Tag Cloud
: Mothers Abandonment Abomination of Desolation Abortion Abraham’s Bosom Abuse Accounting Activism Adoption Adultery Affection Affliction Afterlife Alliances Altar America Angels Anger Anointing Apologetics Apostasy Armor of God Ascension Ashamed Atonement Authority Baal Babylon Bad Baptism Betrayal Bible Bitterness Blasphemy Blessing Blessings Blindness Boasting Body of Christ Bondage Book of Life Borders Born Again Bottomless Pit Bride of Christ Bridegroom Calling Capital Punishment Carnal Celebration Character Childbirth Children Children of God Chosen Christ Christian Life Christians Christmas Church Circumstances Civil Disobedience Clay Cleansing Comfort Commands Communion Community Comparison Compassion Complacency Complaining Conception Condemnation Conduct Confidence Conflict Conformity Confrontation Confusion Connection Conscience Consequences Contentment Conviction Cornerstone Correction Cost Counsel Courage Covenant Coveting Creation Creator Crisis Cross Crowns Crucifixion Culture Curse Darkness David Day of the Lord Death Deceit Deception Decisions Defense Delegation Demon Demons Denial Dependency Design Desolation Destruction Devil Direction Disaster Discernment Disciple Disciples Discipleship Discipline Discontentment Discouragement Disease Disgrace Disputes Distraction Diversity Divine Division Doctrine Double Fulfillment Doubt Drought Drugs Duties Duty Earth Earthly Earthquakes Easter Edom Education Elders Elect Emmaus Emotions Employment Encouragement End Times Endurance Enemies Enemy Environment Environmentalism Equality Equipped Eternal Eternal Life Eternity Evangelism Everlasting Life Evil Evolution Exaltation Exalted Exclusion Excuses Exorcism Expectations Eyes Failure Fairness Faith Faithful Faithful Servant Faithfulness False Christs False Doctrine False Gods False Prophet False Religion False Religions Family Famine Fasting Father Fathers Favoritism Fear Fear of the Lord Feasts Feasts of the Lord Fellowship Fig Tree Finances Fire First Coming First Resurrection Firstborn Flesh Flock Folly Foolishness Foreigner Foreknown Forgiveness Fornication Forsaken Foundation Freedom Friends Friendship Fruit Fruit of the Spirit Fruitfulness Future Gentiles Gentle George Wood Giving Glorified Body Glory God God’s Word Godliness Godly God's Will Good Good Shepherd Good Works Gospel Gospels Government Grace Gratitude Great Commission Greatness Grief Growth Guilt Hades Hardship Harvest Hate Hatred Healing Heart Heaven Heavenly Hedonism Hell Help Herod Hidden Holiness Holy Holy Spirit Home Homosexuality Honor Hope Hopelessness Humility Husband Hypocrisy Idolatry Ignorance Image Immanuel Immigration Impossibility Incarnation Individuals Indulgences Inheritance Injustice Inner Battle Instructions Insults Integrity Intercession Intermediate State Israel Jerusalem Jesus Jewish Temple John the Baptist Joy Judas Judgment Judgment Day Judgments Justice Justification Justify Key Keys Kids Kindness King Kingdom Kingdom of God Kingdom of Heaven Knowledge Lake of Fire Lamp Law Law of the Lord Lawlessness Leader Leaders Leadership Leftism Legalism Leprosy Lies Life Life-Span Light Like-minded Lord Lost Love Loyalty Lust Lusts Luxury Malachi Manipulation Marriage Martyrdom Martyrs Mary Master Materialism Maturity Meditation Men Mentoring Mercy Messiah Metaphor Millennium Mind Mind of Christ Minister Ministry Miracle Miracles Mission Mocking Money Mothers Mystery Nations Natural Natural Gifts Naturalism Nature Near-Far Fulfillment Necessities New Covenant New Earth New Jerusalem New Man New Testament Obedience Obstacles Obstructions Offense Old Man Old Nature Old Testament Omnipresence Omniscience One Mind Outcast Pagan Pain Palm Sunday Parable Parables Paradise Paranormal Parenting Passion Passover Path Patience Patriotism Peace Peer Pressure Pentecost People of God Perception Perfect Persecution Perseverance Persistence Personal Testimonies Perspective Perversion Pestilence Peter Pharisees Philosophy Piety Pilate Politics Poor Position Possession Possessions Posture Power Praise Prayer Preaching Preparation Pride Priority Privilege Prodigal Promise Proof Prophecy Prophet Prophets Prosperity Protection Protestant Reformation Proverbs Providence Provision Punishment Purgatory Purpose Questions Racism Rapture Reason Rebellion Rebuke Reconciliation Redeemer Redemption Refuge Regeneration Rejection Rejoicing Relationship Relationships Reliability Religion Remember Remnant Renewal Repentance Reputation Resolve Rest Restoration Resurrection Revelation Revenge Revival Reward Rich Riches Righteous Righteousness Rights Riot Risk Rivalry Robbery Roman Catholic Church Rule Sabbath Sacred Sacrifice Saint Salvation Sanctification Sarcasm Satan Savior Schemes Science Scoffers Scripture Seasons Second Coming Secret Seed Seek Self Self Control Self-centered Self-Control Selfish Ambition Self-Righteous Servant Servant-Leadership Serve Service Serving Sexual Immorality Sexual Sin Sexuality Shame Share Sharing She’ol Shepherd Sickness Signs Signs and Wonders Simplicity Sin Sincerity Singing Singleness Sinners Slavery Sober Society Sojourner Sojourners Son Son of God Son of Man Sons of God Sorrow Soul Source Sovereignty Speech Spirit Spirit Realm Spirits Spiritual Spiritual Battle Spiritual Birth Spiritual Death Spiritual Gifts Spiritual Growth Spiritual Rulers Spiritual Warfare Stewardship Strength Stress Strife Stumbling Block Submission Suffering Supernatural Supper Surrender Syncretism Tags: Patience Taxes Teacher Teaching Tears Technology Temple Temptation Temptations Terminal Illness Test Testimony Testing Tests Thankfulness Thanksgiving The Curse The Day of The Lord The End The Fall The Grave The Holy Spirit The Law The Way The Word The World Theology Throne Time of Visitation Times of the Gentiles Tithing Tongues Tradition Tragedy Transfiguration Transformation Traps Treachery Treasure Tree Tree of Life Trial Trials Tribulation Trifles Trinity Triumphal Triumphal Entry Trouble Trust Truth Unbelievers Uncertainty Unity Unpardonable Sin Utopia Value Victory Vigilance Vindication Virtue Virtues Visiting Ministries Voice of God Volunteer War Warning Warnings Wars Watching Water Baptism Water of Life Weary Wicked Wickedness Widows Wife Wineskins Wisdom Witness Witnesses Women Word of God Word of the Lord Works World World View Worry Worship Worth Wrath Yahweh Yeast YHWH Yoke Zion

