1You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
2This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
4Did you suffer so many things in vain–if indeed it was in vain?
5So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
Paul turns up the heat here and I love it! I know he was writing a letter, but when he speaks like this, I imagine him on a stage screaming and jumping around adamantly to make his point. Maybe I see it that way because that’s what I need to understand it. I’m fired up now.
Paul is now going to use different examples to prove to the Galatians (and us) that we receive the Spirit and Righteousness through faith alone, not works. His sarcasm opens up asking if those who personally witnessed Christ’s crucifixion were “bewitched” meaning did they think they were under a spell and saw but a vision of some sort.
In verse 2, my thought process wandered to the centuries of the Jews following the Law. Did any of them receive the Spirit by following the Law? Not at all. Throughout the old testament, we read of people receiving God’s Spirit but only specific individuals for specific purposes. Were any of the Pharisees or religious zealots? Paul is the only one I know of and He did not receive his purpose and the Spirit until after he denounced his religious ways.
How many times do we, after receiving the Spirit, try to earn our righteousness? Are you so foolish? Paul implores us to take a second thought on what we are doing. The logic is astounding yet we fall victim to the lies of the enemy every day. I do it myself. I think I’m a “good person” because of what I do. Nay, I’m a “good person” because Christ lives in me. Left to my own devices I’m filthy rags.
Verse 5 hit me in the chest. I think about Christ on earth and the apostles in Acts 14:8-10:
8At Lystra a man was sitting who had no strength in his feet, lame from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. 9This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well, 10said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he leaped up and began to walk.
Did Paul “do” something to receive that power? Did he slay a goat? No, he acted on faith and the calling of God and a miracle happened. Did Christ follow the Law and then create miracles? No, he protested against the Law and THEN performed miracles in defiance of the Law. How then can we say that the Law makes us righteous?