try to do so will remain lost and without salvation, as Paul goes on to explain:
Rom. 10:1 “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ [is] the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. 5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down [from above]:) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, [even] in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”
Paul acknowledges that Israel had a zeal for God, the problem though was that it was not according to knowledge. In others words, they were religious, but lost. They rejected the righteousness that God offered them through Jesus and foolishly thought that they could attain righteousness by the deeds of the law. In doing so they demonstrated their unbelief. Their only hope of salvation would be to repent of their own efforts of righteousness by the deeds of the law and accept the righteousness of God which one freely receives through the cross of Jesus.
Law and grace cannot be mixed. Living by law will bring damnation and death, living by grace will bring life and a clear conscience before God. Those who teach righteousness through law keeping, subvert the souls of those who foolishly listen to them, those who teach salvation by the grace of God, bring the words of life to those who will listen to them.
Gal. 3:1 “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if [it be] yet in vain. 5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, [doeth he it] by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”
Those who teach and hold that Christians must keep the law of Moses would do well to pay attention to the apostle Paul in the above verses. Paul is so amazed that those who were on the right path to begin with are now far removed from the true gospel and have instead embraced a false gospel of law keeping. How can this be? Paul calls the Galatians, who think that they have to keep the law of Moses, foolish (verse 1,3). Paul goes on to demonstrate their foolishness by asking a couple of rhetorical questions. Any one who teaches that Christians must keep the law of Moses would do well to answer these questions as well. Paul first asks:
“This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”
This is a rhetorical question and the obvious answer is that anyone who is saved was saved by grace through faith and not by their own attempts at keeping the law of Moses as Eph. 2:8-10 declares. Paul then builds upon this question by asking another rhetorical question:
“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? "
In other words, are you so foolish in acknowledging that you were saved by faith to think that your sanctification will now be made perfect by your fleshly attempts at keeping the law of Moses? Paul is teaching the Galatians by rhetorical questions that not only are they saved by faith but that their perfection is of faith as well. Our salvation is through faith and our Christian walk is by faith, not by the deeds of the law as false teachers would have you believe.
Gal. 3:11 “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, [it is] evident: for, The just shall live by faith.”
Today, there are many who want to place Christians under the Ten Commandments, which was a Covenant that God made with the children of Israel from Moses to the cross only. In doing so, they tempt God and subvert the souls of those who listen to them (Acts 15:1,5,10,24). In effect, they become enemies of the cross of Christ and rob the liberty (which is the freedom to serve Christ) a child of God has in Christ. A child of God would do well not to listen to their deceptive lies and instead obey from the heart Galatians 4 and throw out the bondwoman.
Gal. 4:21 “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he [who was] of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman [was] by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, [thou] barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him [that was born] after the Spirit, even so [it is] now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
Law and grace cannot be mixed.
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