Weekly Word


Protecting the Pure Gospel, Part 6

Today we are going to be looking at Galatians 4:8-20.  Paul has just finished elaborating on the analogy that Israel under the law was like the child heir of an estate who is under the tutelage of tutors.  It is at this point that Paul begins to drive home his fears for the Galatians and the dangerous situation that has developed around them.

The Previous Bondage

Paul begins in vs. 3 to widen the scope of his argument because even Gentile believers were being tempted to listen to these false teachers. Thus, though this book seems to apply specifically to Christians with a Jewish background under the Law, it is applicable to Gentiles who were in different circumstances, yet in the same condition, under bondage.  The Gentiles were under bondage to their sin, their false gods, and the elements of this world.  They strove and worked to appease gods that they believed existed and, for those who didn't believe in gods, they strove with how to get out of life what they want.  This bondage to sin and the elements of this world is where Paul is going to hammer home his argument.  Now the Jews themselves also served under the Law, which is not God.  Thus they were in bondage to something that wasn't God as well as being in bondage to their sin.  So the Gentiles and Jews were in the same condition.

It would seem strange for a Jew to say to other Jews that they did not know God.  But Paul puts himself in this same camp.  We thought we knew God.  We thought we had the knowledge of God while the Gentiles were in ignorance.  However, the litmus test of Jesus proved they didn't know God.  What seemed obvious to the Jews about the Gentiles was not obvious to them about themselves.  The Law attempted to train them to know God when he showed up and some did recognize him.  But it was only a remnant.  Herein is the difference between the law and the gospel.  To hear and know the Gospel is to know hear and know God.  But to hear and know the Law is to be driven to our knees begging for God's mercy. 

