"For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be
not entangled again in a yoke of bondage."
Paul is now making an
appeal for his readership to be steadfast in Christ. The
purpose of Jesus' death was to set mankind free from the bondage of
sin which the law of Moses could not do. The bondage of the
law of Moses was twofold. The law of Moses was full of all
kinds of rituals and tedious acts which had to be carried out in the
most minute of detail in order to be effective. Those who
would live faithfully under the law of Moses had to do all kinds of
things in order to live righteously before God, particularly in the
area dealing with the atonement of sin. So in that aspect, the
Jews lived under the bondage of all kinds of difficult and tedious
rituals which were a part of the law of Moses.
Secondly, we must keep
in mind that even after all of the ordinances were kept, the Jews
living under it were still under the bondage of sin because as we
learn from Acts 13:39, that the law of Moses was incapable of the
justification of sin: "and by Him [Jesus Christ], everyone
who believes is justified from all things from which you could not
be justified by the law of Moses". So we see here that the
Jews were living under the bondage of a law which could not release
them from the bondage of their sin.
Jesus did what He did on
the cross so that humanity could be set free from the bondage of
both the law of Moses and the bondage of their sin. Paul's
readership had been set free through their obedience to the gospel
as Paul had already affirmed in Galatians 3:26-29, "For you are
all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you
as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither
Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither
male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you
are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to
Paul is urging his
readership to resist the teachings of those who would bring them
back under the bondage of the law and to stand firm and steadfast in
their freedom. What Paul is not saying here is that they are
free to sin and that there is no law whatsoever governing the
actions of a Christian. Many people today try and use this
passage to set forth the idea that Paul is teaching against
obedience to the law of Christ. Such a notion should be rejected
outright. Christians are obligated under the law of Christ.
The law of Moses was replaced with the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2)
and the law of Christ does contain ordinances of its own which Paul
referenced in 1 Corinthians 11:1-2. There are things under the
law of Christ which must be done in order to live a righteous life
before God and inherit eternal life. None of these required
works of righteousness in and of themselves will earn the Christian
a home in heaven, nor do they merit God's favor in any way.
God does not owe humanity anything when they submit to His authority
and obey Him. Freedom from the law of Moses is not the freedom
to sin. Neither is the freedom from sin a license to sin.
Paul made this perfectly
clear in Romans 6:1-2, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue
in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we
who died to sin live any longer in it?" and then later in the
same context he repeats it and then explains that the freedom from
the slavery of sin means that Christians have submitted themselves
as slaves of God: Romans 6:15-18, "What then? Shall we sin
because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!
16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to
obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin
leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But
God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed
from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18
And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of
This concept is further
expounded on by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:22, "For he who is called
in the Lord while a slave is the Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is
called while free is Christ's slave." The immediate
context of this verse is dealing with literal slaves of the first
century. Paul is telling them not to seek the freedom from their
masters, but to abide faithfully in their present state. But
in this context Paul makes a broad statement which supersedes the
immediate context. It matters not whether a Christian is
living as a slave or a free citizen, he or she is still Christ's
Therefore those who
believe and teach that Paul means the freedom from the law of Moses
means the freedom from the law of Christ are in serious error.
They are reading more into the text than the overall context of
Galatians and the rest of scripture warrants. The only law
Paul is warning his readership against falling into the bondage of
here is the law of Moses.
"Behold, I Paul say unto you, that, if ye receive circumcision,
Christ will profit you nothing."
Circumcision was the
main issue that the Judaizers were pushing on the Galatian
Christians. It was their contention that it was necessary to
first become a son of Abraham in order to come to Christ. A
Jew living under the law of Moses saw circumcision as an outward act
which accomplished two things. First it was a necessary step
one had to take in order to become a Jew and be identified as a son
of Abraham. Secondly it was an outward symbol of one's
commitment to accept, follow and live by the law of Moses.
What Paul is saying here
is that anyone dedicates themselves to the law of Moses, there is no
benefit whatsoever from Christ. Paul has built a case against
the law of Moses since verse six of the first chapter. Paul
dove immediately into the topic he wanted to address with them as
soon as his short salutation was completed and he has not let up
since then. He has consistently built his case from the ground
up. The case he has made against it is...
1) They received
the gifts of the Holy Spirit through the gospel preached by Paul and
not through the teachings of the Judaizers.
2) Those who live
by the law of Moses live under the curse of the old law.
3) The blessings
of Abraham could not come through the law of Moses.
4) The law was
only a guardian/protector whose entire purpose was only to bring the
people to Christ.
5) Those who lived
under the law of Moses still had to be redeemed. The law of
Moses was incapable of redemption.
6) One does not
come to be in Christ through the old law. It is done through
baptism which is exclusive to the gospel.
7) Jews and
Gentiles alike were the sons of God where Gentiles were excluded
under the old law.
8) Those living
under the law of Moses were servants where those in Christ are
9) The Allegory of
Sarah and Hagar teaches that there can be no shared inheritance
between the law and the gospel.
10) Those who commit to
the Judaizers doctrine can expect nothing from Christ. Christ
will benefit them nothing.
And now, Paul is about
to wrap the whole thing up in some summary statements that are
designed to leave no doubt whatsoever in the minds of his readership
as to the final consequences they faced if they did not repent and
return to the gospel he had preached to them at the first.
"Yea, I testify again to every man that receiveth circumcision, that
he is a debtor to do the whole law."
And now on top of
everything else that Paul had explained to his readership, he now
drops this bombshell in their midst. Those who accepted the
doctrine of the Judaizers and had committed themselves to following
their lead now have found themselves in the unhappy position of
being required to observe all of the law of Moses.
The Judaizers were not
trying to bind all of the old law on them. Only parts of it
here and there. This is evidence that these Judaizers were not
teaching then the entire law of Moses. They were in fact
teaching a combination of the two. They believed in Jesus
Christ but they were forcing the Gentiles to observe specific parts
of old law while not bothering them with the whole thing. If
such had been the case, the Galatian Christians would have been
traveling to Jerusalem and offering animal sacrifices at the temple.
The temple was still standing and being used for Levitical worship
by Jews who had rejected Christ.
Paul is telling them
that if they are going to accept anything out of the old law in any
way, they had better plan on doing the whole old law. That
means the atoning sacrifices, the Passover, the yearly pilgrimages
to the temple, the tithing, etc, etc. Paul told them if they
did any of it, they had to do it all. They were not allowed to
mix and match the two. The two systems are mutually exclusive
and if you are going to choose the old law, then it has to be the
old law all the way. And here's the irony of it all. If
they did choose the old law, Paul had already told them that it was
incapable of their redemption. So in reality, Paul just told
them to keep any part of the old law whatsoever obligated them to do
all of a law which could not save them.
