1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publically portrayed as crucified?
2 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?
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 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?
6 Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
The first subject I’d like to address in this passage is the issue of perfection in verse three. We all know that Biblically, God demands perfection, and even one sin in our entire lives makes us unworthy of this title (James 2:10-11). No amount of good deeds can make up for one imperfection. How, then do we become perfect? The answer can be traced in the book of Hebrews…
*7:11 “Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest [Christ] to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?”
*10:1 “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.”
*9:11-12 “But when Christ appeared as high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once and for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
*10:14 “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
We follow His commands not as a means of perfection, but as a thank-you to Him for granting us undeserved perfection. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” As Charles Spurgeon said, “Morality may keep you out of jail, but it takes the blood of Christ to keep you out of hell.”
Secondly, I’d like to address verse five. At the end of Matthew chapter 13, Jesus is teaching in a synagogue, but the people hearing Him doubt His power and authority, so “He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief” (verse 58). This was the synagogue – a place where “holy” men, teachers of the Law, would have been – and yet He did not grant them miracles. Yet, recall the numerous times throughout the Gospels when Jesus said, “Your faith has made you well”…and He said this to sinners and Gentiles. The fact of the matter is, miracles are not a reward for holiness, but for faith. God cares far more that you believe in Him and love Him than that you live like a pope.
Finally, I’d like to expand a little on the reference to Abraham. You can find the story of Abraham in Genesis chapters 11-25, but the main point of his story I’d like to focus on here is that Abraham lived long before the Mosaic Law came about – yet, he is considered the father of Israel, one of the “faith guys” in the Bible (and a massive chunk of the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 is devoted to him). Abraham’s faith leading to righteousness is a hammered-upon theme in the New Testament, being also a main point in the books of Romans and James (in addition to Hebrews and Galatians). Furthermore, remember that we are to follow in his footsteps – not in the footsteps of the Pharisees – as you consider the following Scriptures:
*Matthew 3:8-9 (John the Baptist speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees) “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.”
*Luke 19:9-10 (Jesus speaking to Zaccheus, a “chief tax collector” and “sinner” [verses 2 and 7] after Zaccheus repented and chose to follow Him) “And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he [Zaccheus], too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.’”
Today’s questions are below. And please remember, the questions are only discussion starters – comments not related to the questions are welcome and requested! :-)
1- Some Christians fall into the trap of believing their own works make them more perfect. Other Christians are too hard on themselves and forget that God sees them as perfect already. How can we avoid both of these mindsets?
2- How can we increase our faith?
On our next post, we’ll continue Paul’s passionate reproof.