“Him that called” the Galatians (1:6) could have been Paul, for to be removed from the apostle of grace would mean being removed from grace (cf. II Tim. 1:15). But it is always God who calls men to grace (Rom. 8:30; I Cor. 1:9; 7:15; I Thes. 2:12; II Tim. 1:9) with the gospel (II Thes. 2:14). When men believe it, they become “the called” (Rom. 1:6).
Being called “into the grace of Christ” means being saved by grace (Eph. 2:8). But God expects those who are saved by grace to “stand” in grace (Rom. 5:1, 2). One of the opposite meanings of the word stand is to remove (1:6 cf. Isa. 46:7).
Once our study of Galatians reveals all that it means to stand in grace, you too will “marvel” that anyone would remove themselves from it “so soon” (1:6). Now, Paul knew from his familiarity with the Old Testament that it is the natural tendency of man to depart from God’s truth in any dispensation. He just thought it wouldn’t happen until “the latter times” (I Tim. 4:1). So what did they leave grace for?
Well, notice Paul doesn’t say they left it for a false gospel. They left it for “another” doctrine, and the only doctrines that aren’t false are Bible doctrines. He meant the gospel of the kingdom the Lord preached (Mt. 4:23) and sent the 12 to preach (Lu. 9:1, 2), the one that included the law (Mt. 23:2, 3; 28:19, 20). Paul preached grace, not law (Rom. 6:14, 15).
But if they left grace for the law, why would Paul say the other gospel they fell for was “not another” gospel (1:7)? Well, gospel means “glad tidings” (Isa. 61:1 cf. Lu. 4:18), and while the law was good news for Jews who were under it, it was bad news for the Galatians who weren’t! We know they fell for the law because Paul says “there be some that trouble you” (1:7). That’s the word James used at the Jerusalem Council to describe those who put Gentiles under the law (Acts 15:19, 24). Saved Jews left the council determined not to trouble Gentiles with the law, but unsaved Jews bound the Galatians with the law, thereby perverting the gospel (1:7).
Paul includes himself in warning of men who might teach the law (1:8), for he knew the persecution he was enduring might prompt him to quit preaching the grace that was causing the persecution (cf. I Cor. 10:12). Plus, someone wrote the Thessalonians a letter to say the Tribulation was at hand and signed Paul’s name to it (II Thes. 2:2), and that could happen to the Galatians about the law as well.
Only a fallen “angel from heaven” would teach the law to Gentiles. Fallen angels live in heaven, and will until Revelation 12:7-9. We have no power to curse a fallen angel to hell, but he’s going to hell anyway, so Paul says to just “let him be” accursed (cf. I Cor. 14:38), or “removed” from God.
A saved man who teaches the law can’t be cursed to hell, but cursing is the opposite of blessing 30 times in the Bible (e.g., James 3:10). “Any” who preach the law (Gal. 1:9) lose the “blessedness” of grace (Gal. 4:15). The Galatians went from being willing to give others what they had (4:15) to envying what others had (5:26). Sounds like a curse to me!
Of course, it was perfectly legit for James to continue to preach the law, for he taught it to “Jews” (Acts 21:12) just as he said he would (Gal. 2:9). But he also quit teaching the law to Gentiles—also just as he said he would (Acts 15:19).
I entitled this message “A Fool and God’s Grace Are Soon Parted” because Paul called the Galatians “foolish” (3:1) to leave grace for law, blessedness for cursing. When they were deciding whether to trade grace for law, the angels who Paul says are always watching us were probably crying, “Don’t trade!” as audience members cry on “Let’s Make a Deal.” But they couldn’t hear those angels, and men still can’t hear them. So when Christians are thinking of trading grace for law, it’s up to us to cry, “Don’t trade!” Amen?
Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: A Fool and God’s Grace Are Soon Parted – Galatians 1:6-9