HAVING BEGUN IN THE SPIRIT
1 Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you not to obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set forth among you as crucified? 2 I just want to learn this from you. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now completed in the flesh? (WEB)
The Galatians were a group of believers that had an authentic conversion to Christ but then entertained a group of leaders that were trying to get them to add a little bit of 'law' to the finished work of Christ. In no uncertain terms, the Apostle Paul gave very clear instruction to this group of believers... Having begun in the Spirit, are you now completed in the flesh?
The New Living Translation says Galatians 3:3 this way... How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? (NLT) I think it is easy for us to read the book of Galatians and shake our heads in disgust and agree with Paul's admonition to them.
But before we distance ourselves too much from the Galatians, I would encourage all of us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we too have added a bit of 'law' into the gospel of grace. I think the subtle influences of legalism have infiltrated our Christian lives more than we might think.
I know I often feel better prepared to come into God's throne room if I have done my devotions or accomplished some spiritual discipline first. Why is that? Is it because I feel that my work can add to what Jesus has already done? What about the times when I feel at my lowest point? Do I still feel welcome to come boldly to the throne room of grace then? If not, then I may be looking to my own performance to be justified in the sight of my Father.
My prayer today is that we would all realize that our justification in the sight of God is not based on what we have done or will ever do. We are justified by faith through the finished work of Jesus Christ alone. Anything else that we add to salvation is simply wood, hay and stubble. May we all take a deep breath, relax and praise God for a salvation that comes freely as a gift from God and not of our own making!
8 for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, that no one would boast. (WEB)