Verse 9, but now that they have embraced Christ and thus come to know God, why would they try to go back to a relationship with the tutor?  Notice Paul quickly asserts that it is probably better to understand that we are known by God (i.e. found by him) than to pat ourselves on the back saying that we know God.  But this seems to be more a passing notice.  His main issue is that they now have a relationship with the Father and they are instead turning back to the tutor.  Let's look at the terminology he uses: Weak, Beggarly elements.  The elements of the law were weak and poor in that they could only focus on the external activity and not the internal heart.  There was no power to change a person's heart.

Are we turning to weak and poor things here in America?  Too many preachers and churches are looking to the weak, beggarly things of this world to enhance their religious life.  Whether it is through the conspiracy theory angle that says the early church used to keep the Feasts and worshipped on Saturday, thus we need to go back to doing that.  Or, it is those who want to continue in bondage to sin and thus they promote an easy grace that absolves us from any worries.  Do what you want and Jesus covers it (a type of spiritual credit card that daddy will pay off).  The external observances of the Law will be exalted at the detriment of the Church and its spiritual life.

Paul begins to specify some of the things they were trying to add to Jesus.  First they were observing days, months, seasons, and years.  This is a clear reference to the Sabbaths and Feasts of Israel.  They felt a need to observe these old feasts out of an attempt to please God.  These things have no strength nor money(beggarly) to pay off our debt to God.  Quit adding to Jesus.  He alone is rich enough to pay your way and strong enough to carry away your sins.  These calendar issues were merely shadows of the reality believers have in Christ.  The sabbath day points to the rest we have in Christ.  We no longer have to strive under the law.  Quit working and start resting in Jesus.  In verse 11 he points out that to forsake the grace of the gospel is to put yourself in danger of forsaking Christ.  He worked too hard to bring them to Christ to let them be pulled back into a relationship of bondage to another.

Paul's Previous Time with Them

Notice Paul is not just persuading them with the Scripture, but also appeals to the relationship he has with them.  Paul had become one of them in order to win them to Christ.  He had spent time among them teaching them the doctrines of Jesus.  In a gracious way, he says in verse 12 that he takes no offense to their turning from his teaching.  Why?  The tender relationship they have.  Paul had an infirmity when he first preached to them.  We are not told what it was, but some believe Paul had a lingering problem with his eyes.  Though his eyes were healed in the sense of sight, it may be that some type of watery, weeping eye problem continued with him, perhaps with puffy eyes.  This unsightly problem would definitely not present a great man of God.  But the Galatians had not rejected him.  In fact quite the opposite, they treated him as if he was an angel from God.  What blessing did they receive that led to such love?  In fact, they loved him so much that they would have been willing to give him their eyes if such a thing were possible.  Here is the zinger in any relationship.  How easy it is to be angry with those who know us most and love us most.  Why?  Precisely because they know to much about us and may call us on our sin from time to time.  Paul challenges them with this.  Am I your enemy because I tell you the truth? 

The False Suitors

This brings Paul to these false teachers.  Though Paul doesn't explicitly lay out the analogy, the terminology he uses presents a courting scene.  The Galatian believers have been wed to Christ, but there are others who have zealously (heatedly with passion) courted them.  This will not lead to a good thing which leads us to a play on words.  The term for church in the Greek is ecclesia and means "called out ones."  Here Paul says that these suitors have come into the ecclesia in order to eccleio them, "to shut out or exclude."  It as if they are drawing the bride of Christ away into another room and shutting the door in order to have them be heated back towards them.  Clearly adulterous language is being used here.  This clearly points out a situation of being excluded from the called out ones (the church), ouch! 

Paul reminds them that zeal and passion are only good if they are applied to a good thing.  Thus Jesus was zealous for the house of God that it be a house of prayer not commerce.  But the zeal of the false teachers and the Galatians was leading them into spiritual adultery and exclusion from the body of Christ.  Quickly Paul turns to more tender words.

He calls them little children.  He had led them to Christ, wed them to Christ and still he labors (double meaning) until Christ is formed in them.  This is not some New Age concept.  It basically means that the character, mind and activity of Christ is what marks them.   Paul's heart is in contrast to the suitors.  Paul is not trying to draw them off to himself, but rather to keep pointing them to Jesus that they may be zealous for him.