There is nothing
inherently wrong with circumcision in and of itself, but what makes
it wrong is when it is done as a means of identifying oneself as a
child of God under the old law. Paul wrote concerning
circumcision itself as an act in 1 Corinthians 7:19, "Circumcision
is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the
commandments of God is what matters." The religious ceremony of
circumcision was the equivalent of adopting the law of Moses. There is an application
for Christians beyond Galatia on this. Of utmost importance
here is the fact that if circumcision as a commitment to the law of
Moses makes one a debtor to the whole law of Moses in Galatia of the
first century, then we today can be assured that such a thing would
be true today as well. And not just circumcision either; this
consequence can be understood to apply to any ordinance, precept or
commandment that is unique to the law of Moses and not part of the
law of Christ.
For example, under the
old law of Moses, part of the Levitical worship included the burning
of animal sacrifices and the burning of incense. Nowhere in new
covenant worship is there ever a hint of animal sacrifices or the
burning of incense. The animal sacrifices and burning of
incense is unique to the law of Moses in that regard therefore the
observation of either if these in new testament worship would carry
the same consequence as receiving circumcision. According to
what Paul is saying here, if one is going to burn incense in worship
to God, they make themselves a debtor to the whole old law of Moses
from the animal sacrifices on. This also extends to the use of
manmade instruments of music as well (2 Chronicles 29:25). Almost all of the
denominational organizations use manmade musical instruments in
their worship on a regular basis. Paul says to do this makes
them a debtor to the animal sacrifices, the feasts, the yearly trips
to Jerusalem and all the other commandments which are a part of the
old law of Moses. The ramifications of this are unmistakable
and the consequences for this are spelled out plainly in the next
"Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the law; ye
are fallen away from grace."
The Galatian Christians
had been baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27), they had received
the blessing promised to Abraham that Paul spoke of, They had
received the redemption mentioned in Galatians 3:13 from the curse
of the law, they were Christians but now, because of their apostasy
into the old law of Moses, they had been severed from Christ.
They had fallen from Grace. Because of what they had done,
they were no longer in a position to inherit eternal life.
The old law of Moses
could not justify anyone in the first place (Acts 13:39), moreover,
to try to appeal to the law of Moses in any way carries the
consequence of being severed from Christ and falling from the favor
of God. Because of their accepting the teachings of the
Judaizers, these once faithful Christians in body of Christ found
themselves in a state where if they were to die in the flesh, they
would be eternally separated from God. To be severed from
Christ is to be separated from God.
Jesus Christ died to
usher in the gospel system of faith. To appeal to the law of Moses
for justification is to reject Christ, all of His teachings and His
blood in favor of a system of law that had been fulfilled, abolished
and was inferior to the new law in every aspect. Paul has made
it clear throughout this letter that the law of Moses was inferior
to the law of Christ and totally inadequate to accomplish what the
law of Christ was capable of. He has made it crystal clear
that the promises of Christ were not dependant in any way on
anything from the law of Moses. Christians have direct access
to God through Christ and do not in any way whatsoever come to
Christ through the law of Moses. When God fulfilled the law of
Moses, it was replaced with the law of Christ. And now, after
all of this, Paul drops this bombshell on them. If after all
they had learned from Paul concerning the two laws and they
persisted in their folly and insisted on trying to get to God
through the law of Moses, they have in effect rejected all that
Christ did for them to bring them a much better way and this
resulted in Christ rejecting them. What we need to take away
from this is that to follow in any way the law of Moses is to reject
Christ. And to do so will bear the consequences of being
severed from Him and to fall from His grace.
There is a doctrine out
in the religious world which advocates that a Christian once saved can never so sin as to lose his or her salvation. This
doctrine is called Once Saved Always Saved and it finds its roots in
Calvinism. The Galatians to
whom Paul was writing to were Christians. They had been
baptized into Christ. And now some of them were severed from Christ.
Since we have here a record of Christians being severed from Christ,
the doctrine of OSAS cannot be true for all Christians. the
law of Christ applies equally to all humanity. If any Christian can be
severed from Christ and fall from grace for any reason, then all
Christians can, whether
living in the first century or the 21st.
"For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of
"Through the Spirit"
means according to what the Holy Spirit of God revealed to them and
not the old law. Paul is here contrasting what he had been
teaching them with what the Judaizers were teaching by referring to
his teachings as being through the Spirit of God. The logical
opposite here is that what the Judaizers had been teaching was not
through the Spirit and Paul had already successfully communicated
this to them earlier in the letter.
At this time in the
Christian age, the Holy Spirit was working actively to provide the
word of God in its entirety. In the beginning the Holy Spirit
had a much more active role but as time went on and more of the word
of God was recorded, we see the Holy Spirit taking a step back in
favor of the written word. A case in point is this very letter
that was being written. Paul wrote this letter to established
churches with Christians in them who had received the gifts of the
Holy Spirit on a prior occasion as we learned in Galatians 3:2,
where he asked them, "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of
the law, or by the hearing of faith?" A list of the
miraculous gifts is given in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, "But the
manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of
all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit,
to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to
another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by
the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another
prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different
kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues."
The miraculous gifts of knowledge and prophecy were part of the
miraculous gifts and this helped to provide God's word in times when
it was needed. So we see here that this information being sent
to the Christians in Galatia was not coming via the Holy Spirit,
rather it was coming through Paul's letter. So also was the
information given by letter to the Ephesians, the Corinthians, the
Colossian and many others through letters. If the Holy Spirit
had of supplied everyone in the 1st century with all the truth, then
there would have been no need for Paul, James, Peter, Jude, John and
others to have written anything. So we can conclude that the
Holy Spirit was working things so that the word of God would be
revealed in written form.
The Galatians received
all of God's word through the Spirit, either directly or by the hand
of Paul through verbal or written communication. In any event,
it was all authoritative and it was complete regardless of the
medium through which it came. The application for us today is
that now the entire will of God for mankind today comes exclusively
through the word of God. The Holy Spirit does not reveal
anything new today. It was all revealed in the first century:
2 Peter 1:3, "as His divine power has given to us all things that
pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who
called us by glory and virtue", and what we have recorded by
inspiration is sufficient to furnish us who live in the 21st century
and beyond: 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is given by
inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God
may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
"wait for the hope of righteousness."
