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Galatians 3:1-5 by Robert Dean
Series:Galatians (1998)
Duration:58 mins 33 secs

Is Your Spiritual Life Empowered by Morality or the Holy Spirit?; Gal. 3:1-5


Beginning with the cross and the ascension of Christ and the beginning of the church on the day of Pentecost, during the church age there is a unique spiritual life, a unique life based upon God the Holy Spirit. The term "spiritual life" does not relate to the Holy Spirit but to the fact that as a believer at the point of salvation we are regenerated. God the Holy Spirit creates a human spirit and imputes that to the believer instantly and simultaneously with faith alone in Christ alone. That is our spiritual life. That spiritual life in the church age is empowered and advanced by dependence upon God the Holy Spirit—Galatians 5:16. It is contrasted with the flesh. There are only these two options: the Holy Spirit or the flesh/the sin nature.   

Galatians 3:1 NASB "You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed {as} crucified?" Paul begins with a very strong word in the optative masculine plural—anoetos [a(nohtoj], from the root nous [nouj] for mind; and this negates it, so it is talking about people who are ignorant, moronic. The emphasis here is on their inability and failure to perceive the truth and to operate on the truth. This is because of their negative volition. Remember spiritual issues are never based on human IQ; spiritual issues are based on spiritual IQ which comes at the point of salvation.

The human spirit is that immaterial aspect of our being which allows us to have a relationship with God. Without the human spirit we cannot have a relationship with God. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit makes doctrine discernable to us so that when the pastor-teacher communicates doctrine to us then under the filling of God the Holy Spirit He takes the spiritual truth, which is called pneumatikos [pneumatikoj] in 1 Corinthians 2:12-14, and makes it clear and understandable to the believer. This is a very important concept. You cannot believe what you do not understand. The Holy Spirit makes it usable but we have to choose to apply it whenever we get that opportunity. That is the spiritual process; it is not based on setting up some sort of artificial ethical standard or system which is called "law" in this chapter. The spiritual life is not getting out and getting involved in all sorts of activity. That is putting the cart before the horse. The spiritual life starts with learning and understanding doctrine.  

The Galatians are trying to operate on the basis of law, so Paul really reams them out because of their ignorance. In carnality they have rejected the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in teaching them doctrine and they have rejected the truth, and because of that they are focusing on legal obedience and morality and defining spirituality in terms of legalism.  

"…who has bewitched you…" a relative clause, and the verb is the aorist active indicative of  baskaino [baskainw], which has to do with sorcery or witchcraft; "who has deceived you" is probably a little better translation. It is not so much the idea of the occult here as much as the deception from the legalists. The aorist tense just indicates that it has happened in the past; the active voice means that it is the Judaizers who have performed the action of the verb which is toe deceive and to distract the Galatians from the truth of God's Word. It is in the indicative mood indicating the certainty and the reality of their distraction.  

"…before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed {as} crucified?" The words "publicly portrayed" in the Greek is the aorist active indicative of prographo [prografw], meaning something which was written ahead of time in terms of its etymology, but it came to refer to a public advertisement or public notice. In this idiom that Paul is using he is saying "before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed"—a reference to his teaching when he came to Galatia and how over and again he taught publicly the truth of God's Word: that Jesus Christ died on the cross as a substitute for our sins. He continually explained the significance of the cross, the significance of Christ's atoning death on the cross, as He died in our place. Paul wants to explain in this chapter exactly what is going on and what the issue is that they have to address. The issue is that God's plan is based on grace, not on works. The spiritual life is based on grace and not on works. He is going to this by referring to their reception of the Holy Spirit and drive it home by looking at one particular incident.        

Galatians 3:2 NASB "This is the only thing"… One and only one thing matters … "I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing [accompanied: genitive of association] with faith?" When you hear and understand the Word you have to believe it for it to have spiritual value. When they heard the gospel God the Holy Spirit made it clear to them, they understood the truth of the gospel and accepted Christ by faith alone. Now they are trying to do it by works. They are confused about the ministry of the Holy Spirit and Scripture tells us that there are seven ministries of the Holy Spirit related to the salvation of the believer.