May the Lord help us in these last days to keep our eyes on Jesus.  That our passion be about him and him alone.  That we are zealous for the things Jesus for which he was zealous.  That we are not easily led astray by ever wind of doctrine that blows into the church, whether it be adding works to Jesus in some way, or it be promoting another gospel that removes sin and repentance.  May we stand in Jesus upon the sure Word of God.

Galatians 4b


Protecting the Pure Gospel, Part 5

It is very important that we not lose sight of Paul's point in chapter 3 that the purpose of the Law was not to "save" Israel, but rather to point it to Jesus, the Messiah.  Thus, Christians need to be careful that they use the Law and the Gospel properly.  It has been said that the Law thunders from Mt. Sinai and uncovers sin to bind all under guilt.  But the Gospel speaks softly from Golgatha and offers forgiveness of sin and sonship with Jesus.  The key is to understand that the Law teaches us why we need the Gospel.  So Christians can use the law to convince people that they are sinners, but should never use the law to "convince" other believers in the Gospel of Jesus, that they can't be saved because of their lack of performance.

The Child-Heir Analogy

In Galatians chapter 4, Paul begins to more fully explain the truth that in Jesus we have become "sons of God."  He does this by pressing home more fully the analogy of a child-heir.  The first point he makes is that as long as the heir is a child it is functionally a slave.  There is no current difference even though things will change in the future.  The Father puts the child in the hand of guardians and tutors in order to prepare it for a life of working with the Father and eventually taking over for him.  The second point is that this situation always has an appointed end.  In fact in vs. 4 it is phrased this way, "when the fulness of time had come."  This "fulness" can be pictured like a ship that is being loaded with its shipment.  When the bill of shipping has been completely loaded onto the ship then it is full.  Paul compares these two points with Israel.

Israel was in such a relationship.  God made Israel his child and placed it under the supervision and training of the Law.  But this relationship had an appointed end.  That appointed time is both a quantity and a quality of things to occur.  When the time arrived that God had appointed then the Messiah, Jesus, would come forth and lead Israel into adult sonship.  Paul makes sure to emphasize that Jesus was in every way an Israelite, born of a woman, under the law.  Thus the Messiah identified with Israel and suffered with them in their trials, in bondage to the elements of this world.

Paul inserts the idea of redemption in verse 5.  This goes beyond the analogy.  Israel was not just in need of training.  But in a way similar to how Gomer was so adulterous that she sold herself into slavery, so Israel as God's child was a slave to sin and needed to be redeemed or bought back.  In this sense the prodigal son cannot get up and come home because he is in jail and his fine must be paid before he can go home.  Jesus came to pay their fines so that they could experience adult sonship in God's family.

Paul's use of the word adoption is somewhat confusing at first in light of the analogy.  But as I have said Paul has begun to go beyond the analogy and somewhat leave it in the dust as he explains the greater truth of what Jesus has done for Israel.  Adoption makes sense when we look at the Gentiles.  They did not know God and were never part of his family.  Thus they are being adopted into his family.  But how can we say that Israel is adopted?  Perhaps it would be best to ask ourselves how the Gentiles were so estranged from God.  No matter what if you follow any nation's history backwards you will eventually get to Noah, Ham, Shem, and Japheth.  That is somewhere back there they all "knew" the truth.  There had to be a process of rejecting the truth that became so entrenched and so far back into the past that they were completely spiritually lost.  I believe that Paul is saying a similar process had gone on in Israel in spite of God's continual faithfulness to speak to Israel through the prophets.  Though God had treated Israel as a son, because of its sin it was a slave in prison completely estranged from God and in need of redemption and adoption.

The Adoption of Sons

Paul has made it very clear that the adoption of sons is connected to putting our faith in Jesus Christ in Galatians 3:26.  Thus putting our faith in Jesus Christ becomes that final test to entering into adult-heir status.  Those who believe in Jesus are given the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  This is a picture of the new birth that Jesus speaks of in John 3.  Being born from above, born again, or born of the Spirit is the point at which our spirit-man becomes alive to God.  Before this we may be religious, pray, and sing worship songs, but our spirit is not alive to God.  Our flesh is running the show satisfying desires that are not as altruistic as they appear on the surface.  But when the Spirit of God dwells in our hearts, He enables our hearts to call God, Abba Father.  A term that a child would use of a Father.  It means a close intimate relationship with God our Father.  This means we are no longer slaves under the Law but sons who are heirs and co-workers with God in his business of saving men through Christ.  