The hope of
righteousness is the hope we have in Christ. We hope for a
home in heaven where we can be in the literal presence of God
forever. This hope we all wait for is available only through
living a righteous or rightful life. John wrote in 1 John 3:7,
"Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices
righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous."
Peter said as recorded in in Acts 10:35, "But in every nation
whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him."
A contextual paraphrase of what Paul means here could read, 'For we
through the teachings of the Spirit of God and not through the
teachings of the Judaizers, wait for the hope of the blessing and
good for which our conformity to His will in purpose, thought and
action leads us to live righteous lives.'
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor
uncircumcision; but faith working through love."
Those who live "in
Christ" have nothing spiritual to gain from being circumcised as a
commitment to the law of Moses. Nothing the Judaizers were
teaching had any benefit for them at all. The only thing that
does benefit is living by the system of faith in Christ through
love. The Greek word of "love" in this verse is "agape" love
which is that love which is a self sacrificing love which compels
one to act in another's best interest no matter the personal cost.
Resist the Judaizers
"Ye were running well; who hindered you that ye should not obey the
Paul is telling them
here that they were on the right path originally. Notice that
Paul said they were "running". Paul used this idea of
running in other writings such as 1 Corinthians 9:24, where he
wrote, "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but
one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it."
This verse is in the context of salvation so we know the crown Paul
is referring to is that crown of life mentioned in James 1:12 and
"who hindered you"
That's a rhetorical
question. Paul knew they understood exactly who was hindering
them by promoting the Judaizing heresy. He want them to
reflect back on what he had already written and answer that question
"that ye should not
obey the truth?"
Truth must be obeyed.
This notion of many in the religious world that believe and teach
that salvation can be obtained on the basis of faith alone will
point to Paul's contrast of the law of Moses and the system of faith
in Christ and try to place both the old law and the law of Christ in
the same category. By doing this, they try and set forth the
idea of a passive faith where God has no expectations and the
Christian has no obligations. These people will point to
select passages to support their doctrine and just pass over ones
like this and thereby project only a partial view of the truth.
Any teaching based on an incomplete view of God's truth is not truth
at all. The whole counsel of God must be observed, not just
that which is easy and does not place obligations on us. One
cannot just believe the truth and be pleasing to God. Truth
must be obeyed.
Of significance here to
the topic of salvation by faith alone is that Paul had just finished
telling them that to appeal to the law of Moses caused them to fall
from grace. Once saved Christians who were previously running
acceptably the race of Christian faith now found themselves outside
God's grace. What the Judaizers had been teaching was
different than what Paul had taught and was therefore not the truth.
These Christians had fallen from grace because they obeyed something
that was not the truth. These Galatian Christians still
believed in Jesus Christ. They were just taught by the
Judaizers that they had to go through the law of Moses in order to
get to Christ. They were believers, they had faith in Jesus
Christ, but because of something they were doing, they had fallen
from grace. If salvation were obtainable on the basis of faith
alone, then there are no actions that could cause one to fall from
grace. It would be impossible for anyone to fall from grace if
salvation were by faith alone and the Christian believed in Jesus,
yet we have an example right here of Christians who did based on
something they did.
The obvious conclusion
is that truth cannot just be believed. It must be obeyed.
The Gospel cannot be just believed, it must be obeyed (2
Thessalonians 1:8, 1 Peter 4:17). God's will cannot just be
believed, it must be obeyed (Matthew 7:21). The Galatian
Christians had been deceived into thinking they did not have to obey
the truth. They are not alone. Millions of people today
are being lured into a false security of thinking the very same
"This persuasion (came) not of him that calleth you."
The persuasion they had
received from the Judaizers did not in any way come from God.
It was Paul who delivered the gospel to them in the first place but
ultimately the calling was from God. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14,
"But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren
beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for
salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the
truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of
the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
"A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."
The Galatian Christians
far outnumbered the Judaizers, however, the influence of a few had
worked its way through the churches of Galatia to the degree that
many had been severed from Christ and fallen from grace. Paul
uses the imagery of yeast in causing bread dough to rise. A
little bit of leavening yeast will work its way through the entire
batch of bread dough until all of it is affected.
This use of leaven as
figure for the spreading of corruption is a common one in scripture.
1 Corinthians 5:7
"Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump,
since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was
sacrificed for us."
Matthew 16:6 "Then
Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the
Pharisees and the Sadducees."
Mark 8:15 "Then
He charged them, saying, "Take heed, beware of the leaven of the
Pharisees and the leaven of Herod."
It only takes a little
error to so corrupt the truth that it is no longer the truth.
It is often times the greatest danger we face is from corruption
from within which can lead to a departure from the truth by the
whole congregation. Every single Christian in any given
congregation commits sin from time to time. There is no such
thing as a congregation of Christians who do not sin. Neither
is there any such thing as a congregation of Christians who are in
the same place in their journey for the truth. The danger
comes from the sinner in the midst of the group who practices sinful
behavior as a lifestyle, refuses to repent and openly and actively
teaches or promotes sinful behavior.
The danger Paul is
warning his readership of is the danger of the doctrine of the
Judaizers spreading throughout the congregations and leading them
completely away from Christ. This suggests that the apostasy
of the Galatian churches was not complete at the time of Paul's
writing, but if left unchecked, much like leaven working its way
through a whole lump of dough, the results within the churches will
be that they will be completely corrupted.
"I have confidence to you-ward in the Lord, that ye will be none
otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment,
whosoever he be."
Paul has confidence in
his Galatian brethren that they will want to do what's right when
they know what the truth is. And he finishes this thought off
by letting them know that the Judaizers, every last one of them,
whoever they may be, will suffer the judgment of condemnation for
what they have done.
Paul had just told them
that whoever succumbed to the teachings of the Judaizers had been
severed from Christ and fallen from grace, now he is pronouncing a
similar fate on those who were the cause of their apostasy.
Both the deceived and the deceivers alike in this situation are
going to be lost. The application for us today is the same.
Those who come in to our assemblies today teaching error are going
to be just as lost as those who fall pray to their apostasy.
Everybody loses in such a predicament. That is why we today
must be vigilant, ready and willing to stand stedfast in the truth
and take such steps when necessary to defend it.
"But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why
am I still persecuted? then hath the stumbling-block of the cross
been done away."
