Galatians 3:3 “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (NASB)
I have decided to hold my breath for the next week or so. It takes a lot of effort to inhale and exhale 21,600 times a day and I just need a break.
What would you think if someone told you this? You would probably think she was a nut, and rightly so. It is obvious that if you decide not to breathe, you will not be around for very long. We all need oxygen in order to survive on this earth. Why then do so many who are Christ followers choose to cut off their supply of spiritual oxygen?
When we accept the gift of spiritual life that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead to give us, we receive the Holy Spirit Who comes and lives within us. This Spirit of Jesus is what gives us life and the power that is necessary for Godly living in this evil world. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
When Jesus was preparing to go back to the Father after His resurrection He gave His disciples the job of telling others about their opportunity to receive this same spiritual life through faith. As He granted them peace in a hostile world, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). His Spirit is what would make their witness come alive to those around them.
If the ability to be right with God and the power to live a God-honoring life comes from the Holy Spirit, why then do we try to stop sinning, witness, and “be good enough” in our own strength? That is just like holding your breath and trying to receive the oxygen needed for life in some other way. It just is not possible.
This is just what the Galatians were doing. They had come to know Christ as their Savior through faith and received His Holy Spirit power, but they decided they would go back to the old way of doing things. They would try to follow and obey God’s law on their own without His help. They had begun by the Spirit, but thought they could become perfect in their flesh. Paul does not mince words when he calls them very foolish people.
What about us? Are we still trying to be good on our own and doing what we think God wants in our own strength? Are we trying to hold our breath and imbibe the life-giving oxygen in some other way? It will never work, so let’s not be foolish. Open your mouth wide and fill your spiritual lungs. Allow God’s Spirit to permeate you and give you power for living. After all God’s Spirit is Who gives life (John 6:63).