This does bring up a point of contention.  Some Christians seem to cop an attitude that says something to the effect that since I'm an adult son and not under the Law then I can do anything I want.  God's grace covers it all.  I know this isn't spoken of in these verses, but give a second to tie this in.

The question really is this, Does the Law have anything to say to us any more?  Once the child becomes an adult his relationship with the tutor changes, but it doesn't necessarily sever, does it?  In fact governments have long understood that laws must be passed in order to have a society, much less a civil one.  So the Law can give us understanding into man's sinful nature as we craft civil laws.  Also the same lessons that the Law taught us we can teach to others who have not been under the tutor.  Thus the Gentiles are made aware of their sin and coming judgment.  The apostles pleaded with Gentiles to save themselves from their wicked and perverse generation in order to avert the judgment of God.  The law can also personally give us wisdom and insight on those things that tend to bondage in life and seek to avoid them.  Thus Christians have not graduated into a life of lawlessness, but rather are now above the law.  It has been said that we walk upon the law instead of being tread down by it, which is a fair point.  However, even in that we must be careful that we are not trying to re-establish the performance of works in our approach to God.  We now have an intimate, adult, relationship with God by which we need not fear and yet, we still desire to be like him.  May the Spirit of God continue to cry out through us Abba Father, as we give ourselves to his business of saving the lost.

Galatians 4A


Protecting the Pure Gospel, Part 4

Paul reasons with the Galatians that the law did not cancel the promise to Abraham, nor was it God's plan for saving Israel.  This brings up the natural question, "Wait a minute.  Why was the law given to Israel?"  So beginning in verse 19 of chapter 3 Paul begins to deal with this.

Purpose of the Law

First, we need to see the promise to Abraham as two bookends.  God had given Abraham his Promise, which he was to hold onto by faith, until his Seed would come who would bless all the earth.  Paul inserts in verse 16 that the Seed God was pointing to was Jesus, the messiah.  Thus there is this period of nearly 2,000 years that the descendants of Abraham needed to hold onto this promise by keeping their faith in God.  However, God knew, and even hinted to Abraham, that his descendants would have trouble.  When we think of the context of Moses leading Israel out of Egypt and giving them the law, we see that they were in bondage physically.  But, worse they were in bondage spiritually.  They had begun to worship the gods of the Egyptians and yet, they still had 1400 years until the messiah.  They weren't going to make it and I am not just talking spiritually.  This leads us to the first purpose of the law, which is to restrain the outward actions and effects of sin.  This added restraint would serve to help Israel survive as a nation until Jesus came.  As it is, even with the law, God removed them from the land for 70 years and then brought them back.  

Notice that Paul says that the law was added until Messiah.  That means Jesus is the end of God's desire to use the Law within Israel to restrain the growth of sin.  Of course the people of Israel saw the Law as their means of salvation.  So all this is quite puzzling to the religious leaders of Jesus day.  In fact, it was more than puzzling, it was heresy to them.  

The next question Paul answers is whether or not the Law was "against" the promises of Abraham.  The idea here is that if the law doesn't get rid of the promise then does it somehow conflict or interfere with the promises.  In fact, without getting too technical, the word translated against has more the sense of this, is the Law better or above the promises.  Paul's answer to that is a very strong negation, certainly not!  If the law could have given anyone life then God would have used the righteousness of the Law to justify people.  Only the Promise can give life.  This leads to Paul's second reason for the law.

