No turning back! – Galatians 4:8-12
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 14, 2016
It is interesting to me how over the years I have met those who while they do not believe in God have sold themselves into other philosophies or people that in the balance of things are really rather odd. We live in the information age but it’s as if critical thinking has gone out the window. Far too many fall prey to what “popular” opinion teaches rather than what reality truly is. A good example of this is when those who lean towards progressive thought claim conservatives are “Nazis”. Nazis were socialist and politically progressive in their thinking; the problem arises when one does not know what the definitions of these terms are. As Forrest Gump’s momma would say, “Stupid is as stupid does.” My dad would say that “There is no turning back from being foolish.”
The Greek-thinking Galatians were not only being influenced by Judaizers (those who supported Jesus plus the Mosaic Law) some were also turning back to their old gods. While many today realize that Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, and Athena are just mythical, made up, they readily give credence to the millions of Hindu gods, the atheism of Buddhism, or the false philosophies of agnostics, Latter Day Saints, Islam, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Why would anyone turn back to myths or things that were manmade? Paul did not understand this either and let’s discover what he taught about how there is no turning back…
Contrary to our politically correct thinking, there is only one way to the God. Paul knew this as well and wanted the Galatians to understand…
I. There is no turning back to false gods! (Vv. 8-9)
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God–or rather are known by God–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
1. Sometimes folks need to be brought back to reality when they are considering doing something really stupid. The Galatians were in this kind of a situation and Paul was not going to allow them to do something that could harm or weaken their faith in Jesus. And so Paul reminds them that “Formerly” in their past before accepting Jesus, they “did not know God” and in fact they “were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.” The gods they had trusted before were so much wood, stone, metal or clay. Before their conversion to Jesus and religious freedom they had been enslaved to manmade statues! Now there are those in our day who equate Jesus with the same false gods as a myth. However, we know historically, through archeology, and through personal eyewitness testimony that Jesus truly existed and did what he did! There is no mythos there. In fact the vast majority of academia understands that Jesus was a real person who walked this earth, taught what he did, and changed the world because of his message. Just because someone today wants to yell “Jesus is not real” or “God is dead” the actual truth is quite different. It is like yelling there was no such thing as the moon landing or the vapor trails jets leave behind are mind-altering chemicals. Science, reason, and evidence declare otherwise. The Galatians had left behind those pieces of wood, clay, stone and metal for a living Jesus! And so Paul writes them “But now that you know God” and also that they were “known by God–how is it that [they were] turning back to those weak and miserable principles?” The wording here means they intrinsically fundamentally knew and were completely known by God! They had heard the gospel from Paul himself, had believed it, and experienced it as well! Why then would they want to go “back to those weak and miserable principles?” They were giving up on Jesus and turning back to false gods! Paul asks them, “Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” Paul understood that there is no turning back to false gods!
EXAMPLE: I remember telling a man that he had willingly “given up on Jesus”. He had graduated from a Christian seminary, fell for a Mormon girl and left the teachings he knew to be true because he had gotten her pregnant. He was ashamed but I encouraged him that God loved him and to come back to what he knew to be true. Paul would be extremely blunt to the Corinthian Church about their wanting to turn back to false gods when he wrote them, “Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:19-21 NIV) He would tell them, “We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth… yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” (1 Corinthians 8:4-6 NIV) For Paul there is no turning back to false gods!
In our day and age we have been so poorly influenced by “correct” thinking and those who want you to falsely reason that finding the middle ground is actually a good thing. If you think this is wise when was the last time you compromised and let a restaurant serve you food that was served to someone else the day before? Most folks would not be so foolish and Paul wanted the Galatians to understand that…
II. There is no compromise where Jesus is concerned! (Vv. 10-12)
You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong.
1. For Paul the proof of their compromise was in the pudding of what they had actually been doing. He writes, “You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!” The Galatians actions smacked of wanting to be liked by their “homies”, their peers in their old way of life rather than following their faith in Jesus. The Bible Knowledge Commentary suggests that “They kept special days (weekly Sabbaths), and months (new moons), and seasons (seasonal festivals such as Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles), and years (sabbatical and jubilee years).” However they were probably also celebrating the festivals of their old paganism. They just could not let go. They would rather be accepted by their old friends than live for the Lord! There are those who constantly flirt with ungodly behavior in order to be accepted by the world. John would teach, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15 NIV) And Paul further reiterated to others that “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV) Paul therefore was kind of disgusted with the spiritual weakness of the Galatians and how they were way too willing to give up their faith and go back to idols! He bluntly tells them, “I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.” Remember how Paul had asked them if they were “so foolish” back in chapter three and if they had actually “suffered so much for nothing” (Vv. 3-4)? So he intensifies his argument and writes, “I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong.” Paul had become just like them after his conversion, leaving the Law of Moses and following Jesus by faith. He became just like the Galatians he addressed. For Paul there is no compromise where Jesus is concerned!
EXAMPLE: One of the greatest compromises that promised peace but brought about the deaths of millions and the enslavement, torture, and imprisonment of millions of others was when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed a peace pact with Nazi Germany and declared it provided “peace in our time”. While perhaps in some instances of marriage, raising children as parents, or finding a way out of a mutually disastrous situation compromise may be called for, but in spiritual things, never. One cannot compromise their faith and think it works for good. Even a little sin is ungodly. Paul understood this and this is why he taught that there is no compromise where Jesus is concerned!
There is no turning back to false gods! There is no compromise where Jesus is concerned!
This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.