By Brooke Holt
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 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?” (Galatians 3:1-5)
Our reading for today begins with hard words: “O foolish Galatians!” Why would Paul address them in such a way? How are they to receive his words and teachings? As we read yesterday, Paul spoke the truth to them in love, from love, and with a deep desire for them to receive God’s truth for them. Paul’s heart for these Galatians was they continue to thrive in the Gospel freedom they had received through Christ. He used hard words to shake them from their slumber and awaken them to what was happening there and why.
To do that, Paul asks questions, good probing questions, designed to lead the readers to the foundation of faith—Jesus Christ crucified. These Gentiles in Galatia received the fullness of salvation through Jesus Christ. They received the Holy Spirit and new life in Christ through faith in him. Paul reminded them of the miraculous work of the Spirit among them and how they knew it was a gift from God and not from them.
Pauls’ prayer was that the eyes of the Galatians would be opened to see the foolishness of the Judaizers’ teachings; thus, he used probing and challenging questions: how did you receive the Spirit—was it by works or faith (verse 2)? God dwelling in the lives of Gentiles through his Holy Spirit was a miracle for these Galatians - a gift from God they could never earn. As people who had once been excluded from the promises of God, they were now full recipients. Paul wrote, prayed, and pleaded that they would not turn from this miraculous gift to try to do what the Jewish people could never do—follow the law.
The teaching of Scripture is not just for those first readers but always for you as well. Have you received the Holy Spirit? How did you receive the Spirit? And are you living in that Holy Spirit enjoying God’s presence, gifts, and miraculous power? Are you allowing anything or anyone to draw you away from living in the freedom of this gift? Paul’s heart for you, more importantly, God’s heart for you is that you flourish in this gift of salvation, receiving fully every gift he has for you. There is no reason to work, strive, or earn. You have been given every good gift, even Christ in you through the Holy Spirit, through faith.
What does the Lord want you to know about his Holy Spirit today? Is he inviting you to rest again in what has been given to you, or are you called in a new way to proclaim the mysteries of his grace in your life? Marvel at what God has done for you, in you, and through you. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a "gift" who will guide us, lead us, and empower us. Yet many believers don't experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This unique Christian small group Bible study provides a space in which we can explore what it truly means to "walk in the Spirit" on a daily basis. The Spirit-Filled Life small group curriculum centers on a 6-part video teaching series examining the life-giving and creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Begin to experience the gift today!
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