BEWITCHED AND BEWILDERED
Jesus, help me to keep my eyes fixed on You today.
Read Galatians 3:1–14
Faith or Works of the Law
3 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?[a] 4 Have you experienced[b] so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[c]
7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[d] 9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”[e] 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”[f] 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”[g] 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”[h] 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
a Galatians 3:3 In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit.
b Galatians 3:4 Or suffered
c Galatians 3:6 Gen. 15:6
d Galatians 3:8 Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18
e Galatians 3:10 Deut. 27:26
f Galatians 3:11 Hab. 2:4
g Galatians 3:12 Lev. 18:5
h Galatians 3:13 Deut. 21:23
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectWhy does it matter if you lose focus on the Gospel?
Having confronted Peter, Paul now confronts the Galatians: You’re foolish! Bewitched (1)! You began well. You clearly saw and welcomed Christ when you heard the cross preached. How can you now take your eyes off him?
How can you try to top the cross? How you start is how you go on. You don’t start with the Gospel and then rely on your own efforts (3). The Gospel is not that God wipes the slate clean and it’s now up to you to keep it clean. It’s never “Jesus plus…”
Look at Abraham (6–9). He believed that if God said he’d do something, he’d do it. Abraham trusted God, not his own efforts. And so God declared him “righteous” (6)—someone in a right relationship with God with no sin sticking to him.
Look at the law (10–15). The law says: If you work for your salvation, you must be perfect. Ninety-nine percent isn’t good enough (10). Try it! You can’t do it. And you’ll feel the weight of the curse you deserve.
But Jesus became that curse. He didn’t just take our sin, he became sin (13) and you became righteous. And you stay righteous, not because of stuff you do, but because God sees you as sinless in Christ.
Just look at one day of your life and try to write down all the “good” and “bad” things you’ve done. Does the good “outweigh” the bad? Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t see it that way?
I praise You, God, that Jesus kept the law perfectly and gives us his perfect track record through the cross. Hallelujah!