We come to Galatians Chapter 3 verse 2 - these people were Pentecostals or ‘charismatics’ - people who were born again - filled with the Holy Spirit - and birthed into the Kingdom of God under the ministry of Paul, but they had lost their vision of the Cross. They had been influenced in a negative way. They had been bewitched - it was as if they were a spiritual daze.
Someone had looked at them as if to say - don't think Jesus Christ is enough - you need the law - circumcision - you need to keep the Ten Commandments, for righteousness in the eyes of God.
They had fallen under a spell, and had been deceived, and that led to confusion.
This is a favourite tactic of the enemy, but Paul discerned what was going on.
"Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified." They had lost sight of the centrality of the Cross. The Cross was no longer central - something else had crept in - other things were becoming central in these churches - the law - keeping the law - legalism - adding to what really mattered for salvation.
Paul has a question for them – “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law or by believing what you heard?” This is one of the biggest questions any man can be asked!
How did you start - was it by working away at keeping the law - and striving - and being determined to please God by offering sacrifices - and prayers - and keeping the rules and regulations? Or did you just receive it and believe?
There is no natural way to become a Christian - the only way we can be born again or born from above is by the supernatural miraculous working of the Holy Spirit.
On the Day of Pentecost they were sitting worshipping in the Temple and Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit.
Peter was preaching in Cornelius's home and Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit.
Paul was being prayed for by brother Ananias, and Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit.
The Ephesian elders had just been baptised in water, and something was still missing, and Paul prayed for them and laid his hands on these 12 men and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. No-one did anything - but receive!
There are people who have gone to church services for years - and have never received or tasted anything of which we are speaking - and that is tragic. Some do not even know that all this is available.
A person normally knows when he has received the Holy Spirit. You know when the life of Jesus Christ enters you. You know when the wind blows upon you. You know when the fire of God descends and touches your heart and life.
But it is then that a battle can begin! Jesus comes and fills you with the Holy Spirit and the enemy comes along and tries to divert you - sidetrack you - silence you - or even kill you. Peter and Paul knew the truth of that from the very beginning - within days!
John chapter 10 verse 10 - Jesus Christ gives you life - abundant life - eternal life - and the enemy comes and seeks to rob, kill, and destroy.
Some of these disciples had been robbed of what they once had, and God is warning us through this Word. When this confronts us - as we heed the warning - we can discern what is happening.
If a man falls - he can repent - and regain that liberty and freedom he once enjoyed in Christ - and he can taste anew that joy and power of the Holy Spirit.
Legalism is that attempt to achieve righteousness with God by observing a set of rules - an attempt to impose any extra conditions for achieving righteousness beyond what God has laid won in His Word. So we better know what God has laid down in His Word. We had better know what God requires of us.
This is the main theme of the New Testament - how to be right with God - and when people are unsure they devise and draw up rules.
We are called to believe in Jesus. We are commanded to repent of our sins - and be baptised in water - and receive the Holy Spirit.
When you read the book of Acts that was how people came into the Church of Jesus Christ, and I know of no other way. Do you?
Then, we receive teaching that will enable us to grow - we gather together in fellowship - we share the bread which is broken to remind us that Jesus gave His Life for us on the Cross - and we will give ourselves to prayer. You will find all that in Acts 2 verse 42.
But men like rituals and rules and regulations. Think of what has happened over the years surrounding the bread and wine – ‘cards’ - laws about who can eat and drink, with tables fenced off.
Do we see how the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ was at stake here in the Galatian churches?
Paul is not afraid to repeat himself in verse 3 – when it is necessary? After beginning with the Spirit are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
In verses 4,5 he has more questions. This situation really concerned Paul.
If anything comes into the church which could displace or replace the centrality of the Cross question and challenge that with courage.
In Philippians 3 verse 18 Paul writes with tears in his eyes - "many live as enemies of the cross of Christ". That is quite subtle - they are not against Jesus - Jesus comes with healing and bread and miracles and blessings - but the Cross – ah, that is different!
When it comes to the Cross - and the blood of Jesus Christ - where Jesus dealt with our sin and sins - where Jesus dealt with the sin of the world - there is something which can rise up within a man and manifest itself in rebellion.
I think of a man - who was a member of a Kirk Session - it was the Thursday of what is called Holy Week. I was preaching from Exodus Chapter 12 - and Jesus Christ our Passover Lamb and the Blood of Jesus Christ. Up he got and stormed out. He said he did not need the blood of Jesus Christ, and as far as I know he never found Jesus Christ.
Many are bewitched - misled - deceived - in this important area.
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