By William C. Sexton
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 (Gal. 1:8).
Paul stated a principle in the above verse to the Galatians which all of us need to be aware of and apply in our lives, always. Even a great apostle as Paul, should he declare something other than the primitive, revealed gospel, has a curse on him and should not be accepted. Even an angel can’t change the gospel without being “eternally condemned” (NIV).
Don’t follow “great men,” people who have gained great respect from us, to accept views that are not scriptural. Paul’s point is this: Don’t allow anyone to persuade you to accept something that has not been revealed in the original gospel message!
This constitutes a great danger for us. We are not likely to follow people we don’t respect. When people whom we have come to respect and think of as being “great” teachers speak, we listen! They have a great deal more influence on us than others, so we should be careful. Men of repute have been the cause of many people turning down a road of departure from the revealed will of God.
Peter turned aside to practice something that was contrary to the original gospel, and Paul was obligated to withstand him to his face, because he was to be blamed (Gal. 2:11). Peter’s action caused one of lessor repute (Barnabas) to “be carried away” with this “dissimulation. ” Paul was faithful in his duty; he called on Peter to repent of his sinful behavior, showing how sinful his action was and the consequences of his inconsistency. Galatians 2:17 says, “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.”
With equal zeal and determination, we, too, should act as Paul did. “Great men,” are still just men, having no right to teach anything other than what God’s holy men moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20-21) have taught.
It is my observation that men who seem to be “somewhat” (Gal. 2:6 “God [really] accepteth no man’s person”) have been able in most of the departures to lead men away and get them involved in things they would otherwise not have gotten into.
All of us have been helped by other men and women who have studied the Bible and gained a reputation for their knowledge and dedication to Christ. However, we must always be able to listen and reason, accepting only that which we can see as being the real teachings of the Holy Scriptures.
We need not stop listening to or seeking the sound teachings and wisdom of men and women who over the years have shown their dedication to the Lord. May we ever be a bit skeptical, however, and not be willing to accept anything they say if it is not based solidly upon holy writ.
The time comes in each of our lives when we need to question another’s views on things that he is teaching, regardless of his experience, devotion, and reputation.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 14, p. 431
July 20, 1989