Read Galatians 3:1-14
1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing — if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
6Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
10All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." 11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." 12The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (NIV)
Paul begins his reason for writing the letter to the Galatian Church and begins to set out his argument for the problem he has been told. While we don’t have the letter or the words that were sent to Paul, we can get that the problem is with people who followed Paul and began to tell the Galatian Church that they cannot be Christians without first becoming Jews and following all the Jewish laws.
This is the reason for the seemingly harsh words in verse one. He calls the people foolish or unwise. He asks who bewitched you or essentially “cast an evil eye” on you. These words of bewitching or casting a spell were common thoughts in Greek writings and letters. People truly feared having a spell cast upon them. So Paul is using vocabulary that they would be very familiar with.
He puts for two main arguments in these verses we just read. The fist is to look at the Holy Spirit. He asks, would God freely give his Holy Spirit to you and then ask you to demonstrate your worthiness of the Holy Spirit by following the law. He says of course not. It is faith that matters to God. It is faith God wants from us. It is faith that started the ball rolling toward a Jewish people by the faith of Abraham and not any works of Abraham. We begin always in our devotion to God with faith. Paul sums this up by saying we become children of Abraham, not by observing the law, but by faith.
Paul then turns to give an example. He says, “Ok, say a man wants to earn his way to God’s favor?” What is required, to do everything exactly right according to the law. One misstep and you are cursed. He then reminds them that no one has been able to do that. So if there is no hope in the law, then what hope is there. The answer to the dilemma is Jesus Christ who became a curse so that we are not accursed. We are saved by our faith in Christ.
What becomes a difficulty in looking actions related to faith and works. Actions stemming from faith are responses to God’s love while actions stemming from the law are done to earn God’s love. We cannot earn what we already have.
Do you feel you have God’s total love? Or do you feel you still have to earn it? This is a question that we must all come to grips with. Knowing that we are loved beyond measure is not an excuse to sin. That love is the hold on us to bring us back when we do sin. Take some moments to think about how you are reacting to God’s love in Christ.
Blessings and Peace