“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 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.” – Galatians 3:1-5
Everything in life trains us to think that we work hard, and because of that work we earn something. At work, we work hard to earn a raise and promotion. One of the complaints against the millennial generation is that they just want everything given to them so they don’t have to work for anything. But that just is not the way it works, right? We work hard to get everything.
However, when it comes to salvation, we simply believe.
As believers we can fall into the trap of focusing on the things that we need to earn our salvation; it’s something we have all done. This is what Paul is addressing here in Galatians and it’s also what James has already addressed in our study of James. Paul, during his first missionary journey (Acts 14), visits a few cities in the Galatia area and preaches the message of the cross. However, after Paul left, some Jewish Christians came in and started preaching about following the law for salvation.
Paul uses what might seem like some rather harsh language. Twice he calls them foolish. Paul cannot believe that they have so quickly forgotten the message of the cross that was preached to them. The Galatians allowed themselves to be poorly influenced by false teachers who preached a different gospel. We can try and work all we want but it’s never going to be enough. All we will do is end up worn out and tired. Instead, God gives us you salvation freely when we accept the work of His Son on the cross.
When you combine this teaching with what we have been learning in James you get the perfect picture of what our Christian life should look like. With Paul we know that we belief in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for salvation. Then from James we learn that we should live a life that is worthy of the gift we have been given. Our faith affects how we view the trials and temptations of life. We listen and do what the word says regarding how we treat people, how we talk with people, and how we submit to God.
Paul calls out the Galatians, and calls them to remember the message of the cross. May the message of the cross always be in the front of our minds.