Most of the more
dependable sources of scholarship believe this refers to the
allegations of the Judaizers that Paul himself taught circumcision.
They evidently backed this up by appealing to the known instance of
Paul's circumcision of Timothy, whose father was Greek and mother
was Jewish (Acts 16:3). Paul's reason for doing that,
however, had nothing whatever to do with Timothy's salvation, but
was for the purpose of avoiding and frustrating Jewish persecution.
Under the circumstances, with Timothy's father being a Greek, it was
impossible for Timothy to be effective in the ministry because of
their prejudice against the uncircumcised.
Paul is asking his
readership that if he were preaching circumcision as a matter of
salvation, then why are the Jews still persecuting him? If
Paul were really teaching circumcision as a matter of salvation,
then the one main contention between him and the Jews would have
been eliminated. Their persecution of Paul in that regard
would have stopped. But it didn't as Paul here attested.
"then hath the
stumbling-block of the cross been done away."
If Paul had taught
circumcision as a necessity for salvation, then he would not have
been persecuted by the Jews. The gospel would have been
compromised and would cease to be offensive to the Jewish
unbelievers. The cross did away with the old law completely.
This included circumcision as a requirement for the child of God.
Because of the cross, circumcision went from being something
necessary as a binding part of Jewish law to something one could
take or leave on a voluntary basis with no religious significance
whatsoever. The unbelieving Jews just couldn't accept that,
and if they had been right in not accepting it, then the cross of Christ
which represented the end of these things would have been done away
The cross being referred
to a stumbling-block by Paul means that the cross was an impediment
in the way of what the Judaizers were teaching. The cross
represents the end of Law of Moses; Ephesians 2:14-16, "For He
Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the
middle wall of separation,
15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of
commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one
new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might
reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross,
thereby putting to death the enmity." The "law of
commandments" meaning the Mosaic law was abolished at the cross.
The cross was therefore an obstacle that would have been taken out
of the way if Paul were preaching circumcision. The cross and
the law of Moses are therefore mutually exclusive and as we have
seen in our study of earlier verses, they cannot be mixed, or
combined in any way shape or form.
This age old tradition of circumcision of Jewish men
was keeping many Jews from converting to Christianity because they
just couldn't bring themselves to let it go. But as Paul has made
clear throughout this letter, the cross of Christ cannot be removed
without compromising the truth. Circumcision no longer has any
religious significance whatsoever in the Christian age. The
old law in its entirety, including circumcision had been done away
"I would that they that unsettle you would even go
These may be some of the
harshest words ever penned by the beloved apostle Paul. We see
here the manifestation of his frustration with those who crept into
the church and led them astray. The NKJV renders this verse
thus, "I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut
themselves off!" With circumcision, only one's foreskin is
removed. Paul wanted them to go much further than a
traditional circumcision. The NIV has an excellent rendering
of this verse. Galatians 5:12
"As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and
emasculate themselves!" Paul was not happy at all with the
Judaizers and he communicates his frustration in a very vivid and
Love Fulfills the Law
"For ye, brethren, were called for freedom; only (use)
not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through love be
servants one to another."
Christians enjoy many
liberties which were unavailable to those living under the law of
Moses. Christians are free of the Mosaic Law which was
incapable of justifying anyone. The law of Moses was replaced
with the "law of Christ" as Paul refers to it in Galatians
6:2. James referred to the "law of Christ" as the "law
of liberty" in James 1:25 & 2:12. The law of Christ is a
law liberty because it liberates the Christian from the penalty of
sin, the guilt of sin and from the fear of condemnation. No
matter how well one followed the law of Moses, they could never be
released from penalty and guilt of sin and from the fear of
condemnation. The law of Moses was incapable of these things.
The best it was capable of achieving was the forgiveness of sin in
prospect, which was a temporary measure put in place until Christ's
shed blood at the cross provided the final redemption of those sins.
"And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by
means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the
first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of
the eternal inheritance." (NKJV)
What Paul is saying here
is that while Christians are called from the bondage of the old law
and the bondage of their sin, they should not use the liberty they
are blessed with as a chance or a reason for sinning.
Christ's law of liberty only works so long as one is faithful to
that law. Paul provides a list of sins of the flesh coming up
in verse 19-21 which if engaged in will keep any Christian out of
their inheritance in the kingdom of God. The law of
Christ provides no liberty for those who practice a sinful
Sadly, there are those
living today who believe that the law of liberty does indeed relieve
a Christian from their obligation to live according to their
desires. This is nothing new. There people living under
the law of Moses who thought the same thing. The attitude they
had mirrors the attitude some today have about their sin.
4Do not trust in these lying words, saying, 'The temple of the
Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.'
5 "For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you
thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor,
6 if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow,
and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other
gods to your hurt,
7 then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I
gave to your fathers forever and ever.
8 "Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit.
9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn
incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know,
10 and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called
by My name, and say, 'We are delivered to do all these
Today, people who have
this attitude have replaced the temple with the blood of and they go
about their lives thinking His blood delivers them from any
obligations to live in accordance with the will of God. The
freedom we have in Christ must never be understood to mean the
freedom to live as we see fit and Paul will make this clear in the
next few verses. People who try and set forth this idea of the
freedom in Christ as being free from the obligation of obedience to
God fail to take in the overall context of what Paul teaches
concerning the freedom Christians enjoy through the gospel.
"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, (even) in
this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
The "law" Paul is
referring to here is the "law of Christ," mentioned again in
Galatians 6:2, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the
law of Christ". This was also a commandment of the law of
Moses as recorded in Leviticus 19:18, "You shall not take
vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people,
but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord"
(NKJV). We know from the context of the entire letter that
Paul is referring here to the law of Christ because he has been
telling his readership all along that they are not supposed to
follow the law of Moses and now here is a law they are supposed to
follow. This is not the same law Paul has been condemning all
along. Christ himself had made the "first and great
commandment" to be the "love of God, and love of one's neighbor"
(Mark 12:29-31). There has never been a time when this was not
the primary obligation of anyone living in service to God.
In the immediate context
of Paul's letter, let's keep in mind that he had informed them that
followers of the Judaizers were severed from Christ, the Judaizers
themselves were condemned, having just made a statement that he
wished they would take their demands of circumcision much further on
themselves, followed by his comments of their doctrine working its
way throughout the church like leaven in bread dough. It's
time he made sure the actions his teaching on this subject were sure
to provoke within the congregations were carried out with the right
attitude. The Galatian Christians were faced with some tough
decisions. Paul's teaching here implied they had to act.
