A bewitching deception
Galatians 3:1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you,
1 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.
5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us.
6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.
7 You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?
8 It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.
9 This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!
10 I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you.
13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
Have you ever fervently believed a lie and then later discovered the truth? If so, you know how damaging deception is. It can ruin friendships, destroy reputations, and leave a trail of painful, lingering consequences. The damage is particularly horrendous when the deception is spiritual because it can mean the difference in your eternal destiny.
“It would be nice to think that once we’re saved, we could never again be spiritually deceived, but that’s not the case. Satan is always looking for ways to lead us astray so he can ruin our testimony and hinder our spiritual growth. That’s why it’s so important for Christians to be discerning – and this ability will be developed in us only as we grow in our knowledge of scriptural truth” (Stanley).
The apostle Paul wrote to the children of the King in Galatia because they were being scammed. As a result they were losing their grip on the the truth. The issue at hand was not peripheral, but central. It concerned the validity and accuracy of the gospel message itself.
Was the redemptive work of Christ sufficient to provide salvation by grace alone or is something more required? After Paul’s departure, false teachers came to Galatia and began to spread misinformation and among the nascent believers. As a result, some of the Galatians were abandoning the true gospel for a “different gospel.” This “different gospel” was no gospel at all but rather an egregious distortion.
“Paul appears to have been genuinely shocked at the news he received from Galatia. The shock was further deepened because the slippage occurred ‘so quickly’” (Timothy George). Apparently, this occurred a very short time after Paul first preached the gospel in Galatia.
6 I am shocked that you are turning away so quickly from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News
7 but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.
The Greek word translated shocked or astonished is thaumazo. Thaumazo has the sense of astonished, marveled, amazed, astounded, or surprised. The expression, “‘I am astonished that’ was a literary device commonly used in Hellenistic letters to express irritation and irony as well as surprise” (Timothy George).
The Galatians are actively involved in the process of turning away from the Lord Jesus Christ. They are deserting Him and the message of the gospel. In its place, they are realigning their commitment to “another gospel,” which is no not an authentic gospel. Rather it is no more than a bewitching deception. At best, the Galatians are like silly, naive, gullible children. They are being persuaded by false teachers that the truth, is not actually the truth after all. At worst, they are poised to become deserters or worse, traitors and apostates. As Paul writes the letter, the Galatians were engaged in switching their allegiance. It was not too late to persuade them to abandon their pursuit of this enticing and persuasive scam.
Someone had come into the assembly distorting the gospel of grace. The Galatians were being told that salvation did not come by faith alone. But rather, the law of Moses must be kept and circumcision was necessary to be saved (Galatians 5:3-4).
REFLECT & PRAY
It is all too easy to beguiled and accept falsehood in place of truth.
Father keep us faithful to the truth that we have learned and stand firm upon.
In the 21st century, following the law of Moses and being circumcised for salvation are not hot button issues. But children of the King can still be beguiled into believing that good works or outward performance are somehow necessary for salvation.
Paul couldn’t be more clear.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
The Lord Jesus Christ warned that deceivers would be present in the world attempting to lead people astray. As the time of His return approaches, things would get worse and worse.
4 Jesus told them, don’t let anyone mislead you,
5 for many will come in my name, claiming, “I am the Messiah.” They will deceive many.
24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.
How can children of the King defend themselves against bewitching deception? By spending time in God’s Word. Knowing the Truth is our best protection against being led astray by misinformation.
2 Timothy 3:14 Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it
“Whenever someone promotes a ‘restored’ gospel or a ‘secret’ gospel or a ‘fresh’ gospel or any other ‘gospel’ that deviates from what the Bible clearly teaches, run for your life. That person promotes death, not life” (Stanley).
1 Corinthians 15:58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.