How do you receive the Spirit? Not by obeying the Old Testament Law! We put our faith in Jesus (actually because the Spirit of God has made us come alive to Him), we receive the Spirit’s power by faith and we continue to receive more of the Spirit by faith.
Paul is from a Jewish background – he used to be a Pharisee – so he was passionate about following the law of God. He, like Peter, has now found that obeying the law doesn’t make you righteous or keep you righteous before God. The Judaisers have crept into the church and are saying that ‘Christ alone’ and not following the Law means that Christ is a servant of sin, because we are “sinners”, v.17.
In v.15, Paul lets us know he is a Jew by birth, not a Gentile “sinner” – he is not saying that only Gentiles are sinners. The Judaisers consider Gentiles to be sinners because they don’t keep the law. In verse 16 Paul states that Jew and Gentile alike are justified (declared righteous by God), by faith and not by keeping the law. The implication is clear – all are sinners, and the law doesn’t sort it – only faith in Christ does. That causes the Judaisers to argue that Christ must be an agent of sin if he takes people away from having to keep the law. Certainly not!
Paul has torn down (v.18) keeping the law as a means of justification or sanctification. It doesn’t work. Rules don’t work! Two things do work…
Union with Christ – when we get saved, our sin is put on Jesus and everything that happened to Him gets imputed (put on) us. So we have been crucified with Christ. We have died and been born again! We are brand new creations. The old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). So the life we now live in our current bodies we live by faith in the Son of God.
Power of the Spirit – we receive Holy Spirit and go on being filled with Him, walking with Him by faith – we are being perfected by Him, not by going back to the Law.
It’s by believing! Just like Abraham believed God,we do too. By faith we have become sons of Abraham – the new Israel, made up of Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus – and we are blessed just like Abraham was. Hallelujah!