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Mark McCulley
Judge by the Gospel


Who hath bewitched you? (Galatians 3:1a)

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. ( Gal 3:1-9)

"Who hath bewitched you? (3:1a)

It is possible even for true Christians to be seduced by false teaching. Therefore we should not congratulate ourselves that our knowing the truth will always keep us from error. If people who were taught the gospel by the apostle Paul can be led astray, so can we!

How do we get led astray from the truth? The same way as Adam and Eve did: by not regarding what God says as very important. We try to be as gods, setting our own standards for who's saved and lost, and for who will die or not die. Why do we do this? Because we are respecters of persons. We are "partial" to ourselves, and "partial" to our "sincere" Arminian or Judaising relatives and friends. We judge by outward appearance and not by the TRUTH.

The "bewitching" here is about the truth of the gospel, which is also the truth about God. It is natural for us to suppress this truth and to be partial and respect persons. The truth is that God requires of us a righteousness that we cannot produce, but we are tempted not to submit to that truth. We-even after we are Christians- are tempted to think that we can begin NOW to produce some of the righteousness that God NOW requires. We are tempted to say that God has now "enabled" us to produce at least some of the righteousness that God requires. So we require of ourselves (and of others) circumcision and then try to require God to accept that as part of the righteousness required by Him. Even if we don't say the circumcision is the righteousness, we say that it is the condition of the righteousness.

In our day, of course, it's not circumcision that we require. What do YOU require?

Some of us require as a minimum Arminian faith. Jesus died for everybody, we say that Christians say, and that death is the righteousness, BUT the faith which God gave us is the condition of salvation. But God does not give Arminian faith. God does not give faith in faith.

In Phil 3, Paul's faith was still not in his new faith but in the righteousness required by God. Though he had faith in that righteousness, and though that faith was given to him as a gift, he pressed on, aware that even he could be "bewitched" by his flesh. Thus Galatians 1:8: if an angel tells you another gospel, if WE tell you another gospel

"Before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth as crucified..." (3:1b)

Christ has not been preached unless the cross has been preached. And the cross has not been preached unless particular redemption and imputation have been preached. You can say "blood, blood, blood", but still not know Christ. Most of those who did the many bloody animal sacrifices did not receive Christ as crucified. The Arminians who say that Christ died for those now in hell do not believe in Christ and His precious blood.

To know Christ, you must know that God requires a righteousness that you cannot produce and that God in Christ established for the elect a righteousness that demands salvation for the elect. The law demands death, even the death of One who was never a sinner, but who was imputed with the sins of the elect. The death of Christ demands that the elect be judged differently: there are only two kinds of people in the world or at the judgment--those whose work will be accepted because they were not working to get God's blessing, and then those whose works (and persons) will be condemned because their "good deeds" were wicked attempts to establish their own righteousness. Those who think they can do God some service also think that killing Christ is a "good deed". John 16:1-3. If you think you can begin, help or complete your righteousness by your good deeds, then you are as guilty and corrupt as those who killed Christ.

"Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law?" (3:2)

We receive the Spirit by the "hearing of faith". We do not receive the Spirit by believing a lie. When Arminians lie about God and about sin and about righteousness, the Spirit does not use those lies to bring people to life. The Spirit uses the word of truth.

    Eph 1:12: "in Him, you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation..." (see also Romans 6:17, I Thess 2;12-13, II Thess 2;12-13; I Peter 1:22-23; James 1:18).

To judge by the flesh is to judge by some other standard, to judge by the gospel is to examine if we and others confess and agree with God's testimony.

It is the Spirit who convicts us that God requires a righteousness that we cannot produce. John 16:8-13 It is the Spirit who takes away our confidence in the flesh so that we have NO confidence that we ever did or ever will do anything (even with God's help) to make ourselves better than anybody else. Phil 3:3. The only reason we are different from others before God is that Christ died for us and not for others.

It is the Spirit who causes us to confess the true Christ and the true gospel. I Cor 1:23-24 unless we are called by the Spirit we will consider this Christ crucified before us to be foolishness.

    I Cor 2:11-13: "No one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received (antithesis) not the spirit of the world"

Not the spirit that says Christ died for everybody and now it depends on us but the Spirit who is from God, that we would know the things that have freely been given to us by God.

The righteousness is a free gift. If we say that the accepting of the free gift is something different from the free gift, and that this accepting is "MINE" and what I did (with God's grace) to be saved, then we may call that "salvation by faith" but what we call "faith" is really works and what we call "grace" is really still self-righteousness. "I am a good chooser. And the reason for that is I am a good wanter. And the reason I want what's right ( "of course sometimes i get a cold like everybody else and of course I sin but I don't want to and don't really choose to and God is gracious and will overlook it...") the reason I want what is right is because I have a heart that is better than that of others..."

NO! We were not saved by being in the right place at the right time and reading the right book or tract. If we are saved, it was a SUPERNATURAL WORK OF GOD. So no excuses like " don't blame me for not knowing the gospel when I got saved". What the Spirit produces is repentance to see that our "mistakes about the gospel" were motivated by our wicked hearts that wanted to condition salvation on ourselves instead of TOTALLY on the righteousness established by Christ for the elect.

"Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (3:3)

The typical Calvinist thinks that people can begin as Christian in error and then (maybe as an option) MOVE TO THE TRUTH. But here we have a different case: people who begin with the truth (Paul's' preaching of the gospel, Romans 1:16-17-faith is no part of the righteousness, circumcision is no part of the righteousness), but who are now in danger of being bewitched by error.

