Introduction: When I was young, there was a program on television
called “Bewitched.” In our study this week, Paul tells the Galatians
that they have been “bewitched.” We know the Galatians could not have
been watching too much television! Is Paul talking about demon
possession? I looked up Strong’s definition for the underlying Greek
word and it means “to fascinate (by false representations).” We
don’t want to be mislead about the gospel, so let’s plunge into our
study of the letter to the Galatians to find the truth!

  1. Bewitched

    1. Read Galatians 3:1. Why is knowledge of Jesus’ crucifixion
      important to not being “bewitched?” (Read Galatians 2:21.
      We finished last week’s study on this note – if we think
      that we can be saved by our works, we scorn the death of
      Jesus on our behalf. To scorn what Jesus has done for us
      is a serious error.)

    2. Read Galatians 3:2. How important is it to “receive the
      Spirit?” (The way Paul writes this, it is the most
      important proof that your Christian life is on the right
      track. Paul reminds them that the Holy Spirit did not come
      upon them through their observance of the law.)

      1. Have you noticed the very thing that Paul is talking
        about? Churches that seem centered on keeping the law
        are dry as bones. They lack the Holy Spirit. On the
        other hand, churches that are filled with those
        rejoicing over their acceptance by faith seem filled
        with the Spirit. Is this your observation?

    3. Read Galatians 3:3-4. What have the Galatians suffered for
      nothing? What is the suffering and what is the
      nothing?(Changing your religious beliefs will bring
      conflict with friends and family. Since every religion
      except Christianity is based on works of some type, Paul
      says that after suffering for your decision to change, you
      now return to works. Thus, your change was for nothing.)

    4. Read Galatians 3:5. What does Paul associate with having
      the Holy Spirit in the church? (Miracles.)

      1. If we lack miracles, and in my area of the world my
        sense is that we lack “no one can dispute them”
        miracles, does that mean that we lack the Holy
        Spirit? (I believe my one granddaughter was
        miraculously healed after she was born. But, I can
        imagine how some could dispute that. My guess is that
        you, too, have experience miracles, but that they are
        not like the Matthew 12:22-23 variety – everyone is
        astonished by them. The lack of this kind of miracle
        in my area today troubles me.)

      2. Would miracles result from keeping the law? (No! My
        concern is that the reason for a lack of miracles is
        that we are more focused on the law than on grace and
        the Holy Spirit. There may be other reasons, for
        example that we do not control God’s work, but this
        is something to consider.)

  2. Abraham

    1. Read Galatians 3:6. Is righteousness by faith an Old
      Testament teaching? (Yes! Consider the sanctuary system.
      You killed an animal and its blood atoned for your sins.
      That is not salvation by works, that is salvation by the
      death of an animal. Of course, we know that this pointed
      forward to the death of Jesus.)

    2. Let’s read the background for Paul’s statement about
      Abraham. Read Genesis 15:4-6. What is Abraham believing?
      (That he will have a son and numerous descendants.)

      1. Why does that belief bring “righteousness?” Why not
        say it brings “children?” (This shows that the real
        issue is trusting God. Do we trust what God says and
        what God has done and is going to do for us?)

    3. Read Galatians 3:7-9. Why say that the gospel was
      announced “in advance” to Abraham? Was not the gospel
      (righteousness by faith) given from that time forward?
      (This was in advance of the giving of the Ten Commandments
      and the other laws proclaimed by Moses. The idea is that
      whatever followed, the foundational teaching was
      righteousness by faith.)

  3. The Curse

    1. Read Galatians 3:10. Recently, I was considering how I
      might share the gospel with someone who is dying, and is
      somewhat hostile to religion. I’m sure this individual
      thinks “I’m a pretty good person, I have no need of
      anything else.” Is this an attitude that brings a curse?
      (Yes. When a person says, “I’m good, and better than a lot
      of others that I know,” they think their salvation turns
      on their works. The problem with that approach is that
      being better than most others is not good enough. You have
      to be perfect, you have to “continue to do everything
      written in the Book of the Law.”)

    2. Read Galatians 3:11-12. Do you have a hard time coming to
      grips with the idea that a person who is trying very hard
      to keep the law could be cursed? This is a “good person.”
      (Being in obedience to God’s will is a great thing. The
      problem is relying on it for your salvation.)

      1. How many people rely on their works for salvation and
        are not really aware of it? (Notice that Paul says
        about those keeping the law: “The man who does these
        things will live by them.” This paints the picture
        of a person who is obedient, and who believes this
        brings an entitlement to God’s acceptance.)

    3. Read Galatians 3:13. On Who did the penalty, the curse of
      the law, rest? (On Jesus. He paid the penalty for our sin.
      He became cursed to redeem us from the curse.)

      1. If we rely on our works for our salvation, do we take
        back the curse? (Yes!)

    4. Lately, I’ve been struggling with a specific sin. There is
      no doubt in my mind that God desires obedience in us, both
      for our benefit and for His glory. The problem is that
      when I fail, I think this adversely affects God’s
      relationship with me. At the same time I believe this
      violates Paul’s instruction that we must not “rely” on
      observing the law. What do you think?

      1. Would it be correct to believe that wherever we are
        (you and I) in our walk towards righteousness, any
        failure simply affects our life here, it does not
        affect our relationship with God?

      2. Read Romans 7:4-6. Here Paul tells us that we should
        be living by the direction of the Holy Spirit. This
        suggests that if we are “controlled” by the sinful
        nature, we do, in fact, have a relationship problem
        with the Holy Spirit. How would you summarize the
        truth about struggles with sin? (Here is what I
        think: the Holy Spirit living in us stands in the
        place of the law in directing our actions. When we
        struggle with sin, it is the Holy Spirit that is
        working with us. What we cannot do is ignore the Holy
        Spirit. During this struggle, we are still saved by
        grace. The Holy Spirit’s work is to bring our lives
        more into harmony with God’s will.)

    5. Read Galatians 3:14. What is the “blessing given to
      Abraham?” Many children? (Re-read Galatians 3:6. The
      blessing spoken of here is being considered righteous.
      This opportunity now extends to those of us who are not

      1. What is it that we receive by faith? (The promise of
        the Holy Spirit.)

        1. This puts an additional emphasis on the Holy
          Spirit. I thought the goal was righteousness by
          faith, rather than the gift of the Holy Spirit.
          Why does Paul mention the gift of the Holy
          Spirit as the result of our faith? (This brings
          us back to Romans 7:6. The alternative to
          keeping the Ten Commandments is not living in
          whatever way you choose. The alternative is
          “that we serve in the new way of the Spirit.”)

    6. Friend, if you believe (as I did at one time), that
      keeping the Ten Commandments is critical to salvation, can
      you see how that sets you up to be cursed? Since you will
      surely fail in your efforts to keep all of the law, you
      will fall short of perfection, and thus fall short of
      salvation. Jesus offers us something else. He offers us
      the opportunity, through baptism, to participate both in
      His death on our behalf for our sins, and His resurrection
      to eternal life. He offers us the choice to live a life
      led by the Holy Spirit. Will you accept, right now,
      Jesus’ offer?

  4. Next week: The Priority of the Promise.