About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

Home Page    

Chapters 5

Previous Sectuib - Chapter 4  

Next Section - Chapter 6

ch.1:5-15   ch. 5:16-26

Freedom In Christ (ch. 5:1 – 15)

 

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 morning meeting. 

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 Moses.    

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 forever. 

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. 

The word "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 righteous.

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 have today.

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 wrong.     

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.

At this point you might remember in Acts 26 that Paul had Timothy circumcised in order for him to be more effectively used in the gospel among the Jews.  What we need to understand here is that Paul was not having Timothy circumcised for the purpose of salvation.  He would never do such a thing.  On the other hand, as we saw in Galatians 2, Paul did not have Titus circumcised because in that instance, it would have meant he was circumcised for the purpose of salvation, and again, he would never do that.  

What does 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 cut 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.   

Picture yourself 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 Spirit  

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 error. 

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.      

Paul says 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.   

Notice Paul 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.    

 

Life By The Spirit (ch. 5:16 –26)

 

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 perfect.

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.

"And you 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 groups.

We also see fits of rage in this list.  I've personally seen fits of rage in church, and even in a Sunday morning meeting.

Selfish ambition 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 of life. 

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. 

The word "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 Kingdom of God '.  How you understand "the Kingdom of God " will determine how you interpret this sentence.  There are two aspects to the  Kingdom of God.  There is the present day spiritual Kingdom of God that Christians represent to the world.  Then there is the material Kingdom of God that will appear on the earth once Jesus returns to be King of His Kingdom.  If Paul is thinking of the present day Kingdom of God here, then he is saying that a Christian can't really live and participate in the Kingdom of God and live out the above sins.  If Paul is speaking of the Kingdom of God that will come in the next age, then we must see this sentence differently.  Those who live out the above sins are clearly not Christian, and in the case of these Galatians, they have "fallen from grace" as Paul says in verse 5 of this chapter.   

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 of God.     

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 treat others. 

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 Spirit.

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 other.

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 person.

The next fruit is goodness.  Doing good things for others marks the life ruled by the Holy Spirit.

Faithfulness is 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 final guide.

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 within us.

Paul closes 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.

It is 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.

Next Section - Chapter 6

Previous Sectuib - Chapter 4  

Home Page