About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Paul begins this
chapter with, "it is for freedom that Christ has set us free".
Many may know the King James Version better. It says, "stand fast in
the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free". It is my opinion that
this is one misunderstood verse. I hear this verse used many times in
worship services. The song leader will encourage the congregation to
express themselves more enthusiastically because Christ "has set them
free". They use this verse to back up their thinking that people
should be dancing, clapping their hands, and getting all excited in
worship. Yet look again at this verse more closely in its context. This
verse is not talking about singing, dancing, shouting, or any such thing.
Paul is telling the Galatians that they "have been set free from the
Law" of Moses, the very Law that God Himself instituted for the Jews
to obey. So stay free. Don’t get entangled all over again with the
bondage that comes from living by rules to attain salvation. If you are
happy and joyous because you have been set free from any kind of law, then
go ahead and sing, dance and shout. Just understand that the point Paul is
making is that we have been set free from the Law of Moses. This verse has
absolutely nothing to do with any particular style of worship in a Sunday
Paul uses the
words "burden" and
"yoke" in reference to obedience to the Law of Moses in verse 1.
Paul, more than most, understood what it meant to live a life in
obedience to the Law of Moses. After
meeting Jesus in Acts 9, Paul's life was completely changed. Nothing
compared to Jesus, even the Law that God had instituted.
Of course the
natural response to this by the false teachers, and even by the true
Christian is, "does that mean we are free to sin"?
Paul is speaking of freedom from the Law of Moses.
He is not speaking about any other kind of freedom from anything,
or, freedom to do anything. Paul
has become a servant, or, a slave to Jesus Himself, and this is something
that Christians struggle with as well.
In verse 2 Paul
gets very specific and for emphases sake says, "mark my words, I
Paul, tell you that if you let yourself be circumcised, Christ will be of
no value to you at all." These are strong words. The
phrase mark my words" suggests to me that he feels like standing up
and pointing his fingers at these people as he says these things.
He is that emphatic. You
might even say that Paul, at this point, is speaking from a position of
apostolic authority as he says these words.
Paul is clearly
saying that if the Galatian Christians think that being circumcised makes
you acceptable to God, or causes Him to declare you as righteous and just,
then Christ is meaningless to you. What Jesus did for you in His life and
on the cross means absolutely nothing. I don't know if I can properly
write in words how important these words of Paul are.
To make Jesus meaningless in your life is basically to push Him
away, to tell Him you want nothing to do with Him.
In reality, the word "meaningless" here suggests to me
that you have set aside your faith, set aside your trust in Him, and in my
thinking, that means you have lost your salvation.
Those who believe in the doctrine of "eternal security"
will disagree with me on this point, but Paul's words make it clear, and
he will make it even more clearer.
For the second
time in this letter to the Galatians Paul
says in verse 3 that if you want to submit your lives to
the Law of Moses in obedience, then you must obey all the Law.
Simply put, you must obey the whole Law, all 613 rules.
You cannot pick and choose. You
also must accept the curses of the Law if you disobey just one of the
laws. (Deuteronomy 27:26) This
should make anyone stop and think twice about submitting to the Law of
I believe verse
4 is one of the key verses in the whole book of Galatians.
If the false teachers understood what Paul was saying, after
reading verse 4, they would be furious with him.
In verse 4 Paul goes as far to say, "you who are trying to be
justified by law have been alienated from Christ, you have fallen away
from grace." These words, as we would have said in the 1960’s,
"are heavy words". Paul says that these people have fallen from
grace. What does this mean? Falling from grace, means that you no longer
are "standing in the grace of God" as Paul calls it in Romans
5:2. Falling from grace means that you have laid aside the love of God,
his grace, and his act of love shown on the cross. Falling from grace
means that you have rejected Jesus and have replaced Him with the Law.
Falling from grace means that you are in the process of loosing your
salvation. Falling from grace
means you were once in God's grace. You
can't fall from grace if you weren't in God's grace in the first place.
