We meet the Holy Spirit in the second verse of the Bible.
And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters (Genesis 1.2).
The Spirit hovers or broods over the chaos of unformed creation. The Holy Spirit is assigned the opportunity of turning chaos into beauty and order.
The Holy Spirit gave Bezalel the wisdom to build the Tabernacle (Exodus 34.2-3) and Sampson the power to defeat the Philistines in battle (Judges 15.14).
The prophets promised a time when the Holy Spirit would transform the lives of humans.
— Ezekiel 11.19-20 – And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
So that they may walk in My statutes, and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.
I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit. (Joel 2.28-29)
The Promise Fulfilled
The Old Testament promises about the gift of the Holy Spirit were fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
The Spirit came upon Gentiles in a similar way to the Day of Pentecost.
The story of the Gentile, Cornelius, is important to understand Paul’s message to the Galatians. Peter preached the good news of Jesus to Cornelius. Luke records what happened.
— Acts 10.44-48 – While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.
The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the gentiles,
For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God.
Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
The gift of tongues was an outward sign that Gentiles had received the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. Their faith in the good news message was all that was needed to receive the Holy Spirit.
The Galatians received the Spirit by placing their faith in the gospel message.
Unfortunately, false teachers came to Galatia and deceived them. They told them that Paul had shaved the more stringent requirements of the truth from his message.
To these false teachers, Paul had eliminated the boundary markers of circumcision, Sabbath observance, food laws, and the Law or Torah.
Paul asked the Galatians to connect the dots and realize that he had not cheated them out of the truth.
— Galatians 3.1-5 – You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified!
The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard?
Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?
Did you experience so much for nothing?—if it really was for nothing.
Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law or by your believing what you hear?
The Spirit’s transforming power was released in the Galatians by their simple trust in the good news message of God’s love.
There is no logical way to see that observing the four boundary markers would add anything to their experience of God.
Practical Message Today
Circumstances have dramatically changed in our era versus the first century. The boundary markers that were so important then, seem out of place in today’s environment.
What hasn’t changed is a dependence on the flesh versus trust in the Spirit.
Today’s culture is fiercely independent, self-reliant, and proud. These words describe the Biblical concept of “flesh.” “Flesh” is defined as a life that is lived separately from God.
If we seldom think about the Holy Spirit and fail to involve the Spirit in day-to-day living, we are no better off than people who lived before the time when the Spirit was given to humans.
Paul may well ask us, “Who has bewitched you? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so much for nothing?”
The practical message of these verses should encourage us to a renewed dependence on God’s Spirit.
Let’s honor the gift of the Holy Spirit by trusting him to direct us to the best life possible.
Dallas Willard Video
Each day this week, Rudy Ross and I are encouraging readers of the blog and viewers of our video to listen to Dallas Willard. Please take the time to learn from a spiritual giant.
Please email your prayer request to email@example.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.