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 Galatians 3:1-3

    “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law , or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”

    The churches in the region of Galatia had heard about and received the salvation offered to them by Christ through the mouth of Paul. Since their rebirths, many members of the body of Christ here had fallen into legalistic religion. Every time this subject is broached in Christian conversation, believers tend to tune out the lesson or at least become judgmental of those engaged in legalism and religion. However, there is much to be learned from this little passage in Galatians and it bears a spotlight.

     A disciple of Jesus Christ becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ by faith {which is administered to them by God}. They are not “perfect” nor holy, nor even knowledgeable regarding the things of the Lord and generally enter into covenant with the Holy One for self-preservation purposes. They are wholly un-regenerated and thus cannot receive credit in any way for their salvation. However, once the new creation begins to have their mind renewed by the word, they grow in confidence and finally they have success in life. As with anything, the more positive a response one receives, the more that one engages in whatever behavior yielded that response. Hence, the follower of the way discovers that the closer to God and His word they become the more their lives become peaceful and joyous. This is a positive response. Having ascertained the source of their new found abundant life, the natural man will begin to engage. This is where religion begins. This is where legalism is formed. The new creation says to them self that if doing a little of the word is good then doing all of the word is better and then keeping themselves safely hedged about by a thick pious wall is best. It begins with more time in the word, in prayer or at church. All of these activities are good and necessary but if left unchecked, the new creation will foolishly begin to believe that it is their church going, reading of the word, and hours in prayer that “earn” them the blessings and favor of God. This is very evident especially when trouble appears in the life of the disciple. When trouble appears, they say in their hearts and eventually with their mouths that they don’t understand what happened, they prayed and studied, and congregated more than anyone and then something catastrophic happened… they should have earned protection by all of their pious actions. 

    To discuss the innumerable causes for death and destruction in the life of the believer is too long for the intended length of this discourse. Therefore, suffice it to say that no-one who is yet breathing is immune from the ramifications of the fall. If this is so, and it is, the question becomes, how does one victoriously overcome the calamities of life after the fall whilst mitigating the damage?  

    Paul, in his letter to the Galatians here gives us a revelatory nugget from the Holy One that will enlighten our hearts when applied. Here in Galatians 3:1-3, he rhetorically asks his readers who has bewitched them in such a way that they now believe that the way to the abundant life in Christ is through pious behavior. He indicates in the very first line that this type of mindset restricts them from obeying the truth. Here is the treasure in our discussion. When once you are saved by faith through grace {both of which are initiated by God} then you cannot continue manifesting the truth through works- any works. So often disciples believe that because they are not sacrificing animals then they are not “legalistic”. This is not the case, for any action that is done repetitively for the sake of “earning” the favor and blessing of God; whether consciously or unconsciously, whether intended or not yields a religious mindset that restricts the believer in bondage to their obsessive behaviors. 

    To attempt to become closer to the Holy One, to attempt to restrict oneself from the influences of the world simply by carrying on a series of religious activities will effectively disable the new creation from obeying the truth! The very thing that they are attempting to obtain will forever be out of reach due to their inability to crucify the flesh and its religion. 

    Therefore, to grow in godliness, to manifest the fullness of the will of God in life the believer must walk out their salvation in the same manner by which they received it- by faith alone. {Colossians 2:6 & Hebrews 11:6}. Beloved of God do not allow your heart to so arrogantly dictate to you that you are not religious or legalistic like others. Instead, think about yourself soberly and truly and allow yourself to quench your practices of religion in order that you may develop a more personal, a more effective, and a more rewarding relationship with the Giver of Life by faith in Him and in His love for you. 

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