Not only did sin need restrained, but Israel needed to be trained so that they would be able to recognize the messiah and understand what he was doing.  In fact the metaphor given by Paul is that Israel under the law was like a young child being trained by a tutor to prepare them for life as an adult.  In fact, we can see this analogy in a simpler form, which is pointed out in Hebrews 12:6-11.  That form is the family.  Parents train their children, as they see fit, in order to prepare them for life.  Many "laws" that parents give are not purely moral issues.  They are created to prepare the kid for doing well in life.  Here is an example.  A parent may tell a child that they have to go to bed by a certain time at night.  We can debate about whether that is a good rule or not.  But no one can really argue that there is something inherently good about the hour of 9:00 PM that causes all who go to sleep at that time to be blessed somehow.  In other words, there is nothing inherently evil in a child going to bed at 9:30 PM.  So why does a parent make such a law?  For various reasons.  Some that have immediate applications, such as, restraining a child's immature desire to never go to bed.  However, there are also future implications, such as, knowing how much discipline is needed in going to bed to be able to faithfully satisfy the requirements of a job or business, and taking care of a family.  These type of "laws" are like training wheels that are meant to come off when the child is able to keep their balance on their own.  Granted, the Law of Moses did have some purely moral commands, you shall not kill.  Killing will always be an obvious moral wrong.  But the Law also had preparatory laws that were meant to be "dropped" off when Israel reached national adulthood, which was initiated by the coming of Jesus the Messiah.

The Law restrained sin, and prepared Israel to recognize messiah, but there was one more thing it did.  This is shown in verse 22.  For the person who truly loved God and worked hard to fulfill all the requirements of the law there would be a dark side to the law.  Or better yet, it would reveal a dark side within them.  No one is perfect and even when we are successful on the public persona our private self feels the condemnation of the law.  Thus the Law ends up imprisoning each and every son or daughter of the law under the condemnation and guilt of God's wrath.  This may be a horrible idea, but the point is that those who were being honest with themselves would be driven to the place David was in Psalm 51.  Which is quite simply a series of recognitions:


  1. Though I want to please God, my heart is drawn to sin.
  2. I am now under the just condemnation of God for sin that even I despise.
  3. Oh God if I am to be saved it will only be by your mercy and loving kindness.
  4. Please save me from myself!


The Pharisees' problem was that they hypocritically justified their sin and "muted" the Laws ability to teach them their need for Jesus.  When he tried to show them this they hated him and "muted" him by crucifying him on a cross.  The law is a witness to us that we are sinners and need God to come down and do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  It is the foundation to the gospel that allows us to stare at the cross and go from horror to brokenness to surrender, and lastly to joy.

Now here is a very important point.  In verse 25 Paul says that Faith takes the place of the tutor or the Law.  We have a tendency to think that grace got rid of the law.  Actually grace satisfied the law and made Jesus the known object of our faith, rather than a "hoped for" act of God.  Let me just say this.  Paul makes it clear that no one has ever been saved by the Law, they have only been cursed by it.  However, in that curse is a blessing for those who will humble themselves and simply wait upon God.  How can they do that?  By faith.  Abraham was saved by faith that looked forward to an unknown blessing of God.  David was saved by believing that God would make a way for his sins to be covered.  Isaiah was saved by trusting God would do what he said he would do, make salvation by his own right arm."  Isaiah waited on the Lord in faith, even though it didn't come in his life time.

Becoming Sons

Paul goes on to talk about the Galatians current "adult" status in God.  Because of their faith in Jesus they were now sons of God who were no longer under the Law.  In fact he points out that those who are baptized in Jesus' name are actually baptized into him and, also put him on.  This may seem puzzling but remember that baptism symbolized death.  Just as Jesus died and was resurrected with the new glorified body provided, so we too die to our old self and take on a new spiritual body.  Definitely these things will be literal and actual in the Ressurrection.  However they have a spiritual application in the now.  Christ becomes the body that we cloth ourselves with spiritually.  I no longer live to please my dead, rotting, flesh but live in order to demonstrate the life and mind of Christ by the help of his indwelling Holy Spirit.

Paul points out in verse 28 that the old distinctions of the Law no longer apply.  Why?  Because both Jews and Gentiles are in the same boat, sinners under God's condemnation.  All may be a part of God's family by faith in the only one who ever "made it" on his own merits, Jesus.  What were those old distinctions that no longer have spiritual implications?  Race.  Economic social status.  Gender.  We all become Abraham's seed in Jesus.  In fact Jesus is the true "melting pot" of the world.  In this sense America doesn't even come close.

