The lord came down to live in the world, and is aware of the trials, tribulations, and temptations it has to throw at us, having been tested himself by the devil while here (Matt 4). We know the world is Satan’s domain, but the Lord came to deliver us from these evils. It is only through Him that we can be washed clean of the taint of our sin and be worthy of stepping through the gates of heaven. God made us all, and though it is easy to say He knows us all, thinking about the full scope of that is so overwhelming and hard to grasp. The Lord knows us, every hair on our head (Matt 10:30/Luke 12:7). We can’t surprise Him with the sins we commit, because He already knows about all of them. Jesus gave himself so that we can ask for forgiveness from what we think is unforgivable, and can receive His grace, and be made clean.
These verses emphasize how we are saved through grace, not by works. The Galatians made a choice to abandon the loving grace of God and instead believe in a complicated law-following approach being promoted by false teachers. Humans are so fickle! It is recurring throughout the Bible and history that we tend to flow along with the mainstream movements, despite evidence to the contrary. We see here how quickly minds have been drawn away from God’s true message. In our lives today there are lots of ‘get rich quick’ schemes, prize scams, and so on that anything that seems too easy, or too good to be true, usually is. It is a mindset that we need to suppress when reading the truth of God’s unchanging word, and take the book as ultimate truth, using it as a gauge by which to judge all other teachings
Paul was being accused of preaching a cheap form of admission to Heaven to please the people, which ironically is the same reason he had to speak up against the false teachers, for their ‘works’ based approach to entering God’s kingdom. The only person Paul was a servant to is Christ, he spoke not to please the masses but to clarify and glorify the word of God. This sentiment is echoed in 1 Th 2:3-7, We are entrusted with the gospel not to please man when we speak, but to please God. I need to remind myself that God calls us to be in the world, but not of the world…It is so difficult to live day-to-day without trying to please one person or another, basing my life on what others think instead of just living life to glorify God.
In v.15 we see that by grace we are saved through faith. God knew who Saul/Paul was before he was born, and called him despite the things he had done, because even in the heart of a persecutor of Christians, Christ Jesus can be revealed. His 180º lifestyle flip is his proof of the revelation given by God to Paul, he leads in with the back story of his utter conviction to Jewish law to illustrate this unlikely conversion. He goes on to prove that his gospel didn’t come down second-hand by another apostle, as he was separate from them, but through revelation of Christ. God has a plan for all of us, one that has been set in place before we were ever born, before even all creation (2 Ti 1:9). God knows us, our past, present, and future. We are given opportunities by God to show our love for Him, and need to walk through those doors when they come open. Paul wasn’t perfect, he was a sinner, and as undeserving as everyone else, yet God used him. God can use our broken, worthless selves too.
The Christian churches where Saul would have had to learn and study the gospel in Judea weren’t personally familiar with him, they had only heard of his miraculous transformation from persecutor to preacher, further proving the divine intervention in his life, and commission of apostleship being by GOD, not of man. We see this mentioned again in Acts 9:26-30. He was not a student of any man or church, but gained his knowledge through reflection and prayer in Christ.
When good things happen in life it is important for me to remember the influence God has in all things, and to glorify Him for it. When I have lows in life though, it is just as important not to curse God and blame Him for it…He only wants the best for us all and acts through love.
Fun resource: The Bible project has a great infographic for Galatians
Galatians 1: 1-18
1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) 2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: 3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: 5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.