You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 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? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 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?
Paul writes to the church in Galatia to respond to the wrong teaching that one needed to adhere to Mosaic law to be a Christian.
How the Christian Life Begins
Paul emphasizes that the Spirit comes not through knowledge or works, but through faith. The Spirit that you receive is the Spirit of Jesus-- faith takes the external recognition of Jesus and makes it personal as the Holy Spirit fills and moves inside of you.
The Christian life begins with great joy-- freedom, celebration, hope.
How the Christian Might Lose Their Way
"Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?"
Why would the Galatians want to obey the Mosaic Law? A hunger for practical guidance, a misuse of the Bible, and social reasons. It wouldn't have been easy for the Galatians to convert to Christianity because they would have been leaving behind the traditions of their family and community.
How to Get Back On Track
"I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?"
If God accepted you by your faith, then this is how He still accepts you. "The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)
The Christian life is not about doing a hundred different things, it is about doing one thing: to live by faith. What does it mean to live every day by faith? Martin Luther wrote that "...such faith is produced and preserved in us by preaching why Christ came, what he brought and bestowed, [and] what benefit it is to us to accept him."