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Galatians 3:1-5
1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

Paul’s First Question: Who has bewitched you?

Paul’s Second Question: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?

O You Foolish Americans!

  1. The Spirit –
    1. One of the first words that children learn is “Don’t” - Don’t touch that, don’t stick that up your nose, don’t scream while I am driving, don’t spit your gum out, don’t grab the dog by the ears ...
    2. They get a little older and learn “Do” and “Did” – Did you brush your teeth? Do that. Did you do your homework? Did you eat your vegetables? Do that. Did you put gas in the car? Go do that. Did you set your alarm? Do this.
    3. Parents wait for the day when suddenly there is no don’t or do. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, there is one day a new creature – beautiful – he or she seems to know what is right and does it and avoids doing wrong. Not because of rules, but because of “want to.”
    4. This day hardly ever comes – what tends to happen, especially in our culture (O You Foolish Americans) is that we just get more sophisticated about the system of do and don’t
      1. Example: Texting and driving. Is it illegal? Even if it isn’t, it’s not a good idea. One who chooses to be a safe driver understands this.
      2. Now Oprah says don’t do it – and that ought to be enough.
      3. But we have to make a law so that people won’t. The threat of a fine may help some people put down the distraction, but they haven’t internalized it – so when the next distracting device comes along that isn’t illegal – they hop on it.

  2. You Foolish Americans? Who put a spell on us? There is an intoxicating attraction to signing off on laws and rules that we can control and that we only have to apply externally
    1. It’s easy to look at others and realize how they have only externalized good behavior: government is an obvious target. But what do we expect? They are all about legislation. We pick on the Pharisees and point out how the Old Covenant created their system – but we never realize that it is possible to be New Covenant Pharisees. You Foolish Christians!
    2. Who has bewitched us so that we assume that more rules and following procedures will make us all get along?
    3. Who put the evil eye on us so that we assume that God is more concerned with minor details of practice rather than the heart and mind?
    4. Who has hypnotized us into thinking that unwritten creeds are better than written creeds and if we all accept certain conditions then unity will spring up automatically?
    5. Who hexed us so that we read the Bible like a constitution or law code?
    6. What magic spell induced us to think that we could reduce life with God and salvation down to a few quick easy steps and then be done with it – Salvation is not lather, rinse, repeat.
    7. Maybe we cannot name the magic or the power but we can say that it's not the Holy Spirit – God’s spirit doesn’t work like that

  3. The Spirit – Again
    1. It changes us within. It changes our desires. It rearranges our priorities. It matures us. It may not happen all at once, but it has to begin and it begins within and works out ...
    2. The spirit is “In You.” Countless scriptures testify to this. This isn’t spiritual possession or speaking in tongues, it is God’s nature at work with us – body, mind, heart, soul
    3. We believe that God can reach into our bodies and heal – do we believe that he can work on our inner person? Do we pray for the changing of minds and hearts also?

Final Question: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 1 August 2010

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