Paul wants to remind them that the actions they are to take are done
so in the proper manner and for the right reasons.
"But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that
ye be not consumed one of another."
The Judaizers had
succeeded in their goal to a degree. We know that a certain
percentage of the Christians in Galatia had fallen prey to their
teachings. To what extent we can only speculate, but from the
words of Paul, we can assume that the degree was enough that it had
taken a firm hold and threatened the very existence of the Lord's
church in that region. These Judaized members of the Lord's
church had to be instructed correctly. The error they had
fallen prey to had to be reversed. They had to be taught.
Paul wants this process to be carried out in love and without
destroying one another. The situation they were faced with if
handled incorrectly could cause them to consume one another with the
results being disastrous. Paul is telling them to make sure
the cure for the apostasy from within does not cause additional harm
within. Love and concern for one another is the key to making
the task before them more successful.
This is not to be
understood that severe action against error from within is not to be
engaged in. Paul makes this perfectly clear in 1 Corinthians 5
where we read some very strong words in regards to the dealing of
sin within a congregation. While love is always to be at the
heart of our actions, there comes a time when that love means doing
what's in the best interest of others, including those of the entire
congregation. And if such action does become necessary, it is
the responsibility of every Christian to take heed and be careful.
Sometimes action is necessary, but do your best to make sure you
don't consume each other and be lost as well.
Walking in the Spirit
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."
God's will for man is
revealed by the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor 2:9-13, "But as it is written:
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart
of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 10
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit
searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man
knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in
him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of
God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the
Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been
freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in
words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches..."
(NKJV). The Holy Spirit was responsible for revealing and
teaching God's will to the inspired men of the first century.
And nothing necessary was left out as taught in 2 Peter 1:3, "as
His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life
and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by
glory and virtue". And then in 2 Tim 3:16-17, Paul wrote,
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly
equipped for every good work." So we know from these
scriptures that the Holy Spirit revealed all of the will of God to
inspired men in the first century who then wrote it down in its entirety.
Therefore to walk in the
Spirit simply means to obey the teachings given by Him. In the
first century the Holy Spirit worked hand in hand with man to reveal
God's word and to get it recorded. Today, we have God's word
in written form. Walking in the Spirit for us today is the
same as it was in the first century. When we obey the word of
God, we are walking in the Spirit. By telling his readership
to walk by the Spirit, Paul is simply telling them to walk according
to the will of God. When one walks according to the will of
God, then one will not walk after the ways of his own desires.
Paul explains this in the next verse.
"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the
Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the
other; that ye may not do the things that ye would."
The inclinations and
desires of the flesh are contrary to those of the Spirit. They draw
us away in an opposite direction, and while the Spirit of God would
lead us one way, our fleshly desires would lead us another. As
noted from the previous verse, the reference to the "Spirit" here
refers to the Spirit of God who taught who was responsible for
delivering to mankind the will of God. Paul goes into great
detail in explaining the difference between the two in Rom 8:4-11, "that
the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do
not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For
those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things
of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things
of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be
spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is
enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor
indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please
God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the
Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit
of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is
dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of
righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the
dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also
give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you."
"that ye may not do
the things that ye would."
Quite simply, walking in
the Spirit means one cannot live according to their own desires.
The Christian who would live according to the will of God must set
their desires and passions aside and live in accordance to the will
"But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the
"The law" in this
context is the law of Moses. What the Spirit teaches and what
the law teaches are mutually exclusive. Paul has been writing
about fleshly desires and here he places the law of Moses in the
same category as one's fleshly desires. This is a very
significant point to draw from this context. The law of Moses
is placed in the same grouping as a whole list of sins of the flesh
coming up in the next verse. The obvious conclusion here is
that while the law of Moses had a purpose, that purpose has been
fulfilled and as a result of that fulfillment, any adherence to it
is a manifestation of the desires and passions of someone's heart as
opposed to the direction the Spirit of God would lead. The
Spirit of God and the law of Moses are mutually exclusive. The
law of Moses has been fulfilled and discarded utterly and
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are (these):
fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness"
Of great significance
here is that Paul has started a list of sins which when he finishes
states these things will keep one from their inheritance in the
kingdom of God. Some points to keep in mind here as we go
through this lengthy list is that first and foremost, Paul is
writing to Christians, some of who had been severed from Christ and
had fallen from God's grace. One prevalent modern doctrine
which this list destroys in the doctrine of 'once saved always
saved' (OSAS). If such a doctrine were true, then a Christian
would be able to practice the things in the coming list without any
danger of losing one's inheritance in the kingdom of God.
There is no hint in this verse that such is the case.
doctrine that this destroys is that Paul's teaching on grace and law
excludes a Christian from the necessity of strict obedience to the
will of God. If this were the case and "law" in the letter of
Galatians and elsewhere in scripture means the law of God under the
gospel age then the list Paul gives here would not keep one from
inheriting the kingdom of God.
And finally, the
doctrine of salvation byu faith alone is dealt a death blow here.
If salvation were obtained on the merits of faith alone, then it
would not be necessary to abstain from the list of fleshly sins
which Paul lists here. Christians would not have to stop
practicing a sinful lifestyle in order to inherit the kingdom of God
which Paul flatly denies in verse 20.
Paul starts his list
with the most obvious sins of the flesh. "fornication,
uncleanness, lasciviousness" This pretty well covers
any kind of sexual sin that can be engaged in. If one were to
make a table of sexual sins with these three headings, any one of
these types of sin could be listed under one or more of these three
categories. All sexual sin will keep one from inheriting the
kingdom of God.
"idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths,
factions, divisions, parties,"
literally means 'image worship'. This could be a pagan god or
any material thing which one would desire more than they desire God.
Concerning idolatry, Paul wrote in Colossians 3:5, "Therefore put
to death your members which are on the earth: fornication,
uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is
idolatry." Idolatry certainly means image worship but on a
broader scale, any material thing one may covet to the degree they
set aside God's law is also a form of idolatry.
Other translations render this as witchcraft or magic. Simon
the sorcerer Acts 8:9, "But there was a certain man called Simon,
who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the
people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great".
Paul listed this as a sin of the flesh.
This means hatred, hostility, or a reason for opposition.
Means to quarrel, or be contentious. The KJV renders
this as "variance".
Means envy or haughty indignation.
The NKJV renders this as "outbursts of wrath". An explosive
temper that leads one to sudden displays of anger.
