Not By Works

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!  As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!”—Galatians 1:6–9 (NIV)

I once read a quote from a pastor named John Phillips who said, “In the Book of Galatians, we get to see what Paul’s soul looks like when it’s set on fire.” Here in this passage, we see why the embers were lit. 

Why? Well, here’s what happened: Paul and Barnabas came to Galatia and, after a little turbulence, God does some amazing work through them. People get saved and a bunch of churches start springing up in Galatia. And the churches are growing and strong and vibrant, and people are coming to know Jesus. 

So now, after Paul left to continue his missionary journeys, a group known as the Judaizers came preaching “a different gospel.” Essentially, these men Paul refers to in Philippians 3 as “dogs,” “evildoers,” and “mutilators of the flesh” came and taught that although we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, full acceptance by God can only come by adhering to the Law. The idea is that you “get in” by grace, but “stay in” by works. One commentary I read stated, “The Galatian heresy didn’t deny Jesus or grace. Rather . . . the Judaizers simply added works to Christ as necessary for salvation. It is not that faith in Christ was wrong but that it just wasn’t sufficient.”

A different gospel . . . which is really no gospel at all. Think about that. Gospel means good news. If you add ANY stipulations to the free gift of salvation, the good news is no longer good. Instead, it would mean that salvation has to be earned, that Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t enough . . . and that’s bad news. And so, Paul was so fired up because these people had come in and turned people away from the truth of the gospel, making it so the Galatians could no longer walk in the freedom and victory the gospel affords us. Instead, they’d been tricked into putting on chains of slavery they were never meant to carry.

In response, Paul basically says, “I told you before, let me say it again . . . there’s only ONE gospel!” He gives them a dose of the gospel because that’s all that there is! There’s no grace, peace, mercy, forgiveness, power, strength,  sanctification nor justification outside of Jesus! You don’t graduate past that!

Paul goes on to say if ANYONE tells you differently, “Let them be under God’s curse.” Literal translation? Let them be damned to hell, because only Jesus can save, and only Jesus can sustain. 

Friends, let us remember that the good news is only good because Jesus paid it all and all to Him we owe. The good news is that we are saved by His grace. Let us rejoice in this good news today!

DIG: Why was Paul so fired up?

DISCOVER: Why is legalism such a problem?

DO: Thank the Lord today for the true, one and only, real deal gospel of Jesus!

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.