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? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?(Galatians 3:2-3)
The first question here in Galatians 3 again brings to mind issues of justification. “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”We received the Holy Spirit of God to dwell in our lives when we were born again, when we became children of God. This is also when the Lord declared us justified, righteous in His sight.
How did the Spirit come to indwell us? Was it by our performance, attempting to live up to the law of God? No, it was “by the hearing of faith.” We heard the good news that Christ died for our sins. We heard the truth that Jesus could forgive us of our unrighteousness. Faith was stirred in our hearts as we considered that grand message. In simple, humble faith, we asked the Lord Jesus to come into our lives, to be our personal Savior. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
The next two questions in our text apply this same biblical reasoning to sanctification. “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” To think that we can advance the process of sanctification (that is, progressive transformation unto Christlikeness) by our own human resources (that is, by the flesh) is foolishness.
What a staggering thought! Just as we could never secure justification by our own best efforts, so it is true that we can never increase personal sanctification by our own best efforts. Yes, “The just shall live by faith,” initially and continually!
Dear Lord, I praise Your holy name for justifying me by faith in Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I am so grateful that such a blessing did not depend upon my personal ability or merit. My heart is both convicted and encouraged that sanctification is by faith as well. I am convicted, because I have often thought and acted as though I could effect more practical righteousness by my own resources. I am encouraged that there is a way that actually works, and it depends upon trusting in You. O Lord, please remind me of this glorious, gracious provision day by day, in Jesus’ name, Amen.