I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?
I do have a tendency to get a little bit worked up about things. If I feel passionate about something and I feel that someone does not share my feelings I can get perhaps a little too loud and a little too vocal as I try to make them see things from my perspective. People say that it’s good to be passionate about things, and whilst I completely agree, sometimes I think that my response can be a little too extreme! Passion can lead to frustration when it’s not possible to change the way that others think and that is most definitely a bad combination for me!
I think that a reader of the verse above can sense Paul’s passion for the core gospel message and also his frustration with the Galatians. Someone has clearly been trying to convince the Galatians that it is possible to become righteous (made right with God) through following the Old Testament law. He is keen to put them right; it is impossible to become righteous in this way. The only way to eradicate our sins and ensure that we are right with God is through a relationship with Jesus. As I read this verse I can almost feel Paul’s frustration boiling over. “I would like to know just one thing from you,” he demands. If he was addressing a person face to face in this way I could see him jabbing his finger into the person’s ribs! He continues by asking a direct question. How did you come by the Holy Spirit? he asks. Did the Holy Spirit fill you because you followed the law? Of course not! The Spirit was received amongst the Galatians because they believed what they heard. The Holy Spirit entered their lives because they heard the gospel of Christ, and they believed that gospel.
Similarly, this is how we receive the Holy Spirit. We receive the Spirit because we believe the gospel and have faith, not because of anything that we have done. And it is this Holy Spirit that assures us of our salvation. Let’s give thanks today that through believing the gospel we have received the Holy Spirit and secured our place in God’s eternal kingdom!