Let me make two exhortations here:

1. Let us examine our calling. Is it really true that you can be saved by believing a lie? Is it really true that God the Spirit teaches the sheep that Jesus died for everybody but that they are themselves the condition of salvation? Is it really the Spirit that teaches people that they must be worthwhile since Jesus died for their glory and awaits their decision?

2. For those of us who are convinced that we do believe the true gospel, why do we fellowship with and hear the preaching of those who do not know the gospel? Why do we think we will grow by listening to a false gospel? Why do we think that we can learn something from a false gospel about how to raise our children and love our wives? Is it because we have confidence in ourselves that WE would never be bewitched, that now we are too smart for the devil to trick? do we worry about the influence on our children, but have no concern for the influence of Arminian evangelicalism (salvation by faith, not by righteousness) on ourselves?

"Have ye suffered so many things in vain?" (3:4)

Why do we cry peace to the Arminians and to others who lie about God and sin? Because we want them to be partial to us! if we want their respect, we will have to respect them. But Christ had no respect for their opinion, but total and absolute respect for the honor of God. If we had that same kind of respect for God, we would not sit still for Arminian lies, and we would be hated the way Christ was.

Christ suffered because he was a "light" who exposed "good deeds" as being "evil deeds". John 3:18-20. People hated Christ because Christ told them that God required a righteousness they could not produce: He had no respect for what they produced. They would have respected Him as Messiah if only He had been partial to their good deeds. But He was not. Used to be a drug addict? So what: if you don't believe the gospel, you will die in your sins. But I believe the Bible and in a literal second coming. So what? if you don't believe the gospel, you will die in your sins.

    John 7: 7: "The world" HATES me,

the religious world, the theistic world of CS Lewis and Tozer hates the true God who tells us that we must hate ourselves or hate God there is no "balance" here: no place for moderation, no "in between".

To not hate God, we have to take sides with God against ourselves, not respect ourselves, not expect to ever produce any of the righteousness that God requires. Our only hope is to have been crucified with Christ; our only hope is Christ in us. Christ in us does not believe the lies of Arminianism. We must lose ourselves, stop pretending about ourselves that we don't want to sin, or that we love God and our neighbors as ourselves. We have to "cut the crap" or we will still hate the true Christ of the Bible.

why? John 7:7 "they hate me because I testify of the world that its works are evil." Its good works are evil. So John 7:24 Do not judge by outward appearances, but judge with righteous judgment. Judge yourself and others by knowing that God requires a perfect righteousness and that only those who submit to the gospel have that perfect righteousness.

Why are the Galatians tempted by the Judaizer? Because if they go along with their lies, they will be respected, and THEY WILL NOT SUFFER PERSECUTION FROM THEM. See Gal 6:12. To say that cross is the only difference is to suffer; to add on to the cross will cause the suffering to go away. To say that those who add on are under the curse (as Paul says) is to make lots of enemies: it will not flatter the people who pay your salary if you tell them that paying your salary does not make them any better before God ...

    II Tim 1:8: "Do not be ashamed...",
    Romans 1:16: "I am not ashamed..."

Any time people can preach grace as that which changes you to enable you to produce the righteousness that God requires then they are ashamed of the gospel of imputation in which the CROSS ONLY IS THE ONLY DIFFERENCE. Instead of glorying in the cross (gal 6:14), they are ashamed to say that Christ died only for the elect. Instead, they talk in code language (died for those who would believe) so they can stay at peace with Arminians who buy books and pay salaries. But this not only encourages self-righteousness but is self-righteous, because it fails to come against our own flesh and temptations to be some of the sufficiency and to contribute something and to do something. Not reckoning ourselves to be dead yet, we produce fruit, but it's dead fruit, unpleasing to God. Our works stink. I speak of true Christians now. If we work to make ourselves holy or sanctified or to get any other blessing, we do not look to Christ's work as the source of all our blessings. I Cor 3: such works will not be accepted even from people who are justified.

    Gal 3:4: You "suffered so many things", but now you don't want to keep suffering...
    II Tim 1:8: "do not be ashamed of the TESTIMONY OF OUR LORD...but share with me in the AFFLICTIONS OF THE GOSPEL"

"He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit and worketh miracles among you," (3:5)

When we think miracles, we think of tongues and prophecy. And they were (we can talk about that "were"!) But the greatest miracle is when a sinner accepts God's testimony that God expect of all men a righteousness that we cannot produce. This is not something natural for us to do: only God can give us this faith and this repentance.

"Even as Abraham believed God," (3:6)

Was Abraham saved without knowing about an imputed righteousness? NO. See romans 4. Abraham was not saved by his faith in the promise. Abraham was saved by God and by promise. Abraham was not saved by works of faith but by the "hearing of faith". Abraham was not saved by his works, not his works of any kind, not even works motivated by the promise or by grace.

"..therefore...they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." (3:7)

So we must learn to ask "faith in what". If you have faith in the flesh, you may "put feet on your prayers" and have sex with Hagar, but this is not justifying faith but bewitchment: it doesn't honor God's promise about the seed and about the righteousness established by the seed. No imputation: no gospel.

"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." (3:8)

"Then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." (v3:9)

Through faith, not on account of faith. On account of what Christ did at the cross. But through which faith? many will cry Lord, Lord, to whom the Lord will say: I never knew you. The Judaizer called upon the Lord and were moral and sincerely believed in the resurrection, and yet they were still "fallen from grace" and under God's curse. Their "good deeds" like circumcision brought forth fruit, and that fruit was death: Romans 7:5-6.

How do I know that Abraham knew the gospel? Because Galatians 3 says that the gospel was preached to Abraham. John 8: Abraham saw my day...

Mark McCulley

Copyright © 2000 by Mark McCulley. All rights reserved.