Who Has Bewitched You?
When Apostle Paul asked Christians the question in Galatians 3:1, “who has bewitched you?”, he did not have in mind African witch doctors, Haitian voodoo men, or American witches flying around on broomsticks. He was referring to religionists, the Judaizers, who shortly after Paul led the Galatians to Christ, began to oppose Paul’s preaching of salvation by grace through faith, apart from works. And the Galatian Christians were being persuaded to believe their message.
Paul was shocked that the Galatians were so “quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel, not that there is another one…but even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6 ESV). Those are strong words– “let him be accursed!”
What was this “different gospel” being preached that elicited such outrage from the Apostle? The religionists were preaching that faith in Christ alone, apart from the law, was not enough to make a person righteous in God’s sight. They preached that while believing in Christ was essential to salvation, a person still had to contribute his own works to what Christ had done in order to be righteous in God’s sight. That is, salvation was a combination of Jesus’ work for us and our work for him– a mixture of grace and law.
That sounds good, but this was what Paul rejected so vehemently. You see, this mixture of grace and law is deadly. It neutralizes both grace and law, and makes the cure for sin ineffective. It’s similar to taking two different medicines, one for high blood pressure and the other for low blood pressure, at the same time. The two will counteract each other and the patient will not receive the benefit of either. He could die as a result of trying to cure himself by taking both medicines simultaneously.
Unfortunately, this is what too many well-meaning Christians are trying to do. Not knowing the purpose of the law, they are trying to mix law and grace to solve the sin problem. In the process, neither law or grace is effective in them, and they end up living defeated lives. Many die never experiencing the victorious life Christ makes available to all who believe in Him, still suffering continuously under the condemnation of the law.
The law is good when it is used for its intended purpose. But its purpose is not to justify us before God, to bless us, or give life to us, and trying to use it for any of those reasons will prevent grace from taking effect in us fully. Listen to Apostle Paul as he talks about the law.
“By works of the law no one will be justified…For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse…For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.” (Gal. 2:16; 3:10)
Did you hear this–all who are trying to be righteous or blessed through keeping the law are under a curse! No law can give life! The reason all who rely on the law are under a curse is because the law sets such a high standard that to be blessed under it, you have to obey it perfectly. Break just one and it curses you! Just one and you die! Ask Adam and Eve. So anyone who is depending on their law-keeping to recommend him or her to God for blessing is in big trouble. The law will condemn us every time!
Why then was the law given? Not to save us, not to justify us, but to reveal our need for faith in the grace of God!
“Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:19, 20 ESV)
“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law…So then the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Gal. 3: 21-26)
You see, the law is a guardian. It has a role to play until we come to Christ. But once we come to Christ, we no longer need to be under a guardian–the law. If through the law, we have seen how exceedingly sinful we are, how our own righteousness is as filthy rags next to God’s, and therefore have become totally dependent upon Christ for our righteousness, then the law has accomplished its purpose in our lives. Henceforth, like Paul, we must consider our own attempts at being righteous by keeping the law as rubbish that we may “be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ.” (Phil. 3:9)
Do not dilute the power of grace in your life by trying to earn righteousness from God by keeping commandments. Believe that God has made Him who knew no sin to be sin for you that you might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:21). Believe you are saved by grace through faith, apart from works; it is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)
Isn’t this a license to sin? No! Does this mean you can now live as you please? Yes! But there is a catch! The grace of God will teach you to say no to ungodliness. (Titus 2:11, 12)
You see, when a person receives salvation by faith in God’s grace, God doesn’t just forgive him, He changes him. He puts His Holy Spirit inside of that person. He regenerates him and makes him a new creature in Christ. He gives him new desires.
And so he can now live as he pleases. But the person saved by grace will find that a life of sin and disobedience no longer pleases him! What pleases him now will be to please the One who saved him by His grace. He will hate sin more under grace than He ever did under law. And the more he relies on the grace of God for righteousness, the more he will hate sin. Holiness will become a way of life, not in order to establish his own righteousness, but as the fruit of the righteousness God has given him by grace through faith
Do no allow yourself to be bewitched by bringing yourself back under the condemnation of the law and trying to add to the righteousness God has given you in Christ. You are saved by grace through faith, apart from your works. Believe this, and then let the grace of God change you from the inside out.