God blessed Paul’s first Missionary Journey, Acts 13:1-14:28. For two years he labored and toiled traveling by boat and by foot to bring the Message of Life to Jews and Gentiles in Galatia. But whatever joy or fulfillment coming from this was short lived. Shortly after returning to Antioch, he learned there were deserters in the ranks. Christians were defecting from and deserting The Gospel.
Spiritual desertion is not a New Testament problem. The nation of Israel was laced with it. After God delivers them from Egypt, they are all to ready to desert Him for a Golden Calf, Exodus 32. Sadly it is a problem even today. Seventy-five percent of evangelical teens, desert The Faith in college.
Deserting the Grace of Christ is our focus this Sunday
It was not just the desertion amazing Paul, it was the rate at which it was occurring, “quickly deserting,” (Acts 1:6). These believers barely one year into the faith were jettisoning it.
Secondly, they were deserting their relationship with God The Father, 1:6b. New Testament Families were Patrilineal. The Father passed down the blood line. The family’s solidarity, strength and sustenance were from the Father. To be orphaned was to be abandoned in the community. I know were they STUPID? No one in the ancient world would ever willingly forsake their natural father. But these believers were doing something worse, forsaking their Spiritual Father.
What would cause them to do so? The answer is found in verse 7, Soul Torment and Truth Twisting. It is why Israel defected, and it is how the enemy will get you to desert.
The writer of Hebrews speaks of the Soul Torment many Jewish believers in the first century experienced. “But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened you endured a great conflict of suffering, partly by bring made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property….” (Hebrews 10:32-34)
Having your Soul troubled and tormented wears you down, weakening your spiritual immune system. This is when false doctrine, Truth Twisting, invades and grows within you.
Paul knew to stop the spread of this cancer, he had to quarantine the one infecting these baby believers. I believe this is the meaning of the twice used word, “anathema.”
Much more of this passage must be said, but it will have to wait until Sunday.