The Acid Test


“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain – if it really was in vain?” Galatians 3:1-4.

“It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.” Have you ever heard this statement? Is it true? Really?

It certainly doesn’t work anywhere else in life. If you sincerely believe that you can fly, and you jump off a tall building and spread out your arms, will you fly? Of course not! Believing something that is not based on the truth is futile and you will kill yourself no matter how sincere you are.

So why should it work in the most important part of your life – your relationship with God, and your destiny? Paul had only one word for people who thought like that. Fools! What is a fool? Someone who knows that what he believes doesn’t work but he does it anyway.

Bewitched! Did Paul really believe that these foolish Galatians were under the spell of witchcraft? It depends on what we understand by “witchcraft”. When King Saul failed to carry out God’s instruction to destroy the Amalekites and all their livestock, by saving the king alive and keeping some of the best of the animals, the prophet Samuel rebuked him because his disobedience sprang from an attitude – rebellion, and rebellion was the outcome of something else – fear.

He said this: “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (divination), and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.” 1 Samuel 15:23

What was Saul’s excuse for being disobedient? “I was afraid of the men, so I gave in to them.” 1 Samuel 1:24b.

Saul gave in to fear – he was more afraid of his soldiers than reverent and respectful to God. That is the heart of witchcraft – being manipulated by fear, be it through unscrupulous people or through believing the lies Satan sows into the mind.

The Galatian believers has been manipulated into believing that they could not be saved just by believing in Jesus. They had to keep the law in order to be acceptable to God. “That is witchcraft.” said Paul. “You are being manipulated by fear.”

Now let’s examine the truth. This is where experience becomes the test. Faith and experience must go hand in hand, otherwise what we believe is not the truth. When we believe the truth, God confirms His word by fulfilling His promises. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the Galatian believers was the test. When did they receive the Spirit – when they believed God’s word, or when they tried to please God by following rules – “Ten Easy Steps to Receiving the Holy Spirit”? Of course the answer was – when they believed.

“So why, then,” asks Paul, “are you afraid of offending God if you don’t do what these false teachers are telling you to do? Do you really think that you can begin by trusting God and receiving the Spirit by faith and then carry on by obeying rules? Is it working for you?” That’s the crux. Is it working for you?

How do we know whether we are living by faith in God’s word, or inadvertently regressing by trying to work for God’s acceptance? God gave us a simple but powerful test – His peace. In Romans 5:1 Paul declared, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

God’s peace stands on two feet. One foot is “peace with God”. The other foot is called “the peace of God”. We experience this peace when bad things happen and, “Instead of fretting,” Paul said, “give your anxiety to God. His peace will “guard your heart and your mind through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7b.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15.

Rule keeping does not produce peace because one never knows whether one has done it perfectly. Believing God’s promises does, because Jesus has done it all for us. All we have to do is rest in Him then He gives us a supernatural peace which cannot be explained by anything outside of Him.


Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Luella Campbell

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