Summary: Paul has been defining & defending the true nature of the Gospel as a gospel of grace through faith. Now he turns to the problem that legalism had caused in churches of Galatia. Some believers had turned from spiritual freedom to legalistic slavery.
GALATIONS 3: 1-5
HOW WERE YOU SAVED?
[Romans 8: 12-16]
Paul has been defining and defending the true nature of the Gospel as a gospel of grace through faith. Now he turns to the problem that legalism had caused in churches of Galatia. Some believers had turned from spiritual freedom to legalistic slavery. Paul will use six different arguments in Chapters three and four to prove his case that faith in Christ alone is what saves. God’s plan of salvation and sanctification is by grace through faith and legalism does not bring salvation but bondage (CIT).
The first argument he uses is based on the Galatians’ personal experience with Christ when they were saved. How were they saved? How did they receive the Spirit of God? Was it through legalistic observances or was it by having an obedient faith?
I. KEEP CHRIST BEFORE YOUR EYES, 1.
II. CONTINUE WITH THE SPIRIT, 2-4
III. HEAR WITH FAITH, 5.
Paul calls on his converts to recall what took place when they first responded to the gospel in verse 1. You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Chris was publicly (clearly) portrayed as having been crucified?
That Paul is both mystified and frustrated over the Galatians’ conduct is evident from the manner in which he addresses them (as foolish). The Judaizers had come along and convinced them that their experience was not complete. They needed something else. The Galatian believers had become so fascinated by their false teachers’ arguments that they had become bewitched.
Magic was common in Paul’s day (Acts 8: 9-11; 13:6f). Magicians or sorcerers used optical illusions and satanic power to perform their rites. The word bewitched ( ) is related to witchcraft. It means to cast a spell upon someone through the power of evil or the evil eye. Paul therefore calls them foolish or spiritually dull ( ). Certainly they remembered who and what saved them.
Paul had portrayed or verbally pictured for them the Gospel. In vivid fashion the Holy Spirit had caused their minds and hearts to see the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. That picture of Christ "having been crucified" for their salvation was to remain (perfect passive ptc- an accomplished fact with present results) in their mind’s eye, that is what they were to continue to focus upon it. But their mind’s eye had been bewitched. They had come under the power of the evil eye and had gazed at it so long that they were transfixed by it. If the Galatians had kept their eyes where they belonged, upon Christ crucified, this bewitchment would never have happened.
So long as Peter kept his eyes fixed upon Jesus he walked on water. Only when he looked at the tossing sea did he begin to sink (Mt. 14:28). The sheep that strays from the fold and the watch-care of the Shepherd becomes easy prey. Planes fly in formation in aerial warfare for protection. The plane that leaves the formation becomes a "sitting duck." We must fix our mind’s and heart’s eye upon Jesus the founder and object of our faith (Heb. 12: 1-2).
Because the Galatians had lost mental sight of Jesus they had fallen prey or had become bewitched. They had turned from Calvary to Sinai, from Son-ship to slavery, from liberty and freedom to legalism and bondage, from faith to works, from Christ to ceremonies. (Criswell, p. 74).
A home missionary who had outstanding success among industrial employees kept a COUNTERFEIT COIN in his pocket. When asked about the many religions that compete for attention, he would take out his bogus coin and ask why anyone would go to the trouble to make such an exact replica. The point he would drive home is this: the counterfeiter goes to the trouble to reproduce a copy of the genuine currency because the genuine currency has value. He hopes to deceive people into accepting his imitation for real money. If he can do so often enough, he stands to make considerable financial gain.
Is it not because the gospel has such power to change people’s lives that the devil offers so many alternatives? Some of these are glaringly seductive, calculated to draw people away from moral living and thus away from God. Others conceal their purpose under the guise of false faiths and philosophies that challenge the need for the Cross of Christ. Only the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, can ward off these enemies of the soul. Pray for an informed mind and loyal heart to resist the bewitchments of the devil.
II. CONTINUE WITH THE SPIRIT, 2-4.
To cause the believers to think about their salvation, Paul uses four rhetorical questions. The first is found in verse 2. This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?