What is Paul Saying here? This is a greatly misunderstood passage, especially by charismatics. Those who keep to the law don’t even see this passage. If they do, it is with their "law" spectacles on.
Paul starts off with a question in which he calls the Galatians fools. He wants to know who bewitched them? Who pulled the wool over their eyes? Who played this mean deluding trick on them? Our salvation hinges on the fact that Jesus was crucified, and now what? Are they hoping for their salvation through the Law?
In verse 2 Paul wants to know if they received "the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?" (NASB) To many charismatics this is a definite reference to the baptism in the Spirit, which is by faith. I am a charismatic and that is what I believed this passage said for years. Aren’t the charismatics notorious for their out of context hermeneutics? Nevertheless, Paul contrasts our salvation by faith in Christ to "salvation" through the works of the Law.
Once we are saved we receive the Holy Spirit (v3; 4:6) who applies salvation to us on the basis of our faith in Christ. Our perfection, or rather, our completion cannot be accomplished in the flesh, that is, by following the Law. Do you see what Paul is saying? We cannot be saved by following the Law, and neither can we be completed by the works of the Law after our salvation. This means we cannot be saved or completed as Christians by the Law. Following certain days, or not following them, circumcision, or any other Law cannot do it for us. Paul sees the observation of days and that of the Law as something that enslaved us all over again. Should we observe the sabbath on a Saturday? Go ahead if you want to! Just do not make it a law unto the church of Christ. Do not become enslaved again unto the Law. If you are following the Law in any capacity, be it for salvation, or the completion of your Christianity, you are under a curse (Gal. 3:10). Remember, Paul did not just warn the Galatians against wanting to be saved by the Law, but of a greater, more sinister false gospel. He warned them of not following the Judaizers, who said that it was wonderful to be saved by faith in Christ, but to complete your salvation you needed to add the Law to that. The Judaizers believed that it was necessary to be circumcised and to observe days and months and years, even after faith in Christ. The fact that some of the Galatians were observing days and the Law, made Paul think that "perhaps I have labored over you in vain." (Gal. 4:10-11 NASB). He adds in Colossians 2:16-17 that no one should act as a judge over another regarding food or drink or festivals, new moons or a sabbath day. Paul saw these things as mere shadows. Yet, Christ is our substance.
The Spirit (salvation), and miracles are provided by God through faith, not by the works of the Law (v5). Faith in God was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness (v6-9). Paul is adamant that if we want to be saved by the works of the Law, and if we look at the context, add works to the cross of Christ, then we are cursed (v10). Our justification before God is by faith, not the Law (v11).
We have been redeemed from the curse of the Law by Christ, who became a curse for us, when He died on the cross (v13).
It is, therefore, in Christ Jesus that the blessing of Abraham came to the Gentiles (v14). This was so "we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (v14 NASB).
We have to realize that the Law does not add even one iota to our salvation. The Law was done away with, became obsolete (Heb. 8:13), was superseded when Christ died on the cross. When Jesus came as our High Priest, (a change in the priesthood), there also had to come a change in the Law (Heb. 7:12). Under Jesus, we now have the law of the Spirit, which is salvation by faith in Christ Jesus. The Law cannot complete our Christianity, or put another way, sanctify us or make us holy. "we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10 NASB). So, we are justified and sanctified by the work of Christ on the cross. The Law cannot do either. "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (Heb. 10:!4 NASB).
You are free from the Law. Remain free!Also read
The Christian's relationship to the Mosaic Law
Crucial thoughts on New Covenant Law
The New Covenant and the observance of days
Jesus and the Sabbath