Galatiansby Khan Hui Neon
Do you remember how you were saved by God? What convinced you that you were indeed saved?
In today's reading, Paul addresses the Galatian believers pointedly, posing some rhetorical questions to jog their memory. His tone is one of disbelief. They had done so well after turning to Christ, but now they are going backwards. Having understood Paul's proclamation of the gospel and experienced the power of the cross, they are now turning to the law. Clearly, their current behaviour is totally at odds with their initial trust in Christ. How did they abandon their faith in Christ so quickly? ″You foolish Galatians!″ Paul exclaims in bewilderment, ″Who has bewitched you?″ (Galatians 3:1).
The Galatians' own spiritual experience is the best proof of the validity of Paul's gospel. He reminds them that the proof of Christ's sufficiency is in the gift of God's Spirit-God's seal of salvation (v. 2). The Spirit's presence in us tells us that we are already justified by Christ. He enables us to lead a life pleasing to God, and guarantees that we will be lifted up with Jesus on the final day. And they had received this wonderful gift by faith, not through observing the law.
Paul is incredulous that the Galatians can be so forgetful and careless. He asks: ″Are you so foolish?″ (v. 3). We begin the new life by the Spirit's power, but we can't live it to the end by our own strength (of law-observing). Our new life as believers must be lived in its entirety by the power of the Spirit. But for this to come about, we must remain as people of faith.
It is important to note that Paul is not advocating the breaking of rules. As a Jew brought up in the strictest of traditions, he followed Jewish law properly, keeping the Sabbath and observing the various festivals and rites. What he opposed was legalism-keeping the law to be saved.
Finally, Paul reminds the Galatians of some specific experiences they had encountered-probably some unmistakable events that confirmed their new birth in Christ (v. 4). He wonders aloud if these had been in vain and not meant a thing to them.
This goes to show how easily we can forget and be led astray. Did our initial encounter with Christ teach us anything? Have we been walking under the Spirit's power since the moment of conversion? May we never forget how our new life started and how it should be lived to the end-by faith in Christ through the power of the Spirit.
Why do we often forget how we first obtained salvation by faith in Christ? What is the underlying reason?
In our spiritual journey, why can't we supplement the Holy Spirit's power by adding human effort?