Galatians 3:1-4 – “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? 2 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? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain — if indeed it was in vain?” NKJV
Paul charged that the Galatians had been BEWITCHED but how did he come to that conclusion? Basically, two things are clear. It was largely through LEGALISM and CARNALITY. That may be shocking but if those two things are evidence of bewitchment that is heavy. But to assert it is one thing and to prove it another. Let’s see if we can validate this charge.
I do not think there is a greater stumbling block for new Christians than LEGALISM. It has single-handedly done incredible damage to the Church in the Western World. The thing that goes hand in hand with Legalism is “Trusting the Flesh” or CARNALITY. (v.3). That is what Legalism produces. Legalism is an expression of ‘carnality’ not ‘spirituality.’ It causes us to become judgmental and self-righteous. It seeks to present an image that is so good it appears highly religious and pious. All attempts to JUSTIFY self by keeping rules puts us back in the Flesh and when you operate in the flesh you will always find the LAW and Man-made Rules and Regulations that are anti-biblical.
Through the Cross, our old man dies and we are joined to Jesus. BUT, if we lose sight of the Cross and the finished work of Jesus we are easy marks for LEGALISM and seek to Perform and Earn our Salvation. There are only two forms of Religion. GRACE by Faith – (Somebody else did it for me). WORKS – (Do it yourself and earn your forgiveness and acceptance). The Bible makes it perfectly clear that it is either Grace through Faith or we are attempting to do it ourselves by keeping the rules. Legalism produces bondage and spiritual slavery. Let me offer something that may shock you, it also brings the Church under a curse, the very thing that we have been redeemed. We return to a condition that is outside our covering in Christ. Galatians 3:11, “But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’” There are two ways to live: Law or Faith. Galatians 3:12, “yet the law is not of faith, but ‘the man who does them shall live by them.’” You don’t need faith if you are following the flesh you are doing the right thing and keeping the rules. That is not faith it is works. Galatians 3:13, “Christ has 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’) …” Therefore, Paul says, “If we lose sight of the Cross, we go back into legalism, trust the flesh, and come under a curse.”
Jeremiah 17:5, “Thus says the Lord, cursed is the man who trusts in man, and makes flesh his strength.” Psalm 146:3, “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” That is Legalism. If I trust my methods, my way, my rules, and what I do trying to earn what Jesus accomplished at the Cross I am embracing the Arm of Flesh and that opens the door for the devil’s entry and influence. I know churches that insist they have thrown out Moses (The Old Law) and embraced Christ (The New Covenant) and proudly proclaim they are no longer under the Law. But, I’ve noticed that many impose their new set of laws and every tribe has their own that are unique to them. Sadly, many believers demonstrate that they believe they have to keep all the rules in order to stay right with God and accomplish His purposes and to feel worthy. That is Legalism and Carnality it is not Faith or Grace.
In Hebrews 9, the apostle Paul calls our attention to the ceremonial ordinances and laws or that which are carnal. He informs that “nothing we do will ever make us clean on the inside.” We can attempt to keep all the rules and still have an unrighteous heart. That is the Law. It forces you back to trusting the flesh, your ability, and will-power. If you adopt that position you are obligated to keep EVERY PORTION OF THE LAW. If you do not, you are cursed and nobody keeps it all. We either DO IT OURSELVES or we TRUST JESUS. It is Grace or Works and works will not cleanse our hearts but Grace will justify us and bring us into His kingdom and presence.
If we are going to fully enjoy the victory of Calvary we MUST accept the Work of Christ on the Cross and in no measure, try to Earn our Acceptance. If we desire to enforce the victory of Calvary and become a Warrior for God we must become Grace People and simply receive.
God, bless you richly is my prayer and desire!