Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?
I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.
In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”
The main argument of the Judaizers was that Gentiles had to become Jews in order to become Christians. Paul exposed the flaw in this argument by showing that real children of Abraham are those who have faith, not those who keep the law. Abraham himself was saved by his faith (Genesis 15:6).
The Galatians knew that they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed, not when they obeyed the law. Like the Galatians, many people today feel insecure in their faith, because faith alone seems too easy. People still try to get closer to God by following rules. While certain disciplines (Bible study, prayer) and service may help us grow, they must not take the place of the Holy Spirit in us or become ends in themselves. By asking these questions, Paul hoped to get the Galatians to focus again on Jesus as the foundation of their faith.
The Holy Spirit gives Christians great power to live for God. The Galatians quickly turned from Paul’s good news to the teachings of the newest teachers in town; what they needed was the Holy Spirit’s gift of persistence.
Some Christians want to live in a state of perpetual excitement. The tedium of everyday living leads them to conclude that something is wrong spiritually. Often the Holy Spirit’s greatest work is teaching us to persist, to keep on doing what is right even when doing so no longer seems interesting or exciting. Can you relate? If the Christian life seems ordinary or dull, you may need the Spirit to stir you up. Every day offers a challenge to live for Christ.