By Flesh or by the Spirit?
My last blog post focused on Paul’s words in Galatians 2:15-21. Today, I want to focus on Galatians 3:1-6. This is what Paul has to say:
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—6 just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’?
Paul’s words are striking in this passage. He sarcastically asks if the Galatians have been cursed with a demonic spell because of the Judaizer’s teachings. Paul reminds them that they were not saved by works of the law. Rather, they were saved by hearing the gospel of Christ with faith. In verse 3, Paul then mentions that their sanctification doesn’t depend on their works. This attacks the heart of the Judaizer’s teachings. They said they are christian because they believe in Jesus, but they strip away the perfect sacrifice of Jesus by demanding others to follow the law to remain perfected. This is expounded on in the last two verses of this passage, “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’?”
It is easy for us to get caught up in this type of thought. We hear that we need to obey the law, which is true, but what people often hear is, “You need to obey the law so you can be a Christian.” The problem with what people hear is that it confuses the gospel message. You do not get saved by doing good works. You do good works because you are saved. This is a trap we often fall into. We do good works out of simple duty, but that is not what God wants. God instills the Holy Spirit inside of us so that we want to obey his law. That’s what Paul is getting at in this passage. The good works vs. faith debate can boil down to one thing…motive. If we do good works to gain God’s favor our motives are backwards. Born again Christians do good works because they are born again. They do good works because they love to please God, not to gain his favor.
Don’t fall into the trap of good works. God only demands faith, and the Holy Spirit will take care of the rest.
Thanks for reading.
- Christ Paid Sin’s Price (anotherchristianblog.org)