I was driving through the countryside when I spotted a church building whose name surprised me. It said, “The Galatia Church.” The name caught my attention because I was certain no one would choose to name a church this unless it was a geographic necessity.

A study of the biblical book of Galatians reveals that it is Paul’s most fiery letter—criticizing the people for legalism, self-effort, and the exchange of grace for a different gospel. Galatia was not exactly the kind of church that you would see as an example to be followed.

This is true because the Galatians were trying to please God through their own efforts rather than by reliance on Him. Paul’s charge against them was this: “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (3:3).

Just as we cannot earn a relationship with God by our works, neither can we develop spiritually through our own strength. Paul’s reminder to the Galatians (and us) is this: Dependence on God through the work of the Spirit in our lives is at the core of our walk with Christ.

If we think we can become like Jesus by our own efforts, we are, like the Galatians, fooling ourselves.