Getting past the Foolishness

Getting past the Foolishness

Words of Faith 5-21-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Galatians 3

[1] You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. [2] I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the Law, or by believing what you heard? [3] Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? [4] Have you suffered so much for nothing--if it really was for nothing? [5] Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the Law, or because you believe what you heard?

 

     Paul had gone to some length to establish the fact that he was a genuine apostle of God and that the Gospel he preached was from God and not from men. He even recounted the events related to the bold confrontation with Peter that solidified the core truth of salvation by Grace that is received through faith. Now there were two pillars of apostleship in the ancient church-- one to the Jews and one to the Gentiles.

     But what about the Galatians? They were being urged by these same forces to slide back from the Gospel of Grace and add works to the necessity of faith. Paul's reaction was intense. They were responding foolishly, or literally without thinking or consideration, unintelligent. It was as if a spell had been cast upon them. They were being pulled away from the obvious truth that had been preached to them-- that Christ was crucified for their sins. How could this happen?

     Paul then asked a series of pointed rhetorical questions hoping to reveal the folly of this drifting away from Grace.

     Did you receive the Spirit by observing the Law, or by believing what you heard? Clearly, the coming of the Spirit into any person's life is a complete act of Grace. No one can muster up the Spirit of God or cause Him to be obligated to show up. There are no rituals or incantations that result in the manifestation of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the sovereign person of God at work in us and among us. We do not conjure Him or by our works deserve His presence.

     So are you so foolish as to think that after beginning with the Spirit, you can now try to attain the goal of walking in righteousness by human effort? It is easy to understand why people who were raised in a rule-based religion would struggle with the transition to Grace, but it simply was not an option to go backward.

     We begin with the Grace of God revealed by His Spirit, and we continue the journey in the same walk of faith. We cannot justify ourselves (make ourselves acceptable to God) nor can we sanctify ourselves (clean ourselves up). These are the works of God in us by faith.

     Then Paul reminded the believers that they had suffered for this Gospel. The beginnings of the Faith in the ancient world were never easy. They had risked their property, families, and lives for this truth. Would they abandon it now?

     But most profound was the reminder that God had worked miracles among these people. Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the Law, or because you believe what you heard? The undeniable truth was that many had been profoundly touched by the power of the Holy Spirit and even healed. Did God do this because of some obedience to the Law or to the rules of religion? No. God had worked in His amazing Grace to touch the lives of these believers and call them to saving faith.

     Revisiting these thoughts is good for all believers. It is easy for us to slip back into the idea that God accepts us because we were "good" today. We may even sequester ourselves from God because we realize we have been "bad". We are prone to judging our relationship with God based upon what we have "done" rather than the fact of what Jesus has done. This does not mean we do not need to deal with sin in our lives regularly. But what we fail to realize that our relationship with God and His desire to work in our lives is based solely upon the work of Jesus.

     God did not begin His work in your life based upon your religious effort. He did not send His Spirit to awaken you, save you, rebirth you and give you gifts-- because you were especially good and obedient. God did not carry you through the hard times of walking with Him because you worked really hard at it. God did not do miracles among us because we were especially thoughtful and delightful people. It is all because of His Grace-- His undeserved favor toward us.

     For us, we might ask: Have I been walking under a cloud? Have I been walking under the cloud of religion or works-righteousness? Have I been foolishly deceived into thinking that I need to be good enough deserve His Grace? Paul's loving rebuke would be to say: Don't be so foolish! Don't be so deceived.

 

   Father God, renew in me the wonder of Your Grace found in Jesus alone. Renew my Spirit with the joy of salvation and the exhilaration of Your Spirit! Fill me to overflowing with the wonder of Your mercy and Grace. Cause Your wondrous truth to overflow from my life. In Jesus' Name.

 

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