Galatians 3:1 "1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?"
There are 3 main parts to this passage that when studied they begin to offer insight into the text.
(1) Foolish- the idea of this word in the Greek is that it is unintelligent. Furthermore, it has the idea of operating only from the senses. So Paul is telling the Galatians that their response to the message of the Judaizers is unintelligent and based upon emotional sensuality.
(2) Bewitched- the idea behind this word is literally that someone has cast a spell upon them. The context of this word according to one Greek scholar is that it was often used in association with the "evil eye" as in the occult or witchcraft. I have discussed on numerous occasions the concept of Satan, fallen angels and demon spirits constantly attempting to pervert the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether or not the Judaizers knew they were working for the devil or not does not matter, they were perverting the Gospel. And the result was that it was putting the Galatians under a "spell."
I wish that I could emphasize this point enough, but when the believer is brought under false teaching, which changes the object of that person's faith, the result is that God's grace is frustrated and strength is given to the sin nature. When "the sin" revives in the life of the believer, it gives the forces of evil an open door to wreak havoc in those people's lives.
It is important to remember the "evil eye" because the next concept we are about to discuss out of this verse is associated with the concept of vision also.
(3) ...before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? Paul said before your eyes, the cross was evidently set forth. The concept that is being translated from the Greek comes from the word prographe. This word has the idea of public visualization as in a public document, placard, or even a painting that has been exposed for all to see.
So let's follow the progression of what Paul has said. He said to the Galatians that they were fools because they have responded to another gospel in an unintelligent manner. Paul preached the truth of the Gospel to them, which had been given to him by revelation through Jesus Himself. We have already discussed the idea of revelation before, but it describes something that was previously hidden- being uncovered. So Paul's message allowed the Galatians to see the truth with spiritual eyes, but the Judaizers have come and the Galatians are being moved by their natural senses including their vision.
But in reality, without knowing it, they have been brought under the spell of the "evil eye". Through their acceptance of a false gospel, the forces of evil have been given permission to bring confusion in their midst. Paul brings their minds and spiritual eyes back to the public "painting" that was produced for them when the Gospel was preached to them by him. The result of that painting was that Jesus was crucified. Now, get a hold of that child of God! The Judaizers are saying, "you must be circumcised." And Paul is saying, "Do you see this painting of the cross? If you want to talk about the removal and destruction of flesh, look at this. If circumcision fixes the problem then what is this?"
And the question we must ask ourselves is, "How will the rules of a preacher or the rules I make for myself accomplish something greater than what Jesus accomplished for me on the cross?" It's the same concept child of God. We are told to make ourselves right by what we do or do not do and Jesus is standing there with His nail scarred hands asking, “If you could do it...why would I have done this?" And I am not talking about salvation or eternal life right now. Most of us understand that only Jesus is the gate to eternal life. I am talking about righteous living. We bring ourselves under a spell of what looks like holiness when we make rules for righteous living. Jesus made us righteous! Stay connected to the vine through faith in Him and what He accomplished on the cross and experience supernatural grace. Grace gives power for holy living today.
Galatians 3:2-5 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. 5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Remember, we are talking about holy living. Paul has brought all this to their attention. And now he will focus specifically on the Law and flesh versus the Spirit of God. The way he does this is that he asks the Galatians (4) specific questions:
(1) ...Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
So how did you receive the Spirit of God? When He made your heart His home, was it because you followed the Law and got circumcised or was it because you believed the word of truth that was preached?
To the modern Christian...what was it that caused the Spirit to make His home in your heart? Was it because you read enough Bible one day? You may have been reading the Bible and learned that Jesus was the answer for your sin and put your faith in that truth, which invited the Holy Spirit in, but that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about countless Christians attempting to please God through what they do. Reading enough, praying enough, going to church enough... Thinking if they will only do more, they will be right with God and then their guilt will leave.
No! Paul said you’re not guilty because you believed the right thing! Your faith in Jesus allows you to be accepted by the Father. Now, with proper faith, go do proper works.
(2)... having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Ultimately, the question asked is, " You received the Spirit of God through faith and now you are going to be made perfect (accomplished / finished) in the flesh? So through the hands, rules, or traditions of men you are going to be produced into what God is looking for?"
(3) Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
You have received much criticism and experienced much tribulation over your decision to follow Jesus. And now you are going to turn your faith towards something else? If you do, all your suffering for Jesus was meaningless and pointless.
(4) 5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
What do you suppose moves the hand of God? Do you suppose it is what you do? Or is it because of your response to the truth?
In other words, Paul is saying, “You have experienced the moving of the Spirit in your lives...how did that happen? Is it because you believed the Gospel and now you are in covenant relationship with God. Or is it because you got circumcised and did all the right stuff?”
I will probably make some Christian mad when I say this, but it is a pet peeve of mine. Every time someone announces a gathering of Christians for some function...whether it is a conference, skit, or even a concert, everyone is instructed to fast and pray so that souls will be saved. And then after the event we count all the cards and we say, "1000 or 100 got saved." Is that what we really think? Where are they on Sunday? Did they go to church? Are they really saved?
Please do not misunderstand me. I believe that all these things we do: concerts, skits, gatherings can sow seed [if the Gospel is presented!]. And it is certainly possible that they did get saved, but just because they filled out a card does not mean they were saved. I do believe that if they filled out a card then a seed was at least planted.
