“I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you have heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing – if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?”
This verse has been coming up for me many times in the past couple weeks. It seems like God is trying to remind me that I do not do things by my own strength.
I love these verses and what Paul is telling the church at Galatia. Essentially the concept is, they received the Spirit because of the grace of God and that is it. They did nothing to earn it. But now they are trying to “earn” the grace and miracles of the law by being good.
This is the whole basis behind legalism and how detrimental it can be to hold the law in too much weight and reduce the impact of grace in our lives. However, I would urge us to not stop there but dig deeper into how this could apply in our own lives as well.
Has this ever happened to you: Something big comes up (a job interview, a business meeting, or even a major sickness or medical procedure) and we make sure that we do our devotions that day, we make sure we say our prayers before bed that night, we essentially treat the God of the universe like a magical genie that we have to do the right motions in order for Him to “work his magic.”
Maybe you haven’t, I know I have.
We didn’t earn our salvation, and we don’t have to earn it now. God in his grace and mercy has given that to us (if we have accepted Him) by nothing we did. So now we don’t have to perform to continue to live in Him. That’s the thing about grace.
I have likened it to my athletic career recently. The biggest thing that I ever had that even had a chance of setting me apart was a hard work ethic. But then after a couple seasons, I would start to get complacent and think I’m actually good and I don’t need to work that hard, and my performance would suffer. But it was hard work that got me there in the first place, and it will be the hard work that keeps me growing.
So please don’t get lost in the fact that my metaphor is backwards with works being the production. The point is what got us there in the first place is still what helps us grow.
In our faith, that is the Spirit. So, we need to continue to rely on the Spirit. That’s it. That’s the message.