Faith Really Does Work!

Gal 3:1-14

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 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— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 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.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.


Paul continues the discussion of how faith and work function together. What we see is that they go together. Real faith in Christ produces a certain kind of life. You can have some “good” works without faith in Christ. But you can’t have faith in Christ without good works.

The need for salvation is real. Forgiveness is offered to us as a gift. Forgiveness is the gift given in Justification.

A life lived glorifying God is also a gift. It is the gift given in Sanctification.

The reality is that because of our spiritual need, God’s grace must act on our lives in order for us to know salvation. We can’t get it backward. Faith grants us access to grace which provides salvation. And faith is proved by its works. It grows in grace, love, and the character of Christ.

Paul is emphasizing this order. In verses 1-5 he points out that…


  1. We Receive the Spirit by Faith v.1-5

This seems a direct reference to Acts 10. Peter’s dream of the animals on the sheet lowered down combined with the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit. (They are not following the Jewish Law and they have obviously received the Holy Spirit.)

  1. Jesus was crucified to make faith in Him the way to life

According to 2:21 this makes his crucifixion obviously necessary!

In my personal experience, the harder I try to be good enough to please God, the more I realize that I am not good enough to earn God’s pleasure. This is actually very helpful for me in two ways.

  1. One, I rely on Jesus for my salvation totally. I know that no matter what else happens in my life, if Jesus doesn’t save me, I am headed to hell. I try to be good, but I know that I am not good. I do good things and work hard to love and serve people, but the very fact that it is hard shows me that I am not good. It takes work for me to displace the desires and priorities of the flesh and allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through me.
  2. I have given up on being perfect. I rely on Jesus’ forgiveness and move forward, fighting the battles in my heart and mind that need to be fought in order for the Spirit to fill me.


  1. In faith, We begin and continue a relationship with God

It’s easy to see how we begin a relationship with God by faith. We must believe that He is and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him. But the point of finding God is finding out what He says about our lives and how we can live best. And so, we trust each bit of new information that we come across as we grow in our understanding and experience with God. The obedience that we have in our lives is the obedience that comes from faith, not the obedience that deserves grace. We obey what we believe.


Col 2: 6-7 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in himrooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.


This means that we trust in Christ for our forgiveness, and we trust in Christ for the right pathway of life today. It’s the same grace and the same faith.


  1. The alternative to trusting is deserving

Hearing the truth or reading the truth and applying faith to that, believing, is the natural way to learn and grow.

Because God is not visible, people feel uncomfortable relating to Him. And others use this discomfort to add some sort of superstitious behavior to our trust in God that can “guarantee” a certain response from Him. This is just superstition and does not please God because it does not treat Him in accordance to how He truly is. God loves, God delights to bless. We do not need to beg Him. Take for example the admonition of Jesus in Matthew 6 concerning prayer:

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.


Babbling like pagans. Heard because of their many words. This is manipulation. We do not manipulate God with our prayers. This treats God as less than a person. Ironically, God does invite us to be persistent in prayer, but this is because persistence is what allows us to see the answers to our prayers. It leads to direction and adjustment!

Not only do we receive the Spirit by Faith, but…

  1. We Become Sons of Abraham by Faith v.6-9
  2. Faith is contrasted with family connection

This is not something that we would think meaningful, but church membership or some other form of religious service folks might depend on for their relationship with God.

Jews trusted that they were descendants of Abraham, but they misunderstand the significance of that. Esau was too. But he was hated and Jacob was loved.

The promises of God are given to Abraham and to his seed, singular. That seed of Abraham is Jesus.


Therefore, one must exercise similar faith of Abraham, trusting that Jesus is the seed of Abraham and then one is actually a part of the promises of Abraham, because they are all resident in Christ.


  1. Abraham was justified by his faith

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit[c] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[d] be.”

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.


Abraham has already been given promises by God, but they have not yet come to pass. He has been waiting on God for quite some time. Altogether, Abraham waited 20 years for Isaac to be born. There is a lesson in this for us. God will make us wait for things that He has promised to us.

And it is a remarkable response that God has to Abraham’s faith. Since Abraham took God at His word and believed and trusted Him, God declared Abraham righteous. In doing so, God has shown all people throughout history how to relate to Him.

God is invisible. God gives promises. We have to wait on those promises. When we remain faithful in our trust in God, we are credited with righteousness. Hebrews 11 shares a similar idea. The people in Hebrews are suffering. The writer says, without faith it is impossible to please God. You must believe that He is and is a rewarder of those who seek Him. And faith is the conviction of something not seen. We are convinced that it is better to die, not receiving the fullness of God’s promises than it is to not trust in God.

Hebrews 11: 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.


  1. Abraham demonstrates his faith by his action

We demonstrate what we believe by what we do as well.

And we need to work on our faith by obeying. Faith works like a   muscle, when you work it out by acting on it, then it grows      stronger. If you don’t act on it then it grows weaker. And again,        without faith it is impossible to please God.

Late in Abraham’s life, he is called upon by God to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham has practiced trusting God throughout his life and his faith is strong. Abraham is willing to do this because He knows God’s character. He believed that God would not want him to kill his son. Isaac was a miracle baby of promise. And so Abraham saw God at work in his life stopping him from killing Isaac. Abraham “saw Jesus’ day” Jesus says in John 8. I think this means Abraham understands that God will send His only begotten Son to die as the lamb slain for the sins of the world. And Abraham sees God provide a ram for his sacrifice as well. The ram is caught in a thorn thicket by the horns. It literally has a crown of thorns on its head.

Hebrews 11: Examples of the fact that faith creates action:

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.

Faith is not magic. Faith is not power. Faith connects us to God. God has the power.

So, we receive the Spirit by faith, we become Sons of Abraham by faith, we also…

III. We Demonstrate True Righteousness by Faith v.10-14

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.


  1. The righteous shall live by faith v.11


Focusing on faith causes us to work on the issues of life that actually matter!   


God is invisible and God will make us wait. We learn to submit to His timing and will. And we learn that He is a rewarder of those who do this.


Think about the impact of circumcision on righteousness. You circumcise a male child on the eighth day. That demonstrates faithful obedience to God. And then that is done. It is like baptism. If we baptized our infants it would be EXACTLY like baptism. But compare circumcision to baptism. Of what benefit is baptism to restraining fleshly indulgence? Oh, I eat perfectly and exercise because I am baptized. Nope. That obedience will only come from faith in Jesus in the moment!




  1. Trusting in anything but God fails

        Trusting in God brings blessing. Trusting in anything else brings a curse. And this is because it does not get us to God’s saving grace and it relies on some other means of salvation. God saves us so we are not always insecure in our relationship with Him. And then we work to sow to the Spirit for the rest of our lives. But we do these things in response to God in the moment.



  1. Jesus is cursed for those who trust God v.13

        Jesus removes the curse of sin. So that Gentiles might receive the blessings of Abraham. That is why those blessings are in Christ alone.