By Bill Itzel
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel
7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
The Galatian church had a serious problem. So serious, that Paul bypassed his usual detailed greeting and went straight for the heart of the cancer that threatened the Galatian believers. He didn’t slowly work his way into it, but immediately hit them with “I am astonished”. The tone was set. Paul was serious and his hope was that the church would take this admonishment as seriously as he, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was delivering it.
The Galatians had the true gospel, and yet, so quickly deserted Christ for a “different gospel”. Evidently, this was common in the early church as John wrote in 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Peter warned his readers that, “False prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” Jude “found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Paul exhorted believers in other letters as well. “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). Even Jesus warned his disciples to “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15); “For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray” (Matthew 24:5).
While Paul calls this a “Different gospel”, he is clear to let them know there is only one true gospel, only one way to God and that is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. However, rarely does the devil devour people with blatant, demonic ritual. Instead, he often seeks to “distort the gospel of Jesus Christ.” This we see even in our culture today. Satan loves taking the pure gospel, and mixing in just enough deception to keep it appealing, yet eradicate any true saving power. Adding false idolatry to the message of Christ like Christian Nationalism, Liberal Protestantism, Critical Race Theory, or the Prosperity Theology, and you wind up with a “Different Gospel.”
We have the sufficient scripture. There is no new revelation that supersedes, or is to be mixed with the “Faith, once for all delivered to the saints.” Even if an angel…or TV preacher…should proclaim a different gospel, Paul is clear that they are to be accursed…and just in case they weren’t paying attention, Paul repeats himself for emphasis, "If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed!” Anathema is a thing without hope of being redeemed, a person doomed to destruction. There is no stronger word or curse that Paul could use to show the gravity and solemnity of his rebuke.
Sadly, today, in otherwise solid churches, the wolves have found a secret entrance into the sanctuary of the sheep, and they are devouring the weak one by one…song by song. The accursed, those who preach a different gospel, have packaged their theology in sheep’s clothing and their songs are creeping in among the sheep while many under-shepherds sit idly by, pretending that they are the determiners as to how God desires to be worshipped. I understand many pastors have never heard this, but as the wolves grow stronger and more bold in this generation, you need to be the watchman of Ezekiel 33 more than ever!
If those who preach these false gospels are accursed, according to Paul, then why are we singing the songs of the accursed? It’s not like there are no other options, or that God has been vague in how we are to worship Him (spirit and truth). There are so many great songs, penned by godly, mature disciples of Christ, both ancient and modern...so many in fact, your church never need settle for just a "good" song. Songwriters and worship leaders like Keith and Kristyn Getty, Matt Boswell, Sovereign Grace Music, CityAlight, and others are a great addition to many older, deep theological hymns that rightly focus our minds on who God is, what God has said, and what God has done. This is a far cry from the songs that are intended to be “positive hits” that make you feel good about yourself, written by church leaders and writers like Bethel Music, Hillsong, and Elevation, who preach a different gospel such as the prosperity gospel, social justice gospel, and the gospel of moralistic therapeutic deism.
Music is often used by the devil as a “gateway drug” to weaken the church. It becomes addictive and we will often sing our heresy before we believe it. More people will probably get upset over this article because it attacks their favorite songs and bands than will get upset because it convicts their heart about the poison they have been consuming in the name of worship.
We as worshippers need to worship as God desires to be worshipped, but more importantly, Pastors and Church leaders need to care more about pleasing Christ than about pleasing the people. That is why Paul ends this admonition with, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” If you are a servant of Christ, sing what pleases Christ, not the songs of the accursed.