NKJV – “Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh”
NLT – “Having begun your new life spiritually with the Holy Spirit, are you now reaching perfection by dependence on the flesh?”
Before salvation, we as humans were dependant upon our flesh. We were dependant on what we thought and felt was right, however, the Bible says that there is a way that seems right to a man but the end of it is death (Proverbs 14:12). So, God made a covenant with us via the law (Ten Commandments) to communicate to us what it right and what is wrong. Even then, if you live by the law, you are actually still dependent upon your flesh. The law has not got the power to put us at right standing with God as Romans 8:3 tells us.
“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His Son in the likeness of the sinful flesh to be a sin offering.”
Jesus came to save us from what the law could not; he came to establish the new covenant which strips us of our independence so that we no longer rely on ourselves but on Him.
When we became saved we became a new creature with a new dependence.
The word Abba from the phrase ‘Abba Father’ means. Abba means source. A source of a thing is what sustains that thing. For example, a new born baby’s physical source is from its parents and so that is who babies are dependent on for physical sustenance.
As believers, our source is now God. Saying yes to God is to say no to ourselves. We cannot serve 2 masters. God is who we must depend on in order to sustain the life of the new creature we have become. We can in no way sustain ourselves and trying to is belittling what Jesus done on the cross.
Back to Galatians 3:3…
We began this journey of salvation by the Spirit. When we get saved our Soul and Body need to catch up with the Spirit, this is the process that the Bible refers to as being made perfect. Our flesh died and we became alive in Spirit. Romans 8:9 says
“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.” So we all definitely started in the Spirit, or never started at all.
So where did this shift to the flesh come from? For most people, this is not a conscious decision. There are many reasons, most common being complacency. We get into the routine of our new life and just stick to it. It quickly turns from a spiritual walk and relationship to a religion. The key difference is we begin to depend on the flesh while Christ requires us to depend on Him. To depend on Him means we need to have a relationship with Him. Going back to my earlier example, similar to how a baby also has a relationship with its parents.
The absence of a continual fellowship with God is what it means to ‘reach perfection by dependence on the flesh.’ Dependence on the flesh is to just follow the laws with no relationship, as seen in the Old Testament.
Galatians 3:10 says “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written; Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”
We cannot do it by the law and so no matter how hard we try, that curse would be upon our heads. God knows this and this is why He sent His Son. A relationship with Him helps us to stay on track.
I wanted to use this explanation of Gal 3:3 to encourage anyone who has become complacent and shifted into the flesh. This is such a basic yet fundamental teaching.
Here are some tips to avoid falling out of a relationship with God:
- Find a mentor; someone who is strong in the faith who you look up to and can lean on for advice;
- Never let your mouth cease from prayer & praise: this is the no.1 method of communication;
- Study the bible as though it was for an exam. If you just read it, it is unlikely to have real impact in your life. The aim is to understand the heart of God and replicate this in our actions;
- Go to Christian events and gatherings, get involved in whatever your church / fellowship are doing: this ensures you remain active in serving and learning and constant in fellowship with other Christians. Remember iron sharpens iron;
- Listen to Christian music and sermons: this is another method of learning and feeding your spirit.
James 4:8 Come near to God and He will come near to you.