Perfectly Accepted: Part 2
Are you ready for some good news?
In Christ, you have been perfectly accepted by God. The Lord wants you to grow and change and overcome your besetting sins. But nothing, absolutely nothing, can change the fact that you are accepted in the Beloved.
Paul begins the epistle with a bold, direct expression of his shock:
“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…. 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. 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.” (Galatians 1:6–9, ESV)
The great temptation for the Christian is not to abandon Christ but to add something to Christ.
In C.S. Lewis’ brilliant Screwtape Letters, the senior demon Screwtape writes advice to his nephew Wormwood, a junior tempter. In chapter 25, the senior devil advises the junior to lead people to “Christianity plus” something else:
“What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call "Christianity And". You know — Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring.”
We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which we are trying to make endemic. The game is to have them running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly … under….”
Ah, that’s the subtlety of hell toward the Christian. The spiritual battle isn’t so much to make you reject the Gospel as it is to add to it.
That’s what was happening among the Galatian Christians. “Judaizers” had convinced them that they would be more spiritual, more acceptable to God, if they had the Gospel plus the Old Testament practice of circumcision.
“Christianity and” made the Apostle Paul furious. The grace of God is clear and full and free. Period. And that’s the Gospel!
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