You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13, 14
Chapter 5. Freedom in Christ
Paul urges the Galatians to stand firm and not permit themselves to be led by Judaizers back into a slavery to law. Law and grace are opposing principles.
1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
–> Verse 4 does not relate to the loss of salvation. It relates to the problem of becoming truly good persons.
5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
The issue lies within the human heart, not with standards or behavior. True goodness is the spontaneous expression in action of holy motives and desires.
7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
–> invitation to live by faith and thus to become a new person we are in Jesus Christ. The new person is never found by indulging the impulses of the old nature, but by loving. Law shows how love would act. But law has never produced love within our heart.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
–> The Holy Spirit is unmoved by sinful cravings. Thus if we follow the Sprit’s lead and live in the strength he provides, we will not gratify the desires of our sinful nature.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
–> If the Spirit within us controls the desires of our sinful nature, law has no function in our lives.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance*, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
* Forbearance, definition: patient self-control; restraint and tolerance.
The Spirit will produce fruit within us which stand in stark contrast to the dark products of the sinful nature. God the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience — all those things that men long for and dream about, but have not achieved. If we live in a responsive relationship with the Spirit, he will produce just these things in us.