Galatians 5

Galatians 5

Christ Has Set Us Free

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Keep in Step with the Spirit

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.


Galatians 5 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

The fruit of keeping the law is exposed here in Galatians 5. According to Paul, the devotion to the law was leading to a cold, empty legalism. They were  “biting and devouring one another.” We could ask the very same question today! Why do so many people who are committed to the church end up dividing others and failing to truly love them?

Enter, the Holy Spirit.

What I say is this: let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature.

Galatians 5:16 GNB

In Judaism, the “yoke of the mitzvot” (yoke of commandments) is considered joyful to bear. Does it actually produce joy? What do the real world examples show us?

In Paul’s experience, those who accepted such a yoke were unable to fulfill it. Instead of admitting to their shortcomings, the religious leaders fell victim to self-righteousness and passed on their interpretation of the yoke of mitzvot onto their people. When Jesus arrives, He is disgusted by the heavy burdens being laid on His people stemming from a core issue of pride. He addresses it in Matthew 23.

“The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees are the authorized interpreters of Moses’ Law. 3 So you must obey and follow everything they tell you to do; do not, however, imitate their actions, because they don’t practice what they preach. 4 They tie onto people’s backs loads that are heavy and hard to carry, yet they aren’t willing even to lift a finger to help them carry those loads.

Matthew 23:2-4 GNB

Do you know anyone like this? Even worse, are you willing to admit that you have a little bit (or a lot) of Pharisee in you as well?

Jesus was the fulfillment of what the law originally intended. It was supposed to bring obedience which produced joy. How do we obey when the standard is set so incredibly high? How do we live a Christian life without succombing to the “do’s and don’t checklist” of generations prior? Paul gives us a starting point.

Those of you who try to be put right with God by obeying the Law have cut yourselves off from Christ. You are outside God’s grace. 5 As for us, our hope is that God will put us right with him; and this is what we wait for by the power of God’s Spirit working through our faith.

Galatians 5:4-5 GNB

The power of God’s Spirit working through our faith.

Grace is based on faith and is able to justify sinful people. It starts with Christ and is continued by His Spirit that takes residence in our body and guides us to real heart change. This is how we accomplish true intimacy with God and how God designed for His children to function. But the key is understanding that grace through faith is not an accomplishment. It is a lifestyle.

This is why Paul describes Christ as bringing liberty and freedom. Waking up everyday knowing that Christ has paid your debt and you are free to live in harmony with God through the Holy Spirit propels obedience and heart change. Waking up everyday with the task of accomplishing a laundry list of commandments only produces anxiety, depression, and bondage.

In Paul’s time, circumcision was a big deal to Jewish Christians. They believed, in addition to Jesus, you needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. Sarcastically, Paul tells these Judaizers exactly how he feels about that!

I wish that the people who are upsetting you would go all the way; let them go on and castrate themselves!

Galatians 5:12 GNB

The bottom line is this; Christ called us to freedom. If we understand the bondage He has freed us from, we will love others with that same grace. If we don’t, we will become a selfish, angry hypocrite with no fruit and no joy.

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