#168 “HOW DO YOU RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT? (GALATIANS 3:1-5)

  1. O foolish (a stupidity from deadness) Galatians! Who has bewitched (to be deceived by crafty means) you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed (evidently set forth)as crucified. After clearly proclaiming and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Galatians, Paul is surprised by the fact that the Galatians are willing to turn away from the grace they received and return to the observance of the Law. “Galatians,” writes Chuck Swindoll, “exhibits Paul at his angriest, as he risked the good favor of the converts in those churches to make sure they were on the path of truth and not led off into deception.” Bewitched you—Paul calls out the Galatians for being fooled into believing a perverted gospel and their lack of obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified—The Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Paul had vividly and graphically proclaimed the crucified Christ to the Galatians; yet their eyes had been diverted from the Cross to the Law. They were without excuse.” Paul points out that the Galatians knew Christ was crucified for their sins and rose again defeating sin and death. And yet, they are persuaded to follow a perverted gospel that runs contrary to the very gospel preached by Paul. Galatians 1:11-12, “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”
  2. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? In 3:2-5, Paul uses an ancient method of argumentation (contrasting opposites) to make his case against the Galatians. He challenges the Galatians by asking a rhetorical question about the receiving of the Holy Spirit. He does so by giving a sharp contrast between the works of the law and hearing God’s Word (v. 2, 5). Receive the Spirit—Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell his children who believe in his free gift of salvation (see Jn. 14:16-17; Ac. 1:4-5; 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 1:13-14). Paul writes in Tit. 3:3-7, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Therefore, the Galatians didn’t receive the Spirit by fulfilling the Law but by putting their faith in Christ as their Savior. Works of the law—Paul categorized a term in the Greek, ergōn nomou, to capture specific laws required to be saved according to the Judaizers (primarily circumcision). Hearing by faith—Paul is referring to obedience to the faith. It quite literally means, “the hearing that is accompanied by faith.” Rom. 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”
    • Positional Sanctification (Justification)past penalty of sin
    • Progressive Sanctification (Sanctification) – present power of sin
    • Ultimate Sanctification (Glorification) – future presence of sin
  3. Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh (trying to attain your goal by human effort)Paul asks a second rhetorical question by revealing how antithetical the Law and grace are to one another (see 4:23, 29; 5:13, 16-26; 6:8, 12). Begun by the Spirit—It is the Holy Spirit who raises a person from the dead and regenerates their spirit. Salvation isn’t attained by faith and is then maintained by observing the Law.
    • 1:4 – “who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age.”
    • 2:19-21 – “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
    • 4:5 – “to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
  4. Perfected by the flesh—IVP New Testament Commentary, “The meaning of the phrase observing the law is further clarified by the reference to human effort in verse 3. Actually, human effort is the NIV translation of the word “flesh” in this verse. At the end of the letter Paul tells the Galatian believers that the intruders in their churches “want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh” (6:13). In that reference “flesh” refers to circumcised flesh. In other words, the intruders want to be able to boast that the Gentile believers have become Jews. So in the light of this understanding of “flesh” in verse 3, observing the law refers principally, though not exclusively, to circumcision of the flesh and other practices that serve as marks of Jewish identity. Paul is saying that it is not necessary to take on a new racial or cultural identity in order to experience the Spirit.” The flesh is weak and unregenerated. No one is able to save themselves from the bondage of sin. And no number of attempts to follow the Law can make a person perfect because the Law is incapable of saving people.
  1. Did you suffer (experienced) so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Paul puts forth a third rhetorical question in regards to their experiences in the Spirit. Paul was with the Galatians when they came to Christ, and therefore, knew that the Law had nothing to do with their salvation.
  2. Does he who supplies (epichorēgeō, “to provide for the chorus”) the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—Here is Paul’s fourth rhetorical question in a series of questions: do you have any proof that the miracles performed around you are in connection to works of the law? Paul is reminding the Galatians that it is by the power of the Holy Spirit the acts of miracles were occurring in their lives—not because they were following the letter of the Law.