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Galatians 5





BY: Jeremy Witt

Our chapter today brings us to the topic of freedom in Christ.  This is an abused, overlooked, and unknown topic to many today.  I truly do not know who first said this quote, so I can’t give credit, but it is a great one.  “With great freedom comes greater responsibility.”  Our Lord gives us freedom in Him, but with that freedom comes a big responsibility on our part so that we do not abuse it, overlook it, or simply ignore it and allow ourselves to be bound to the Law again.  This is where we are in chapter 5.

Paul tells us not to be bound or tied up to the Law again in verse 1 and that we must stay free.  He attacks circumcision in verse 2, attacks earning God’s favor and following all the Law in the verse 3.  Verse 4 tells us that this path cuts us off from Christ.  OUCH!  In the New American Standard, it tells us that those who adhere to the Law have “fallen away from grace.”  Keep in mind the context of verses 2-3 refer to trusting in circumcision and obeying the Law as opposed to trusting in Christ.  This person was never saved in the first place if they trusted in the Law and circumcision, so do not be confused.  They trusted in themselves and in their religion.  Or they tried to trust in both the Law and grace, which is impossible.  We can only be saved by justification (to be made right with God) by faith in the LORD Jesus.  Justification by the Law is never mentioned in Scripture but is always through faith.  Go read Galatians 5:6 for clarification. 

Paul brings it back to the Galatians in verse 7 and following and asks, “what happened?”  Verse 9, Paul uses the word leaven or yeast.  If you recall Jesus did this several times referring to the Pharisees and their demand to adhere to the Law.  Do you see a connection?  In verse 10, Paul encourages them that he believes that they will do what they were taught in the first place. 

Verse 12 is a verse where I think Paul used shock value to get the reader’s attention by referring to circumcision as mutilation.  To the Jews who were calling for circumcision as necessary for salvation, this was more than insulting, and I don’t think Paul cared.  Maybe I have a twisted sense of humor, but I think Paul had a smile on his face as he wrote this imagining their faces. 

Paul begins his warning regarding freedom in verses 13-26.  Don’t take this as an opportunity for the flesh.  Paul then quotes the 2nd greatest commandment in verse 14.  Our freedom must not affect others, which carries out implications to us far beyond the immediate.  I may have freedom to do something, but if anything I do causes you trouble or to stumble, then I must not exercise that freedom.  I’ll let the Holy Spirit speak to you on what means specifically for you.

As a believer we are at war within ourselves constantly.  The battle between our flesh and the Spirit of God is at war.  Who will we feed?  Will it be our flesh?  Then it will be easy to give in but sinful and disobedient to the LORD.  Verses 19-21 speak directly to our fleshly sins.  Will it be the Holy Spirit within us (only Christ followers have the Spirit within us)?  Then it will be difficult but we will be obedient and honor the LORD.  Anyone who says that being a Christian is easy has not applied God’s word nor tried to live by it!  Yes, that includes several popular speakers today.  You can’t do it on your own.  Only by living in the Spirit can we do this! 

Let me say this as well.  You will mess up.  You are not perfect.  You will fail.  So should we not try?  NO!  Remember these words which I wrote down from our SoulCon book that several men are going through.  “Repent everyday.  No matter how good or bad yesterday was, we have to take up our cross to follow Jesus (daily and sometimes hourly).  We have to deny our self.”  “When you fail, it doesn’t define your heart.  Repent and confess to the Father.” 

“You have to start looking at your failures as reminders of our need for Jesus our Savior.”  Don’t give up, don’t ever give up!  Choose to take up your cross right now.

Verses 22-25 speak to the fruits or results of living by the Spirit.  I am sure that you have read these many times, so I will not dive into these. 

Verse 26 again brings it back to our freedom in Christ.  We must not boast or become conceited.  We must not provoke or challenge one another.  We must not envy or be jealous of one another.  Our freedom in Christ demands us to be responsible. 

“With great freedom comes greater responsibility.”

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

Galatians 4:21-31





BY: Jeremy Witt

By way of reminder, Paul is upset with the Galatians for being led astray by some by Jewish, man-made traditions.  We would never do that today, now would we!  (Sarcasm is thick here.) There are three ways we can distort our faith from what God says, so we must be careful of these, but also to make sure that we do not bind other believers. 

These three are:

  • Judaized Christians recognizes Jesus as the Messiah but believes following the Jewish way of circumcision and the Law is necessary for salvation.  These have a high regard for Scripture and do not want to see His law broken or overlooked.  The danger is adding to Scripture and holding human traditions to God’s laws.
  • Legalized Christians live by the “do’s” and the “do not’s.”  They recognize that there must be a real change that affects our behavior.  Changes in behavior would be seen by man while neglecting the heart as God desires.  However, the danger is that they try to earn God’s favor, love, grace, and salvation rather than accepting them freely. 
  • Lawless Christians live above the Law and need no guidelines.  They abuse their Christian freedom and God’s word is not as important as our personal views on God’s guidance.  They recognize forgiveness is not based on anything we do but because of God’s grace through faith.  They live based upon what they “feel” God wants rather than what His word says.  They value their feelings over His Word.

Paul is calling us to believe inwardly and outwardly that Jesus’ death and Resurrection has given us forgiveness as a free gift and not something we “do or follow”.  This affects both our behavior but also it affects our hearts.  We obey not because we have to do this in order to be obedient, but because we want to please the Father.  A true follower of Christ will listen to the Spirit as well as listen to the Word of God and how it applies. 

As we go back specifically to Galatians, remember that the majority of the people are not Jewish, but they are Gentiles.  Paul had personally shared the Gospel with them and discipled them and now they are turning to the Law and following human traditions.  In verses 21-31, Paul is directly going after those who wish to follow the Law by using a comparison of the sons of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac. 

Ishmael, the son of Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden, represents the Law.  Isaac, the son of Sarah, represents the promise and gift from God.  Verses 22-26 speak of the two sons specifically.  If one is from the promise from God, and the other is from Abraham who took matters into his own hands and is tied to a servant wife, we see a distinct difference as Paul intends.  The son of the servant is a slave while the son of the promise is free.  We could carry this idea further to the Jews and compare Egypt versus the Promised Land.  One is bound to chains (the Law) and one is bound in a promise of freedom.  Why would we choose to bind ourselves again?  Yet that is what these Galatians are doing.  Some who care more for man’s traditions and what they have always known rather than discovering the fulfillment of the Law and the One behind it all. 

Let me use a parenting illustration.  When you give your children instructions, we expect obedience.  But how they respond makes a world of difference, doesn’t it?  If they yell, scream, cuss, whine, etc. obedience may have been accomplished, but it doesn’t compare to the times (few, very few, if ever in my case), when they willingly and without complaining do what we have asked.  How do we respond to the Word of God?  Are we whining about it or doing it willingly with joy?  Something for me to think about and to apply, that is for sure.

In verse 27, Paul quotes Isaiah 54:1 referring to this promise/gift.  Verse 29 refers to persecution coming not from the world but coming from those in the church on the Law side.  There is a cornucopia of ways we are persecuted as a Christ follower.  No one understands this “free, grace-given, forgiven” life that God gives.  It does not make sense to us as people, so our human nature kicks in and we attack that which we do not understand. 

May we not do this to one another.  May we not tie a new believer to things that God has set us free from, but may we be a people who build up, encourage, strengthen, and disciple one another into becoming more like Christ Jesus.

Posted by Josh Boles with

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