Isaiah 23:1-24:23; Galatians 3:1-9; Psalms 61:1-3; Proverbs 16:16-17
NT: “You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by the Spirit, are you now finishing by the flesh? Did you experience so much for nothing — if in fact it was for nothing? So then, does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law? Or is it by believing what you heard — just like Abraham who believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness? You know, then, that those who have faith, these are Abraham’s sons.” (Galatians 3:1-7 CSB)
Based on Paul’s tone, it appears that as he was writing to the churches in Galatia, he was beside himself. He was the one that brought the gospel message to the region of Galatia. He was there when the people responded to the gospel with faith and received salvation. He witnessed first-hand when believers were baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. He experienced the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in their midst. Yet, somehow the Judaizers had convinced the believers in Galatia that all of that was a farce – that the only way they could legitimately experience the salvation and blessing of God was to become Jews and abide by the requirements and restrictions of the law. According to the Judaizers, Paul’s powerful and convincing ministry was all for nothing, for the Galatian gentiles had not converted to Judaism. Somehow the Judaizers had clouded the Galatians’ judgement and hindered their ability to reason logically.
In order to counteract the Judaizers’ “spell,” Paul reminded them of their legitimate experience and gave them scriptural proof for receiving grace by faith. Abraham, the spiritual and biological father of the Jews predated the law. Abraham had no requirements to meet. He had no legally prescribed restrictions. He didn’t even have circumcision. The righteousness that Abraham was given from God, was given to him on the basis of his faith in God. God gave Abraham a promise and Abraham believed God… and God attributed to Abraham righteousness through that belief. Circumcision came later as a sign of the covenant that God had already made with Abraham. Then the law of Moses came much, much later. A person can either try to earn and never attain righteousness through the law of Moses, or they can be given righteousness by God and become spiritual sons of Abraham through faith. For some reason, the believers in Galatia were willing to give up the salvation and righteousness they had attained by faith to try to and earn salvation and righteousness through the law… and that didn’t make any sense.
How many times do we allow the enemy of our soul or other people to convince us that the salvation that we experienced by faith is not real… that we aren’t deserving of grace from God… that more is required? Let’s not allow ourselves to become spiritually dull and come under the spell of a lie. Let’s know the word of God, believe what it says and stand strong in the salvation and righteousness that we receive by faith.
Psalms: “God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer. I call to you from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to a rock that is high above me, for you have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy.” (Psalms 61:1-3 CSB)
King David’s confidence in salvation was not based on how well he obeyed the law of God… how faithfully he observed the feasts… how diligent he was to remain ceremonially pure. David’s confidence in salvation was based on his faith in God. David knew that when he was faced with an insurmountable obstacle… when his heart became discouraged in the face of impossible challenges, if he called out to the Lord in faith, the Lord would hear him, save him, and protect him. Salvation doesn’t come through our efforts. Salvation comes by faith in the Lord God.
Proverbs: “Get wisdom — how much better it is than gold! And get understanding — it is preferable to silver. The highway of the upright avoids evil; the one who guards his way protects his life.” (Proverbs 16:16-17 CSB)
The beginning of wisdom and understanding is the fear of the Lord: honoring Him, obeying Him and placing faith in His word. Wisdom and understanding is maintained by avoiding evil and guarding our path from those who would try to lure us away by false teachings and accusations. Know the word, understand the word, believe the word, and obey the word; then you will guard your way from deception and foolishness, and grow in the wisdom and understanding of the Lord.
Prayer: Lord, everything that I have received from You, I have received by faith – not by my efforts, not by my talents, not by my intellect, not by my self-righteousness. Help me to never fall for the foolish belief that I can and should earn status with You through my efforts, and thus give up the grace that You lavishly pour out to me by faith. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.