Galatians 3:1-5
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You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? - Galatians 3:1


In chapter 1 and 2 Paul tore down (Gal. 2:18) the idea that justification had anything to do with works. In those chapters he also indirectly addressed works as a means sanctification but now his gaze is on this issue directly. Similarly to Galatians 1:6 Paul opens this argument with a very stern, sobering rebuke. Not because Paul is mean, as we saw with how delicately he handled Peter, Paul is actually loving and gentle. Paul's rebuke stems from love for his countrymen (Rom. 9:3) it is because of the importance of the correction (Gal. 2:5, 5:4) that Paul is so direct.


This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? - Galatians 3:2


"This is the only thing I want to find out from you" – Remove all other notions from your head and focus on this one thing. This is an anchor statement for the Galatians (and us). Their minds had been clouded by those who distorted the gospel (Gal. 1:7) with legalism. Paul is reminding them to examine their foundation which not only sets the tone for their sanctification but the following verses. If they examine their foundation, and recognize they received the Spirit through faith and not works. If so great a victory was through hearing with faith Paul then challenges them why they are abandoning a working solution for a solution that isn't really a solution at all (Gal. 2:21).


Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? - Galatians 3:3


Question: What does it mean when Paul says they are being perfected by the flesh?


Both salvation and sanctification are the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul is exposing the foolishness of attempting to carry out in the believers life what God and God alone can bring about, true sanctification and conformation to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29, Phil. 3:20-21). This statement should be an embarassing one to those who pridefully were trying to be perfected in the flesh. This statement should also be a refreshing one to those who trust in the Lord for their perfection. It is God, not us who will present us blameless in the day of Jesus Christ. (Col. 1:22)


Look at Galatians 3:3 in different translations to allow the message of what Paul is speaking of here sink in.


Are you so foolish and so senseless and so silly? Having begun [your new life spiritually] with the [Holy] Spirit, are you now reaching perfection [by dependence] on the flesh? Gal. 3:3 (AMP)


Are you so irrational? After you started with the Spirit, are you now finishing up with your own human effort? - Gal. 3:3 (CEB)


Are you that stupid? Having begun with the Spirit’s power, do you think you can reach the goal under your own power? - Gal. 3:3 (CJB)


Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up! Gal 3:2-4 (MSG)


¿Tan insensatos sois? Habiendo comenzado por el Espíritu, ¿ahora vais a acabar por la carne? - Gálatas 3:3 (RVR1995)


Ok, I don't know spanish but after translating that on Google, they are on the same page.


Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? - Galatians 3:4


Question: What does vain mean?


Paul is not only pointing out that their current course of action is vain but he is hoping to provoke those misled to return to the true gospel that can actually provide real, lasting results.


So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? - Galatians 3:5


A plea to the Galatians to examine the evidence and therefore be brought back to the truth of the gospel.


Let's examine the evidence in our own lives. Stop to think about where you are today in your relationship with God. Think about the things in you that have changed since before you were born again. Think about the lasting growth and changes in your life since your relationship with God started. Where did those lasting changes come from?


Many Christians can put on a good show in the flesh but only for a short time and it usually results in sin. Have you ever asked yourself in regard to your Christian walk, "Why is it I fail?" or "I read the bible and learn what God wants, I whole heartedly want the same things, so why is it not happening?" All you are saying here is that you desire what God desires. This is nothing new. Jesus wanted the desciples to stay awake with Him in the garden, the desciples wanted to stay awake with Him in the garden, so why did it not happen?


41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” - Matthew 26:41


Their spirit was willing, they wanted to but the flesh is weak! Why do you fail? Because even though your spirit is willing, that is you desire the change, you are trying to bring about results in the strength of your flesh which cannot bring about the desired result at all. The very question of "why do I fail" exposes a lack of trust in what God is doing in the believers life. The person asking this question has removed themselves from living by faith in Christ and has put themselves in the realm of works by the flesh and according to the law, which they've made on their minds, have judged themselves inadequate. This type of mindset goes as follows. I want to bring about this sanctification in my life and God should empower me to do it. This view depicts Christ coming only to make the flesh stronger. That He somehow re-energizes men with fleshly superpowers that can now complete the old way of doing things. Consequently such men view the OT law as guidelines so they know how to direct their fleshly superpowers.


This couldn't be further from the truth. We don't need a new way of completing an old system we need a new system altogether. We don't need a new patch on an old garment, that just makes things worse (Matt. 9:16). We need new wine (Christ) and new wineskins (His grace through faith, not works of the law which were the old wineskins).


Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” - Matthew 9:17


We don't need new insight into an old method. We need a new method altogether. One that is working. Jesus cannot be added to a works-based religion (Gal. 5:4).


Consider a rose cut from it's stem in the garden. Such a rose is destined to die. In our fleshly works we can put it in water to slow the dying process but it won't change what's inevitable, it's going to die. It's cut off from life. To the person who feels they have God empowered fleshly superpowers, in other words they try and apply the power of the Holy Spirit to a works-based religion; such a person would try harder than the rest (after all God's name is at stake here). Such a person might seek out the vine from which the rose was cut and if they somehow manage to find it, they try and push the rose back onto the stem. When that doesn't work, In futility and desperation they glue it back on.


The first person who put the rose in the water is doing the full extent of what the flesh can do, a momentarily delay the inevitable. The second person who tried to reattach the rose to the stem is as sensible as a Christian trying to harnace the power of the Holy Spirit to make our flesh finally meet the requirements of the law (it's already failed, it's already dead, our flesh has been and remains condemened (Rom. 8:3).


It's futile. As the rose withers we prop it up, as the pedals fall off we glue them back on, then finally, when the rose rots we are forced to face the reality, it's dead. In our Christian walk at this point we feel we have failed God. We feel we have failed God even though we never had a chance of succeeding in the first place.


For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, - Romans 8:3


We don't need a new way of doing the old system since it's end is still death, we need a new system altogether. We don't need someone who can disguise the dead rose, who can fake others into thinking the rose is alive, we need someone that has the ability to raise it from the dead altogether.


What is the new system?


nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. - Galatians 2:16


"justified by faith in Christ" That is the new system. Ephesians elaborates.


For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9


"by grace...through faith" The new system, this is the new wineskins. This new system of Grace not only applies to our salvation but also our sanctification.


For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, - Titus 2:11


For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. - Rom. 6:14


If so great a power from God is displayed in our salvation in Christ's ability to accomplish what is impossible for man (Matt. 19:25-26), why then do we revert to putting confidence in the flesh to continue the work that God has begun and only God can do?


2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; 3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, 4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. - Phillipians 3:2-11


Paul counted all things including his works mentioned in v. 5-6 as having no value compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus (v. 8). Paul then goes on to elaborate on the things he does value, the things that come with knowing Christ Jesus. Verse 10 lists some of these things: Christ, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, being confirmed to His death. Everything listed here is either Christ or something that Christ accomplished.


Last week we learned how we can rely on Christ for everything needed in the Christian walk let's therefore put on confidence, not in our flesh to bring those things about, but in God who raises the dead!


Why do we fail? Because we need to. If God empowered our flesh He would be allowing us, His children, to beautifully go to our deaths. When we work in our own strength, in our own flesh, the best thing for us is to fail. Otherwise we would be decieved into thinking that the flesh was somehow strong and able to accomplish what only God can accomplish.


Question: In Hindsight view have you seen in your life something that appeared to be a failure but actually was a blessing? (Laura Story has a great song called 'Blessings' that relates to this).


There is a common misconception among Christians that God will not give us more than we can handle. More accurately put, God will not give us more than He can handle. God allows us more than we can handle all the time, but for good reason.


For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; - 2 Corinthians 1:8-9


“Do you believe that what you believe is really real? Because if you really believe that what you believe is real, then Christians will change the world.” - Del Tackett, the Truth Project


Most people intellectually know that they are going to die but they do not believe it is really real. All surrounding evidence, scientific evidence, and personal experience testifies to that truth and while they know it in their brain they do not feel it is real. (Ecc. 3:11). In their heart is this secret notion that such a thing “will never happen to me”. Why? Ecc. 3:11 for sure, maybe also because they feel a lack of evidence that death is actually coming. It's no wonder people feel uncomfortable talking about death, it's making something real and near that they've somehow convinced themselves is not real or far off. Sometimes something happens in that persons life, either a birthday, a near death experience, another emotional event that brings this realization that they are going to die right up front and in the center of their vision. Often this is a kickstarter to mid-life crisises.


Believers do something similar with God. They intellectually believe what the bible says is true, intellectually they trust God and believe His Word is true but at their core they have doubts, questions, damaged emotions, or other aspects that hinder them feeling a trust in God.


Question: Has anyone in the bible ever been put to shame for trusting in God for anything?



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