“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).
At the beginning of his letter to the Galatians, Paul points out that some had perverted the gospel of Christ. He reminds these brethren that the gospel he preached to them came from God and is the only gospel that will save. “But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:8). And now the motive behind all that would pervert the gospel is made clear: they seek the fovor of men rather than God.
The false teachers under consideration in this passage are the Judaizing teachers who were attempting to force upon Gentile Christians such things as circumcision and the eating of meats according to Moses’ law so that their Hebrew identity would disctinguish them form the Gentile. But Christ had fulfilled the law (Matt. 5:17) and “the law of commandments contained in ordinances” had been abolished (Eph. 2:15); therefore, such requirements perverted the gospel.
The Judaizers were simply trying to make the gospel more palatable for their Jewish brethren by including certain aspects of the Law of Moses in their teaching. Would they attract more Jews with this perverted gospel? I expect so. Would they save more souls? Absolutely not! Their teaching was an abomination to God and they were separated from God (anathema) for preaching it. Truly they had “fallen away from grace” by preaching and practicing this perverted gospel (Gal. 5:4).
The fact is, we cannot be concerned with pleasing men and still serve Christ. The word rendered “servant” literally means “slave” and is indicative of absolute obedience which knows no will but that of the Master. Paul was concerned with God’s favor and if his preaching the gospel in its unadulterated form alienated the Jews or anyone else from himself, so be it. He could not and would not change the gospel to accommodate those that would not otherwise receive it. So should it be with us today.
Unfortunately, however, this is not the case today. Men pervert the gospel today for the same reason the Judaizers did — they want to please men. Why do they insist on using an instrument of music in their worship of God? They do so because men like it. It doesn’t matter that God hasn’t authorized it and that it perverts the gospel of Christ. Men like it and it will therefore attract more people, so let’s use it.
Why do some insist on including entertainment and recreation in the work of the church? Men like it! Will the social gospel attract more people? I expect so. Will it save more souls? Absolutely not! The only appeal we have is the gospel Paul preached for it is the only gospel that will save. If we use carnal means to attract more people we simply attract carnally minded people and in the process make ourselves “anathema.”
We must remember it is God’s favor that we seek, and if we are to be a servant of Christ we must limit ourselves in our teaching and practice to that which He authorizes (Col. 3:17). This may make us unpopular with the world and perhaps even with some of our own brethren. If it does there’s nothing we can do about it, for we will not pervert the gospel of Christ to accommodate anyone, even ourselves.