The NKJV renders this as "selfish ambitions". The
original word carries the meaning of 'intrigue'.
This means disunion and dissention. The KJV renders this word
as seditions. Denominationalism would fall into this category
and is listed as a sin of the flesh which will keep one from
inheriting the kingdom of God. Paul wrote specifically about
this in his letter to the Christians in Corinth in 1 Corinthians
1:10-13, "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be
no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in
the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared
to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household,
that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each
of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of
Cephas," or "I am of Christ."
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you
baptized in the name of Paul?"
This appears to be a somewhat unclear translation of the original
text. The Greek word here carries the meaning of heresy or a
sect. "Parties" in the correct sense of the original language
would be groups of people who have separated themselves from the
truth. Denominationalism falls into this category as well if
not more so than under the heading of divisions. Denominations
are divisions from the body of Christ. Those who are involved
with them are members of entire groups of people who have separated
themselves from the body of Christ. It is interesting to note
here that this word in the original language is also used for the
word 'heresy' which is how the KJV & NKJV translate this word.
The NASB renders the original word as 'factions'.
"envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of
which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who
practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Means ill-will or spite
It should be noted here that the state of being intoxicated is where
the sin lies, therefore any substance which produced such an effect
would be included in this category. Alcohol is not the only
substance who's effect is intoxication.
Drinking parties, lewd celebrations, gatherings where fleshly
desires are commonly sought after. In modern days, drinking
establishments, wild parties, drinking parties, gatherings where
drugs are taken, etc, etc are what's in view here. The NIV and
the ESV render this as "orgies". This is probably due
to the fact that the original word comes from a root word which
means to lie outstretched.
" and such like"
Paul has provided a
fairly comprehensive list of sins of the flesh here for his
readership to examine. There may be some some similar
behaviors that people could deny as falling into a specific category
given by Paul. He eliminates that possibility right here by
adding that anything like these behaviors which may not be
specifically mentioned are included.
"of which I forewarn
you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Makes his case right
here very simple and easy to understand. those who practice as
a lifestyle any of the specific sins or anything of a similar nature
will not inherit the kingdom of God. This is another way of
saying "will not live in heaven with God". Those who are
denied entrance into the kingdom of God will not be living in heaven
with God for eternity.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of
God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor
adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor
extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
New King James Version
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,"
The fruit of the Spirit
here is given as the contrast to the sins of the flesh. Paul
is saying that the results of what the Spirit teaches, when lived
and rightly applied, bring about certain characteristics or
behaviors which manifest themselves in a Christian. And these
1) The fruit of "Love"
The first one on the
list is 'agape' love which is a selfless, sacrificial type of love
which leads oneself to act in the best interest of others. In
the Greek there is another word for the emotional type of love which
is "phileo". This type of love is one which denotes affection
or personal attachment as a matter of sentiment or feeling. We
have an example in scripture were both 'agape' and 'phileo' are used
in John 21:15-17, "So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to
Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love [agape] Me more
than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love [phileo]
You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs." 16 He said to him again a
second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love [agape] Me?" He said
to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love [phileo] You." He said to
him, "Tend My sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son
of Jonah, do you love [phileo] Me?" Peter was grieved because He
said to him the third time, "Do you love [phileo] Me?" And he said
to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love [phileo]
You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep."
It is very significant
here that Jesus asked Peter two times if he had that agape love for
Him and then the third time he had to change the word in order to
get an affirmative answer and Peter was grieved because of it.
And we need to keep in mind that this was after Jesus' resurrection
and Peter knew that he had denied Jesus on the night preceding his
crucifixion three times. So when Jesus asked Peter if he has
that 'agape' kind of love which will compel one to do what is in the
best interest of others no matter the personal cost, Peter was
unable to reply that he did because he felt a lot of personal guilt
over having denied Him. Peter chose the other kind of love in
its place, the love which denotes affection or personal attachment
as a matter of sentiment or feeling. The application we need
to make from this is that the love Paul says is the fruit of the
Spirit is the 'agape' love and not 'phileo' love. When we are
told to love our enemies in Matthew 5:44, it is the 'agape' love
which is commanded. We are to do what's best for others
without regard to how we feel about them. That is the love
which is a fruit of the Spirit and which we are to strive to adorn
Paul provides a detailed
description of "agape" love in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, "Though I
speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I
have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have
the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all
knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove
mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow
all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be
burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers
long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself,
is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own,
is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but
rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things."
2) The fruit of "Joy"
This word means
cheerfulness and calm delight. Joy is a deep happiness in the
Christian's relationship with Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice
in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!"
The joy a Christian has
in his hope is much more than an emotional state. Joy, like
all the other fruits of the Spirit is a quality of life: 1 Peter
1:7-8, "that the genuineness of your faith, being much more
precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may
be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus
Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see
Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of
glory" This is a joy that permeates every facet of the
Christian's life and is evident in all they are and all they do.
3) The fruit of "peace"
This word means
quietness and rest. Through the old law, the Jews were never
able to receive total justification. The best the law of Moses
had to offer in this regard was a temporary atonement. The
peace which Paul wrote of in Philippians 4:7 was never available to
them: "and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Through Christ one can have this peace which can only come from a
total reconciliation with God the Father.
It is God's will that we
have peace with one another: Ephesians 4:1-3, "I, therefore, the
prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with
which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with
longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to
keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
"And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among
you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you,
13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake.
Be at peace among yourselves."
Christians are expected to be the promoters of peace among mankind
Jesus taught in Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, For
they shall be called sons of God." Paul wrote in Romans
14:19, "Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace
and the things by which one may edify another." Peter
wrote in 1 Peter 3:10-11, "For "He who would love life And see
good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from
speaking deceit. 11 Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him
seek peace and pursue it."
Unfortunately, while peace is a fruit of the Spirit, there will be
some with whom peace will never prevail: Matthew 10:34, "Do not
think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring
peace but a sword." Paul wrote in Romans 12:18, "If it
is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men."
The truth is divisive to those who refuse it because truth cannot
ally itself with error. While the Christian is obligated to
live peaceably with all men, this peace cannot exist in the presence
of error. 2 John 9-11, "Whoever transgresses and does not
abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in
the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone
comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him
into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in
his evil deeds."
4) The fruit of "longsuffering"
Longsuffering means to
be of a long spirit, not to lose heart, to persevere patiently and
bravely and endure misfortunes and troubles, to be patient in
bearing the offenses and injuries of others, to be mild and slow to
avenging, to be slow to anger and slow to punish.
longsuffering and the next two fruits, "kindness" and "goodness"
are the benevolent fruits.