This should end the "once saved always saved" debate
Years ago I was
told that I would loose my salvation if I did certain things, like playing
cards and going to a movie theatre, even if there was a Christian movie
being shown at the theatre. This meant that in order for me to keep my
salvation I had to trust Jesus and also obey certain rules made up by the
church. If I broke a rule like
playing cards, I was in danger of loosing my salvation. Paul says that
just the opposite is true. If I think my salvation depends on obeying such
rules, then that is what makes me in danger of loosing my salvation. It is
not braking the rules that causes me to loose my salvation. It is the
keeping of these rules for the purpose of salvation that will cause me to
loose my salvation.
As I have often
said, you get saved by faith in God’s grace, and not by doing good
works. Therefore if good works don’t save you, bad works don’t unsave
you. Faith saves you. Total unbelief, or rejection of Jesus unsaves you.
If you replace Jesus with the Law, or any other man made law, then you
have rejected Jesus. You have fallen from grace. You have lost your
salvation. These Galatians, who were considering living under the Law were
in danger of losing their salvation.
It's amazing to
me how those who believe in "eternal security", that is,
"once you are saved, you can't lose your salvation", try to get
around this verse. It is like
they have built their theology so rigid that when a verse appears to not
fit into their theology, they attempt to make it fit or just skim over it.
What they should do is change their theology to fit the passage.
Also in verse 4
Paul says that "you who are trying to be justified by law…"
The word "the" does not precede the word "law",
meaning, "any law". It
does not matter what law you are trying to be justified by, even our
modern man made Evangelical rules.
"alienated" is extremely important in verse 4.
The NIV does a good job in translating the Greek here.
If one is alienated from another, he is cut off from the other.
There is a severance in the relationship.
You might even call it a divorce.
Again, in my thinking, this implies that one loses his salvation if
he attempts to get saved by laws. Really,
this is what Jesus was getting at in John 10.
He said that He was the "true shepherd", the only
"door" to salvation. If
you don't go through Him, you're not saved.
Those who believe in eternal security say that this passage means
you just lose the fellowship you once had with Jesus.
You do not lose the Father son relationship, meaning, you don't
lose your salvation.
I like Jesus'
analogy of the "door". You
enter salvation by the door, that is, faith in Jesus, or, trusting Him
alone, then you are saved. There
is only one way into salvation, and there is only one way out of
salvation and that is going back through the door of faith by which
you entered. That is to say,
you entered through faith and you leave through unbelief.
You decide not to trust Jesus any more.
This is the only way you lose your salvation.
Our getting saved is not based on works, and our getting unsaved is
not based on sin, but unbelief. Sin
does not cause you to lose your salvation.
It may put you on the road where you may decide not to trust Jesus
anymore, but sin in itself is not the deciding factor whether we are saved
or not saved. If it were, then
we'd all be lost. So I
guess I find myself somewhere in between the Methodists and the Baptists
on this issue.
Again, when it
comes to the word "alienate"; those who believe in "eternal
security" would say that you are alienated from Christ in the sense
that you have no fellowship with Him.
You are not alienated from Him relationally.
You are still his brother and God is still your father.
In verse 5 Paul
says that "we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for
which we hope". This presents another aspect of righteousness. We
know that we have been counted righteous by God, even though we are not.
There is a hope that this righteousness will become part of the fabric of
who we are. Someday, in the next age, we will be righteous in all reality.
God will not have to view us as righteous. We will in all reality be
We see the word
hope in verse 5. I think our modern day definition of hope has a bit of a
negative connotation to it. We say, "I hope such and such will come
true". When we make that statement, there is an element of doubt.
Maybe, or maybe not such and such will come true. Yet I am not sure that
was Paul’s idea of hope. W. E. Vine defines hope as "a happy
expectation of good" or "a confident expectation". This
definition gives a more positive view of the word hope, that we may not
Verse 5 begins
by saying, "by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the
righteousness …" Over
the years I've heard people say to those who "eagerly wait" the
return of Jesus that they are "so heavenly minded that they are no
earthly good". I simply
see such a statement as a cop out for those who are confused about end
time prophecy. It's clear that
we are to "eagerly await" the return of Jesus and all things
that will take place because of His return.
