Galatians 3:2 – “…Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?”
In the previous verse, Paul says, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” (Galatians 3:1) Paul is correcting false teaching put forth from the Circumcision Party. They claimed that one must be circumcised (code for ‘become a Jew’) – to be saved. (Acts 15:1, Galatians 2:4)
The purpose of this epistle was to refute the false teaching. Thus, every verse presenting some angle of why the law does not bring justification must be understood as part of the refutation. Paul even argued that righteousness had always come by faith.
“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.” (Galatians 3:5-7)
If righteousness had always come by faith, then there wasn’t a switch from law-keeping for justification to grace for justification. Rather, the law was given as the constitution of God’s kingdom and remains so. The law was given to clearly define sin and continues to do so. The law was to be taught and not relaxed (Deuteronomy 6:6-9 & 17, Matthew 5:19).
The law of God written on hearts is a supernatural desire to defy our natural sinful instincts. This new divine instinct is entirely a gift. In fact, attempting to simulate the gift in our own power is not only futile, it is sin.
“For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23)