CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XXIX)

Therefore, the blessings received by the redeemed are found in partaking of the Anointed One’s fullness, which results in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The power of the indwelling Spirit is measured according to one’s faith. That is to say, even though much spiritual oil is available, it depends on the size of the container one has that will determine the amount to be received for use. This is the oil that was poured upon the head of the church – His Body, which ran down to the members of His body; to the skirts of His garment.[1] That’s why we should develop equal understanding and dependence upon each of the persons of the Trinity: Upon the Father, as He provided the Redeemer, and upon the Son, who paid the price of redemption, and upon the Holy Spirit who made the purchase of the redeemed.[2]

Having stated in verse eight above that the Holy Scriptures said long ago that God would also save the people who are not Jews from the punishment of sin, the Scriptures said that Abraham already received the Good News that through him all nations would be blessed. Now here in verse fourteen, the Apostle Paul gives the final outcome of that promise by declaring that because of the price the Anointed One Jesus paid, the good things that came to Abraham might come to the people who are not Jews. And by putting their trust in the Anointed One, they would receive the Holy Spirit He promised to them.

Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889 AD), examines these promises more closely, and believes they formed yet another trial of Abram’s faith; since he was not only going as a stranger into a foreign land but was at the time, childless. The promise that he was to “be a blessing,” implied that blessing would, so to speak, be identified with him through his offspring. Therefore, happiness or unhappiness would flow from the relationship that people would develop with Abram. On the other hand, from the peculiar terms “them that bless you,” in the plural, and “curse him who curses you,” in the singular,[3] we conclude that the Divine purpose of mercy embraced many, “of all nations, races, and languages,” says Edersheim”

Then Edersheim looks at the great promise, “In you will all families of the earth be blessed,” as something that went far beyond the personal assurance, “I will make your name great.”[4] It resumed and made more definite the previous promises of final deliverance, by identifying Abram as the spring from which the blessing was to flow. Viewed in this light, all mankind appears as many families with the same father. As a result, they would be united in a common blessing in and through Abram. Repeated again and again in the history of Abram, this promise was contained already at the outset the whole fullness of the Divine purpose of mercy in the salvation of men. That was the prediction to be fulfilled: “May God make Japheth great. Let him live in the tents of Shem. And let Canaan be his servants.”[5] And that’s exactly where the Israelites ended up after their deliverance from Egypt. It was important enough for Peter to mention it in his sermon after healing the man at Gate Beautiful,[6] and for Paul to refer to it here in Galatians.[7]

Aaron M. Hills (1847-1935), in commenting on what was the evangelical perspective in his day of what is called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, mentions that the great evangelist Dwight L. Moody stated that it starts by asking God to forgive us our sins and anoint us with power from on high. This will not happen until we are emptied of self, pride, and worldly thoughts.[8] And in the same book, Moody believes firmly that the moment our hearts get rid of pride, selfishness, ambition, self-seeking, and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will come and fill every corner of our hearts; but if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and self-seeking and pleasures of the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God.[9] This, says Hill, is why, if you desire for the Holy Spirit to come with power, your will must crown Jesus Lord of all, and our all must be laid upon His altar.

Hill continues by teaching that after you did all the things suggested, you may still miss the blessing unless you take one more step. Five times the Holy Word tells us that we receive the sanctifying blessing by “faith.” That’s what Paul is saying here in verse fourteen. In other words, when you were a sinner, you were finally able to comprehend and accept the Anointed One as your Savior for Salvation by faith. Likewise, now you are to receive the Holy Spirit by faith as your Sanctifier for Sanctification. By that same simple faith, you can count yourself dead to sin, but alive to God.[10] Not only will God approve of your actions but consider them valid and rewarding.

Hill goes on to say that we cannot believe until we first take the necessary steps just mentioned. But if you really took them, then you are planted on higher believing ground. God will slay the “old self” within you, and make you “dead to sin.” Believe that from now on you are “alive to holiness and God.” The simplicity of all of this causes some people to stagger, stumble, and fall before they receive the blessing of the indwelling Holy Spirit to be spiritually alive, but also the empowering Holy Spirit to serve your Lord and Master, the Anointed One.[11] This should make us all wonder why then the Galatians were so quick to forsake this higher ground of Grace and return to the Valley of Despair under the Law.

American Methodist minister and leading evangelist for the holiness movement, Mr. Beverly Carradine (1848-1931), agrees that it is through faith we are converted. It is through faith we received a pardon of our sins and made right with God. And it is through faith we come into the blessing and enjoyment of sanctification. He offers as proof what Paul says here in verses 2, 3, 11, and 14. It is based on the question of whether the Galatians received the Holy Spirit by the works of the Law, or by faith after hearing the Gospel preached by Paul? This sets up the next question of why were they being so foolish after having begun in the Spirit, they were now trying to become perfect by good deeds done in accordance with the Law. Didn’t they remember Paul’s message, “The just shall live by faith?”

