1 - O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?
2 - This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—
3 - Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
4 - Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
5 - Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Galatians is a letter that was written to some people that had become Christians as a result of Paul's preaching in their town. When Paul first came to these people, he told them the good news about Jesus. Jesus had paid the price for their sins, and now God was offering eternal life to them. They believed the message, accepted the offer, and were born into God's family and kingdom.
From the context of the entire letter, it is apparent that they also had seen some demonstrations of the supernatural power of God. And not only had they seen God's power in operation, they were beginning to operate in this power themselves.
At some point, Paul moved on to the next town and some religious leaders came in here behind him and started trying to put additional requirements on these people. These new believers were being told that they had to keep the rules and regulations of Judaism (a.k.a "works of the law") in order to be in right standing with God.
When Paul found out about this, he wrote this letter that we call "Galatians." In this letter, he is very upset, and uses some very strong language. He is urging these new believers to reject this false teaching.
We get great benefit from being able to read this letter, because there are some very powerful truths contained in the arguments that Paul set forth under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
1 - A person's entry into God's kingdom has nothing to do with any religious activities.
These people simply believed the message Paul brought to them. That's it. They weren't keeping the Sabbath, going to church, praying, paying tithes, reading the bible, or anything like that. They didn't even have a bible because there weren't any bibles yet. There weren't even any churches there yet. They probably didn't even know about most of that stuff. They just believed what Paul said about Jesus. God was extending peace to these people through an offer that is almost too good to be true. If they would believe this message about Jesus, God would adopt them as sons and welcome them into His eternal kingdom.
2 - Operating in the power of God is not enhanced by keeping religious rules or traditions. In fact, it can be hindered by that stuff.
God works through people that exercise faith...people that take Him at His word. He doesn't require us to be perfect in our behavior and obedience as a prerequisite Jesus already took care of all prerequisites on our behalf. We just need to believe it. Check it out...
2 Corinthians 5:21
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
You see, Jesus has already made amends for all of our failures and shortcomings. Our failure to meet the standards has already been dealt with once for all time. So, we are no longer viewed by God as sinners who are trying to get better. We are viewed by Him in the same way He views Jesus....totally righteous.
With that in mind, take a fresh look at this phrase again from Galatians chapter 3, verse 5. It is a very amazing statement:
He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
God supplies the Spirit to us and works miracles among us as we act in faith. This is not limited by a person's maturity level, nor is it limited by a person's ability to avoid sin. It is limited by unbelief. As far as I have been able to understand, the only thing that can limit God operating in power through us is unbelief.
Unbelief comes in many forms. Here are a few of the most powerful ways that we can be drawn into unbelief.
1 - Trying to work to earn the right or privilege to operate in the power of God is actually a form of unbelief. The very act of trying to earn it shows that you don't believe it is freely given. Ouch.
2 - Trusting in human religious tradition rather than in God is also a form of unbelief. Here are some examples of what I'm talking about:
- If you are part of an organization that believes that miracles were only for the days of the original apostles, then you will will be tempted to agree with that, and you can find yourself in unbelief towards the power of God working in you or in others today.
- If you believe that miracles are done through the pastor or the priest or any other title, but not through those without a religious title, then you will also be in unbelief towards the power of God working through you.
- If you believe God doesn't heal people that have sin in their life, then you will be in unbelief towards the "gifts" of healings. You will disqualify people based on their addictions, habits, behaviors, sexual preferences, and etc. You will be trusting in man's ability to perform rather than God's grace to give freely to those in need, and draw them to Himself through His love and kindness. That is unbelief.
Our main enemy, most of the time, is not the devil, and it is not sin. It is unbelief. As Jesus said, all things are possible to him to believes. We need to believe, and let this foolishness loosen its grip on us.