God is longsuffering: 2
Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some
count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that
any should perish but that all should come to repentance."
Christians must be
longsuffering: Ephesians 4:1-3, "I, therefore, the prisoner
of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which
you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with
longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to
keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Colossians 3:12, "Therefore,
as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies,
kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;"
Longsuffering is a
quality of life which must be evidenced in a Christian's demeanor
5) The fruit of "kindness"
means gentleness, moral
excellence in character or demeanor.
Longsuffering causes the
Christian to be patiently tolerant but that in and of itself is not
sufficient. The fruit of longsuffering must be complimented
Ephesians 4:32, "And
be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even
as God in Christ forgave you."
Kindness does not allow
us to compromise the truth. Paul wrote in Galatians1:7-8, "...but
there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of
Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other
gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be
accursed." Galatians 5:4, "You have become estranged from
Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from
grace." The Christian cannot plead kindness as a
reason for compromising truth.
6) The fruit of"goodness"
or the doing of good; active goodness or kindness; charity.
Helpful to others in need and helping those who have harmed us.
longsuffering is patient tolerance of others and kindness is gentle
demeanor towards others but these two alone are still not
sufficient. To these two, a Christian must add goodness.
Romans 12:17-21, "Repay
no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of
all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live
peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but
rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I
will repay," says the Lord. 20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry,
feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you
will heap coals of fire on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good."
benevolence: Galatians 6:10, "Therefore, as we have
opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of
the household of faith." This letter was addressed to the
churches in Galatia (1:2), therefore the church/body of Christ is
required to perform benevolent works to others with a preference
towards those of the faith. It would be wrong for a
congregation to neglect a needy saint in favor of an alien sinner.
Paul commended the Corinthian church for their distribution of
benevolent works to all, both in and outside the body of Christ: 2
Corinthians 9:13, "while, through the proof of this ministry,
they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel
of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men".
When it comes to benevolence, good stewardship must prevail.
All of these benevolent fruits work together to form a faithful and
obedient Christian like all the others are not just a show put on to
impress others, rather it is a quality of life which must be
included in the overall makeup of the faithful Christian. Each
one building and complementing the other. None of them can be
left out. They are non-optional.
7) The fruit of "faithfulness"
This word means a
conviction of the truthfulness of God and His word which results in
obedience to it no matter the cost. When examining the fruit
of faithfulness there is no better example to be found in scripture
than Hebrews 11. This chapter is sometimes called 'faith's
hall of heroes'. The chapter is full of examples of people
from various walks of life who conquered insurmountable odds,
overcame persecution and persevered through unthinkable hardships,
sometimes paying the ultimate price for their faith.
Throughout this chapter these great people of faith demonstrated
their faithfulness through their obedience to God. The fruit
of faithfulness is nothing less than faith completed by obedience.
Faith without obedience does not have the fruit of faithfulness
attached. The heroes of faith were faithful because they
obeyed by faith. Christians today are likewise faithful when
they are obedient. The fruit of the faithfulness is the same
thing as obedience to God. This fruit of the Spirit like all
the rest is non-optional and is a quality of life in a faithful
"meekness, self-control; against such there is no law."
The fruit of "meekness"
Means mildness and
humility. Meekness in the original language does not in any
way mean weak. Someone who was meek was strong in their
convictions but harmless to others in the way it is demonstrated.
The original term was used to describe a wild horse that had been
tamed, but without his spirit being broken. The strength and
power of the horse remained, but was tempered with gentleness.
Titus 3:1-2, "Put them
in mind to be in subjection to rulers, to authorities, to be
obedient, to be ready unto every good work,
2 to speak evil of no man, not to be contentious, to be gentle,
showing all meekness toward all men." (ASV). The NKJV
translates the word for "meekness" as "humility". Someone who
is meek has an humble demeanor demeanor associated with them.
1 Peter 3:4, "but
(let it be) the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptible
(apparel) of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God
of great price." The NKJV translates the word for "meek"
and "gentle" in this verse. Gentleness is a quality of someone
who is meek. Gentle, and humble does not in any way mean weak.
A wild horse who has been tamed can be humble and gentle but still
have the strength and power of a horse. A Christian can
likewise have great strength, but display this strength with a quiet
and gentle or humble spirit, a spirit of meekness.
Christ is our perfect
example of meekness: Matthew 11:29, "Take my yoke upon you, and
learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find
rest unto your souls" (ASV). The NKJV translates this as
Paul was meek, yet
strong: 2 Corinthians 10:1, "Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with
you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ — who in presence am
lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you."
We are restore fallen
saints in meekness: Galatians 6:1, "Brethren, if a man be
overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in
the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be
tempted". This is something Paul knew the saints in
Galatia had before them. They were going to have to restore
the Judaized members among them to the truth of the gospel.
That is why Paul told them not to bite and devour one another in
this process (V15). They were to demonstrate meekness as a
quality of life.
The fruit of "temperance" or "self control"
The original word
literally means "self control" which is one's ability to govern and
keep in check their passions and desires so that they will resist
them. Another term for this is 'self mastery'. Paul
wrote concerning his quest to demonstrate self control in: 1
Corinthians 9:25-27, "And everyone who competes for the prize is
temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable
crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus:
not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I
have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."
Paul ends this with the words "lest, when I have preached to
others, I myself should become disqualified." A
lack of self control or temperance can cause one to be lost.
The fruits of the Spirit
which Paul have listed here are required qualities of life which are
non-optional to a Christian who would lead a successful Christian
life and inherit eternal life. These fruits are required
characteristics of an obedient servant of Christ. And contrary
what many people in the religious world say today, the acquisition
of these fruits of the Spirit are our responsibility.
Christians have a role to fulfill in their salvation and the
development of the fruits of the Spirit are a part of that role
which must be undertaken by a Christian who would live an acceptable
life before God. Paul makes this requirement more evident
later in this letter.
"against such there
is no law."
There are no rules
against doing those things which are the evidence of the fruits the
Spirit. There is no law against loving others in acts of self
sacrifice, there is no law against acting in harmony with any of the
things which characterize a Christian who has the fruits of the
Spirit. Christians can love one another, they can love those
outside the body of Christ. Christians can help one another
and they can help those outside the body of Christ.
