“This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal 3:2).
It is the Holy Spirit that empowers the believer to become what God wills for him to become. Out of his becoming, he is enabled to do what God would have him do. The reversed order is to do what one thinks may be His will with the expectation of God’s approval. Receiving the Spirit initiates the believer into a life in the Spirit. But the Spirit is quenched if the recipient does not yield to whom he has received. God’s intention is for our efforts to be a response to His initiative. God’s interpretation of the deeper meaning of His truth is hidden within our simple obedience to what is understood. Hearing the word preached is more than an exercise in attempting to retain the information presented. It is also a matter of receiving the Spirit of the Word that becomes life within the hearer. Works alone is one attempt at self-justification but void of God’s approval. Hearing sets the standard for Spirit-life in the believer. He then has a target at which to aim. He is positioned to see Jesus Christ as He is and not a caricature, but as real. Paul’s question was a means of asking them what has been added to their lives by the Spirit as the result of hearing the word preached. The teacher then may learn from his pupil by what is gained when the Spirit takes what is received and adds Spirit-life to it.