The seven ministries of the Holy Spirit to the believer

1.  Common grace. This is the undeserved merit and favour of God toward all mankind, believer and unbeliever alike. Scriptures refer to the fact that God causes the rain to fall on the saved and the unrighteous. In fact, the Word of God is common grace because God provides that so that all man can come eventually to a knowledge of the saving work of Jesus Christ if they are positive to doctrine.

2.  Efficacious grace. This is that grace which is effective towards something. Remember, at the moment of salvation we are spiritually dead and can do nothing. Our faith has value, not because it has value in and of itself. There is only one kind of faith and that is the faith that looks to Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Being spiritually dead whatever we do has no value. So we exercise positive volition at the point of gospel hearing and we put our faith alone in Christ alone. God the Holy Spirit takes that faith in Christ and makes it effective for salvation so that we are saved through faith.

3.  Regeneration. This is a technical theological term that derives from the Scripture. Titus 3:5. Regeneration is also referred to as the new birth or the second birth and is that process whereby God the Holy Spirit creates in us a new human spirit and imparts that to us. Because of that new human spirit we can now have a relationship with God and we can grow spiritually.

4.  Baptism by means of the Holy Spirit. What takes place at the baptism by means of the Holy Spirit is that God the Son uses the Holy Spirit to place us/identify us with His death burial and resurrection and to identify us in Christ. So we are said as believers to be in Christ; we are one with Christ and united together in His body. This takes place at salvation; it is not an experience; it is not evidenced by anything. The only way we can know that we have been baptised by means of the Holy Spirit (or any of these ministries of the Holy Spirit) is by going to God's Word and learning them from passages there. We do not experience them.

5.  We are sealed. Sealing of the Holy Spirit has to do with the Roman concept where a person had a signet ring with his personal family seal on it. When he took that seal and placed it on something it was a sign of ownership, of possession. The sealing of the Holy Spirit is that act whereby God the Father seals us permanently as His possession. It is related to our adoption into the family of God. We can never lose our salvation.

6.  Indwelling. God the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in the believer. It has to do also with the indwelling of the Shekinah glory of the Lord Jesus Christ in every believer, for it is God the Holy Spirit who creates the temple, the inner sanctuary for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer.

7.  Filling. The filling of the Holy Spirit is temporary. The believer can lose that the moment he sins. The Scripture says that when we sin we are grieving the Holy Spirit or we are quenching the Holy Spirit. Quench means to put out a fire. So the Holy Spirit's ministry is being ignored. When we quench or grieve the Holy Spirit we commit some sin and we go from the status of spirituality to the status of carnality. In the status of spirituality we are under the filling of the Holy Spirit but when we sin, grieve or quench the Holy Spirit we are now under the influence of the sin nature. From that point on everything we do, even the good works that we perform are on the basis of the flesh, not on the basis of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 3:3 NASB "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?"

The Galatian problem is that under the influence of the Judaizers they have reduced the spiritual life to legalism, to a moral system. Paul says, "having begun," which is an aorist participle which relates back to the action that took place at the moment of salvation. It precedes the action of the main verb which is based on the verb teleo [telew] which means to complete or mature. It is a perfect middle indicative from epiteleo [e)pitelew] which is the main verb that is translated "being perfected," and that is a terrible translation. The word group based on the Greek teleioo [teleiow]—any form of the word—never in the New Testament has to connotation of perfection. It always has the idea of completion. It should be "being matured." The issue here is spiritual maturity being brought to completion—"are you now being matured by the flesh?" And what this tells us is that we can try to be matured on the basis of fleshly activity or we can try to seek maturity on the basis of dependence on the Holy Spirit. Those are the only two options, there is no middle ground. Paul is going to focus on this whole issue as the test case for understanding the issue of grace in the spiritual life.                

Then he refers to the initial salvation. Galatians 3:4 NASB "Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?" In other words, every believer is going to go through a certain amount of suffering, testing or adversity as a test to evaluate the doctrine that is in the soul. As we go through these tests of faith it gives the opportunity to apply doctrine under the filling of the Holy Spirit and advance to maturity.

Galatians 3:5 NASB "So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing [in association with] with faith?" Once again it drives home the point: there are only two options. It is either human works or faith. Faith puts its focus on doctrine, on the Word of God. Faith realises I cannot apply anything unless I first learn it; I can't learn anything unless I am in Bible class.