The Difference between Faith and Works of the Law by Zac Poonen


In Galatians 3:2, Paul speaks about the basis on which we receive the Holy Spirit – not works, but faith. He asks them, “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law?” Some people imagine that God will give them the fullness of the Holy Spirit if they fast and pray sufficiently. But did you get forgiveness of your sins because you fasted and prayed? No. It was a gift. Forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit are both given exactly on the same basis: By grace, without works. Paul then asks the Galatians, “If you started your Christian life by faith, do you think that you can now perfect it by fleshly efforts?” It was the Holy Spirit, Who brought salvation into your life, and He is the One, Who will make you holy as well. It is not laws, rules and regulations that will make you holy. If you have understood this truth, then you have understood the main message in the letter to the Galatians.

You did not receive the Spirit by the works of the law. Perfection does not come by the works of the flesh, but by the work of the Holy Spirit. You have to submit to the Holy Spirit, listen to His voice whenever He convicts you, and set matters right. Thus He will keep you holy. Fasting and prayer won’t make anyone holy. Many who fast and pray regularly are still defeated by sin – they quarrel with others and lust in their hearts. This proves that holiness does not come that way. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Then Paul reminds them that the miracles God worked among them were also not as a result of their works (Gal. 3:5). They were in response to their faith. God does amazing supernatural works for His children – not because they deserve it or because of any good works they did, but because of their faith.
Abraham was justified by faith (Gal. 3:6); and then he was made a blessing to all nations (Gal. 3:8). And so can we be (Gal. 3:14). When Christ hung on the cross, He became a curse for us (Gal. 3:13), to remove the curse of the law from us. There is a curse in the law: If you don’t live according to its standard, you are cursed. Deuteronomy 28 lists some of these curses – madness, blindness, and many sicknesses. Christ took away those curses when He died on the cross. This teaches us that we cannot suffer because of any sins committed by our ancestors – because every curse was broken at the cross. When we received Christ as our Lord, every curse was broken. We don’t have to live in fear of any generational curse now. Instead we have the opposite – the blessing of Abraham (Gal. 3:14). That is why we can now receive the Holy Spirit through faith.

The blessing given by God to Abraham was: “All nations and all families on earth will be blessed through you” (Gal. 3:8). So the purpose of the Holy Spirit coming into our lives is to make us a blessing to every person we meet. One mark of a Spirit-filled person is that he is a blessing to everybody he meets. When he visits a home, he blesses that home. Many Christians, when they visit a home, bring confusion into that home. Many cultists bring division and many other problems into Christian homes. But a godly person brings a blessing. When one person in a home gets converted, there can be some disturbance in that home. But as time passes, the blessing of God will come into that home; and more of the members of that home will be converted. This is the blessing of Abraham that we are called to partake of.


Author: the burning hearts.

We are Jesus disciples! We long to see genuine biblical revival in this latter days. This we do by prayer and periodically organising word and prayer meetings.

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