Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up! (Galatians 3:2-4, MSG; cf. Galatians 4:8-11).
In Galatians 3:1-5, the Apostle Paul reminds the Galatian believers that it is by the freely given Grace of God, in the freely given Power (dunamis) of His Holy Spirit, and through God’s freely given Faith that their Christian life began. The apostle also lets these Galatians know that their Christian life must continue the same way—by the freely given Grace of God, in the freely given Power (dunamis) of His Holy Spirit, and through God’s freely given Faith!
Just as the Galatian first-century believers could not reach spiritual maturity by human efforts, apart from the Grace of God, Jesus the Christ’s Atoning Sacrifice, the Power (dunamis) of God’s Holy Spirit, and the Faith of God, neither can we twenty-first believers increase our spirituality. We also cannot sanctify our lives by our own efforts, because our human attempts to purify and transform our lives to the image of God’s only begotten Son, Christ Jesus, are and always will be ineffective. Put differently, Jesus the Christ did not come to help us save ourselves through our Mosaic Law obedience, traditions of men observances, and ritual commands. For sure, Jesus the Christ came to do EVERYTHING God asked Him to do so that the Lord, and Him alone, could have God’s authority to purge us of our sins, and save (justify) EVERY ONE of us who completely TRUSTS and believes in Him.
However, the Gospel of Jesus the Christ tells us, in many Scriptures, that before we can be saved (justified), and before we ever reach spiritual maturity, we need the Holy Spirit’s regenerative power—we need Him to rejuvenate our dead spirits. Without our rebirth, without being born from above, there is no way for our conviction process to begin. Furthermore, we need to go through our conviction process, because this process leads to our acceptance of Jesus the Christ as our Lord and Savior, whose blood not only covers our sins but also initially cleanses our bodies, spirits, and souls so that the Holy Spirit, by God’s Grace, is able to complete the sanctifying work of God in us. In other words, the Holy Spirit is the One who jumpstarts the work of conversion in us, with our rebirth, and He alone is the One who is able to complete this work in us, which is our final, ultimate, or perfect sanctification/transformation (also known as our glorification).
Even Jesus the Christ speaks of the Holy Spirit’s help in convicting the world of sin, judgment, and righteousness (cf. John 16:8-18). Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s FULL ministry is also why we cannot take any credit for the Grace of God reigning over the sin in our lives, for it is ONLY by the aid of the Holy Spirit that the preached Word of God is heard and the allocation of our measure of Faith take places. This Faith is needed before the Holy Spirit is able to influence our dead spirits and unbelieving souls/hearts (the seat or center of our spiritual life) to be receptive to our rebirth. Once again, it is this rebirth that leads to our conviction process. Put differently, our rebirth, our genuine repentance, and our subsequent salvation (justification) always have been the work of God’s Grace, the regenerative Power of His Holy Spirit, Jesus the Christ’s atoning sacrifice, and God’s measure of Faith gift!
Be that as it may, even though there are many contemporary Christians who believe in the mighty workings of the Holy Spirit, modern-day believers still are facing that old Galatianism, which is a bewitching, or a turning away from Grace, the Giver of Grace (Father God), and the Ones who make it possible for Grace to be freely given and freely received (Jesus the Christ and the Holy Spirit). Moreover, Galatianism is a turning, instead, to the legalism of Judaism—a turning to the false belief, which maintains that we non-Jews must become Jews by taking on the yoke of the Mosaic LAW so that we non-Jews truly not only can be in but also grow in Christ Jesus. Galatianism also is a bewitching that causes us (the born again, saved, and justified believers) to reject the authority of the Word of God—to reject the Gospel message on Holy Spirit guided progressive sanctification. Consequently, instead of allowing the supernatural Power of God’s Holy Spirit to sanctify us, we attempt to be sanctified by our human works. Indeed, just like the first-century Galatians, many contemporary believers also have been so successfully bewitched that we are not holding fast to nor standing firm in our Faith.
The Apostle Paul makes it clear that we, indeed, must holdfast to our Faith, and this Faith must be rooted in the Word of God. In other words, we must not allow ourselves to be bewitched by that old Galatianism, which preserves the false belief that the justification we initially received by God’s gift of Faith ONLY can be sustained by our human efforts to keep the Mosaic LAW, in particular, the rules and requirements about circumcision, the Sabbath, and the seven annual Festivals. Then too, we must not allow ourselves to be bewitched by that old Galatianism, which maintains that our “final salvation”—the time when we believers, the sheep who, at the final judgment, have been separated from the goats, and, as a result, have been permitted to enter the millennial Kingdom of God—rests on whether or not we have lived a life in which we endured to the end, and we endure to the end only because we have produced good works.
Now, there are numerous Scriptures that teach us that no amount of human goodness, human works, human morality, or religious activity can gain us acceptance with God or get us, or anyone else for that matter, into Heaven. That’s why, those of us who are called to preach and teach the unadulterated Word of God must preach and teach ONLY the Gospel of Jesus the Christ, because we truly would be preaching and teaching a bewitching Galatianism, whenever we preach and/or teach ANOTHER (a totally DIFFERENT kind of) Gospel. Then too, we must allow ONLY the Holy Spirit to do the necessary purifying work (progressive sanctification and final or perfect sanctification . . . our glorification) in our lives, which means we must remember that the works of the flesh (the works of our natural sinful state, which often is presented as a power that is in opposition to the power of the Holy Spirit) cannot save us, change us into the image of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, nor guarantee that we will receive glorified bodies.
