(This is Chapter 1 of “GOD’S GLORIOUS GOVERNMENT” available later this year.)
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 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 in the flesh?
There is an interesting insight awaiting us in James’ Epistle. In contrasting the wisdom from above with wisdom from the natural realm, he points out that natural wisdom is earthly, sensual, and demonic. Inspired Scripture does not say, “earthly, sensual OR demonic.” We simply cannot escape demonic influence when operating apart from the Spirit of God.
Thus, Paul’s question posed to the Galatians is legitimate: Who has bewitched you?
The primary concern for so much that calls itself “the church” is that she is bewitched. There is much that is good, but much of that may be from the wrong tree. Yes, there are issues with idolatry, legalism and rebellion. But the greatest single problem is that the same spirit that beguiled the church in Galatia bewitches her today, and does so universally. Many leaders, followers and casual attendees alike are not living life in the Spirit.
Here is a sample list of human substitutes to the life of Christ within:
- The teachings of the church
- The teachings of Jesus
- The teachings of the Bible
- The Ten Commandments
- The Golden Rule
- Social issues
- Political issues
Perhaps we should stop with the first half of the question: Did you receive the Spirit? Paul’s question to them presumes that they did receive the Spirit: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
In the day we live, we cannot presume that every church member has received the Spirit. Church members come in many sizes, shapes, philosophies and theologies. Truly, a church member without the Spirit is an oxymoron! It is impossible to be a part of what He has birthed without being born of Him. Yet, church member status is granted to multitudes who have never truly heard and embraced the gospel of the kingdom.
This incredible glitch is demonic at its core, although multitudes are intellectually innocent of any wrong intention. They would plead for mercy on the basis of good behavior. Performance is their foundation of faith. “He’s a good man!” would be said of so many who are faithful to their particular sets of rules and codes of conduct.
Tragic as this is, it is perhaps even more tragic that there are few viable expressions of Christ’s body that challenge the status quo. Many of those who do are judged radicals, even cultic, and are most often driven into isolation where they eventually cast a shadow of near paranoia upon themselves. Whenever we conclude that it is “we and they,” thus wrongly dividing on any other basis than “Adam and Christ,” we are working against the purpose of God in the earth.
Eleven percent of the twenty-first century is almost behind us, and we are still sparring with the same religious spirits as every previous generation. Perhaps more sophisticated and contemporary, only the more discerning believers can draw a line of demarcation.
The glorious government of God is not always immediately evident to the natural realm. The world, the flesh, and the devil cannot define what is beyond the five natural senses. Even the more mystical religious spirits operate through appealing to fleshly appetites and the realm of the soul.
Paul continued challenging the Galatians: He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
The most natural thing to do as born-again new creation people is to revert back to familiar and manageable territory where we can be self-confident and make a positive contribution, while enjoying the added comfort of being saved and ticketed for heaven. That was Galatia’s glitch, and is ours, too. However, those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.
What then should we do?