Many don't eagerly await His return because they are
too much in love with this world, which the Bible clearly says is
In verse 5 Paul
associates the return of Jesus with the word "faith" and with
"the Holy Spirit". When
we really have faith; when we
really rely on Jesus, the Holy Spirit will enable us to eagerly await the
return of Jesus. If you don't
await His return, you should question your faith and how much the Holy
Spirit is being allowed to work in your life.
Many Christians aren’t excited about the idea that Jesus will
return for them. The reason
for that is because they are too much in love with this world.
I am sure that the Holy Spirit is eagerly waiting for the return of
Jesus to earth, and, if He is waiting eagerly, and, if He is in us, you'd
think we should have the same expectation.
Verse 6 says,
"in Christ Jesus neither circumcision or non-circumcision has
value". Note the words
"in Christ". Paul is
talking about circumcision as it pertains to our salvation.
Outside of salvation, circumcision does have some value, and there
is no problem being circumcised for non-religious reasons. The words
"no value" are important here.
If you are circumcised, that doesn't carry weight with the Lord any
more. Neither does the reverse
because that's not the issue.
matter, as Paul says in verse 6, is faith that is expressed in love.
First of all it is faith, or our trust in Jesus, that is important.
From this faith, love is expressed in our lives.
You might say that to the degree we have true faith will be the
degree in which we can truly love. Or,
look at it this way. To the
degree we can truly love, shows us how much real faith we have.
Faith is productive.
Many have put
Paul and James at odds with one another. They say Paul thinks that good
works don’t mean anything. They also say the James thinks that we are
saved by good works. This is not so. Both men are approaching the subject
of faith from different perspectives. Paul says that we are saved by faith
alone, not by good works. James says, that if you have real faith, I will
see it in your good works. Paul would say the same. As a matter of fact he
says it right here in verse 6. This is where Paul and James find
agreement. Paul clearly says that faith will express itself in love. I
believe that Paul would say, that if you do not see any fruit of love in a
life, you could question that person’s faith.
James would say the same. Faith
is productive. Faith, trust in Jesus, changes a life. If there is no
change, there is no faith.
The idea that circumcision has no value in the sight of
God were fighting words to a good Jew.
If you read the Old Testament, and especially the Genesis account,
you will know that God "demanded" all males to be circumcised.
How could Paul go against this command?
Well, this has been the point to what he has been saying in this
letter. Faith, or trusting
Jesus, has replaced the Law, including circumcision.
Paul often uses
the analogy of running a race. In verse 7 he does just that. He asks these
Galatians, " you who are running a good race, who has cut in front of
you…" The Galatians were doing well and suddenly the false teahcers
in front of them and tripped them up. Being tripped up is seen here as
"not obeying the truth." Paul
was saying that the gospel he was preaching is the truth.
in a race. You are in one of
the lanes on the track, running as fast as you can, and the guy in the
next lane crosses into your lane and trips you up.
This is exactly what Paul is talking about.
If you fall, you're out of the race, and that is what Paul is
afraid of when it comes to the Galatian Christians.
In verse 8 Paul
says that the kind of persuasion being directed their way does not come
from the one who has called them. Paul
is blunt. He's simply saying
that the one who is persuading them away from grace is not from God.
The one who called these people is God Himself through the Holy
In verse 9 Paul
says a little yeast causes the whole batch of dough to rise.
It doesn't take much error before it infiltrates the whole church
and messes everything up. This
is what was being done throughout Galatia. A little twist to the gospel
distorts the gospel all out of shape and causes great damage to both the
gospel and to the church. I
see this happening so often in the church today.
Because many Christians haven't got a good Biblical understanding,
they hear something that sounds good and true, and it probably has a lot
of truth in it, but they accept what they hear and get side tracked.
Often error is more truth than error, but it only takes a little
error to mess up the truth.
In verse 10 Paul
shows his confidence that he has in the Galatians. He believes that they
will come back to the truth and true faith.
