Action Zones 

Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law? 

Lisa Cunningham MA , BA(Hons)
Christian artist and author
international exhibitions


cross in skyThis only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law or by the learning of faith?  (Galatians 3:2)
Legalists believe that faith in Jesus was not enough, and they considered it necessary to add to faith by observing the Law. Legalists supplement the finished perfection of the Cross by adding works. No man except Christ could perform perfect and perpetual obedience

The basis of the covenant with Abraham was faith and the law which came four hundred and forty years later does not set aside this earlier agreement. The Law was good but no law can give life.  The law was a tutor. In Bible times a tutor was one appointed to care for a minor and his property. The Law was meant to be observed by children in the faith. Just as a tutor's responsibilities would end when a child reached maturity, so the law ended when it reached its end in Christ

Paul changed from a fanatical zealot of Judaism into a passionate Christian missionary.  Paul begins the defence by reminding the Galatians that their Christian life started apart from the Law with faith in Christ crucified and certified by the Holy Spirit. So why were they trying to reach perfection by their own efforts now? He saw the Judaizers as sorcerers diverting the eyes of their victims from the cross to the Law. Paul had already made clear to the Galatians the meaning and significance of the Cross to the Galatians so they were without excuse

The Galatians had lost their assurance that faith alone was enough. Paul was astounded and called them "foolish" for entertaining such thoughts. Paul knew that speaking of the death of Christ upon the Cross broke bondage to sin and Satan (1Corinthians 1:18)

Christ's sacrificial death of Crucifixion meant that we have also been crucified and are dead to sin and the Law. Believing is looking to Christ Crucified and taking your eyes off of the Cross and looking to anything else for justification is unbelief.  (Galatians 3:2)

Paul was saying come back to what you once believed and get back on track. Look to Jesus and be saved. Paul's point was that the Spirit was evidence that the Galatians are justified without the Law.  Holy Spirit works regeneration, conviction of sin, and gives us the gift of faith. The receiving of the Spirit in the New Testament is always objective and a common experience to all in the Galatian Church

Receiving of the Spirit is a charismatic experience which is accompanied with a visible and audible supernatural sign, largely that of speaking in other languages. The Holy Spirit is a seal which seals our justification. This is a deposit guaranteeing our glorious future with Christ

The Judaizers were as wrong about the means of sanctification as what they thought about the justification. Paul asks them why they were seeking spiritual maturity by performing works of the Law. The Holy Spirit is He who causes the new life to grow

It is just as impossible to maintain your relationship with God though works as it is to earn it in the first place. The observable fruit of liberty should be loving service to others

This letter clearly pronounces the perils of legalism and establishes the rock solid truth of salvation by faith alone.  We receive the Spirit by faith and that the Spirit continues to manifest himself in power as we walk in faith

Christ does not promote sin in setting us free from bondage to the law. It is, in fact, the reverse. The transgressor is one who reverts from Christ to legalism.  If salvation can be earned by obedience to the law then the Cross is redundant

look forward to more on this subject next week