Galatians 3B


Protecting the Pure Gospel, Part 3

Today we will look at chapter 3 of the book of Galatians.  Up till now in this letter, Paul has made the point that man received the Gospel of Jesus through revelation rather than through human reasoning.  Jesus was God himself (not just a human prophet) revealing to us the perfect truth of God.  However the Galatian believers were beginning to listen to human reasoning that led them away from the revelation of God.  In a sense Paul is saying, "I have given you the truth.  So hold on to it and don't let it go.  Don't try to improve it through additions, deletions or both."

Too often people try to pit reason and revelation against each other.  But it is not intended to be so.  They do not cancel each other out.  In fact in chapter 3 Paul continues to reason with the Galatians, but he reasons within the bounds of God's revelation.  So here is the key.  We cannot reason our way into new revelation.  We can only reason within the boundaries of the revelation given by God.  When reason goes beyond the revelation of God it quickly goes astray whether through the good motivations of the righteous or the bad motivations of those who do not believe the revelation of Jesus.  Human reasoning should be restrained like a horse with a bit in its mouth.  When it is unrestrained it can cause all manner of damage and harm.

The Spell-bound Galatians

Paul rhetorically asks who has bewitched them, not because he seeks the identity of the false teachers but to contrast them to the source of the Gospel, Jesus.  You received the gospel from Jesus, but, who has bewitched you.  They are like a snake that has been charmed by some piping professor and, in fact, they are being foolish.  They are acting like they have no understanding of the gospel.

This foolishness has led them to be dissuaded from the truth.  They are no longer obeying the gospel.  A wicked person who enjoys doing wrong is a bad thing, but even worse is a person who does the same and believes they are doing good.  At least the previous person is not deceived about what they are doing and can perhaps be persuaded.  But those who believe they are doing good are difficult to persuade.  They have been dissuaded and are deluded.  That is why Jesus dealt more severely with the Pharisees who thought they had no sin than he did with the woman caught in the act of adultery.  She not only knew she had sinned but was humiliated by it.  She could receive the gospel, but the pharisees, by and large could not.  It is foolish to think that we need more than the gospel, it is the power of God for us, which brings salvation into our lives.  Paul now continues to lay Arguments for why their current position is error and foolish.

Reasoning #1, The Giving of the Holy Spirit

When there is a disagreement about one thing it is often helpful to move to an issue that is not under contention and then compare.  Paul does this by bringing up the giving of the Holy Spirit.  Both sides of this issue accept and agree on the giving of the Holy Spirit.  Thus Paul points out that it was not great performance of the Law that brought about the giving of the Holy Spirit.  Comparitively it wasn't performance of the law that brought about the gospel.  Those reading Paul's letter can remember a time when the Holy Spirit had not been poured out upon them.  The reminder from Paul is that the gospel came to them in the same way as the gift of the Holy Spirit, by their faith in Jesus, and through the means of grace.  Neither did the Holy Spirit/Gospel go out to Israel or the Gentiles because of great performance of the Law.  Quite the contrary, Jesus publically undressed the Pharisees and their false righteousness to demonstrate that they did not "deserve" the Anointed One of God nor the Truth he came to reveal.

The Holy Spirit was poured out on the faithful in spite of national and personal failure.  The apostles all testified to this when they were in the Acts 15 Council.   The Holy Spirit was sent to whosoever would believe regardless of past performance.

In verse 5 Paul contrasts the works of the law with the hearing of faith.  Even the action of this phrase is passive, hearing.  Hearing must be actively mixed with faith or belief.  It is not just hearing which supplies the Spirit, or salvation for that matter.  But the hearing that then mixes it with faith.  There is a mystery of those who hear the same message, but not all mix it with faith.  We must be careful that we do not share the Gospel with only those people "we think" are ready or deserve it.  Many who are steeped in great sin will hear and believe.  Likewise many who are very righteous by the world's standards will hear, but never believe.  The Spirit/Gospel has been made available to all, but only received by those who believe what they hear.

Reasoning #2, Abraham was Justified by Faith

Abraham is not shown to be perfect.  In fact, even his trust in God is mislead by Sarah's plan to have a "Promised Child" through Hagar her maidservant.  Now Abraham, like the Holy Spirit, that both sides were quick to embrace.  Thus Paul takes them back to the Law that they cling to and shows them that Abraham was justified by grace through faith.  He quotes Genesis 15:6 to show that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.  Yes, Abraham did some works and even circumcised himself and his child, but it was his belief that was credited as righteousness.  Otherwise we would have to talk about Abraham's slip up with Hagar a different way- "Abraham trusted Sarah and it was debited from his account as unrighteousness."  In fact, none of the patriarchs and godly kings were depicted as perfect law performers.  David's Psalm 51 forever stands as a tribute to his understanding that if it wasn't for the grace of God he would be lost.

