In the Virginia Medical Monthly one doctor tells the story of a woman who grew backward. This woman had grown normally, married, and had three children. Life was grand until the husband and father died when the children were in high school. The mother doubled her devotion to the children. She changed her clothes to those of a girl of twenty, joined in her children’s parties and fun. In a few years, the children noticed that as they grew older their mother was growing younger. Psychiatrists call it “personality regression,” which means “a person walking backward.” Usually, such people stop going backward at a certain age. But not this woman. She slipped backward at the rate of one year for every three or four months of time that went forward. Although she was 61 years old she acted and talked like a 6-year-old. She was sent to a sanitarium, where she insisted on wearing short dresses, playing with toys, and babbling like a child. Then she became like a three-year-old; she spilled her food, crawled on the floor, and cried “Mama.” Backward still farther to the age of one, she drank milk curled up like a tiny baby. Finally, she went back over the line and died. 1 Successful Christian life is a pressing march forward. We can’t stay stationary nor be as Lot’s wife who looked back. If you look back, you slide back. This is what the Galatians did. They looked backward at the law. Instead of looking forward to Jesus.
Galatians 1:6–9 (NKJV) 6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
- In last weeks post, we looked at the words ‘I marvel’ describing Paul’s astonished reaction to the Galatians desire to turn back to the law.
- There are some other words which will help us get the sense of what the Galatians and in turn become a lesson to us of what not to do.
What We Can Learn from the Words ‘Turning Away.
- The next word we need to look at is the words ‘turning away.’
- The Greek word means to renounce or to turn away from or give up on an agreement or relationship.
- It means to have a change of mind in allegiance, change one’s mind, turn away, desert. 2
- In classical Greek, the word is used of a turncoat or a traitor.
- It is also used to describe a ‘military desertion.’ 3
- The word is used of one altering one’s opinion or becoming of another mind. The word was also used of desertion or revolt, frequently of a change in religion, philosophy, or morals. 4
- So we have ‘giving up on a relationship’, being a traitor, a deserter, or one who revolts.
- All of these are strong words in a negative direction.
- These believers were the ‘Benedict Arnold’ of their day.
- They were traitors to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Wuest further adds some illuminating thoughts on the grammar involved in these words.
- The present tense indicates that when Paul wrote, the defection of the Galatians was yet only in progress. Had he used the perfect tense, that would have indicated that the Galatians had actually and finally turned against grace and had come to a settled attitude in the matter. The mind of Paul wavers between fear and hope as to the outcome. Paul was trying desperately to arrest the progress of this new doctrinal infection if he could. The Judaizers had not yet achieved any decisive success, although the Galatians were disposed to lend a ready ear to their insinuations. 5
- So, we can find in these words the main reason why Paul wrote this letter to the Galatians.
- He saw that the Galatians were leaning toward the law and he was attempting to arrest that movement.
- The second group of words we should look at are the words ‘so soon’.
What We Can Learn from the Words ‘So Soon’
- The words ‘so soon’ mean quickly, rapidly, rashly with little or no delay.
- These saints were quickly moving away from the truth of the gospel.
- They weren’t even giving Jesus the benefit the doubt.
- It’s almost how quickly people head to the exits once an event is nearing its end.
- Or how swiftly some desire to beat a traffic jam or to be the first in line at the restaurants after Sunday service.
- The Galatians looked back and, with little thought, they seemed to be heading back to the law.
- The proverb is true.
Proverbs 26:11 (NKJV) 11 As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly.
Call to Action:
What have we learned from these defined words? Allegiance to the Jesus is a huge thing. Are you sold out or are you wavering in your devotion to Him? Think about these things and if necessary recommit yourself to Him.
Question: How have you had to overcome wavering in your service to God? Please share your story in the comments section below.
- Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996), 184. ↩
- ibid, 642. ↩
- Donald K. Campbell, “Galatians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 590. ↩
- Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), Ga 1:6. ↩
- ibid ↩