Paul continues to defend his authority and his partnership with the apostles.
- He has established that His authority and message came directly from Jesus Himself.
- While the Apostle’s task is to bring the gospel to the Jews, Paul’s task is to bring the gospel to the gentiles. In defence of the Gentiles, Paul came to agreement with the Apostles, that circumcision is not required by the gentiles.
- They each recognize their role and are working in fellowship to proclaim salvation to everyone.
- In continued defence of the position that circumcision is not required by the gentiles, Paul confronted Peter to his face when he, by his actions, was causing those who followed him to put the gentiles back under the law.
- Paul expresses that the law only proves we are lawbreakers, it kills our self dependence and makes us dependent on Christ!
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.
You foolish Galatians. Who has bewitched you?
Paul is saying, “Come on guys! Use your brains. How could you be so deceived? Bewitched carries the idea of being tricked or deceived like a magic trick. The lie / trick is now controlling their thinking as if the lie were true.
Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.
Paul was so confident in his preaching and message to them. “You guys have seen with your own eyes and heard and clearly understood the message of salvation through faith in Christ alone!” I know you heard it. I know you understood it! How could someone trick you into believing something else?
I would like to learn just one thing from you:
How could you be tricked? Paul continues his thought by asking 4 rhetorical questions to help them consider how they have been bewitched (tricked, deceived).
- Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?“ (Gal 3:2)
- Guys, take a minute to think back to your salvation. After you clearly heard and understood the significance of Christ’s crucifixion and you put your faith in His finished work, what happened? Was it your fleshly strength that changed your life? Was it your ability to keep the law? How did you receive the Spirit?
- The obvious answer to this question is that they DID NOT receive the Holy Spirit through their efforts of keeping the law.
- Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? (Gal 3:3)
- “After receiving the Spirit through faith, how are you trying to reach maturity (your goal)?” The lie they were believing was that maturity could be attained through their human effort. But, in the same way they received Christ by faith, completely by the work of Christ alone, that is also the road to maturity. (Col 2:6)
- The obvious answer to this question is that they will never become mature by keeping the law.
- Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? (Gal 3:4)
- You have come so far! Look at all that God has done in your life. Is that all for nothing? What has happened in your life is a result of God’s work, not yours! What you see is a result of your faith and dependence on God, not a result of your efforts to keep the law!
- The obvious answer to this question is that their growth and development toward righteous living DID NOT come because they were trying to keep the law.
- Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (Gal 3:5)
- Guys, can’t you see it. All the things that God does have nothing to do with your ability to keep the law! It’s all because of faith! It’s God Himself at work in you and through you, without anything to do with your observation of the law!
- The obvious answer to this question is that the work of God is God Himself at work, not their own efforts or work in their flesh.
- (Gal 3:2) They did not receive the Holy Spirit by observing the law, they received the Holy Spirit by faith.
- (Gal 3:3) They cannot attain the goal of maturity by keeping the law. they will only attain maturity through God’s work in their lives
- (Gal 3:4) Everything God has accomplished in their life came through faith, not works. He is conforming them to His own image! He is making them righteous in their daily life!
- (Gal 3:5) The work of God through their life is God Himself at work, not the result of the work of their hands! He is doing the work of God through their life! God Himself is at work doing the work of God through, or with, their physical bodies!
Paul’s contrasts through these rhetorical questions are a great lesson for us too!
Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.
Consider Abraham: This is a reference to Genesis 15:6. In Genesis 12:1-4 God had told Abraham to leave his country, his kindred and even his father’s house (his family) and go to an unknown destination that God would show him when he got there. Along with this command God also promised that though Abraham all the families of the earth would be blessed. (Gen 12:3)
But, Abraham was childless. There is about 15 years between chapter 12 and 15. Abraham was 70 years old when God first gave him the promise to bless all people through his descendant. He is now 85. God came to him again and said, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Abraham was struggling to believe God was going to keep his word.
Genesis 15:2-3 But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Abraham knew what God had promised. And he knew, in order for that to come true, he needed to have a son. But it had been 15 years, and Abraham wasn’t getting any younger!
God assured him that his servant would not be his heir, but that God would indeed give him a son, and heir of his own! (Gen 15:4) In fact, to help assure him, God gave him a picture of what He intended to do. “He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (Gen 15:5)
When Abraham heard God’s promise and saw the stars, His response was Gen 15:6 “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
Reminding them of this story comes in the context of the 4 rhetorical questions.
Paul is using this story as an illustration that the Holy Spirit, righteous living, and God’s work in our lives and through our lives, does not come from what we do, but by faith in what God has done!
When it says that God credited righteousness to Abraham, because he believed God would give him a son, it means that God was declaring him righteous, not because he earned it, nor that he was sinless (he certainly was not), but because he believed God would keep His promise! In the same way, we are declared righteous because of our faith in what Christ has done!
Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8 The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”9 So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
The declaring of Abraham as righteous was a picture the gospel. God’s plan of salvation to be through faith in Christ’s finished work. Eph 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from ourselves. it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.”
This happened BEFORE the law existed. God declared Abraham righteous because of His faith. It was clearly not because Abraham kept the law in anyway, because the law did not exist yet!