But notice how Paul puts it. He
has more faith in the Lord than he does in the Galatians.
The Lord is there for them, as He is for us.
If we will simply reach out, He will provide a way out of the
Paul has been
pretty hard on these people. When
he says that he has confidence in the Lord that they won't progress in
their error, he might well have said this as a means of encouragement.
We do know from what he has said so far, that he does fear for
these people. For this reason,
I think Paul is simply trying to say something a bit more positive here.
Note in verse 10
that Paul points out the ring leader of the false prophets, but not by
name. He might not actually
know who the ring leader is, but there is one particular person that seems
to be in charge of the false teachers.
Notice also that this leader will receive a penalty, and I believe
the penalty is from the Lord, not from Paul or any man.
It is not our place to penalize the false teacher.
It is our place to expose the false teacher and the false teaching
so the Body of Christ will be protected.
We see in verse
11 that some people were distorting Paul's words by telling the Galatian
Christians that Paul was really preaching circumcision for the purpose of
salvation. Paul answers that
by saying, if he was still preaching circumcision why was he being
persecuted. Of course, Paul
was not preaching circumcision. One
reason why this criticism was leveled against Paul might be that he had
Timothy circumcised in Acts 16. The
false teachers could have been telling the Galatian Christians that Paul
was telling them not to get circumcised but he was telling others, like
Timothy, to get circumcised. This was to produce doubt in the minds of the
Galatians concerning Paul.
Paul also makes another great theological truth in verse 11. He says that if he is still preaching circumcision, that is, circumcision for the purpose of salvation, then the offense of the cross is abolished. In simple words "if circumcision for the purpose of salvation is real, what Jesus did on the cross is useless. It has lost its meaning."
The cross of
Christ was an offense, as Paul puts it here in many respects.
It was an offense to those who saw Jesus on the cross.
The disciples were certainly offended.
The Jews were offended by Jesus.
They viewed His death as something that was needed because Jesus
was an offense to them. The
biggest offense is that Jesus became sin for us.
He was an offense to God on the cross as He bore our sins.
Both Jesus Himself and the cross is progressively becoming more and
more offensive in today's world. You
can speak of God and everything is fine, but if you speak of Jesus and the
cross, people get uptight.
another one of those heavy words in verse twelve. He says, "as for
those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate
themselves". This is my paraphrase of this verse. "As for those
agitators, if they are going to cut the end of their penis off, I wish
they’d go all the way and cut the whole thing off". That is what
the word emasculate means. It means, to take away the thing that makes a
man a real man. Paul says, just don’t cut the end off. Cut the whole
thing off. This may sound a little humourous, but Paul is very serious.
In verse 13 Paul
tells the Galatians that they were called to be free.
Once again, Paul is not talking about being free to clap and dance
in a Sunday morning meeting. The
context is about being free from the Law of Moses, and really, from any
law that would be substituted for faith in Jesus.
With this freedom comes responsibility.
Paul says, "don't use this freedom to sin, instead use it to
serve one another in love."
The problem with any kind of freedom, human nature uses freedom to
indulge their own sinful desires.
The point should
be made here, although Paul doesn't make it in this verse, is that the
Christian is free from the Law of Moses.
This freedom does not put us in the middle of nowhere.
We are set free from law so we can serve Christ.
Paul actually considers himself as a slave to Jesus.
So, in one real sense of the word, we leave our slavery to law and
replace it with slavery to Jesus.
speaks about "serving one another in love."
Unless the love of God that we claim to have is
expressed in loving those He has placed us with, we cannot claim to
have God's love within us. As
the old saying goes, "love is not love unless it is given away."
Verse 14 is somewhat of a conclusion to what Paul is saying. He tells his readers that the love spoken of in the last verse is really what the law is all about. If you love as God wants you to love then you will in fact be obeying the Law, because according to Paul, that is what the Law is all about. That is certainly true when it comes to the Ten Commandments. You even see this in the civil aspect to the Law of Moses. The civil part of the law is all about loving and respecting others, and the punishment that results when you don't. You might go as far to say that the ceremonial aspect to the Law is about love as well, because it all represents Jesus.
