Sermon – October 22, 2017
While we are instructed to walk by faith, not by sight, we instinctively know how difficult such walking is. Our reality is often shaped by what we see and know. We are drawn to the things of the world, not necessarily because they are more precious, but often simply because they seem more real. Paul seeks to win the Galatians back to the true gospel, to a faith that is based on a proclamation, not in the reality of works of the flesh. Like Paul, we should fight for people’s hearts and minds, just as Paul does even here for us. We should be won to the gospel, and the gospel alone.
1. Seek to win people to the gospel, not to personalities (v. 8)
We are often drawn to men and leaders who are suave, speaking with silver tongues, and exuding success and fame. But such leaders are fallible, and often untrustworthy. Paul knows this well, and pushes the Galatians to understand the priority of the gospel, even over the apostle of God himself. We must be the same, winning people to the gospel, not to the glory of the world.
2. Seek to win people to the gospel, not to perdition (v. 9)
Paul won’t permit any gospel but the one that he preached before. His proclaimed anathema sits awkwardly in our day; this is the one thing you cannot say. But Paul is not speaking his own opinion, but a gospel that has come directly from God himself. Such sentiments are not unloving, but rather demonstrate his strong love for the Galatians. He will not permit them to go to hell easily, but will obstruct their descent any way he can. Allowing distorted gospels under the banner of ignorance isn’t loving; it is a denial of the Trinity itself.
3. Seek to win people to the gospel, not for praise (v. 10)
We are also tempted by the honor of men. We love to be esteemed, as Paul will say later to the Galatians, “it is always good to be made much of for a good purpose.” Flattery wins many hearts. But we cannot let it win ours. Paul knew that the preaching of the cross brought its cultural despisers, brought suffering and oppression. But Paul’s ultimate goal is not to please people or win their honor, even as he is trying to win their hearts.
There is only one hope for mankind, one hope to escape our sins, the wrath of God, the oppression of this world, the evil that surrounds us, the blackness of our own hearts, and the death that finally awaits us all. That hope is only found in the gospel. Friend, do not be given over to longing for the things which are so easily found and seen in this world. Such things are gateways to hell; rather seek for the kingdom of Jesus through the gospel, and all these things will be added unto you.