The letter to the Churches of Galatia was written primarily to address the problem of the Judaizing corruption in that region. Judaizers were those who were converted out of the Mosaic economy, and because of their familiarity with scripture were able to manipulate the church into adding Old Testament practices. In almost every epistle of Paul this problem is addressed in some way, but it is the main point in his letter to the Galatians.
There is a very interesting argument made at the beginning of the letter. In a way, it is the diving board he will use to jump into his teaching. In this one verse there is much to appreciate.
“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
Essentially the argument made from this verse is that nothing has changed. Paul hasn’t gone from trying to please God to now trying to please men. He is telling them to just open their eyes and see that he is still preaching the same thing he always had. The Jew’s still hate him because he is preaching against them. Nothing has changed. The frustration of the apostle oozes out of this verse.
I was once the supervisor for a building manufacturer. At the end of most workdays I had an employee that would ask me, “what time are we starting tomorrow?”. That would have been a good question if we didn’t have a normal start time of 7:30am. I remember telling him on occasions, “nothing has changed. You know what we have to do, we do it every day. Unless I tell you otherwise, we start at 7:30”. That is exactly what Paul is saying. There is a lesson here that the doctrine of the church has been set. It is a pattern that should look the same every time.
There is another point that shouldn’t be overlooked in the phrase, “For do I now persuade men, or God?”. There are two types of preaching in this world. There is the type of preaching that will try to persuade men to obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Acts 26:28 King Agrippa says to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian”. Christians are always made by being persuaded. In fact sometimes this same word is translated to believed, trust, and obeyed. The gospel is made to persuade men. Hopefully that is the goal of all who would preach it.
The second type of preaching is trying to persuade God. When someone perverts the gospel (1:6-9) by adding, taking away, or manipulating God’s word they begin to attempt to persuade God. Those Judaizers who were adding commands from the Old Testament have gone from a possible task of persuading men that they are wrong, to an impossible task of persuading God that he is. It is like slamming your head into a brick wall over and over. No good will come out of it.
Anytime someone has entered the Lord’s Church and introduced something foreign to the word of God they may appear to be persuading the congregation. In reality they are standing up to God and trying to persuade him. When a congregation decides that women can assume leadership roles in the worship service they stand up to persuade God. When someone introduces a mechanical instrument in worship they attempt to persuade God that he should accept it. When someone teaches that baptism isn't for salvation, they attempt to persuade God.
The totality of man can not change God’s standard of righteousness (Rom 3:4). It is futile. May none of us ever step into that position. Lets be persuaded to do all things according to what God has authorized (Col 3:17).