Paul closes this section in verse 15 saying that if these people keep biting one another, they better be careful. They might well end of destroying each other. I'd suggest that this might also be a word of wisdom to the church today. We've done a lot of back-biting in the church, and in one sense of the word, we have destroyed each other. We've also destroyed our witness to Jesus in the process. Many Christians have fallen away from Jesus because of the way other Christians have treated them.
What we need to
understand as we go into this section of Galatians is that once becoming a
Christian, we aren't free from sin. As
a matter of fact, if we are serious about our life with Jesus, we will
struggle over the fact that we are sinful.
The Holy Spirit wars against our sinful nature.
If there is no struggle, that should tell us that we have given
into our sinful nature and have forsaken the life in the Spirit.
The only other possible reason why we would not be struggling with
sin is that we have become perfect, and it is clear that none of us are
In verse 16 Paul
tells the Galatians how to stop destroying each other. He says, "live
by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful
nature". This will solve the division problems. It will also help
solve our sin problem. Yes, God does see us as sinless, but we still sin.
If we devote ourselves to the Holy Spirit and walk with Him, He is able to
help us in overcoming our natural tendency to sin. One reason why this is
so is because we have our
attention fixed on Jesus instead of our sinful nature. The other reason is
that the Holy Spirit does have the ability to help us.
Note the words
"live by the Spirit". That's
a moment by moment thing. It's
not a Sunday morning meeting to Sunday morning meeting thing.
will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature " says a lot.
First of all, the words "will not" in Greek is a double
negative. This emphasizes the
fact that if you follow the Spirit, you will never never give into your
sinful nature. The important
thing then is to make ourselves available to the Holy Spirit.
The second thing
this phrase tells us is that we do have a sinful nature.
Becoming a Christian doesn't get rid of our sinful nature.
This also tells me that we sin because we are sinners.
We don't become sinners when we first sin.
Verse 17 sounds
a little like the whole chapter of
Romans 7 in a nut shell. It says, "For the sinful nature desires what
is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful
nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what
you want". This is the ever present struggle to deal with sin. We
should not feel condemned because we have to deal with sin. It is part of
the Christian life.
Again, if you do
not struggle with sin, you're either perfect, or you have given into sin.
I don't think any of us are perfect, so I believe if you don't have
the struggling match with sin in your life, you have indeed given into
sin, and you're not worrying about it.
I see too many Christians going their merry way and not being
involved in the conflict that Paul is speaking of here.
Paul goes on to
say in verse 18 that "if you are led by the Spirit, then you are not
under the Law". Paul clearly says here that the Holy Spirit has
replaced the Law. This is the crux of the whole New Testament. The Old
Testament had an external Law to obey. The Law was something outside of
ourselves that gave us no power over sin. Now we have the Spirit of God
within us, giving us the power to overcome sin. This is the underlying
point of the New Testament. The
Holy Spirit in our lives gets right to the core of our sin problem,
something a law can't do, and that includes the Law of Moses.
Verse 18 puts it
pretty clearly. Paul says,
"if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law."
Paul was clearly led by the Spirit of God.
He did his best to do as the Spirit told him.
We should do the same. That
being said, we are not all like Paul.
Many of us get confused at times to what the Holy Spirit has really
told us. Sometimes Christians
do some pretty strange things in the name of the Holy Spirit, when you
know that the Spirit would not have told them to do such things.
That being said, Paul isn't speaking about being led by the Spirit
to prophesy or things like that. He
is speaking here about overcoming our sinful nature through the Holy
Spirit instead of the Law of Moses.
In verse 19 Paul
says that "the acts of the sinful nature are obvious".
It shouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what is sin and
what is not sin.
Paul lists a
number of acts of the sinful nature in verse 19 to 21.
In context, I believe these sins characterize the lifestyle of the
pagan culture these Gentile Christians came out of.
The same sins can be seen in our own culture today.
We're no different than the pagan society these people came out of.
