Gal 3:1-4 “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? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.”
Paul is reproving the Galatian brethren quite strongly, but he is not calling them fools as we think of the term. The Greek word translated here as foolish implies sensual (see Strong’s). Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines sensual as “pertaining to or given to life according to one’s physical appetites and desires rather than in obedience to the Holy Spirit.” These brethren had given their attention (been bewitched) by those whose confidence was still in the flesh.
When we place our attention on our supposed ability to please God by our works, we have ceased to obey the truth. Jesus said “If ye love me, keep my commandments (Joh 14:15),” or, in Paul’s words, “obey the truth.” The ability to obey the truth begins with seeing Jesus Christ evidently set forth. We see Jesus evidently set forth when we are blessed by the Spirit to hear the preaching of the truth: not with the hearing of the natural ear, but with the hearing of the heart.
Jesus is evidently set forth among us when we, through God’s word, see Him crucified. If we only see Him as a prophet, a teacher, an historical figure, or a Jewish myth, then we do not yet see Him evidently set forth. It is when we see Him as our only Savior and Lord that we truly see Him. He is not a part of the formula: He is the whole plan. Being cleansed from sin is not a matter of believing that Jesus died for us so we could do some work of the law to activate His salvation. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin, period.
We receive this understanding through the Holy Comforter (or Spirit). We cannot call the Spirit to us by some action on our part. Jesus promised us that when He went away (when His fleshly tabernacle left this earth) that He would send the Comforter. The Comforter would tell us all things that Jesus has said unto us (Joh 14:26, 15:26, and 16:7). According to the scripture, it is foolish to think that we receive the Spirit by anything that we have done.
No work on our part will ever reveal Christ to us, much less in us. Faith cometh by hearing, but we can only hear when the Spirit give us ears to hear. The gospel can only be preached by those who God sends. The preaching of the true gospel will assure us that Christ is the end of the law (Rom 10:4). Seeing that Christ is the end of the law, how then can we possibly receive the Spirit by the law?
Beloved of God, we can never be made perfect by the flesh. The works of the flesh, regardless of how good our intentions may be, cannot deliver us. Obeying the truth through the Spirit is the work that we are called on to do. This work glorifies God in His kingdom here on earth, and everything we may suffer (experience) serves His purpose. It is only vain if we turn back to trusting in our works under the law instead of trusting the Spirit of grace which we have by the hearing of faith.
May God deliver us from being foolish, trusting only in the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!