Galatians 3:2-5 :
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? Did you suffer so many things in vain, if it is indeed in vain? He therefore who supplies the Spirit to you, and works miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith?
What an honor it is to be able to share this with you. God’s grace is so amazing and we see it here in these words. God’s Holy Spirit is alive and at work in the world today. The presence and absence of the Spirit is an indicator of the doctrine that God truly supports. It is amazing how simple the Christian life is, yet how complicated it becomes when it is perverted by our flesh, the world, or Satan.
Paul is asking rhetorical questions here in order to remind these Christians when they were truly being blessed by God. In asking these questions, the correct understanding of the law’s inability to make us righteous is made more clear. When we are working the law, we are doing it in our flesh. The Holy Spirit doesn’t come to us by working in the flesh. That is what we read here. The Holy Spirit only shows up “by hearing of faith.” In the HCSB and ESV versions it says “by hearing with faith.” This is critical. We receive the Holy Spirit by first receiving God’s Word. This strikes hard against the false teaching going on today.
Some popular teaching today says that what you believe isn’t important. Paul here in the Bible says that believing is is critically important. Christianity is not a state of mind that is disconnected from belief. Rather, belief in God’s Word is absolutely necessary. If you receive “a spirit” without the Word of God, it is not the Holy One.
Paul also references the miracles that had been done among them. Have you ever wondered why miracles aren’t happening around us? I believe it’s because we lack “hearing of faith.” We need to invest time studying these words that God has given us and believe them. God’s Spirit is responsive to this according to these words we read here and will supply us with His power. If we ignore God’s Word, how can we expect the Holy Spirit to work among us?
In this context, we can see why legalistic “churches” are so dead. The Spirit is not with them because they don’t depend upon the “hearing of faith” and get the Holy Spirit’s presence as a result.
Another important thing to notice here is Paul’s reference to being “completed in the flesh.” This is a huge error in the teaching of many “churches.” We don’t start out believing that Jesus died for us and then become obligated to follow God’s laws to maintain our righteousness. Since God’s law was written to the flesh, an attempt to follow it constitutes a departure from dependence on the Holy Spirit. I think that this kind of teaching is often created by preachers and perhaps even governments in order to try to implement control over the “flesh” of men. The problem is that it never really works. People get even more sinful when they are told “do not touch” or “do not do.” The best that people can do is to put on an act in public. This is not at all what God wants and it is exactly what Jesus spent effort on earth fighting against. God wants our hearts and only by hearing the Word of God and believing it will our hearts be changed.