When miracles happen

Paul asks an amazing question in Galatians 3:5, amazing for two reasons: first, because he’s talking about real, live miracles happening to people, and secondly, because the people he’s talking to know these miracles are happening.

And the question was this: “When God gives you the Spirit and works miracles among you, is it because you keep the law, or is it because you have faith in the gospel message?”

The Galatians are really in trouble at this point, because they know the answer. They know miracles have been happening, and they know when the miracles started happening, too. The miracles began when they heard the gospel and they believed it.

So, how are the Galatians going to answer Paul’s question, when faced with obvious evidence? They know that none of these miracles were happening when they kept the law. For all their diligent keeping of the Ten Commandments, their strict keeping of the Sabbath, being circumcised, tithing, and properly performing all their sacrifices and rituals, there was never a time during any of those things that they experienced the remarkable miracles that had been happening since “Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified” to them, verse 1.

It was hearing the gospel about Jesus that got the miracles started. It was hearing and believing that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us,” verse 13. But that meant accepting there was a curse, first of all, that only Christ’s death could release them from. And what was this curse? It was trying to win God’s favour, get God’s blessings, and earn one’s way into eternity by one’s own diligent obedience and determination. And why was that a curse? Because “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law,” verse 10.

The curse of the law is having to do it all perfectly. One mistake and that’s it, a blood sacrifice has to be made, or you die. That’s why the sacrificial system was set up in Old Testament Israel, so at least the Israelites could keep on living while still being sinners, but the only sacrifice that removed the curse once and for all was Christ’s (Hebrews 9 and 10). And when the Galatians believed that, that Christ’s death released them from the curse of ever again having to rely on themselves and their own resolve and obedience, it was then that miracles in their lives began to happen.