Denunciation Part 5 of 6 (Series: Lessons on Romans)
by John Lowe
If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received,
The phrase “If any man” expresses a fulfilled condition. Paul is not speaking of a future probability (vs. 8), but of an actual, current fact, and he hurls the anathema directly at the legalists.
These Jewish teachers were preaching an “another gospel,” one that was significantly different from the one the apostle had preached to them, and Paul is scolding the Galatian Christians for believing it and supporting the false teachers. I would not want to be in their shoes when they must stand before the Judge of the whole universe on the Great Day. The Judaizers will certainly wish they had never taught it, and the Galatians will undoubtedly regret they ever believed it. The Lord has issued this warning for those who add to, take away, or in any way distort His Holy Word: The Bible has testified to everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book: “I testify to everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book.” (Rev. 22.18; HCS). The whole spirit of the Scripture is against adding to or taking from the Lord's words. This is a warning against counterfeit revelations. This warning is also found in the Old Testament: “You must not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it, so that you may keep the commands of the Lord your God I am giving you” (Deuteronomy 4:2; HCS).
In the previous verse Paul wrote, "That which we have preached," but by changing the wording to “that ye have received” he probably meant to remind them that they had at one time solemnly professed to embrace that system. It had not only been “preached” to them, it had been embraced by them. The teachers of the new system, therefore, were really opposed to the gospel he had preached to the Galatians; to that which they knew to be true. Therefore the apostle pronounced a curse on them for two reasons; first, because they preached what the Galatians themselves knew to be false and contrary to that which they had themselves professed to be true; and second, because the new gospel they proclaimed was untrue and in opposition to the true gospel.
let him be accursed.
Paul says, in strong language, “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed,” which literally means let him be damned. Dear reader, I cannot make that statement any stronger.
It is clear from this and other statements that the Apostle Paul was extremely confident that the gospel he had preached to them was the only true gospel. He was so completely convinced of this that he pronounced an anathema upon those who pretended to preach any other gospel (v. 8), and, to let them know that he had not made a recklessness judgment due to his eagerness to condemn these false teachers, he repeated it (v. 9). This will not justify our announcing anathemas against those who differ from us in minor things. Paul is our example in this and it is only against those who bring a new gospel, who overturn the foundation of the covenant of grace by setting up the works of the law in the place of Christ’s righteousness, and corrupting Christianity with Judaism, that Paul declares an anathema. He framed his argument like so: "Suppose we should preach another gospel; or, suppose an angel from heaven should do so: not as if it was possible for an angel from heaven to be the messenger of a lie; but he expressed it this way in order to strengthen what he was about to say. "If you have any other gospel preached to you by any other person, even though they claim to have received it from me, or from an angel himself, you must conclude they are either misinformed or bearing false witness: and whoever preaches another gospel places himself under a curse, and you are in danger of being placed under it too.”
The gospel excludes all works. Romans 4:5 says, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” A lot of people today think they have to become good enough to be saved. My brother tried to use that excuse when I explained the gospel to him. He was truly a gross sinner, and he said to me, “Tom, if I went to church the building would probably fall down. I am going to try to be a little better, and if I improve, I let you know.” I said to him, “If you improve, you will never become a Christian. The only class that God is saving is the ungodly. The Lord Jesus said He didn’t come to call the righteous; He came to call sinners. The reason He said that was because there is none righteous, no, not one. Even the righteousness of man is as filthy rags in God’s sight. No one is ever good enough to be saved, but grace can save us.”
Romans 3:19 tells us that, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” The real difficulty is not that people should be “good enough” to be saved, but that they are not “bad enough” to be saved. Humanity refuses to recognize its lost condition before God. This is the human predicament.
The Judaizers did not deny the facts of the gospel—that Jesus died and rose again. What they denied was that this was sufficient. They insisted that you have to keep the Law plus trusting Christ. Paul is saying that whoever tries to mingle law and grace—let him be damned! Why? Because they pervert the gospel. They do not deny the fact of the gospel, but they misinterpret those facts. They pervert the gospel.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
For do I now persuade men, or God?
What Paul had said generally, in the preface of this epistle (vv. 1-5), he now enlarges upon. There he had declared himself to be an apostle of Christ; and here he supports his claim to that office by showing that he has the character of an apostle. There were some in the churches of Galatia who denied that he had the credentials of an apostle, because those who preached that the ceremonial law must was part of the gospel did all they could to belittle Paul’s reputation, since he preached nothing but the pure gospel of Christ to the Gentiles. Here Paul sets out to prove the divinity of both his mission and doctrine, that by this means he might wipe away the disparaging accusations which his enemies had made against him and against his doctrine, and then to bring these Christians to have a better opinion of the gospel he had preached to them.
The meaning of “For do I now persuade men, or God” may be either:
1) That when preaching the gospel he did not act in obedience to men, but God, who had called him to this work and to the office of apostle.
2) That his aim in that office was to bring persons to the obedience, not of men, but of God. Since he claimed to have been commissioned by God, his chief aim was to promote His glory, by converting sinners, through the preaching of the gospel.
The word “persuade” means “to make a friend of.” The Scofield Reference Bible translates it “seek the favor of.” In 1 Thessalonians 2:4 it is rendered “please God” But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak ; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Thess 2.4; KJV). in contrast to self or others. The preaching of the gospel is not pleasing to lost man. No man can please both God and man.
If you preach the gospel of grace today, you may get into trouble because it is the gospel of the grace of God that the sinner hates. Many unsaved church members do not want to hear the message of grace. They want to hear a message that appeals to the flesh. The gospel of grace puts us in the dust and makes us beggars before God.
Man has a nature that thrives on legalism. He thinks he doesn’t need a Savior. All he needs is a helper. My dear reader, we are going down for the third time! We need somebody to save us. Those who preach law are popular. There is a Southern California preacher who has a television ministry. From a technical and professional standpoint he has one of the finest programs. In his message he talks about Jesus coming into the world. He speaks of Christ’s death and resurrection. But he failed to mention that the people to whom he was speaking were sinners and needed a Savior. He neglected to inform his audience that Jesus died for them and they needed to trust Him to be saved. Rather, he talked about commitment. He invited folk to commit their lives to Christ. Let us be honest. Christ does not want your old life and He does not want mine. We have nothing to commit to Him. He wants to do something through us today. Oh, if only we could learn that!
God is not even asking you to live the Christian life. In fact, you cannot live it; no one ever has, not even Paul. God is asking that He might live the Christian life through you. The Epistle to the Galatians teaches this. But first of all we must come to Christ as sinners and be saved. Our churches are filled today with people who are not saved. Do you know why? They have never come to Christ and received Him as Savior. They feel like they have something to commit to Him. You have nothing to commit to Him, dear reader. He wants to commit something to you. He is the One who died, and He is on the giving end. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). It is just as simple as that. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior? This is the important thing.