Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Galatians 3:3
Being Perfected – God does not work according to human plans or purposes. Of course, we all knew that, didn’t we? We often find ourselves saying, “God’s ways are not our ways,” especially when we just can’t see why things don’t go the way we think they should. But it’s quite a bit different to act in ways that would never be considered the results of human planning than it is to accept things that don’t happen according to human planning. Acceptance is passive. It’s just the way things are. But how many times have we deliberately taken a course of action that does not fit the ways of the world? Not so many, I’m afraid. We might be good passive citizens of the Kingdom (usually because we don’t have any other choice), but we aren’t so good at choosing the ways of the Spirit at the expense of what seems perfectly reasonable from the human point of view.
When Paul asks the Galatian Christians why they are reverting to the world’s systems of operation, he is not suggesting that they have suddenly become immoral idolaters. He is pointing out that somewhere along the way they started to think that God’s grace got mixed with human effort. They started to believe that a little bit of human wisdom might help the Kingdom along. They began to incorporate great human principles into God’s design. Paul is shocked! Did they forget that those who befriend the world make God their enemy? Paul uses the verb epiteleo, an intensified form of the verb for being completed or finished. It’s like an exclamation point behind the thought. How can you start in the Spirit and think you can finish(!) in the flesh? Impossible! Grace is never mixed with human finishing touches.
Now you may be saying, “But I don’t try to mix God’s grace with my works. I know that salvation comes by faith alone.” Well and good. But examine your actions. How many times have you worried over your job, carefully planned for retirement account, crafted a way to get ahead or tried to maneuver a relationship for your gain? How many times have you proceeded, with noble intentions, without first consulting with God’s purpose and plan? How many times have you waited until God told you to act before you closed the deal? How many times have you assumed that tomorrow will be just like today? How many times have you forgotten to thank Him for your work, your family, your home and your life (did you think you earned them)? How many times have you acted as though the assets in your hand are yours? How many times did you fall back on doing good as a way to gain God’s favor when you needed things to go your way? How many times have you quoted the world’s wisdom about a good job, a good education and a good neighborhood but ignored the need for a pure heart and clean hands?
You foolish Galatians, did you think that once you accepted Jesus’ forgiveness you could go back to living a good life? What begins with the Spirit cannot proceed from any other source.