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Galatians 3:1-9

Talks for Growing Christians

Salvation is By Faith Alone, Not a Mixture of Faith and "Works"

Galatians 3:1-9

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Lesson Number 5

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Receiving the Holy Spirit is by faith, and not by works. (Galatians 3:1-5)
  2. Righteousness from God is by faith, and not by works. (Galatians 3:6-9)

Practical Application

  1. Don’t use Galatians 3:7 to spiritualize Israel.

Questions

  1. In his epistle to the Galatians, the apostle Paul is straightening out a very serious problem that had arisen in the churches of Galatia. What was this problem?
  2. Why is it essential to know and understand God’s way of sanctification?
  3. What is meant by “sanctification?”
  4. Refer to Galatians 3:1. What does the term “bewitched” mean?
  5. According to Scripture, is salvation by faith alone, or by works, or by a mixture of faith and works?
  6. According to Scripture, is sanctification by faith alone, or by works, or by a mixture of faith and works?

Answers

  1. False teachers, known as Judaizers, had come in and were preaching and teaching a different gospel than Paul was preaching and teaching. The Judaizers were wrongly teaching that you had to add works of the law to your faith in order to be saved.
  2. Because, as believers, it affects our whole way of living.
  3. Sanctification is to be made more holy or more godly.
  4. It means to be cast under an evil spell by an evil influence of the devil.
  5. Salvation is by faith alone.
  6. Sanctification is by faith alone.

Discuss/Consider

  1. Paul asked the Galatian believers, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:2) The reason he asked this was because they were being taken in by the false teaching of the Judaizers who said that you had to add works to faith. Furthermore, they were tying to grow in Christ by adding works to their faith. Any work of the flesh takes away from the grace of God, both then and today. If we were saved by works, then salvation would not be by God’s grace. Add works to faith and it is no longer God’s unmerited favor. Good works follow salvation, but they are not a means of salvation. The same is true of sanctification (growing more holy; growing in Christ). Sanctification comes about by yielding your mind and body to the Lord, and by letting the Holy Spirit empower the new life that you have in Christ. Weren’t you saved by faith alone? Are you now walking with the Spirit, who dwells in every believer?
  2. The Judaizers would certainly be using Abraham as one of their primary examples to push their beliefs. So Paul uses the case of Abraham as his own example to defeat the false teachers at their own game. Refer to Galatians 3:6 and Genesis 15:6. This declaration by God was made years before Abraham was circumcised, so Abraham was already saved before the work of circumcision. The way of salvation has always been by God’s grace through faith. Righteousness from God is by faith, and not by works. How would you challenge someone who proclaims salvation by works?

Challenge

  1. Don’t use Galatians 3:7 to spiritualize Israel. Some take this verse, saying that since all believers for all time are sons of Abraham, then the promises of the Old Testament to the Jewish people no longer stand. They reason that all these promises are to be spiritualized to the Christian church today, and the church is the New Israel. This is not what Galatians 3:7 is saying. The point is that all believers are the spiritual sons of Abraham by the same saving faith. This does not mean that God has done away with His promises to the natural descendants of Abraham, namely, the Jewish people. These promises will be fulfilled in the future. Read Romans 11 in this connection.

Key Verses

  • “Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth?” (Galatians 3:1)
  • “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3)
  • “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Galatians 3:6)

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