We have reached the final part of our study on the letter to the Galatians. Last week we looked at the themes of faith, the law and identity. For the final part of the study; Paul addresses the truth of freedom in Christ. In a believer knowing freedom in Christ, it enables their life to be led by the Spirit. Paul circles back to what the primary purpose of the letter was regarding the Galatians falling under the belief that they needed to be circumcised. How he hopes they can move on from this now by having a perspective on what truly matters. Enabling them to focus on their relationship with the Lord and each other.
Let us take time to read and meditate on God’s Word. As always, I would recommend for you to do your own reading and exploration of the letter. I do hope these Bible studies have helped us to grow a little more in our love for Jesus and for God’s Word.
Living in the freedom of Christ.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery. (5:1)
Paul is brutally honest to the Galatians about what it would mean if they chose to be circumcised. The slavery he talks about regarding the law, is due to them being obligated to follow the whole law. A burden they were never meant to carry in the first place. Paul says in choosing to follow the law; they alienate themselves from Christ and therefore fall away from grace.
You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (5:4)
Instead of allowing themselves to be swayed by the obligations of those around them. They should be focused on the hope which was originally shared with them.
For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love. (5:5-6)
Paul wants the Galatians to understand what truly matters. Previously in the letter he says that all are one in Christ, it does not matter who you are, you are all one in Christ Jesus. A life of faith is lived in hope of what has been promised. The way they live their life is important. Not in the sense of abiding by the law but through living out their faith; which is expressed in love to those around them.
Paul does not want the Galatians to lose the freedom which Jesus has blessed them with due to their belief in Him. Paul speaks harshly over the people who have tried to mislead them into losing their freedom and replacing it with obligation to the law. Throughout the letter, Paul wants the Galatians to understand it is their choice. Their choice will either have a good or bad impact on their life of faith.
A life led by the Spirit.
In knowing the freedom, they have received from Christ, the Galatians can know a life led by the Spirit. In their freedom, it is no longer about gratifying the flesh but about serving the Lord and one another. A life led by the Spirit will be in constant conflict with the flesh. Paul distinctly separates the acts of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealously, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (5:19-21)
Ultimately the acts of the flesh are caused by looking out for oneself. They are selfish without little care for who they impact and hurt. Acts of the flesh, dishonour God and they hurt those around the individual.
As for the fruit of the Spirit…
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is now law. (5:22-23)
The fruit of the Spirit, honours God and honours others. It brings life and purpose to the believer. The fruit of the Spirit is fulfilling and good because it is of God.
Paul wants them to understand that the acts of the flesh will only lead to envy; which will lead them to devour and destroy each other. Whereas a life led by the Spirit leads to denial of all desires of the flesh.
Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires. (5v24)
This denial is not a one-time act, but it is a lifelong commitment. Which enables the believer to serve and love the Lord whole-heartedly. Whereas the flesh is only about serving the needs and gratification of the individual, at the expense of the people around them.
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. (5v14)
Serving one another and doing good.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. (6v2)
Looking out for one another is vital, so a brother and sister is not misled. Serving one another and working together as the body of Christ.
Paul encourages the Galatians to continue to do good and not to become weary. At the right time, what they have sowed they will reap. Paul reminds the Galatians that God cannot be mocked, where a believer chooses to sow from, from that he will reap.
Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (5:7-8)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (5:9-10)
There is no pretence that the work is not hard. It takes persistence and it takes patience. At the right time, what has been sown will eventually be reaped. There needs to be discipline and hope. Even in the hardship, not to give up and give in to desires of the flesh; instead to keep doing good especially to those around them.
Perspective on what truly matters.
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision mean anything; what counts is the new creation. (6v15)
Those who wanted the Galatians to be circumcised were only doing it for their own gain. There was no real thought for the Galatians faith, it was only for the individuals to look good. As Paul points out, even those who were circumcised did not keep the law. They only wanted the Galatians to be circumcised so they could boast.
Paul encourages the Galatians to be focused on what truly matters as a believer in Christ. To hold onto the faith which was first established in them by their belief in the gospel and to wait upon all that was promised to them. As they keep their eyes on Christ instead of trying to please fellow believers around them; they can move forward in freedom with their life led by the Spirit. Instead of a life chained to the obligations of the law.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen. (6:18)
As we come to the end of the bible study on Galatians, I wanted us to take time to focus on some verses from Galatians especially regarding a life led by the Spirit. I have taken it from the MSG version of the Bible. It was something shared with me after a conversation I had with someone a few years ago. I cannot remember the full extent of the conversation, but it was a reminder to allow my life to always be the led by the Spirit. It will be where the true fruit comes from and where there will be true fulfilment.
Maybe some of us, like the Galatians, do struggle to know the freedom within our faith. Hands up, I do. For some of us knowing there is freedom and grace, means we do tend to gratify the flesh more. For others of us, having always being controlled by something or someone. It is easier for us to allow others to dictate how we should live out our faith.
The wonderful thing about the freedom Christ has given us, is we all get to walk differently and purposefully with Him. We all have our own path to walk. There will be ups and downs along that path. At times we will realise we are moving more towards the desires of the flesh and will need to deny ourselves those. There should be no shame but there is conviction. The conviction comes from a loving and a good place. At times we will walk with people and other times we may walk our path alone for a while. I hope we will always be encouraged to have our own personal faith with Jesus and to walk with Him daily.
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard- things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone calls necessities is killed off for good- crucified.
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is original. (Galatians 5:22-26) (MSG)
God bless, love Victoria. xx