At Walmart I was pushing my grocery cart in the parking lot to one of those designated areas. A lady rushed past me, picked up her wallet that she had left in one of the carts, and then brushed by me to get back to her car. “Damn it! I almost left my wallet. I’m going to need it.”
When folks don’t realize there’s a preacher around, “damn” pops out quite frequently, and usually the person hardly thinks about what they’re saying. But when the Apostle Paul used the word “damn” twice in the early paragraphs of his letter to the Galatians, he wasn’t using a meaningless, empty expletive for nothing. He meant it. Who and what caused him to come out with this kind of curse?
“I’m dumbfounded that you are turning away so quickly from the one who called you to live in the Messiah’s grace to another gospel, which is not another gospel at all. Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion, wanting to turn you away from the Gospel of the Messiah. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim a gospel other than then one we proclaimed to you, let them be damned. As I told you before and now I’m telling you again: if anyone proclaims a gospel to you other than that you received from us, let them be damned.” Galatians 1:6-9
When the children of Israel crossed the Jordan on dry land and then started marching around the Canaanite city of Jericho, the Lord declared that everyone and everything in it was under his curse. It was to be completely destroyed (Joshua 6:17). God had given them four hundred years since the time of Abraham to turn away from their evil, but now the sin of the Amorites had reached its full measure (Note Genesis 15:16). But not everyone in Jericho was under God’s curse of death. Rahab, the prostitute, and all those with her in her house were spared (Joshua 6:17). She hid the spies. She believed in Israel’s God, and he showed her grace.
The false teachers who came into the Galatian churches soon after Paul left didn’t teach this grace from the Old Testament. We are going to learn that they were teaching a salvation based upon religious practice and moral living. And Paul doesn’t waste any time. There is only one way to heaven, and those who try to turn others away from Jesus alone and his grace will be eternally damned.
LORD, help those who use “damn” as a flippant cuss word to express their frustration over every day mistakes to think about what it actually means to be damned so that they will cry out and receive your gift of forgiveness.
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