Do I Please Men, Or Do I Please God?
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” —Galatians 1:10
The reason for this letter was the amount of false doctrine that had swept into the church of Galatia, which would prompt the great apostle to write a scathing indictment against the church that he had founded. In fact, it was because of these very same false prophets and teachers, who had severely perverted the gospel message, that Paul’s converts were leaving the message of the cross in droves. As we have already explained, Paul’s initial reaction was one of utter amazement and shock that one would quickly desert the gospel. At the same time, Paul was angered by the message that was being peddled by false teachers that he pronounces a curse by saying “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. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9). These are strong words given by the apostle that if any man or angel who presents another gospel other than what he had already laid out shall be cursed.
Nothing Must Be Added To, Or Taken Away From The Gospel
We must understand why Paul would say this to begin with. This was not mere rhetoric on his part but a strong stance for the gospel itself. The gospel is perfect, as well as divine, and as such, nothing can be added to it or taken away from it. To do so is to destroy the gospel message. In the Greek, the word accursed is anathema, which means “cursed.” It was used in the Greek Old Testament for the divine ban, the curse of God resting upon anything or anyone devoted by Him to destruction.i Paul had to condemn any such doctrine simply because it corrupts the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To add anything to what has already been provided will be, and should be rejected by man and cursed by God.
I understand that taking a stand like this may not cause people to pat me on the back or win many friends, but there can be no tolerance whatsoever for any other message that is contrary to God’s redemption plan, of which I include God’s prescribed order of victory. Of course, it does not mean that we must be disrespectful of anyone on a personal level, but just as much as they have a right to declare what they believe, I have just as much right to disagree. The reason that Paul or any true God-called minister of the gospel would take such a hard stance against this type of false message is that it was Jesus Christ, through His atoning death, who purchased man’s redemption. Nothing else could do that, and nothing else has ever done that, save the cross. Any type of message that is not based upon the finished work of Christ will lead to destruction. The answer is clear for all to see: If anyone dares to proclaim any message other than what God has already provided, they are cursed.
Pleasing Men Or God?
Which leads us to Galatians 1:10. Paul writes, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Paul had been accused by the religious leaders of being “all things to all men,” meaning that when he was in the presence of Jews, he preached circumcision and law keeping in order to curry favor with them. They claimed he was trying to canvass for their support. And yet they claimed that when he stood before Gentiles that he preached freedom from the law all in order to increase his following.ii In other words, they were accusing Paul of saying one thing to one group, and something else entirely different to another group, and that he was living a life of dishonesty and outright deception to secure support from both sides.
In response, Paul pulls no punches and speaks straight from the heart with these words aimed at the hearts of his critics. Unequivocally, Paul is not in the business of currying favor with man when it comes to the gospel message. Admittedly, Paul was a man-pleaser before his conversion, but no more. The moment his life was transformed on that road to Damascus, he would devote his life to pleasing God and God alone. His purpose was not to satisfy what man desired of him, but rather what God desired of him, for he would state that his commission did not come from Jerusalem, Rome, or any man-made organization. His call and commission came from the Creator of the world. Paul’s first obligation was to please God and not to please men. He refused to shape his message just to please his audience, and when he spoke, he first spoke to God and not to man. He was much more concerned about pleasing His heavenly Father than the fickleness of men.iii
What Are You Going To Do?
We have a choice to make today: will we shape our message to please men or please God? The message of the cross was never meant to please man, but within its contents is the very power of God. The power of God to set the captive free. The power of God to deliver from all sin. The power of God to set at liberty them that are bruised. The power of God to heal from all sickness and disease. The power of God to endue with power from on high. Within the confines of the cross, we have everything for life and living, and even though it may not be popular with men, it doesn’t take away the fact that this is God’s plan. The very souls of men are at stake, and for us to bow down to what man desires means the loss of souls everywhere. If we obeyed man rather than God, then we would forfeit the plan of God for this ministry, and we are not about to do that. Paul understood that the gospel had the power to save, and we understand that very same thing—the cross still works.
Today, it is not popular to proclaim this old-fashioned gospel because it is considered intolerant to other viewpoints. The thought today is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is too narrow-minded, that we should broaden our horizons to reach people of all stripes. However, let me remind you of what Jesus said about ways that are broad: “For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Matt. 7:13).
We have a responsibility to deliver what the Lord tells us to without worry about what man has to say. Our responsibility is to God and God alone. There is no alternative to the message of the cross that will be satisfactory to God, and there is no alternative to the message of the cross that will bring life to the lifeless, hope to the hopeless, and rest to the weary. Stand for the truth, no matter the cost. There is no standing on the fence, it will be one message or the other. I want to ask you, dear reader, this question: Are you going to please men, or are you going to please God? The choice is up to you. Souls are hanging in the balance, and they need to hear the message that can bring deliverance to their very souls—the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
i Stott, John. The Message of Galatians: Only One Way. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1968), 24.
ii Cole, Alan, PhD. The Letter of Paul to the Galatians. (InterVarsity: Grand Rapids, 1999), 82.
iii Guzik, David. Galatians. (Guzik: Santa Barbara, 2013).
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