“O foolish Galatians: who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by Works of the Law or by hearing with faith?
Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?
To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now, the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does NOT say “and to offsprings”-referring to many, but referring to one (“and to your offspring”) who is Christ.
This is what I mean: The LAW (which came 430 years afterward) does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God so as to make the promises void. For if the inheritance comes by the law it no longer comes by promise—but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.” Gal 3:1a-3, v15-18
Goodness. Galatians takes some effort to read through. There is a good bunch of theology here. But the Letters aren’t supposed to be overly complicated are they? No, they are not. But sometimes I need to stick my head in here and think “precept upon precept…”
There are those that think “theology” is a bad, bad word. If you ask some the question “why are there divisions in Christianity” more than a few would say “it is because we abandoned the simplicity of Christ and submitted to theology.”
No doubt there is a good possibility of a valid point—but it is a point to be aware of and guard against—not abandon Theology and Biblical Doctrine in response. I have heard this saying: Everyone is a theologian-some are better than others.”
In Galatians Paul is trying to re-educate the local church about Grace and the Law. I have to smile: the first line “O foolish Galatians: who has bewitched you?” could easily say “O foolish Galatians: What is wrong with your thinking?” Or “what kind of baloney have you been listening to?” So Paul is extending the conversation to straighten out “stinking thinking.”
Why then is this section important? What does this have to do with me 2,000 years later? Here’s the answer: Because we can be just like the Galatian church; we can succumb to stinkin’ thinkin’ because we just don’t know better AND (this is important) all of us has the tendency to add to the Gospel without thinking twice about it.
I know how this happens to me: I don’t regularly think, contemplate, etc. about the Gospel. Now the Gospel has more facets than Jesus died for me—the Gospel was planned before time therefore we think about the Eternal. It has to do with God’s Holiness and subsequent Wrath towards all thank isn’t holy. Therefore the Attributes of God is important. And, because we are being Atoned for concerning our sin, then the Doctrine of Sin is important to get into as well as the Doctrine of the Atonement. The Gospel is a beautiful Jewel that has many facets to look at and adore.
Here are two words: Justification and Sanctification. Paul is talking to the church that they are Justified by Faith in God’s Work. Anything that we do as an addendum doesn’t help make it better, in fact, God is offended. So: we believe the fact of the Promise. God justifies us through our faith in His work of Atonement. Stop. Rejoice. Don’t stop.
Father, one thing that has a GRIP on me is how big and beautiful the Gospel is. I am also aware how easy it is for me to corrupt my thinking about the Gospel. I find that my tendency is to segment the theory of the Gospel into executable actions. The Galatian church did that by starting to insist on circumcision. Maybe they had good intent, maybe not. It doesn’t matter: corruption can happen with the best of intentions. Help me continue to contemplate the Gospel, to think about the beauty, and to respond to You with humble adoration. AMEN.