What has happened to you Galatians to be acting so foolishly? You must have been under some evil spell! Didn’t God open your eyes to see the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion? Wasn’t he revealed to you as the crucified one?
So answer me this: Did the Holy Spirit come to you as a reward for keeping all the Jewish laws? No, you received him as a gift because you believed in the Messiah. Your new life in the Anointed One began with the Holy Spirit giving you a new birth. Why then would you so foolishly turn from living in the Spirit by trying to finish by your own works?
Have you endured all these trials and persecutions for nothing?
Let me ask you again: What does the lavish supply of the Holy Spirit in your life, and the miracles of God’s tremendous power, have to do with you keeping religious laws? The Holy Spirit is poured out upon us through the revelation and power of faith, not by keeping the law!
Abraham, our father of faith, led the way as our pioneering example. He believed God and the substance of his faith released God’s righteousness to him. So those who are the true children of Abraham will have the same faith as their father! God’s plan all along was to bring this message of salvation to the nations through the revelation of faith. Long ago God prophesied over Abraham, as the Holy Scriptures say:
“Through your example of faith all the nations will be blessed!”
And so the blessing of Abraham’s faith is now our blessing too! But if you choose to live in bondage under the legalistic rule of religion, you live under the law’s curse. For it is clearly written:
“Utterly cursed is everyone who fails to practice every detail and requirement that is written in this law!”
For the Scriptures reveal, and it is obvious, that no one achieves the righteousness of God by attempting to keep the law, for it is written:
“Those who have been made holy will live by faith!”
But keeping the law does not require faith, but self-effort. For the law teaches,
“If you practice the principles of law, you must follow all of them.”
Yet, Christ paid the full price to set us free from the curse of the law. He absorbed it completely as he became a curse in our place. For it is written:
“Everyone who is hung upon a tree is doubly cursed.”
Jesus, our Messiah, was cursed in our place and in so doing, dissolved the curse from our lives, so that all the blessings of Abraham can be poured out upon even non-Jewish believers. And now God gives us the promise of the wonderful Holy Spirit who lives within us when we believe in him.
Beloved friends, let me use an illustration that we can all understand. Technically, when a contract is signed, it can’t be changed after it has been put into effect; it’s too late to alter the agreement (Galatians 3:1-15 The Passion Translation).
Paul wrote Galatians 3 to combat legalism—ie, religious practices that would allow people to get closer to God—sneaking into the church at Galatia. The legalism or “works” or practices looked good on the outside, but were destructive to the core of the gospel. Legalism constricts the grace out of Christianity, and keeps the curse of sin active. Jesus has declared war on legalism. He is fighting to ensure it doesn’t kill believers because it is faith that gives us entrance into the new life of Jesus. No matter how much we study the word of God, faith is how we enter God’s kingdom and how we receive all the benefits, all the goodies, the King has in store for us. He did this by joining us with Abraham and his promise.