Avoiding the error of the Galatians
Although most Churches preach the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ, some believers still depend on our efforts and that’s why add extra requirements for salvation. Some people say that we will be saved only if we get baptized, confess sins, tithe, obey the ten commandments, repent from all sins, or speak in tongues.
All such extra requirements for salvation are not from God but from man.
Dear friends, the Gospel is made by God and not by man.
God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are higher and more gracious than ours.
Isaiah 55:8-11 ““For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” says Yahweh. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down and the snow from the sky, and doesn’t return there, but waters the earth, and makes it grow and bud, and gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so is my word that goes out of my mouth: it will not return to me void, but it will accomplish that which I please, and it will prosper in the thing I sent it to do. For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace.”
The word of our salvation is Jesus Christ Himself, who came down from heaven to earth to die on the cross and be raised from the dead to forgive us eternally and make us righteous by grace through faith – Christ did not fail – He finished the work.
If you believe in Jesus, you are forgiven and righteous forever – we now have peace with God, joy in our hearts.
We cannot add works for our salvation. The Galatians made the same mistake – they trusted in Jesus plus circumcision (work of law). Unfortunately today, some believers start off with faith in Christ but then trust in our performance for salvation – which is going back under the Law. That is why we are more focused on our performance and not on Jesus (I did this painfully for many years).
Galatian-ism is defined here: It is mixing the Old and New Covenants – mixing Law and Grace. It is mixing human effort and Christ’s finished work.
It is believing in Jesus but adding works of moral/ritual laws for salvation.
Galatians 3:1-3 “Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you not to obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly portrayed among you as crucified? I just want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now completed in the flesh?”
Paul clearly lays out the truth here: We received the Holy Spirit only by hearing the Gospel through faith in Christ and not our works. Why are we now adding the requirements of works for salvation?
Now most believers say that we are not keeping the ceremonial laws (getting circumcised, avoiding shellfish, pork, etc.). Some Jewish believers still try to follow those laws, but there is no condemnation as long as they are not doing it for salvation.
But then some believers say that we need to obey the Ten Commandments for salvation. The problem is that we cannot divide the law into pieces that are convenient for us.
If anybody tries to attain salvation based on the Law then they must obey everything perfectly without a single mistake (Galatians 3:10-14).
Paul warned the Church to not be deceived like how Eve was fooled in the garden. The serpent had deceived Eve into trusting in her own morality (knowledge of good & evil). Christians should not repeat this failure by trusting in our works for salvation.
2nd Corinthians 11:3 “But I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve in his craftiness, so your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
Paul told them that Abraham was made righteous by faith and not by works.
But later on, under the Law, the Jews had to be circumcised and keep the 613 commandments perfectly. That’s why it is a curse to trust in one’s own works because one has to be perfectly sinless to be blessed under the Law. The Gentiles were dead outside the old covenant without any hope. Nobody could be saved by keeping the Law.
Therefore, Christ died on the cross as a curse to fulfill the Law to redeem us so that we receive the Holy Spirit by faith in Christ apart from any works.
Galatians 3:6-14 “Even so, Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” Know therefore that those who are of faith are children of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the Good News beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you all the nations will be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who doesn’t continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Now that no man is justified by the law before God is evident, for, “The righteous will live by faith.” The law is not of faith, but, “The man who does them will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,” that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
The Law was designed to lead them to faith in Christ but once a person believes in Jesus then we are not under the condemnation of the law.
Galatians 3:23-25 “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, confined for the faith which should afterwards be revealed. So that the law has become our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
The law brings wrath to the unbeliever.
But the believer is not under the law and therefore not under condemnation.
Romans 4:15 KJV “Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.”
Romans 10:4 KJV “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
The law cannot be mixed with faith for salvation/holiness.
Galatians 3:12 “The law is not of faith, but, “The man who does them will live by them.”
Paul warns that those who trust in their works will not be saved:
Galatians 5:2,4 “Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing…. You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace.”
We find this mixture between law and grace in the journey of Abraham.
Abraham was unable to have children through his wife Sarah for many years. But when God promised him many descendants, Abraham believed and became righteous (Genesis 15:6). This is a symbol of salvation by faith in Christ apart from works.
But later on, Sarah told Abraham to have a child through the slave Hagar.
Abraham and Hagar conceived a son, Ishmael – but God could not accept him as the child of promise. This is because Abraham relied on his own strength.
Hagar and Ishmael were symbols of the Law / Old Covenant as Paul explains here:
Galatians 4:21-31 “Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, don’t you listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the servant, and one by the free woman. However, the son by the servant was born according to the flesh, but the son by the free woman was born through promise. These things contain an allegory, for these are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children to bondage, which is Hagar. For this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to the Jerusalem that exists now, for she is in bondage with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, “Rejoice, you barren who don’t bear. Break out and shout, you who don’t travail. For the desolate have more children than her who has a husband.” Now we, brothers, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But as then, he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. However what does the Scripture say? “Throw out the servant and her son, for the son of the servant will not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So then, brothers, we are not children of a servant, but of the free woman.”
God only gave a child to Abraham and Sarah when they were both barren and without human strength. Isaac was born as the child of promise through the power of God received by faith through grace and not by human strength.
Paul said that Sarah and Isaac were symbols of the New Covenant.
Under the grace of God, Abraham and Sarah received divine power to have a son, Isaac – not by their efforts but by faith in God’s grace. This is a symbol of salvation in Christ.
We receive the righteousness of God when we realize that we have no good works in ourselves but fully rely on Jesus Christ for salvation.
We also bear the fruit of the Spirit when we rely on Jesus and not on our works.
But Hagar and Ishmael were the symbols of the Old Covenant/Law.
The Law represents man’s reliance on human effort, strength, wisdom, etc.
This began with Adam’s fall, Cain’s offering, the Pharisees, and all who trust in themselves instead of God’s grace in Christ.
When Abraham had Ishmael through Hagar – it was a symbol of the Law.
Abraham received Isaac only after he stopped mixing human effort and God’s grace.
The New Covenant is all about God’s power and grace through the finished work of Jesus Christ – given to all who are willing to trust in Him instead of human effort.
There’s no mixture of ingredients! Christ does not need our help but we need Him 100%.
Some believers will come to Christ for salvation but only truly be set free from the mixture of the Law by learning from the experiences of life – when we face situations in our life where we have to stop trusting in our self-righteousness, wisdom, and abilities and only trust in God’s power through Jesus Christ.
Then we will have joy, peace, love, and confidence because we are trusting in Christ and not ourselves. We live from faith to faith from beginning to end.
Paul said that salvation (receiving the Holy Spirit) and experiencing miracles do not happen by our works but only by hearing the gospel of Christ and believing.
Galatians 3:5 “He therefore who supplies the Spirit to you and does miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith?”
If we receive the Holy Spirit by faith in Christ and not our works then the miracle of behavior transformation also happens in the same way! The more we look to Jesus and not ourselves, the more the Holy Spirit will manifest Christ’s love in our hearts without our efforts. This is the miracle of the Gospel – it is purely by grace through faith and not our works – from the beginning of the Christian life until the end.