You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Galatians 3:1
I think this letter could easily have been written to us:
You foolish Americans. You have such a strong foundation on your faith, why would you allow this kind of heresy to infiltrate your churches. It seems like someone has put a spell on you, because there is no reason for you to be acting this way.
We could say this for numerous heresies in our culture today, but what was the issue in Galatia? It was about inclusion. This wouldn’t be an issue for us would it? We wouldn’t show favoritism to certain people would we?
It is natural for us to be drawn to people who are like us. There are people that we just seem to click more with. The issue is these clicks can easily turn into cliques. What we need to realize is the thing that allows us to “click” more than anything in this world is the Holy Spirit living inside of each of us. Today there will be over a thousand people on our campus. Go outside of your normal rhythm, maybe even sit in a different pew or seat, and see if you can connect and click with someone new.
Abraham was declared righteous because he believed God’s promise long before the law came onto the scene. Nor was there ever a moment when Abraham graduated from believing God to working things out on his own (the law). No, he began his journey believing God and all along the way believed God.
Maybe that gets to the heart of sin: unbelief. Sin is not first an immoral behavior or thought, it is unbelief in the promises of God and putting your trust elsewhere. According to Paul, looking to the law for life condemns us not because the law is bad, but because it requires disbelieving (turning away from) God and embracing self-reliance.
Jesus died for our unbelief so that we would believe God.
“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
Paul does does something remarkable in verse 3 of our Re:Verse passage.He changes tenses. He goes from the past tense to the present tense. Yet, the subject stays the same- the work of Christ on the cross that places the Holy Spirit in the heart of believers- the Gospel (Salvation by grace alone through Christ alone). Did you notice the word NOW?
The gospel is salvation from the penalty of sin (past tense). The same gospel is the salvation from the power of sin (present tense). By faith the Spirit entered our lives (past)and in the very same way (faith) the Spirit advances our lives (present).
“Christians think that we are saved by the gospel, but then we grow by applying biblical principles to every area of life. But we are not just saved by the gospel, we grow by applying the gospel to every area of life”.– Dick Kaufmann.
Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
I am great at starting things. I get excited about a new project or idea, and I spend time putting in the research, finding the right resources, and making a plan. These efforts normally get me about a third of the way through it, but then things seem to stall or fall apart. I get distracted with other ideas spurred on by the current project, I get discouraged by an unforeseen obstacle, or I lose sight of why I started this project in the first place and the work is no longer joyful.
Again, I am great at starting things. But when left to my own devices, I am terrible at finishing them. This happens in our faith, too. When we have an encounter with Jesus, we become so full of joy in the Spirit that we press forward with energy and hope, looking for how the Spirit is moving. Over time though, we might get distracted. We lose sight of what this gospel work is all about. We take into our own hands what was meant to be carried by Jesus and we pollute the gospel message with our own pride, just like the Galatians. What Christ began through the Spirit, we try to complete in the flesh.
The good news, though, is that this isn’t a lesson in learning to finish what we start, but rather humbly letting the one who started a good work in us bring it to completion in Christ Jesus. All that is required is faith. Faith like Abraham, the one by whom God’s promises were given to us. May we find renewed joy in surrendering to the Spirit.
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? vs. 3
Paul asks a simple and direct question to the Galatians that can be asked of any of us. When you think about the time when you received the Holy Spirit, when you knew Jesus to be Lord of your life, how did it happen? Was it a day when you didn’t murder someone that you received the Spirit? Maybe it was a time when you didn’t steal, or lie, or covet. It seems foolish to think in those terms: I didn’t murder someone that day, and I felt the presence of the Lord.
We feel the presence of the Lord when we place our trust in him. We know the spirit when our faith is in Jesus alone. Your own personal testimony will bear this truth out, therefore let us make sure that our witness to others is not complicated with anything other than trust and faith in Jesus.
Join us as Senior Pastor Chris Johnson, Associate Pastor Aaron Hufty, and Associate Pastor Bryan Richardson walk us through Galatians 3:1-14 in our Fall Re:Verse Series: “Galatians – Jesus Sets Us Free.”
The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. Galatians 2:13
Peter, what are you doing? We know that you of all people know the importance of including the gentiles. Acts 10 and 11 showed us your vision where God told you to include them. This feels like a drawback to the Peter who would rebuke and deny Jesus rather than the one on whom the church was built. Yet, this is what makes you so relatable. You remind us of… ourselves! Two steps forward, one step back. Even when we have been made new (vs 20), it seems like it is the same old sin that comes crawling back in. Satan knows to attack where we are weak. That is exactly why we need to be on guard, especially when we are in positions of power and influence.
“The sins of teachers are teachers of sins.” – John Trapp
Paul was right; Peter knew better. He knew no one was justified by working the law; his faith was firmly fixed on Jesus. BUT legalism is sneaky. It can happen to the best of us, just like it did to Peter. Under pressure (it doesn’t always take much), we can separate ourselves from those who don’t fit into our normal crowd out of fear of what the crowd might think.
Jesus always had that problem; he was always being judged because he was hanging out with the wrong people, those who didn’t fit the profile. What made Jesus pretty cool was that he turned the world upside down by simply not avoiding people, especially those who didn’t fit the profile.
I hope we will always be ready to expose our sneaky legalism (our tendency to measure our righteousness by comparing ourselves to others) and embrace a willingness to turn the world upside down, just like Jesus.
Re:Verse passage –Galatians 2:11-21(day five) “When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel”
With the presence of the SA Phil at our church, this truth Paul is proclaiming becomes tangible. Every practice or performance, what is the first thing the orchestra does? They tune their instruments. Even the most expensive and well made instruments need to be constantly tuned. Same truth with the human heart. Paul is telling Peter andothers they have gotten literally “offline”. They were not “straight-walking”. They were out of tune with the perfect pitch (truth) of the gospel.
God help us hear the perfect pitch (truth) of the gospel!Your Holy Spirit. Your Word. Accountability. Wisdom from other believers. Then give us courage to adjust and tune our hearts.
Christian living is therefore a continual realignment process – one of bringing everything in line with the truth of the gospel. – Tim Keller
There are times in life when we experience a profound grief that makes everything feel different. We go through our day and find ourselves confused when everyone else isn’t feeling the same way we are. The world carries on like normal, but our inner world has completely changed, and we don’t quite know how to proceed. This can happen with joyous moments as well – an exciting life event consumes our attention, and we can’t make sense of the person walking around frowning. Our inner world has changed, yet the outer world stays the same.
The same phenomenon occurs with salvation, too. When we accept Jesus and are saved by grace, we become a new creation and our whole inner world changes. The outer world, though, stays eerily the same. The world carries on with its difficulties, sin, and biases, and we have to figure out how to proceed now that our inner and outer worlds aren’t in sync anymore.
This seems to be what Peter was experiencing here. His inner world had been changed by Christ and he was continuously learning what this profound gospel freedom looked like, when he was suddenly confronted by characters in the outer world with their laws and expectations. He didn’t know what to do, and ended up bending to their way. We’ve all experienced that pang of regret that comes when we bend to the ways of the world.
There will always be such friction on this side of heaven, but when we make Christ our greatest pursuit, the things of the world will continue to grow dim, and we’ll be able to say with growing confidence, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”