Using Galatians 3:3 to Excuse Your Sinful Life

A classic text used to defend the “now that I’m saved I don’t have to do good, nor should I try to do good” is Galatians 3:3

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

The idea being that now that we are saved, have the Spirit, our bodies can’t do anything to help anything. Our bodies cannot pursue righteousness, therefore, telling people to grow up, mature, or fight off sin is reliance upon the flesh, which is opposed to the Spirit and the Gospel. If you pursue righteousness, that’s just your flesh pursuing perfection and it can’t.

Context is king. The context of Galatians, particularly chapter 3, has nothing to do with believers pursuing righteousness or not.

Paul’s point in Galatians is: what happened to the law now that the Gospel is here? His answers that the law serves no purpose to the believer in the Spirit–if we walk in the Spirit we will not be doing things contrary to the law anyway.

Paul is not against spiritual growth. His point is not that we should not pursue righteousness. And, based on various other verses, like laying down your body as a living sacrifice and his own testimony of bringing his body under subjection, Paul does think what your body does is important.

Paul’s concern for the Galatian believers is not that they are relying on their flesh to grow so much! No, his concern is that they are going back to Old Covenant law and chucking new life in the Spirit. Why, if you have the Spirit and the promise of the New Covenant, are you telling Gentiles to follow the Jewish Old Covenant conditions? That makes no sense.

Paul wants people to grow in Christ, to become more like Christ–righteous, sinless, mature, etc. It’s his main reason for being an apostle:

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
–Galatians 4:19

Paul’s goal is to see them grow in Christ. Paul travails with his own body to see Christ formed in their bodies. If Galatians 3 means “don’t pursue righteousness with your body” then Paul appears to be working for what he is against.

Paul’s point is not, and never has been, that since we are no longer under the Old Covenant law we can do whatever we want now. His point is not that there is no law at all governing the behavior of the New Covenant believer. Just read Galatians!

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
–Galatians 6:2

We’re supposed to fulfill a law in the New Covenant! When Paul talks about pursuing God by works, he’s talking about the Old Covenant law given to racial Israel. It didn’t work. It proved that people need divine help.

The New Covenant promise is that God would put His Spirit in people so they could fulfill His desires. That is exactly what the Gospel did and does. Why go back to the spiritless Old Covenant Law then? Makes no sense!

Galatians 5 says not to do works of the flesh, and then he gives a long list of what those are. He tells us to bring forth fruit of the Spirit, “against such there is no law.”

If you do what the Spirit wants you to do, you won’t violate the law. The reason the believer is not under the law, is because when we walk in the Spirit we are fulfilling the law. We are not under the law’s curse because we are not breaking the law when we walk in the Spirit.

There is so much good stuff in the New Covenant. So much provision. So much power. So much victory. So much liberty. It’s amazing! Why fight so hard to defend your sin and your selfish flesh desires? It makes no sense.

Don’t twist the New Covenant to eliminate it’s provision, power, victory, liberty, and all the other blessings. Christ died to give you these things; use them!

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