Also, I believe in fasting and prayer, but as Paul was asking, I am also asking, “Do we believe that the Holy Spirit moves and operates in our midst because we prayed and fasted as though we did enough for Him to show up? Do we honestly believe that He does not want to show up and profoundly affect the lives of sinners? So if He wants to show up what makes Him show up? Well let's look at what Paul said:
5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Paul is telling us that the Spirit moves through the hearing of faith. Two last points to make about this verse then I will stop:
(1) It is faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified (which is the covenant God offered by the way) that gives us access to the Spirit of God. I don't care how much you fast, pray, go to church, quote scripture, read your Bible, or witness...those things we do are very important for our understanding God, but they are not what moves the Spirit of God.
(2) Secondly, He shows up when the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His cross is preached. You preach the truth of the Gospel, and the Holy Spirit will show up whether you fasted or not.
Trust me God wants people saved more than we do. Too often, in the church, we are trying to work up a lather to get the Spirit moving. Then the preacher preaches some works based message or some prosperity driven garbage and there is nothing but emotionalism. Why...you ask? It's because the Gospel of Jesus Crist and Him crucified wasn't preached. Preach the Gospel preacher! Move your little self out of the way! And watch God show up!
Galatians 3:6-9 6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
So Paul has made it clear that it is not Law, but reception of the Gospel that causes the Holy Spirit to do His part...whatever part you need Him to do at that moment. Now, he uses "faithful Abraham as an example of the faithful ones that God is looking for. We do not have time to properly teach this concept here, but let me say this, “If you think Abraham was faithful in the sense that he never did anything wrong...you would be wrong."
Abraham lacked faith in many circumstances. He lied about his wife Sarai on more than one occasion to save his own life. He went to foreign lands that God did not tell him to go in the midst of a famine. Through a work of the (flesh) he produced a son with another woman that eventually resulted in Islam. No, Abraham had his share of mishaps.
So what made Abraham faithful in the eyes of God? What made Abraham faithful in the eyes of God is the same thing that made Abraham righteous in the eyes of God. It was Abraham's faith that made him righteous in the eyes of God.
The next question that begs to be asked is what did Abraham believe God about that resulted in his righteousness? People try to have faith about a lot of different things. They even try to have faith about a lot of Godly things. In other words, I am probably talking to an audience that contains multiple parents... Christian parents to be specific. And most of you believe God (exhibiting faith in God) that your children will grow up and be a Christian. By the way I commend you for your faith in God for your child, but does that faith for that result make you righteous in the eyes of God?
The answer is...absolutely not! Only faith in one thing can produce righteousness. The only object of faith that can produce righteousness in the life of the believer is faith in the fact that God became flesh and dwelled with us, lived a perfect life keeping the Law of God, which made right what Adam had done wrong (Romans 5). Then He offered that perfect life as a sacrifice to God to pay the penalty for our sin and guilt. Because He was without sin, the Father accepted the sacrifice, and now, when we place our faith in His payment for our sin, an exchange takes place. He took our guilt and shame by putting it on Himself. And in return, He gave us His righteousness.
So the next question that should be asked if we are thinkers is...how could Abraham, who lived 2000 years before Jesus have placed his faith in Jesus to be made righteous in the eyes of God?
God gave a promise to Abraham in : Genesis 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Where God says in the all families will be blessed, He was speaking of the fact that through Abraham's offspring would one day come the Messiah (Savior of the world- Jesus) Paul will explain this in greater detail later in Galatians 3. But for the next few minutes, I want to take you on a journey through the scriptures that will explain how God revealed to Abraham 2000 years before Jesus was born that Jesus was God's answer to bless all the families of the earth with salvation from their sin.
First reconsider this verse in the passage we are reviewing now: 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
So we are told that God preached the Gospel to Abraham through the scriptures in advance. This means that at some point God explained that righteousness would come by faith. However, that still does not prove that Abraham's faith was in Jesus.
The next place I would like to take you to is in the book of John: John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
So Jesus tells us that Abraham was able to see his day and he rejoiced over it. The word for rejoice describes great joy and excitement. So far we have been told that the Gospel about justification or (righteousness) was preached to Abraham before Jesus was ever born...2000 years before to be exact. Furthermore, at some point the message became so clear that it was as though Abraham could see it. As a matter of fact, Jesus told us he did. Not only did God preach the message to him, but I believe God also gave Abraham an illustration of the Gospel message. I have thought about this for some time and I am convinced that the illustration came from the story in Genesis 22. Before you go and read what I am talking about, I want you to consider a few concepts from that chapter:
(1) Abraham was instructed to take his only son up on a mountain top and sacrifice him. In reality Abraham had 2 sons, but God only recognized one. But more importantly this statement God gave Abraham reminds me of John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
(2) Isaac [the lad] Abraham's son carried wood up a mountain just like Jesus did.
(3) Isaac, like Jesus, walked up that mountain as a willing sacrifice.
(4) Many scholars believe that Mt. Moriah (where Abraham brought Isaac to be sacrificed) is the same mountain that Calvary's hill was located on, which is the hill that Jesus was crucified on.
(5) Lastly, God provided a sacrifice at the last minute before Abraham killed Isaac. I cannot prove it but I believe that it was right there that God revealed to Abraham that he did not have to sacrifice his son because God would one day sacrifice His own Son, who would also be the seed of Abraham.