Galatians 3:1-3 KJV
3 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Paul opens chapter 3 by calling the Galatians foolish and asking them who has bewitched them. What an interesting way to start a chapter! If I was a proud Galatian, I would probably stop listening at this point. Sure, Paul was a respected teacher, but who is he to call me foolish! I would say to that person that their pride has made them foolish. It has made them drop the teaching of a man they all admired and loved for the preaching that put them under bondage.
The word foolish means lacking good sense or judgement. Foolish also means unwise. We saw in the last two chapters why Paul calls them foolish. They ignored the grace message and thought that their works is what would get them to heaven. If you are believing that today Paul would apply that word to you. Knowing the truth about God’s amazing grace is not rocket science. Yet it is the most profound thing in the Bible!
Next, Paul tells them they have been bewitched. This is the only place in scripture where this word appears. It actually means to put someone under a spell so they no longer can think according to reason. It can also have a connotation of exercising evil power over someone. These are very strong words from Paul. We need to be careful who we listen to and who we follow. Paul was pretty harsh to the Galatians by saying this and I think we should all take heed to his warning. Make sure you can defend your position in the Bible with sound understanding of scripture.
We must stay in the truth of the grace message that Paul preached. We have talked about this for the last several lessons so I’m not going to get back into it now. I only ask that you look take a hard look your life. Did you accept get saved initially by grace or do you think Heaven was yours by works. Once we are saved and made heaven our home, then works should result. These works make our salvation complete. They keep us headed to heaven.
Jesus was crucified for us. He was crucified to provide our salvation. It was the greatest mercy that was ever done by God. And we should try not to add anything to it. Christ did everything necessary to provide our Salvation on that cross. All we need to do is accept His mercy. Paul says if we require anything else, then Christ’s death was in vain.
Now Paul asks a different question. Did they receive the Holy Spirit by works or by faith? I want to take you back to Acts chapter 2 and The Upper Room experience. There were 120 gathered in that room on the Day of Pentecost. They were worshipping God and they were all in one accord. Suddenly, there was a mighty rushing wind in the room. It was the Holy Spirit. Tongues of fire settled in above each one. They started speaking in these tongues and it ministered to the crowd outside. At first the crowd thought they were drunk, but then realized that God was doing something supernatural.
This experience of Holy Spirit baptism is something that Paul firmly believed in. But we cannot gain that by any works that we do. It is taken only by faith once we are saved by grace. You cannot receive the Holy Spirit before you get saved. It must come after. But there is nothing you can do for the Holy Spirit to come into you. It has to be by faith. You have to trust the Lord that He wants you to have it and that He will give it to you.
Jesus said that earthly parents will give good gifts to their children. Then He asks how much more will God give the Holy Spirit to those that ask (Luke 11:13). Have you asked God for His Holy Spirit? Have you asked him to fill you to overflowing with the power of the Holy Spirit? He wants you to have the Holy Spirit because it’s his greatest gift besides salvation. It’s something that will give you power. Power to witness, power to be bold. It was promised to the disciples in Acts 1:8.
Along with the Holy Spirit comes a prayer language. This language is not for our understanding, but for God’s. I believe it is some language that is spoken somewhere in the world. We use this prayer language when we are not sure in our own understanding what to pray for. This heavenly language makes intercession for us in “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom 8:26). Paul says he prayed in the spirit (1 Cor 14:15). He is telling us he prayed in tongues here. Acts 19:6 and Acts 10:44-46 both show us this sign being given to those filled with the Holy Spirit. Even Jesus said we will speak with new tongues (Mark 16:17)
Paul also says he spoke in tongues more than anyone else (1 Cor 14:1-6). This speaking in tongues is the gift of tongues mentioned in 1 Cor 12:10, and should always be followed by the gift of interpretation of tongues. This is not to be confused with out prayer language. Our prayer language is operate and distinct. There is no interpreter except God, or except we are in a place where that language is known. Paul goes on in 1 Cor 14:7-24 to discuss speaking in tongues of both kinds. Make sure you understand the distinction between the two.
Paul uses the word foolish again. He asks them if they started in the spirit by faith, how can the flesh possibly be the thing that will perfect them. How can works of the flesh be a perfecting element in our lives. Our flesh needs to be put aside. Here is where working out our salvation with fear and trembling comes in (Phil 2:12). Here is where allowing patience to work in our lives brings us to perfection, or maturity in Christ (James 2-4). Paul and James do not contradict this statement fond in Galatians 3:3. We have discussed this at length in our studies.
What Paul is saying here is that the Galatians received the gift of salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit by faith, not works. How can they now think that both come through works that they do in the flesh? Works come AFTER these two things are part of our life. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not necessary for salvation, but salvation is necessary before the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I believe this baptism brings us to a deeper spiritual walk. I feel many may disagree with that statement. Jesus said it will give us power. Paul says it gives us a special language to pray more effectively.
I will not go to the point of saying it brings me closer to God than someone without it. I know many people that are deeply devoted and in tune with the Holy Spirit who do not have the baptism we have spoken of here. I am keenly aware that God has mercy on whom He will have mercy (Exod 33:19). He will give to whom He desires, and who has he desire.
I am convinced this gift will give us a more powerful prayer life, because we pray God’s will every time. We pray what the Holy Spirit speaks to us. When we speak with our own understating, we are thinking about our words, and it’s easy to put our desire in there. We pray “Lord, heal them now. They need a miracle now”. We should pray “God, give them strength to go through this trial until you are willing to heal them.” Maybe they will miss a huge blessing of they are healed now. Perhaps God is going to do great things in their life, as He did in mine. A magnificent testimony of healing will strengthen others, especially if this healing is a visible one. Seeing someone recovery slowly builds faith! Who knows, we could find ourselves praying against God with our understanding. That will never happen when we pray in the Spirit.
I you desire this baptism of the Holy Spirit, ask God. He is a loving Father and this is a special gift. The sign that you have received it is your prayer language, just like in that upper room. It is allowing your tongue to speak what the spirit speaks to you. Sometimes the spirit speaks to us in our own language, and we understand that. But other times He speaks in a foreign language. Without this gift we dismiss this and toss it out of our minds, not even remembering He has spoken it. This gift is accepted by faith only. Ask today, and allow your tongue to speak His words.