I'm sure you could add to the list.
I don't think Paul was trying to make a complete list.
The first three
sins are sexual. The first is
sexual immorality which is simply a general word for sexual sins.
The next sin is sexual impurity, which is simply the wrong use of
sex. The next sin is
debauchery, which is flaunting ones sexuality in public.
All three of these sexual sins were ramped in Greek and Roman
culture. As a matter of fact,
they were part of Greek and Roman religious worship.
Sex and religion went hand and hand. You
would often see mass sexual orgies in the market squares of Roman cities.
The next two
sins are idolatry and witchcraft. Again,
this was part of Greek and Roman religious worship.
Idolatry is simply giving one's self to anything other than the
only true God. In the case of
these Gentile Christians, they were once idolaters because they worshipped
multiple gods. The word
"witchcraft" comes from the Greek word which we get our English
word "pharmacy" from. This
was in fact the mixing of drugs and religious worship, something that is
on the rise today. Evangelicals
may not use drugs to enhance their worship but they do use other things,
such as music. Some even use
incense, the burning of candles, and other new age influenced things.
The rest of
these sins are relational. Hatred
is simple to understand. It's surprising how this manifests itself in
church today. The next sin is
discord. You don't have to
look far to see discord in the modern church.
The Galatian churches were clearly struggling over this.
What camp would they fall in, Paul's camp or the false teachers
camp. Dissensions and factions
are similar. First comes the splits and then the separation into various
We also see fits
of rage in this list. I've
personally seen fits of rage in church, and even in a Sunday morning
is another sin. Pushing one's
way to the top of the ecclesiastical maze today is very prevalent.
Viewing pastoring as a career and not a ministry provides lots of
opportunity for selfish ambition. Always wanting your own way is the heart
of many relational problems, and that includes those in church.
Envy is a sin,
and it's a bad enough sin that Paul points it out.
Such things as envy and jealousy disrupt relationships in all areas
The last two
sins that Paul mentions here are drunkenness and orgies.
We know from what Paul told the Corinthian church that they had
problems with people getting drunk in church gatherings. Drunkenness was
also a part of Greek and Roman religion. There was actually a god of wine.
"orgies" here is often thought of these days in terms of
"sexual orgies", and that can be part of the meaning to this
word, but it's more than that. What
the Greek suggests here is "a party atmosphere".
Wow, in many instances the modern church is more about a party
atmosphere than anything else.
Paul ends this
list of sins in verse 21 with the words "and the like".
This tells us that many more sins could be added to this list.
Paul then says
that "those who live like this will not inherit the
What we can't
say from this sentence is that any particular sin can't get us unsaved, as
many try to make this verse say. Only
unbelief, that is, rejecting Jesus, gets us unsaved or causes us to fall
from grace. What Paul is
saying here is that these people are already unsaved, that is why they are
committing all these sins.
We should note
that all Christians struggle with sin, these sins included.
What Paul is saying here is that people who live out these sins,
make them their way of life, can't live in the Kingdom
In verses 22 and
23 we have the nine well known fruit of the Spirit. Paul says that
"there is no law against these". You can do all the good things
you want. No law will stop you. Just remember that these acts of love are
a result of God’s Spirit living within you. They do not constitute
salvation in themselves. They are a result of our salvation. They are a
result of your faith.
Note the word
"fruit" in verse 22. An
apple tree, if in good health, naturally produces fruit.
That should be the way with Christians.
If we live by the Holy Spirit; if He is our source of life, we will
naturally produce the good characteristics that Paul sets forth here.
The first fruit
is love. Some actually feel
that love is the fruit here, and that the others in the list is a
by-product of love. The word
"love' here in Greek is "agape", a word that is quite
familiar in Christian circles today. The
Greek word "phileo" was the more common word for love in Roman
society. It simply means
"brotherly love'. "Agape"
was a Greek word but not used very often so Christians took that word and
Christianized it to mean "God's kind of love".