Benevolence, generosity, faithfulness, kindness and longsuffering
are options available to members of the body of Christ. There
are no laws against such things. In other words, it is not a
transgression of God's will to do these things.
The fruits of the Spirit
are not something that the Holy Spirit of God injects into the
Christian without any effort on the part of the believer.
Rather these fruits are the end result of a Christian who diligently
applies themself to their acquisition. Notice Peter's words
2 Peter 1:5-10, "But
also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith
virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to
self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness
brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these
things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor
unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who
lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has
forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore,
brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure,
for if you do these things you will never stumble"
These things which Peter
commanded his readership to add to their faith are fruits of the
Spirit, many of which Paul mentioned in his letter to the Galations.
Peter leaves no doubt that the Christian has an obligation in this
and that failure to meet this obligation constitutes a
shortsightedness, even to blindness. Peter commanded them to
be diligent to add these fruits of the Spirit in order to make their
calling to Christ a sure thing. The fruits of the Spirit are
therefore necessary and required characteristics which a Christian
must exhibit of they are to live an acceptable life before God.
A Christian must therefore examine him or herself and determine
what, if any deficiencies are present and then work to acquire these
characteristics for themselves.
"And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the
flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof."
All of the things
mentioned are the qualities produced within one when they act on the
teachings of the Spirit. The Spirit does not miraculously
inject someone with these qualities as some today try to teach.
Rather these qualities are developed as a conscious effort of the
Christian striving to live as the spirit would have them and as a
result developing those qualities over time and through
perseverance. These qualities are a result of applying oneself
to the teachings of the Spirit and developing these qualities in
contrast with the works of the flesh. When one puts off the
works of the flesh and diligently applies the teachings of the
Spirit of God, the fruit of that effort is the qualities we need to
develop. Both the Spirit and man have a role to fulfill in
this. The Spirit teaches through the word of God, mankind
obeys those teachings and develops these qualities and they are the
fruit of the Spirit.
Paul uses the imagery of
the cross to illustrate how painful a process this can be.
Christ crucified His flesh in agony for us, now when we put off the
desires of the flesh and seek the fruits of the Spirit, we similarly
go through a painful process. It is not easy to put to death
our passions and lusts. Just like Christ sacrificed Himself,
we similarly sacrifice ourselves in the pursuit of righteousness.
It's painful; it's difficult; it's a sacrifice of love and self.
"If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also
This is a command. Paul
is telling his readership here that their life in the Spirit is a
walk. This means it is a lifelong commitment of action.
The sentence starts with a conditional term. "If" we are going
to live by the Spirit then we must walk in the Spirit. Action
is required. The application for us today is the exact same as
it was for them. Our life in the Spirit today is every much a
walk for us as it was for them. The Holy Spirit was
responsible for getting God's will for us recorded, so if we are
going to live by the word that the Holy Spirit inspired, then we too
must walk according to that word. We are to act upon the
teachings therein in obedience. We are to submit to that
authority and obey it's teachings. It is never good enough to
just believe the truth, one must obey it.
"Let us not become vainglorious, provoking one
another, envying one another."
These three statements
were a reference to some of the failings of the Judaizers.
They sought to gain control of the Galatian Christians thus exalting
themselves. They attacked those who opposed their doctrine,
and they envied anyone who might occupy a position of greater
influence than they did. Paul is telling them not act like
them. Live and walk by the Spirit, do not act like them.
These behaviors are contrary to the fruits of the Spirit.
When the Christian who
through the agony of crucifying their flesh to their passions and
lusts and who through personal effort have developed and exhibit the
fruits of the Spirit in their lives are successful, they will not
seek personal glory, they will not provoke another and they will not
envy one another. We can add these to the list of sins of the
flesh that Paul listed earlier. These self serving qualities
are in direct conflict with the qualities of a Christian who has
developed the fruits of the Spirit.
"But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place,
so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, 'Friend, go
up higher.' Then you will have glory in the presence of those who
sit at the table with you. 11 For whoever exalts himself will be
humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in
lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let
each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for
the interests of others."
Galatians 5 Paraphrase
So then stand firm in
the freedom that Christ provided for you and do not be snared back
into the bondage of the law of Moses. I, the apostle Paul, am
telling you that if you are circumcised as an act of commitment to
the law of Moses then Christ will be of no benefit to you at all.
I'm telling you for a fact that anyone who receives the circumcision
of the old law obligates them self to the practice all of that law.
Anyone who tries to be justified by the law of Moses is severed from
Christ and falls from grace.
For through the
teachings of the Spirit of God, by faith, we wait patiently for the
hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus, neither
circumcision or uncircumcision is of any benefit. What does
profit us is our faith working through love.
You Galatians were doing
great. So who is this that deceived you into thinking you
didn't have to obey the truth? The one who called you into the
light by the gospel never said such a thing. Be wary, because
like leaven working through bread dough, the Judaizers will corrupt
the whole church. I am confident that once you read this
epistle, you will know better than to be persuaded from the truth.
Those who are guilty of trying to teach you to follow the old law
will bear their judgment whoever they are.
If I were still
preaching the circumcision of the law of Moses, then why am I yet
being persecuted? If I were indeed preaching circumcision like
some have claimed then the cross of Christ which is the obstacle in
the path of the Judaizers would have been removed and there would be
no cause for them to persecute me any more. I wish those who
were teaching you to be circumcised would go beyond that and
You Christians were
called for freedom from the bondage of sin, however you should never
use this freedom as an opportunity to sin, but through love be
servants of each other. For the whole law of Christ is
fulfilled when you love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.
As you work yourselves out of the doctrine of the Judaizers, be
careful that you do not attack each other to the point that you
cause yourselves to be condemned as well.
Live your lives after
the teachings of the Spirit and you will not fulfill your fleshly
desires. Because the desires of the flesh conflict with the
teachings of the Spirit and the Spirit conflicts with the desires of
the flesh. These two are opposed to each other so you cannot
live any way you want. If you are led by the Sprit of
God, you cannot live according to the law of Moses.
Now the works of the
flesh are evident and these are
sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity,
strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, heresies,
envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things similar to these. I am
warning you that anyone who practices such things will not inherit
the kingdom of God.
But the results of
living according to the teachings
of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self control. There is no
law against exhibiting these characteristics. Those who are of
Christ Jesus have put away the passions and lusts of the flesh.
If we live by the Spirit, then let us live according to His
teachings. We must not allow ourselves to become proud and
arrogant, nor should be provoke or envy one another.