Galatians 5:1

"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." NIV translation

In chapter four, Paul explained the fact that we are sons of God through our relationship with Jesus Christ. He begins, here, by explaining that Jesus has set us free from a religious system as nothing else is required for us to have that relationship. He strongly urges the Galatian believers to remain in that relationship and not turn back to a religious system that is, in fact, slavery. This may seem like strong words (and they are) because the situation is critical. Paul has walked us through the process of being saved by grace and now he is trying to get us to see that, if you try to add anything else to grace, you no longer have grace. A bird in a gilded (pretty) cage is still in a cage and not flying or walking in liberty. Paul was dealing with a situation in which some "leaders" (Judaizers) had tried to add obedience to the Ten Commandments as a requirement for salvation. The same type of thing happens in the "church" today but it is more subtle. Many "leaders" will preach grace until you do something that they do not like and, at that point, they will haul out the Ten Commandments and try to apply them to your situation. The simple fact of the matter is that they do not apply to us as we are saved by grace. If you say that to those "leaders", then, they will haul out the phrase "falling from grace" and try to tell you that you have lost your salvation. As we shall see, that is not what the phrase means and they need to examine themselves and their walk with Christ.

Galatians 5:2 & 3

"Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law." NIV translation

Here, Paul gives us the true meaning of "falling from grace". When he says that "Christ will be of no value to you at all", he is talking about the fact that God's grace is sufficient. You either accept that grace for salvation or you try to work at it on your own (you cannot have both grace and works). If you choose to follow laws for justification, then, you must perfectly obey them as Jesus did. You "fall from grace" when it becomes about your work instead of Jesus' work on the cross.

Galatians 5:4

"You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace." NIV translation

Paul repeats the fact that trusting in the law instead of the grace of God for salvation is what is meant by "falling from grace".

Galatians 5:5

"But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope." NIV translation

Our hope is in the faith that Jesus Christ has repaired our relationship with the Father. The Holy Spirit living in us helps us to wait in confidence of what is to come.

Galatians 5:6

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." NIV translation

The law, whether it is about circumcision or anything else, does not apply to those that have accepted Jesus. It is by faith in His finished work on the cross that we are saved and can walk in true freedom. When we understand that the work is finished and start walking in freedom, then, the love of Christ will simply flow out of us.

Galatians 5:7

"You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?" NIV translation

Paul tells the Galatian believers that they were doing well in a race speaking of the fact that they were trusting in the blood of Jesus for their salvation. When you are running in a race and someone cuts in front of you really close it can cause you to stumble and fall. He is asking them the question of who did that to them and tells us that the method they used to get them to stumble was disobeying the truth. Jesus said that He was the Way and the Truth and His blood is the only way that we can be saved. Adding anything to that is disobedience and will make you stumble and fall from grace.

Galatians 5:8 & 9

"That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 'A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.'" NIV translation

The preaching that occurs even today where the law is applied to those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ, is not from God but, in fact, is the devil trying to get in and cause confusion. Paul refers to yeast which represents sin throughout the Bible and so is calling this legalism sin. He says that a little bit of the law applied to a believer's salvation corrupts the whole plan of God which is salvation by grace alone.

Galatians 5:10

"I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be." NIV translation

Paul reassures the Galatian believers that he has confidence that they will stand on the gospel of grace which he preached. He also explains that the one that is trying to put them back under the law will answer for his actions. This reminds us of the responsibility of leaders in the body of Christ and the fact that they must be grounded in the gospel and not traditions.

Galatians 5:11

"Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished." NIV translation

As Saul (before Paul came to Christ) he preached circumcision (the law) and even hunted down Christians. The religious leaders liked him then but now that he was preaching about the grace of God they did not like him. When he talks about the "offense of the cross" he is talking about the fact that, to people that are trying to teach the law for salvation, the idea that Christ paid for our sins on the cross is offensive to them. It is the same even today when you speak about the radical grace of God. Many will still be offended by the fact that obedience to the law cannot bring salvation and the grace of God brings freedom from the law.

Galatians 5:12

"As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!" NIV translation

Paul says that he wishes that the Judaizers would go the whole way and trust completely in the law instead of compromising the gospel of grace. That is what Jesus was saying to the church in Laodicea when He said that He wished they were either hot or cold (see Revelation 3:15 & 16).

Galatians 5:13

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love." NIV translation

Because of God's grace, we are free from sin and its penalties and that is the freedom that we have. Once we are free, we can choose to serve others in love or we can choose to focus on ourselves and what we desire. Paul urges the Galatian believers to focus on serving others out of the love that has been shown to us through Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5:14 & 15

"The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." NIV translation

If, in fact, we have tasted the grace of God, His love will naturally flow out of us and to those around us. This is what the world sees as works and the key is understanding that we do nothing to be saved but, because we are saved, God will use us and work through us to bring others to Him. If we love each other as ourselves, there will not be jealousy and fighting.

Galatians 5:16-18

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." NIV translation

If you are in Christ, then, "YOU ARE NOT UNDER LAW" but that is not the end of your freedom. You can make the choice to "live by" (walk in) the Spirit which means that you can truly turn your life over to Christ and win the battle against the sinful nature (flesh). The flesh and the Spirit are at war with each other so, if you will heed the prompting of the Spirit in your daily life, you will be given the power to overcome whatever has a hold on you.

Galatians 5:19-21

"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, 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 inherit the kingdom of God." NIV translation

We have a list of things here but, as Paul said, they "are obvious". It is interesting to note that he says those who "live like this" and not those who do this. This reminds us that God forgives sins and He will forgive these things and by the power of the Spirit these things can be overcome. Those who live in these things refers to the fact that they are doing these things regularly and are content with their life. If you are walking in the freedom of Christ, you will not be bound to these things and they are not the pattern of your life.

Galatians 5:22 & 23

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." NIV translation

Fruit grows automatically on a tree and the type of fruit produced depends on the type of tree. The same type of thing is true for people in that our actions will display the state of our relationship with God. If we are led by the Holy Spirit, then, we will display this list of characteristics in ever increasing measures. It does not depend on our efforts but is just a natural part of our life and walk in the freedom of the Lord.

Galatians 5:24

"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." NIV translation

This verse has been misinterpreted and many Christians have wondered why they still do many of the things that they did before they came to salvation through Jesus Christ. Crucifixion was not a sudden way of dying; it was quite the opposite as it could take quite a bit of time for the victim to actually stop breathing. It is much the same when we think of "crucified the sinful nature"; putting the victim (sinful nature) on the cross is the first step. In God's time and through the power of the Holy Spirit, the breathing (passions and desires) will slow and finally stop.

Galatians 5:25

"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." NIV translation

One of the first things that you learn when you join the military and go to basic training is how to march. Marching is basically walking as a group and this is done by everyone moving in the same way at the same time. This eliminates confusion, crashing into each other, and falling down. The key to marching is rhythm and someone that is put in charge to call out the steps. This is also true of the Christian walk and the One who is to call out the steps is the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:26

"Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." NIV translation

Pride is what caused Satan to be cast out of heaven and it is at the root of many sins. Paul reminds us that walking in freedom is also walking in humility because we are not free by our own efforts but by the grace of God. A common pride issue is when so-called "super Christians" begin to look down on others that are not walking in the Spirit. We must accept others where they are and help to lift them up to what God has for them.

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