Journal Gal 3 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “…the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God—for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.
Let me ask you this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law or by hearing with faith?
Are you so foolish (synonym: stupid)? Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?… Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith…” Gal 2:20b through Gal 3:5
Observation: I fall into this error in reading frequently: Thinking that the change in chapter is a change in subject. Especially with Paul, it is not. Chapter 3 is a continuation of Chapter 2 where he is pounding on the subject of Grace for justification vs. Works for justification.
Analysis: Paul is riled up. Who can you think of in a position of authority in the church that would continually say: “Are you that stupid?”
Someone asked me recently, “Does bewitched used here mean that someone cast a spell upon that church?” Of course not. In this case it means “captured” or “charmed away” from the truth to a lie; convinced to believe away from what was previously taught.
Paul goes on to reiterate: Were you redeemed through something you did? Did you follow some sort of formula for success? If so, why did Christ die? Symbolism?
If works JUSTIFY you before the Throne, give you points so that the more positive points you accumulate over negative points, then why the Cross? Why the Spirit?
It is important to keep the two (Grace and Works) separate in conversation and do not try to conflate/blend them. The Sovereignty of God in Grace saves. After this, the Responsibility of a Human is to do works TESTIFYING of that same Grace. It is our responsibility to understand that even in the absence of Works, the Grace of God still stands AND IS dominant.
Are works important? Yes. The Spirit makes sure we can see how important it is in James. But notice in all of Paul’s letters he emphasizes Grace and the Gospel. Why? I can only guess from reading and seeing into my own heart that Doing stuff is so much easier; I can tally up my scores and satisfy my self-esteem—and fool myself that God is using the same method of scoring.
“The old has gone, the new has come…” We are a new creature in Christ. What used to work prior to conversion may not work in the Spirit. The head is sick (Is 1:5) and needs renewing (Ro 12:2)
Press into asking questions…
Prayer: Lord God, you see my heart and how I wallow in self-pity. I pray you make these words effective, first in my own life and then maybe in others. Please make my ambition holy in you and you alone.
Let me learn about the Gospel in practice; not just the theology or doctrine but the practice, especially in my home and family.