Deception Can Stray From Grace Like Wildfire

by Wayne Barber

Deception Can Stray From Grace Like Wildfire

We are under grace, Paul tells us in Romans 6:14: "For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace." To put it simply, this means that we are no longer in bondage to a set of rules and regulations which supposedly makes us spiritual, but which in reality condemns our every effort. We have been set free by the grace of Christ.

The freedom God gives to us in Christ is not the right to do as one pleases, but it is the power to do as one should! Grace has a law, but law has no grace! Christ has come to live in us to do through us what we could never do, as we in turn learn to surrender to Him and to His Word.

In the book of Galatians Paul makes this crystal clear when he says (v. 2:20): "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me."

Paul uses the runner as an illustration in several of his epistles. He uses it in Galatians to demonstrate how the Galatians have been misled into deception by the Judaizers, and as a result put themselves back under the Jewish law: "You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?" (5:7).

All of us need to learn how easy it is to be drawn off the track of grace...to be drawn away from simply trusting God by faith and living surrendered to His Word to trying to accomplish in our flesh what cannot be accomplished. Religion is the trap that so many fall back into and so easily steals away our freedom in Christ!

This religious deception happens when you least expect it. Paul says "You were running well." The believers of Galatia had responded to the truth of God's grace and how it operates. The word for "well" is kalos, which points to an inherent good. "Well" tells us that the reason they were running was right; the way in which they ran was right; and the energy with which they ran was from God and not their own. They were not living according to their flesh and they were running in the enabling power of God's grace-Christ living in them and through them. (Gal 2:20).

But, it was at that time that someone "cut in on them." "Who hindered you from obeying the truth?" The word "who" is singular. A specific someone was the ringleader of the deception that had plagued southern Galatia. It just takes one! "Hindered" speaks of their being lead off track. Paul asks, "Who cut in on you to the point that you are now being persuaded by their error rather than truth?"

Then Paul makes certain that they know that even though the teaching that they had bought into seemed to have God's name all over it, God had nothing to do with it! "This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you" (5:8).

Oh, how quickly deception can spread! Paul shows that if just one believer strays from the truth and buys into error, it can spread like wildfire: "A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough" (5:9). Leaven, which is likened to yeast, has the power to influence the whole loaf.

Paul is persuaded, however, that God will bring them back to the truth, though it will be painful. Paul doesn't put any confidence in their making it back on their own, but he says: "I have confidence in you in the Lord, that you will adopt no other view" (5:10).

Then Paul gives a stern warning to the one who is propagating this error that had infested the churches of Galatia: "but the one who is disturbing you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is." There is a special "judgement" for the one who has been causing this error.

Just where are you in your walk? Have you fallen into the religious trap? Have you now become the "one" who is hindering others? Beware!