So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
This is the question that Biblical Paul asked the Galatian Church after he devoted his life to establishing them as a church. What happened to this Church? Why did the Galatian Church betray Paul, worst yet, the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
When the Galatians invited Paul for his first visit, he was received as an “angel of God.” After time allowed the Galatians to drift into the worthless elements of life, Paul was informed of their weakening demise. He became compelled to write them, which became Galatians’ book.
Betrayal must be the most egregious act known to Christendom and beyond – primarily propagated within the Church itself. Fact. “Christians” are known for shooting their own far more than authentic worldly persecution. A friend of mine once said, “Who needs the devil when we have fellow believers taunting your every move.”
As for ministers of the Gospel, betrayal is the worst. It tempts us to feel like our investment has gone sour. Minimally, leaving the preacher with the reality, he was preaching to a brick wall.
Paul was bewildered but remained focused.
Can you imagine writing to a group of people who once honored you but now, a hint of betrayal surfaces through reports? The wonder of - will my words return to me before having a chance to penetrate the hearts of those I love? With every word being written, did Paul sense the probability of writing to faces filled with betrayal? What has possessed his once-loyal believers?
As with many of the newly found Gentile churches, Paul was the founder of the Galatian Church. In his lifetime, he began to see the dangers of a “perverted gospel” infiltrating the hearts and minds of those he assisted in converting. The false teachers who fronted Paul during his mission suggested that Paul had only one side of the “gospel,” They thought they had adequate evidence to isolate Paul as a narrow-minded teacher or even a false teacher. Myriads of false teachers at the time were infiltrating these new fellowships with a false & pluralistic gospel, thus, creating questions that rub against the authentic Gospel Paul imparted. The first generation church was under the temptation to diminish the roots of the authentic Gospel. Resulting in the enemy (Satan) sneaking up from behind with his newly found licentious grace, as stated by Jude.
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness (disregarding accepted rules or conventions) and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)
Paul’s repetitive response to these deluded “believers” was forthright. “No, there is no gospel other than that which you have heard from my lips.” Who was Paul addressing? While knowing his words would bounce off false teachers’ minds, Paul remains focused on his gentle rebuke.
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7)
Obviously, the Galatian church members have joined the pluralistic false teachers in formulating a different gospel, one that is licentious in nature. Paul gently rebukes them in noting that this kind of shift is deserting Him (Jesus Christ). Also, reminding them of being disrupted by false teachers – who distort the Gospel of Jesus. Being rooted in confidence, Paul dared to say these words.
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1:8-9)
This sounds like an arrogant man. A man caught up in himself. But…no, Paul is devoted to his salvation and the Truth, which the Holy Spirit revealed to him. Not only that, he was devoted to saving his “flock” from the demise of pluralistic gospels. While the “believers” were tempted to reduce Paul through betrayal, Paul remained focused on one thing – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, at the time, the “believers” choose the route of pluralism. Returning to a pre-saved worldview of fleshly religious ideologies. Placing themselves back under the bondage of man-made laws (homemade gospels) & theologies, hoping to expand their worldview, particularly regarding the end times.
People-pleasing is the sin that leads to betrayal.
In Paul’s gracious rebuke, he tells them, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. Folks, it always comes back to being a bond-servant of Christ. If a man does not understand bond-slavery, the man cannot make the connection. Thus, finding himself held by the sin of people-pleasing.
The most common reason “believers” betray other “believers” is in the self-importance of remaining acceptable in the minds of new influencers. Shifting their loyalty from the mind of Christ to the mind of overpowering influencers/teachers. This is nothing short of betrayal, or what Paul called, deserting Him, Christ Jesus.
Today, our “Church society” is filled with betrayal – a betrayal of God, the Gospel, and the men who preach the immovable indwelling Truths. When a person like Paul comes around, the lion’s share becomes offended by Truth, making Paul’s question relevant - So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? As soon as the image of an enemy comes into play, betrayal follows.
You see, what the Galatians didn’t understand is the primary Truth of the authentic believer has the mind of Christ living from within – as Paul reminded the Corinthian Church.
For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
If this is true, and we know that it is, to have the mind of Christ living within us, our focus should shift from pleasing men to pleasing the indwelling Life of Christ. Since this doctrine is basic to authentic believers, betrayal of other Body of Christ believers becomes THE issue.
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10)
For this truth to become a reality, all authentic Body of Christ members must start and finish by way of the mind of Christ within His Bride. Those who can’t or refuse to be centered in this basic doctrine, well – are most likely not authentically indwelt by Jesus.
Body Life quarreling is at the root of introductions to additional gospels.
Satan starts there. Quarreling was the cause of the division of loyalty within the Galatian Church, and many other branches started in the first generation Church. The enemy was all about shifting the focus from THE Church to churches. Accomplished by way of loyalty to man’s mind vs. that of Christ.
For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:11-13)
The answer to Paul’s question regarding - has Christ been divided, is relevant. Satan’s goal is always to divide Christ into irrelevant pieces. For without this madness method, he is impotent. And…overall, he has been earthly successful. Eternally, Jesus Christ cannot, and will never be divided. But, earthly speaking, the Church as a whole is no longer presented as a single living organism. Today, the Church has been divided into over 5,000 separate denominations – each willing to die for their self-interpretive ideologies. All because of people-pleasing.
Furthermore, each branch is worthless without the whole. This, without question, is the reason Jesus is about to separate the goats from the sheep, which will end with the authentic Body of Christ as ONE unite. The book of Revelation proves this.
Solomon was right; there is nothing new under the sun.
On a personal note, I believe the Galatian church suffered the same demise as our “church” today, or maybe it’s the other way. In our present church-society, the Word of the Cross is foolishness to those adhering to a pluralistic gospel. Overall, nowadays, few are saved by the power of God. There are two primary reasons for this. One, droves believe the words of men can save. Secondly, and more alarming, multitudes believe they are saved by following Christ’s words vs. being indwelt by Him – a demise leading to fake Christianity that does not save.
Human reasoning and logic are a trap. The foolishness of God is wiser than the most intelligent of men. If God did have a weakness, His weakness is stronger than the mightiest of men. This might be the reason God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the intelligent false teachers of our age, minimally nullifying their pluralistic additions to the organic Gospel.
Folks, we need to get back to the basics. By His doing, we are in Christ Jesus, who became the wisdom of God, placed such wisdom in us through the indwelling mind of Christ. To keep our doctrinal thinking within the walls of the think-tank of the Living God, as I see it, this is the only solution. Opinions, views, and interpretations are nothingness to God. He, God, is pretty narrow-minded, who has a very narrow path TO His mind – that of being crucified with Christ, receiving the Life of Christ through the Holy Spirit, and walking in and through the Spirit, who reveals the mind of Christ. Identity is birthed through the mind. Both Satan and God know this. If a man maintains a view through a self-guided mind, certainly the mind of Christ remains undiscovered.
By Dr. Stephen Phinney | 2021 Eschatology Series