When Paul says
that love is produced when we live by the Spirit, he is saying that the
same kind of selfless love that God has for us will be seen in how we
The next fruit
is joy. Living by the Spirit
does produce a deep heart felt joy in one's life.
This is not a superficial joy.
Just because someone is a happy go lucky person, that does not mean
he has true joy. A happy go
lucky person from my experience can easily turn on you in a moment.
Peace is another
fruit of the Spirit. That is,
peace with God because we are no longer His enemy, and, peace in God
because we have a sense of security found in Jesus.
Peace is what we all want, and it only comes through the Holy
Patience is the
next fruit of the Spirit. Today's
world sure lacks in patience. You
see it on the news and in the media. We
jump all over each other. The
Holy Spirit can produce a good measure of patience in our lives with each
The next fruit
of the Spirit is kindness. Kindness
is the opposite of selfishness. The
more we live by the Spirit, the more we will become like Jesus, a selfless
The next fruit
is goodness. Doing good things
for others marks the life ruled by the Holy Spirit.
the next fruit. This too is
something that is sadly lacking in today's world, even the Christian
world. It's seen in divorce
rates, church splits, and a myriad of other things.
The next fruit
is gentleness. Gentleness, or
being humble, is channeled strength. Gentleness
does not imply weakness. When
one is gentle, you know that he is secure in himself and therefore can
allow himself to deal softly and gently with others.
One who is not secure in himself must push his way around.
The last fruit
is being self-controlled. This
is not humanism. The Holy
Spirit clearly gives us the power to control ourselves.
To the degree that we have self-control over sin is the degree to
which we live by the Spirit of God.
All these fruits
are called "fruit of the Spirit" because they naturally come
from the Spirit of God who are these things.
Verse 23 ends
with the words "against such there is no law".
Paul still hasn't forgotten the Law of Moses.
He says that there is no law that says we can't do these things.
This is simply another way of saying, "if you do these things,
you're actually fulfilling the Law of Moses".
In verse 24 Paul
says that if you belong to Christ, then you have crucified the sinful
flesh. This is a hard verse to
figure out for some. In
Galatians 2:20 we noted that Jesus crucified our sinful flesh.
Here Paul says we have killed our sinful nature.
Simply put, Jesus has killed our sinful nature but it's now our
place to bring this death out in practical ways.
Verse 25 says
that "since we live by the Spirit we should keep in step with the
Spirit". You might think
that living by the Spirit would be the same as keeping in step with the
Spirit, but apparently not. We
should allow the Spirit to rule us, and once He rules over us, we then
should pay attention to Him in every step we take.
He is our guide. Too
often Christians have other guides, which might well include mentors, but
when it comes right down to it, the bottom line is the Holy Spirit is our
Paul ends this
chapter with the admonition to not become conceited or envious of each
other. The sins of our fallen
human nature divide us. The
fruit of the Spirit brings us together, and this was the prayer of Jesus
Himself in John 17. This is
what the Body of Christ really needs today.
This is what the world needs to see in us.
From verse 22 to
the end of chapter 5 is a very short version of Romans 8. Paul says that
we have victory over sin when we live according to and with the help of
the Holy Spirit. He says in verse 25 that we should "keep in step
with the Holy Spirit". Simply put, we should walk with Him during our
lifetime. He should always be by our side, because in reality, He is
chapter 5 by saying that "we should not become conceited, provoking
and envying each other". The church in many instances is just that.
Instead of walking in the love of the Spirit, we divide into factions.
interesting for me to note that Paul’s structure of his letter to the
Galatians is very similar to that of Romans but in a condensed format. In
both letters he lays out what faith is all about. He tells his readers
that the Law is no more, and that good works do not bring us to Jesus. It
is only by relying on Jesus that we can be saved. Then here in chapter 5
we have a condensed version of Romans 7, the chapter where Paul goes on at
length about not being able to do the things he should do. Then in Romans
8 he tells us about the Holy Spirit who is able to deliver us from sin. He
does the same in these last few verses of Galatians 5. Then chapter 6 of
Galatians is a short version of Romans 12 to 16, the practical outworking
of our faith.