Galatians 3:3
Are you so foolish? After starting in the Spirit, are you now finishing in the flesh?
A Good Beginning and a Sad EndingT. Adams.Galatians 3:3
Changeable ChristiansDr. John Hall.Galatians 3:3
Love of ChangeJohn Ruskin.Galatians 3:3
The Work of the Holy SpiritCharles Haddon Spurgeon Galatians 3:3
The Work of the Spirit in the ChurchR. Nicholls.Galatians 3:3
Appeal to Experience and ScriptureR. Finlayson Galatians 3:1-14
The Bewitchery of LawR.M. Edgar Galatians 3:1-14
Going BackW.F. Adeney Galatians 3:2-5
In expostulating with the Galatians for forsaking grace for Law, St. Paul appeals to their own experience. He is not expounding the gospel for the first time to strangers; he is arguing with Christians who know its power. His argument applies to all who turn aside from the early life of faith and grace to any supposed improvement of human discipline. Their own experience uses up in condemnation of them. Three proofs of the foolishness of such a course are here given.

I. THIS COURSE REVERSES THE NATURAL ORDER OF PROGRESS. It is absurd to think of being perfected in the flesh after having begun in the Spirit. These two, the flesh and the Spirit, correspond in our experience to the two methods - by Law and by grace through faith. It is the weakness of Law that it is external, and governs only external acts, that it directs the flesh, the outer life, but infuses no inward spiritual life. Grace does not concern itself directly with such outward acts. It is a spiritual inspiration, and faith is a spiritual act. Now, the natural progress is from the outward to the inward. We see this in our personal experience. Children first learn to obey direct commands, and gradually learn principles of right conduct, until conscience takes the place of external authority. With the race the same progress holds good. Earlier forms of religion are more external. The latest is the most spiritual. To turn away from the spiritual is not merely to go back; it is to revert to a more improper method. Spiritual religion is the highest religion. Nothing can exceed the power of faith and love and inward grace. If these influences are slow in ripening the perfect character, it is absurd to think of hastening the result by reverting to weaker influences of Law and formal rules,

II. THIS COURSE STULTIFIES THE PAST ENDURANCE OF PERSECUTION. (Ver. 4.) St. Paul's allusion implies that the Galatians had been persecuted - as we know other Churches had been - at the instigation of the Jews. If the Jewish Law were the highest method of righteousness, persecution provoked by slighting or opposing it must have been endured for nothing. This was an argumentum ad hominem. We have to make sacrifices in other ways if we are faithful to spiritual religion. We are also appealed to by the memories of our fathers, who testified to spiritual liberty at the rack and the stake. When we play with the broken chains which they cast off, and even forge them afresh by submitting to the revival of old formalities and superstitions, the spirits of those martyred heroes of Protestantism rise up to rebuke us. Or does the most noble page of England's history describe only a huge, quixotic delusion?

III. THIS COURSE CONTRADICTS THE EVIDENCE AFFORDED BY THE POWER THAT FLOWS FROM SPIRITUAL GRACE. (Ver. 5.) St. Paul and other men endued with the Spirit wrought miracles. The most rigid follower of the Law could not do so. But more than power over material things grew out of the grace of the Spirit. The conquests of the gospel flowed from faith and spiritual gifts. The men of formal devotion never turned the world upside down. There is no fire in Law, The new creation of the world only follows spiritual activity. It is the work of the men of faith. "By their fruits ye shall know them." Whatever fascination there may be in religions of strict rules and rigid ordinances, we find that it is the free spiritual energy of unfettered souls that moves the hearts of others. This religion of faith and grace which possesses the most Divine power must be for us the highest and best. - W.F.A.

Having begun in the Spirit.

1. In the faith given by the Spirit.

2. In the enjoyment of the Spirit through faith.

3. In the experience of spiritual privileges.

4. In the use of spiritual powers.

5. In the discharge of spiritual duties.

6. In the exercise of spiritual hopes of perfection and heaven.

II. A SAD ENDING. Flesh may mean either

(1)the beggarly elements of Galatians 4:9, or

(2)the works of the flesh, Galatians 5:19.

1. The works of the law will not secure perfect holiness: as shown in the ease of Paul and Luther.

2. The works of the flesh will not give perfect happiness, as shown in the case of and John Newton.

3. Because both alike throw away the means by which both holiness and happiness are promoted here and consummated in heaven.Learn:

1. To begin as you intend to continue.

2. To continue as you have begun.Though the man of mean estate, whose own want instructs his heart to commiserate others, say to himself, "If I had more good, I would do more good"; yet experience justifieth the point that many have changed their minds with their means, and the state of their purse hath forespoken that of their conscience. So they have begun in "the charity of the spirit," and ended in the "cares of the flesh."

(T. Adams.)

There are impetuous good people; fickle good people; unwise good people; let us say it out, foolish good people, who lack wisdom, and do not know they lack it. A certain sober judgment ought to mark Christians. They should be like the needle in the mariner's compass, not like the pendulum which, within its limited range, is always going from one extreme to another. They should not startle people with paradoxes, nor banish all confidence in them by the wildness with which they unfold their ideas to minds quite unprepared.

(Dr. John Hall.)

It will be found that they are the weakest-minded and the hardest-hearted men that most love variety and change; for the weakest-minded are those who both wonder most at things new, and digest worst things old; in so far that everything they have lies rusty, and loses lustre from want of use. Neither do they make any stir among their possessions, nor look over them to see what may be made of them, nor keep any great store, nor are householders with storehouses of things new and old; but they catch at the new-fashioned garments, and let the moth and thief look after the rest; and the hardest-hearted men are those that least feel the endearing and binding power of custom, and hold on by no cords of affection to any shore, but drive with the waves that cast up mire and dirt.

(John Ruskin.)

I. THE CHURCH IS THE PRODUCT OF THE HOLY GHOST. This is the doctrine of the whole of this text; it is the cord by which all its parts are bound together. Throwing the minds of the Galatians back upon the beginning of their religious life, whether as Churches, or as individual believers, the apostle reminds them that then they received the Holy Ghost. They began in the Spirit. This truth admits of a twofold application. First, in relation to the Church as a whole; secondly, in relation to those who compose its members.

1. The Church of Christ had no existence before the Holy Spirit was given. In the Old Testament, and also in the New, an assembly or congregation of men received that name (Deuteronomy 18:16;: Nehemiah 5:13; Psalm 22:22; Acts 7:38, and Acts 19:32-40). But the Church of Christ, which is His body, has been originated by the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38-41; 1 Peter 1:2). Before the coming of Christ, and during His ministry on the earth, the Holy Spirit was in the world.

2. Believers enter upon the new life through the Holy Spirit. They are born of the Spirit.


1. That the Spirit dwells in His people that they may make progress in the Divine life. Truth relating to salvation is revealed by Him (1 Corinthians 11:10). Guidance is given through Him (1 Corinthians 8:14). Liberty (2 Corinthians 3:18). His presence is the earnest of the future in. heritance (Ephesians 1:18, 14).

2. Through the Holy Ghost the conditions and circumstances of this present life are made subservient to spiritual ends.


1. It is possible for Churches, after having received the Holy Spirit, to lose His gracious presence and power.

2. The most fatal means to this end is renouncing faith in Christ as the all-sufficient Saviour.

3. Turning from Christ, and from the Spirit's work, is conduct most foolish in its commencement, and most disastrous in its final results.

4. Avoiding the errors described in the text, all Christians should seek to profit by instruction and correction, and through the Spirit to become thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

(R. Nicholls.)

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