Summary: Through six very pointed questions, Galatians 3:1-5 reminds us that from beginning to end the secret to living the Christian life is not found in our own human efforts, but in trusting God’s Holy Spirit lavishly supplied to every believer.
Freedom’s Spirit (Galatians 3:1-5)
On June 23, 2001, the Boeing company finished a labor of love—the complete restoration of the last existing 307 Stratoliner. It was the world’s first pressurized commercial airliner.
A New York company used a vintage loom to reproduce the original Pan Am wall fabric. An interior company put in the flooring, carpeting, and paneling. They even imported Scottish leather for the single-aisle and crew seats. All the light fixtures, bulkheads, and trims were manufactured from original engineering drawings. Everything was done to perfection.
Six months later the aircraft crash-landed in Seattle’s Elliot Bay. Were there problems with the ancient engines? Did the dated tail and wing controls fail? No, they worked without a hitch.
The problem was an operator error; the crew had failed to refuel the engines. (Stuart Bond, Gig Harbor, Washington; source: komotv.com)
I’m afraid that’s the way many Christians try to live their lives. They forget the fuel that makes it all work, and then they wonder why they crash and burn.
The question is: How do we live the Christian life without crashing? How do we maintain a dynamic spiritual vitality without burning out? In other words, how do we get the fuel to fly spiritually?
Galatians 3, starting at vs.1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? (lit., Who has given you the evil eye?) Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. (NIV)
Paul says to these Galatian Believers, “I showed you that Christ died for our sins. He is the one that paid the penalty, but now you are behaving like you’re under a spell. By trying to keep a law to pay for your own sins, you act like somebody gave you the evil eye and erased your brain.”
“Who did this to you?” Paul asks as his first question. “Who has bewitched you?”
And then, just in case our minds were actually erased, he asks us a second question to remind us how we got started in our lives with the Spirit.
vs.2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? (NIV)
The obvious answer is we received the Holy Spirit by believing the Gospel, not by trying to keep the law. The moment we put our faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit came to live within each and every one of us.
That’s how we got started in the Christian life. We began with a simple faith in Christ who loved us and died for us.
In her memoirs, Ilyasah Shabazz, the third daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, talks about the effect of attending church as a little girl:
Betty Shabazz took her girls to the mosque every Sunday, and when they were visiting their grandparents in Philadelphia, they went to Friendship Baptist, a church Ilyasah says she loved, especially the praying and testifying and the singing of gospel music. “I loved the singing that went on,” she writes. “I wanted to feel whatever powerful force was causing all of these people to sing and clap so heartily. I never did catch the spirit, but I always kept the hope.” (Quoted by Elsie Washington in Black Issues Book Review, May/June 2002, p. 57; www.PreachingToday.com)
Perhaps, that sentiment describes some of you. You’re looking for something different in your life, something that can change you from the inside out, something that will give you real joy on the inside.
Well, if that’s the case, then I’ve got good news for you. You don’t have to hope for it any longer. You can catch the Spirit today.
Just BEGIN YOUR LIFE WITH THE SPIRIT BY FAITH. SIMPLY TRUST CHRIST WITH YOUR LIFE AND STOP TRYING SO HARD. JUST DEPEND ON CHRIST AND HE WILL GIVE YOU HIS HOLY SPIRIT RIGHT NOW.
Nathaniel Hawthorne once described happiness as a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you. It’s like that with the Spirit of God. He is not seized. He is received. (Ben Patterson, “A Faith Like Mary’s,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 87; www.PreachingToday.com)
If you want God’s Holy Spirit within, then stop trying to chase after Him; stop working so hard to get Him. Instead, simply receive Him by resting quietly in Christ. Begin your life with the Spirit by faith.
Then go on to COMPLETE YOUR LIFE WITH THE SPIRIT BY FAITH, as well. END LIKE YOU STARTED BY TRUSTING CHRIST WITH YOUR LIFE. FIND FULL AND COMPLETE MATURITY THROUGH DEPENDENCE ON CHRIST, NOT BY FOLLOWING A LIST OF RULES.