Likewise, those of us who are hearers and doers of the unadulterated Word of God also must avoid being bewitched—being placed under the power of the flesh, as if the flesh is capable of working a spell or some “magic,” especially the kind of “magic” that is needed to bring the legalism of Judaism back to life. Through Jesus the Christ, we have been redeemed (set free, rescued, ransomed) from the curse of the Mosaic Law. Thus, because we come to believe that keeping the Mosaic Law is the ONLY way we can stay saved, justified, and righteous, we end up putting ourselves back under the Mosaic Law, which is an unmistakable indication that we are indeed bewitched! Unfortunately, following such Galatianism also would mean that we no longer are under Grace. In other words, we would be living in a state of rebellion. Therefore, in order to avoid Galatianism, we never should put our total trust in the old rules and traditions of Judaism, and we should never allow ourselves to get to the point that we count on said rules and traditions to fulfill any part of our salvation.
It should be noted here that while we are free to rejoice in our freedom from parts of Judaism’s ceremonial and civil laws, we are not “free” from any part of God’s moral law. Even though Jesus the Christ fulfilled the ceremonial law, which points to the coming of the Messiah, as well as relates to Israel’s worship, we still must apply the principles of worshipping and serving a holy God.
As for the moral law, this law is pretty much the Ten Commandments. While we do not need to keep these Ten Commandments in order to receive our salvation, we, however, cannot live a holy life without obeying every one of God’s moral laws. In fact, our Lord actually expects us to go over and beyond the letter of the moral law, by keeping the Spirit of the moral law, for He desires that we not only demonstrate an outward observance but also an inward observance of the moral law! This inward and outward observance is now possible, because in the hearts of born again, saved, justified, and being made holy believers God individually has written His Laws.
Furthermore, since God gave us a new covenant in Jesus the Christ, the civil law or judicial law, which was meant to separate God’s chosen people, the Jewish nation, from the Gentile nations, primarily just sets down rules and requirements for Israel’s daily living. However, when the Lord fulfilled the civil law, He made it so that nations no longer separated Jews from Gentiles. Now, it is God’s Grace that separates believers from non-believers (cf. Ephesians 2:1-10; Ephesians 2:14-15; Matthew 26:26-29; Hebrews 9:11-15)!
The bottom line is that, because we are now under Grace (have been pardoned or justified), the Mosaic Law no longer can condemn us or subject us to harsh punishment. However, once we are bewitched by Galatianism, we would be entangled again with the yoke of slavery—we would become slaves of Judaism’s legalistic Do’s and Don’ts, which means that if we failed to obey those Do and Don’t rules and requirements, then we could expect to be severely punished or even condemned to death. For this reason, the Apostle Paul warns the Galatians, and us, as he writes:
Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. ~ Galatians 5:1, MSG
As a final point, just because we are “free” to walk around without fearing that at any moment we will be condemned to death, we are not “free” to keep on sinning. In fact, the Scriptures make it clear that because God’s Grace has given us this freedom, then out of gratitude and love for the One who gave us Grace (the One who pardoned us from a death sentence) we should desire to keep the Kingdom of God’s laws. Indeed, Jesus the Christ declares that everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from the Greatest Commands (cf. Matthew 22:36-40; Matthew 5:17-20), and the Greatest Commandments emphasize love—loving God, loving self, and loving others.
For this reason, Grace must be balanced with the Law. Important to note here too is that balance does not mean a mixture (blend, combination); balance does not mean that, where Grace and the Law are concerned, that one is more important than the other, nor does balance mean that we should be married to both Grace and the Law, as each of these definitions would mean that balance is a kind of Galatianism. Balance, as it pertains to Grace and the Law, means that both Grace and the Law are counteracting weights or forces, for they both deal with the weighty (most important) issues of faithfulness, justice, and mercy. In other words, God’s Grace, Faithfulness, Mercy, and Justice are consistent or agree together, in such matters as pardoning sin, justification, redemption, and salvation. Put differently, God’s acts are in harmony with His attributes, because with God His acts and attributes are one and the same!
That is to say, there is no Law without God’s Grace, for the Law is an extension of God’s Grace. Point in case, God gave the Israelites His Law, because the Israelites, by the Grace of God, were now in a relationship with their God—the One who redeemed them from their Egyptian enslavers. Thus, by revealing the Law to Moses, God is acting in harmony with His eternal holiness, which means that the Law is actually an extension of His Grace given to the Israelites for the purpose of getting them to understand what it means to walk with God while living holy and righteous lives for God!
The point here is that we were saved to live holy and righteous lives for God, and to do that we need God’s standard—His Word, which includes His Law. Moreover, since God’s Laws confirm our relationship with Him and with His Son, and since our Lord demonstrates for us how the balance between Law (Justice) and Grace (Pardon) is maintained, then we need to follow His example, because without a doubt Jesus the Christ’s life and death demonstrate that by God’s Grace, by His Faith, and with the aid of the Power (dunamis) of His Holy Spirit, it is possible for God’s Law to be kept, even unto death (cf. Titus 2:11-14).
Once again, being in a relationship with God and Jesus the Christ means that, because of God’s Grace, we are expected to live holy and righteous lives. Furthermore, it is obvious that the real test of our relationship, with God, with Jesus the Christ, and with others, is found in how we show God’s Grace, Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness. Therefore, for us to follow our Lord’s example and avoid Galatianism all together, we need to be full of His Holy Spirit, taught and led by His Holy Spirit, deeply rooted in His Word, and patiently holding fast to plus standing firm in His measure of Faith, which is a supernatural gift He has given to us.
AMEN, and AMEN again!