If you want to be a "True" son of Abraham who is to inherit the Promise then you need to believe God's testimony about Jesus.  So the question, can we take over for God and perfect ourselves?  It is the Holy Spirit that works within us to perform sanctification over the top of the struggling of our flesh, which we are called to kill daily.  My hope is not that I can now fix myself, or that now that God has set me free from my sins I can do it myself.  My hope is that the Spirit of God will complete that work of making me over into the image of Jesus and that when I see him in the future, I will be like him. 

Reasoning #3, The Law can only Curse People.

Now Paul presses the point home.  The law that they are being told to lean on is quoted in order to demonstrate the curse that is on them.  In other words the very thing they are beginning to trust in is the thing that is condemning them before God.  Quoting from 4 different places in the law he points out that he who embraces the law must perform it completely to live.  But if you fail to keep all the law you are under a curse.  This highlights Jesus statement to those who wanted to stone the adulteress, "He without sin may throw the first stone."  The Prophets that they claim to believe testified that the "just shall live by faith."  If it was up to the law they were all condemned under a curse.  In fact the gospel says that not only shall the just live by faith, but they are the "just" precisely because of their faith in God.

The law operates much like a ratcheting system.  We use that system to tighten bolts or screws and to also loosen them.  Notice that the ratchet moves easily one way but takes force, power, to move the other direction.  Our sin problem causes the laws punishments to ratchet easily against us, but then we are powerless to force it back.  We keep being locked up under the curse and doom of God's wrath, tighter and tighter and less and less able to force it back.  Even our "self-righteous" actions are like filthy rags, unacceptable.  It is precisely this situation from which Christ freed us.  He bought us back from the prison of the laws judgment.  Here is the problem.  Paul tells them that they were under a system that treated them harshly and only condemned them, even when they tried to do good.  It enslaved them and cursed them.  Jesus set them free from it, why, then, would they go back to the law?

Do Christians still do this today?  Let me ask you, have you ever felt that if you did the right things or prayed the right prayer surely God would give you the miracle or answer to prayer you want?  Have you ever contemplated what good things you should do in order to get what  you want from God?  This mentality is contrary to the gospel.  Paul, elsewhere, says that this type of thinking has an appearance of godliness, but it denies the power of God.  You see God loves faith and honors it.  He does not love smug pride in our own performance.  It may look godly to others, but it leaves a foul taste in the mouth of God.

Reasoning #4, The Promise to Abraham vs. the Law.

God made a promise with Abraham and his Seed.  This seed was the Messiah, Jesus, who was to come.  Notice that the Promise was given 430 years before the law.  God did this on purpose to demonstrate that the Promise was superior and not impacted by the law.  The law was not replacing the law nor being added to it.  Next time we will answer the question, so why was the law given? 

Abraham was not called the father of Faith because he performed the law.  Neither did he receive the Promise because of his great law keeping.  God's Promise was for those who believed him like Abraham did.  In fact, it is not the biological blood of Abraham that makes one a child of Abraham and thus inheritor of the Promise.  Rather, it is the spiritual blood (life) of Abraham found in believing God that makes us a child of Abraham.  That's why Jesus charged the Pharisees of being children of the devil, not Abraham in John 8.

Let me ask you, are you a child of God?  It is not by how well you keep the law that makes you a child of God.  It is a combination of God's will and your faith.  God chose to send his son Jesus to reveal the gospel.  If you will embrace that in faith then you will become his child and inheritor of the Promise.

Christian, are you walking by faith in God over the top of your outward circumstances?  Our challenge today is not to make Jesus into the image with which we are comfortable.  We cannot make Jesus into what we want.  Rather we must receive him as he is, and he is the crucified savior.  Yes, he perfectly fulfilled the law, but then was crucified to the things of this life that he might live to God.  We will not follow him by exalting our actions of the flesh.  Rather we follow him by dying to the pride of our flesh and embracing the power of the Spirit made available through the grace of the Gospel.


Galatians 3A mp3