3 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? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
The problem with the Galatian church was that they were trying to get God to supply His Spirit and to work miracles on account of their ability to obey the law. Paul took great issue with this because this type of thinking is in direct contrast to the faith of the gospel. The supply of the Spirit and the working of miracles would forever be tied to the public crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross. The cross was the grounds by which God would give the Holy Spirit and work miracles among his people. The Galatian church started off believing this, but quickly abandoned the faith in effort to justify themselves before the Lord.
Many believers find themselves in this same predicament. We start off believing that God will give freely to us of his Spirit but somewhere along the way we are tempted to believe that we have to earn it from him. This type of thinking will leave us exhausted, frustrated and disappointed in God in ourselves. Undoubtedly, the spirits flow begins to dry up because we are trying to receive it contrary to God’s design. We are inadvertently trying to bypass the work of Christ and earn a gift that was promised to us in Christ. In order for us to live in the supply of God’s spirit and to enjoy the miracle working power of God we must pay much closer attention to the public portrayal of Christ on the cross. This is the offense of the gospel!
The Offense of the Gospel
The fact that God loves us unconditionally and has guaranteed to give us His Holy Spirit on account of the work of Christ is offensive! It flies in the face of everything we grow up believing. We are conditioned to work for what we get. There is no such thing as a free lunch, remember? But the cross confronts this type of thinking. The passion and intensity in which God loves us is offensive. One of the devastating effects of sin in our lives is that we unknowingly paint ourselves in a negative light. We compare ourselves to people who are holier and more loving. We criticize ourselves for not being more faithful. We shame ourselves for being stuck in the same old sins that we’ve always struggled with. We embrace condemnation as punishment for missing the mark. Over time, these mindsets become cemented so deeply that we begin to identify ourselves as failures. As rejects who have missed the mark. In the best case, we tolerate a mild consciousness of God by assuaging our conscience that his mercy and forgiveness will prevail over punishment. In the worst cases, we assume that every challenge, trial and consequence in our lives is a direct result of God’s punishment.
1 John 4:17-19
“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.”
Allow the cross to offend your view of yourself. God loves you tremendously. He bled and died for you. Your life has value to him! His passion and love for you is not hindered by sin because he is able to see your created value. He never lost sight of it! In order for you to allow God’s view to define your life, you must allow him to offend your current view of yourself. Because on the other side of the offense is a life of intimacy and pleasure with God. To know God within the New Covenant is eternal life. To belong to God in love is our greatest privilege.