As we continue our study of Galatians we come to the place where Paul is really upset with the people he taught. He calls them stupid which was much stronger than lack of intelligence. But let’s allow Paul to talk to us again.
Chapter Three: Verse 3:1
You stupid Galatians! I told you exactly how Jesus was nailed to a cross as our Messiah. Who put an evil spell on you? [MVP]
Foolish or stupid?
The word stupid is anoetos which means the following in Noah Webster’s Dictionary:
- Marked with, or exhibiting, folly; void of understanding; weak in intellect; without judgment or discretion; silly; unwise.
- Such as a fool would do; proceeding from weakness of mind or silliness; exhibiting a want of judgment or discretion; as, a foolish act.
- Absurd; ridiculous; despicable; contemptible.
The circumcisionists are being displayed as evil wizards preying on a stupid people. I was taught that the exclamation foolish or stupid is strong, nasty slang. Paul was really upset. How could these people who have the Holy Spirit be so dumb as to allow people to talk them out of their blessings.
The only thing I need answered is: did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the Law or by hearing with faith. [MVP]
This is the experiential key. Our rebirth from above and the filling with the Holy Spirit are a direct result of an act of faith. We state our belief verbally to God and in front of Man, ask by faith and it is done. No good change ever happened by keeping the Law.
We avoid police by keeping the Law. We can reap blessings from following the principles shown by the Law. But the Law can never give us salvation, justification, wisdom, or redemption.
Hearing with faith: this can be very unique depending on the person and situation. When I accepted the Lord in 1974, my basic internal attitude was, “I have no idea if you are real or not, Jesus. I’ll give you six months to prove yourself. I need something and I’m desperate.” The Lord honored that, by His mercy. I had the normal prayers prayed over me by my father and others. But I had no idea what they were really doing.
Verse 3: 3–5
How idiotic! You began your life in the Kingdom in the Spirit. Why are you now trying to complete your conversion by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for no purpose? Surely you didn’t waste your time?
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 what you heard about the Messiah —accepting Jesus to be God’s son. [MVP]
Paul is pounding on them to get their attention, using ridicule, sarcasm, and blatant statements. The sad thing is that it probably had no affect on the Galatians unless the Lord anointed the words as they were read. You will never talk anyone into belief. Without the anointing, whatever you say or do will fall on deaf ears or have no affect.
In the case of this letter, the anointing seems obvious as the letter has become part of scripture and still works in power today.
The message here is a repeat of what he has already said. You cannot complete the work of the Spirit by your own efforts in the flesh. Quitting smoking will not make you a better Christian. It may be an act of obedience to the Lord in an individual case, but it has no power to make your Christian walk more holy or fruitful.
Is beating up your body for health reasons Godly?
Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. It all depends on your reason and attitude. Narcissism is sin. Worrying about health to the detriment of fruit development is sin. How do you react to health issues and cultural norms?
When God told us to quit nearly 30 years ago, our obedience carried a blessing but that blessing was not quitting smoking. It may be argued that our flesh is now healthier, but is that because of quitting smoking or because God blessed our obedience? Paul talked about this exact issue in Colossians 2: 20–23.
Why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!” about things that are destroyed by use? Such rules are only human teachings that may seem wise in promoting religion, self-denial, and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping fleshly indulgence. [MVP]
There is no power in these cultural and traditional rules. It’s all about faith and following the lead of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s point here is that they were not following the Spirit at all when they required circumcision to be acceptable. We cannot make ourselves acceptable in the flesh.
Abraham “believed God, and it was put on his account as righteousness”. Therefore it is those of faith who are the children of Abraham. And the scriptures, knowing beforehand that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the good news to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” This means that those having faith will share in the blessings that were given to Abraham because of his faith. [MVP]
This seems like a strange argument to we modern Americans, but it is rooted in the idea that the descendants share in the inheritance of their forefathers and mothers.
Here we get to the root of Bible study. If the scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit, then everything from Adam and Eve to the New Jerusalem is talking about a single conceptual creative project of God. It all ties together, and still applies to us today.
This is the belief that scripture is absolutely literally true. This belief approaches the occultic view of books of power where precise word by word spells are required and necessary.
You need to understand how inspiration works. The Holy Spirit inspires—BUT: God does not use automatic writing like demon-inspired works do. He uses people to write down what they hear from Him as accurately as possible.
Does error creep in? No, that’s not true—but we are reading translations of translations.
Does everything literally apply today? No, much of what was written only applies to the time in which it was written. Only the Holy Spirit, the original author, can sort it all out for us Then we get anointed teaching like Paul shows us here.
Abraham “believed God, and it was put on his account as righteousness”.
This little sentence in Deuteronomy 15:6 does not seem like much. But the Holy Spirit showed Paul that it is key to our understanding of what the Messiah did and what God’s plan was from the beginning. The basic concept is that everything that happened to Abraham happened before the law was given.
- Learning to Walk in Freedom: Part 1 Galatians 1:1-10 (bergsland.org)
- Learning to walk in freedom: Part 4 Galatians 2:15-21 (bergsland.org)
- Learning to walk in freedom: Part 3 Galatians 2: 1-14 (bergsland.org)
- Learning to Walk in Freedom: Part Two Galatians 1:11-24 (bergsland.org)