[1]  o foolish galatians! who has bewitched you? it was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. [2] let me ask you only this: did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? [3] are you so foolish? having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? [galatians 3:1-3]


we “begin” with God the Father – by God the Spirit saving us by the finished work of God the Son. see the work of God the Father, Spirit, and Son to make you able to be in his presence, holy, fully blameless and acceptable.

but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, [titus 3:4–6]


paul reminds in galatians 3:1-3, that how we began – by the work of Jesus in the power of the Spirit for the glory of God – is how we continue!

we begin in the Spirit’s work and grasp.

we continue in the Spirit’s work and grasp to grow and be changed into the image of Christ.

we are not made right by our own efforts (flesh).

we do not grow by our own efforts (flesh).

we cannot ever make one eternal thing happen in our soul.


what does this mean for you and i?

it means …

  • trying to stop doing “that sin” that plagues your soul doesn’t happen by self-discipline.
  • trying to love Jesus more doesn’t happen by saying “i will love him more.”
  • trying to serve your spouse more selflessly doesn’t happen by working at being selfless.
  • trying to be a cheerful giver doesn’t happen by saying “I will be cheerful.”
  • trying to know God thru the reading of scripture on your own power and intellect will only gain you more brain knowledge about God –  not more intimacy with God.
  • trying to change your desires, your affections, your motives, your attitudes, your inner sinful ways will not happen by your effort – even if it involves godly things like the bible, prayer, serving, etc.


the only way you and i are “perfected” as paul says in galatians 3:3 is through the Spirit of God working in us. which means …

we must submit to the Spirit’s work in us – daily, hourly, minutely.


go back and re-read galatians 3:1-3. ask God to show you where you have been seeking change in your own heart by your own power, through your own effort? ask God where you have been trying to make your friend change through their effort or your effort and power? ask God where you have been trying to get your child to change through their effort or your discipline alone?

confess and repent for these action. bathe in his grace today that is poured out over you by his Spirit. and, then submit to the Spirit and begin to beg him to bring the change, the transformation that only he can do!

hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. [rom 5:5]


~ john ryan