Galatians 3:2-3 

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?

Observation-What does it say?  

The book of Galatians was written to a number of churches in the region of Galatia, or present day Turkey.  Paul’s visits to this area are recorded in Acts 13 and 14.  Paul taught that repentance and faith lead us to receive God’s forgiveness and new life.  However, after he left the area, a group of Jewish-Christians came in and began preaching circumcision and adherence to the Mosaic law as a precursor to God’s grace.  Many of the believers in the area had begun following these rules in place of living by faith.

Understanding-What does it mean?

“You can’t smoke.  You can’t drink. And, you can’t drink.”  These “rules” were very important not to break as a “Christian.”  Or at least that is how I understood it as a kid.  Being a Christian meant a life of abstaining from the things that were deemed “A SIN.”  Those three things were at the top of the list, and we didn’t even think about talking about sex.  It was like I lived in some alternate form of the movie “Footloose.”  Which, ironically enough, I remember my mom watching a lot.

These rules had been passed down from my great grandfather, who was a very charismatic preacher in the South.  And, although at a young age I had a real moment where, through the Holy Spirit, I came to understand that I was a sinner and needed God’s grace, shortly after I knew that I couldn’t break these rules.  I never quite understood why these things were so bad, but I knew those were the things “Sinners” did and I was not supposed to act like that.  I also remember feeling quite burdened by the weight of having to follow the rules.

I think this is largely still present in how Christianity is viewed.  We are seen as a bunch of hypocritical “goody two shoes.”  Later in Galatians, Paul encourages them to do away with the mindless adherence to laws, in favor of a life led by the Spirit, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (5:1).”  Even Jesus told us to do away with striving to attain all of the precepts of Mosaic law, stating that all the law is fulfilled in loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:36-40).  

As it turns out, what I perceived as a bunch of rule following can actually be attained when we let go of the rules.  It comes as a result of my love for Christ.  We learn about this in the book of James.  The brother of Christ points out that a life steeped in the Holy Spirit leads to good works (James 2:18-25).  And so as we lean on the Holy Spirit, we naturally begin to abstain from things that would only hinder a close relationship with him (1 Corinthians 10:23).

Life Application

Jesus, ultimately I want nothing else than to be with you.  So help me to get a little closer to you everyday.  I want to walk away from the things that distract me from you.    And I want to thank you for taking the burden of sin away from me by dying on the cross.

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-Tyler Galloway