God’s promise to Abraham to bless all the families of the earth was a promise to bless everyone who came to God in faith! Abraham was the first to be declared righteous by faith. He therefore became the “father” of everyone who is declared righteous by faith! Everyone who believes the gospel are children of Abraham.
The statement in Genesis 15:6 is the first declaration of the gospel. Abraham was justified, declared righteous, by faith alone! And in the same way, everyone who has faith like Abraham, will be declared righteous, or justified, because of their faith! Both Jew and Gentile. But Paul makes it clear here that this is specifically how God planned to save the Gentiles. (Gal 3:8) This fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.” Everyone who comes to Christ by faith, are indeed blessed along with Abraham, because of their faith.”
All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.
The curse of the law is the penalty of sin. James 2:10 reminds us, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Paul says here, “everyone who does not CONTINUE to do EVERYTHING written in the Book of the Law” is under this curse, the curse of sin!
Paul showed us in chapter 2:17-18 that trying to keep the law only reveals that we are a lawbreaker. Paul experienced it himself when he described that experience in Rom 7:10-11 with these words: “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.” His struggle against sin showed him just how sinful he was, and showed him he was completely unable to overcome sin himself, in his own strength, in the strength of his flesh!
Earlier in Romans Paul had said that we are ALL sinners (Rom 3:23) and that the penalty for our sin, the wages we have earned (the curse of that sin) is death! (Rom 6:23)
Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.”
Paul has proven his point. “Clearly, no one is justified by keeping the law!” Justification, being declared righteous, has nothing to do with the law. Abraham was declared righteous before the law existed. He was declared righteous because he believed what God said and lived his life by that belief!
“The righteous will live by faith.” When we truly understand and put our faith in God’s work, there is no work left for us to do. This should affect our whole life in the same way the law did. “The law is not based on faith. The man who does these things,” the one who tries to be justified by keeping the law, “lives by the law.” It affects everything they do. They are occupied or consumed with thoughts of keeping the law. They arrange their life around the law. It affects their thoughts, their attitudes and their actions !
Before everything you did was filtered through the grid of the law. “Can I do this or that? What does the law say? What is the penalty if I don’t? In the same way, those who are saved by faith, should live by faith.
Now, the question is, “What does God want me to do?” But, not in the sense of the law where I am motivated out of fear, but in the sense of having the Holy Spirit now, and wanting Him to control me. “What is going to please God? What does He want to use me to accomplish?”
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. The curse of the law is the penalty of sin. Col 2:14; Rom 6:23 On the cross, Jesus paid for our sin debt, He paid the penalty that we deserved! What was our penalty? It was the death penalty! And Jesus paid our death penalty with His life! 2 Cor 5:21 He took upon himself our sin. He took our curse. He took our penalty. In exchanged God gave us His righteousness.
He redeemed us in order for us to received the same blessing He gave to Abraham, righteousness! He redeemed us so that we would receive something even greater than what Abraham received, the promise of the Holy Spirit to be with us from the moment of salvation! The very life of Christ in us to enable us to become mature. The life of Christ to conform us to Christ and make us righteous, not just in our position, but in our daily life. The life of Christ in us, God Himself in us to do the work of God through us!
When we recognized this, it should occupy our life out of gratitude. We should be motivated to please Him because He redeemed us from the curse. He took on Him our curse, He took our debt… the death penalty… and gave us His own righteousness through His life living in us. (2 Cor 5:21; Gal 2:20) And through His life HE WILL ACCOMPLISH the things we have been striving to do by keeping the law!
By faith, we have received the Holy Spirit, the resurrected life of Jesus living in us, and just like the law used to control every aspect of our lives, now the life of Jesus should control every aspect of our lives!
Why is this written?
Paul wanted to help the Galatians to recognize the difference between what God did in their life because of their faith, compared to the utter inability of keeping the law has to accomplish anything of eternal value. But also to show that the gift of righteous is given and has always been given as a result of faith.
What is God saying to me through this passage?
“The righteous will live by faith.” When we truly understand and put our faith in God’s work, there is no work left for us to do. This should affect my whole life in the same way the law the Israelites’. Before everything they did was filtered through the grid of the law. “Can I do this or that? What does the law say? What is the penalty if I don’t?”
Instead of being motivated out of guilt and fear about the penalty, remember He redeemed us from the curse. He took on Him our curse, He took our debt… the death penalty… and gave us His own righteousness through His life living in us. (2 Cor 5:21; Gal 2:20). Now, my motivation should be, “Because of all He has done, I love Him and I want others to experience that love too. So, what is going to display Jesus to those around me? How can I help others see God’s love by what I do, say and how I live?”
Instead of focusing on what I can or can’t do, I should be asking, “What is going to please God? What does He want to use me to accomplish?”
What do I need to do as a result of what I have read?
Meditate on God’s love and what God has done for me.
Become occupied with displaying God’s to others rather than being worried about doing or not doing the right thing.
JF Strombeck in his book, “Disciplined by Grace” said, “To be occupied with endless questions of what should or should not be done, brings distress and enslaves the soul. But, to be occupied with Christ and his mercy and grace, brings freedom and conformity to His image!”
What’s the first step?