But that leads to another question, why should they live by faith? The answer, Paul tells them, is so that the blessings of Abraham might be shared with them as Gentiles through Jesus the Anointed One. But even more, that they might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. In other words, being in the possession of the Holy Spirit is not something you can buy at the local Christian bookstore. It is not a liquid that you drink. In fact, it is not even visible to the naked eye for you to examine before allowing it to enter your life. Your reception of the Holy Spirit can only be by Faith. And what is Faith? It is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.[12]

For Carradine, this whole passage is remarkable. But his attention is caught by the last line. What is this promise of the Spirit that was to be received through faith? It could be nothing less than the blessing of sanctification which the Anointed One told His disciples to tarry for at Jerusalem after His ascension! The key was that they were to “wait” for the “promise of the Father.” In the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, it tells us that they received it, and it came as a promise through faith.[13] So not only were the Galatians turning their backs on the gift of Grace that set them free from the burden of the Law, but they were also throwing away the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which was the sanctifying part of the promise.

Leading American prophecy professor J. Dwight Pentecost presents an interesting commentary on how, when, or if the church is not fulfilling Israel’s new covenant in order to inherit the blessings promised to Abraham, as Paul says here in verse fourteen. First, we see that the term Israel is not used anywhere in Scriptures for any but the physical descendants of Abraham. Now, since the church today is composed both of Jews and Gentiles, it would be impossible for the church to fulfill these promises made to an earthly nation. The second thing is, in the Anointed One’s Final Covenant, there are spiritual blessings and promises as well as earthly blessings. While the Church, like Israel, is promised salvation, the forgiveness of sin, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, yet, the Church is never promised an inheritance of a physical piece of land in the Middle East or anywhere else, in addition to material wealth or rest from persecution and repression. Those were promises made to Israel, not the church.[14]

The third factor is that the blessing of the Abrahamic covenant is by faith without being under any obligation to adhere to the First Covenant. Then there is the time element contained within the covenant with Israel that cannot be fulfilled and realized until after the period of Israel’s tribulation and her deliverance by the advent of the Messiah. While the Church certainly went through periods of persecution and hardships, it never passed through the great tribulation of prophecy. There is no doubt that the Church is not in the millennial age.[15] This clearly indicates that this covenant can only be realized after the second coming of the Messiah to set us His millennial kingdom. Therefore, says Pentecost, the promises made to Israel are yet in the future, so how can the Church now be fulfilling this covenant of which Paul speaks?[16]

In one commentary on Galatians, the writers make an outstanding point by saying that when justification is obtained by good works, then people judge whether or not it is real and effective. But when justification is received by faith in the Anointed One, then God is the Judge who validates it as approved by Him. But God left a side-door open for anyone who thinks they can keep every statue in the Law to perfection. Of course, that never happened and will never happen, except in one case. God incarnated as Yeshua of Nazareth went through that door and successfully completed the task. That’s when He became the door to justify anyone being able to enjoy a right standing with God. So, our fellowship with God is not based on our being accepted by the church, but being accepted by God.[17]

I like the way the Contextual Bible puts verses 10-14 into clear focus. It begins by saying that those who depend on their conscientious obedience to God’s Law to be guiltless and righteous, are under God’s condemnation, cursed to be cut off from God, because the Scriptures point out very clearly, “God’s curse is upon anyone, who at any time, breaks a single one of these rules that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” Moreover, it is clear that no one can ever be righteous in God’s sight by trying to keep His Law, because the prophet Habakkuk says, “The righteous person is one who will receive eternal life, the life from God, flow into him because of his faith.”

[1] Cf. Psalm 133:2

[2] Jonathan Edwards: Wisdom of God, pp. 1059-1060

[3] Genesis 12:3In

[4] Ibid. 12:2

[5] Ibid. 9:27

[6] Acts of the Apostles 3:25

[7] Alfred Edersheim, The Bible History, Old Testament, Vol. 1, Part 1, Ch. 11, p. 71

[8] Dwight L. Moody: Secret Power,  Published by Fleming H. Revell Company, New York, 1881, p. 29

[9] Ibid. p. 20

[10] Romans 6:11

[11] Aaron Merritt (A. M.) Hills, Pentecostal Light, Ch. 2, pp. 21-22

[12] Hebrews 11:1

[13] Beverly Carradine: Sanctification, Ch. 11, p. 51

[14] See Deuteronomy 28:1-8

[15] Romans 11:26-27

[16] Pentecost, J. Dwight. Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Kindle Location 2403-2418). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[17] Martin, Ralph P.; Lane, William L.; Morris, Leon. The Shorter Letters of Paul: Galatians to Philemon (Open Your Bible Commentary, New Testament Book 8) (Kindle Location 608-618). Creative 4 International. Kindle Edition.

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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