Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:3 ESV)
The Apostle Paul, with the divine wisdom lavished upon him, reveals an astonishing truth regarding our faith in Christ. He says we start our walk with Christ by the Spirit, and we will be perfected by the Spirit. Let us briefly review the three key phrases in this astonishing revelation: “begun,” “by the Spirit,” and “perfected.
Paul says the Galatians began by the Spirit. What did they begin? Obviously, he refers to the new birth, the beginning of their walk in Christ.
But how did they begin by the Spirit? Although “by the Spirit” often conjures some super-spiritual gestures in our minds, we must remove this religious clutter from our minds to see the simplicity of the Gospel revealed here. What did the Galatians do to begin by the Spirit? They believed in Jesus. What Paul calls “by the Spirit” is synonymous with the act of believing in Jesus. Paul’s comment to the Romans in Rom. 1:17 will clarify this; he told them God’s righteousness is from faith to faith. Similarly, he tells the Galatians the same truth using different terms: “by the Spirit.” So whenever you believe the Word and live by it, you walk by the Spirit.
We did not only begin our life in Christ by the Spirit, but the same Spirit perfects or matures us. It is from faith to faith. The word “perfected” here does not mean “perfect” in our modern English sense of the Word—sinless, error-free, faultless, etc. Instead, it means mature, complete, and full-grown. Therefore Paul reminds us that the simplicity of Christianity does not end at salvation but continues to full maturity. Believing in Christ as a child is the secret of Christianity, from the new convert to the super apostle.
Beware of the complexities of the Christian religion. Jesus is enough not only to save us from sin but to bring us to Christian maturity. For the Galatians, they began by the Spirit, believing Jesus was enough but wanted to come to maturity by works, following the Jewish rite of circumcision. Keep your eyes on the Savior alone, with child-like faith, from the beginning to the end.
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Can you see the extraordinary relationship between the Spirit in Zach 4:7 and Mark 11:23?
Apply the Word
When you walk by faith, you are walking by the Spirit. You need not feel a shaking in your body or hear a mighty rushing wind to know it is “by the Spirit.” He sometimes shakes the environment, but not always. The Spirit is waiting for you to believe the Word for Him to get to work. Walk by the Spirit!
Ask the Father to help you finish the race by the Spirit. Just as you started on that day, you accepted Jesus in your heart.