Galatians 5 Standing Fast In the Liberty of Jesus
Here in the fifth chapter of Galatians Paul begins the application of the doctrinal truths that he had set forth in the first four chapters. At great length Paul showed the Galatians the folly of being swayed by false teachers, who asserted that while we are saved by grace, we are still obligated to keep the law of God perfectly or again lose our own salvation. With unassailable logic Paul has asserted that the believer is saved by grace, justified by grace, kept by grace, and in the end will be saved by grace.
For - Romans 10:4 - For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Paul concludes his doctrinal argument with these verses: Galatians 4:30 - 31 - Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
Notice the last word of Chapter Four?! It is free, Free, FREE, FREE!! The believer is free, set at liberty, delivered. There is no more bondage for those who are in Christ. Now, as we will see, liberty does not give us a license to sin; free dom does not mean we are not accountable for our conduct. It means that the believer can do ANYTHING he or she wants because God has "fixed" your 'wanter!'
Stand fast - A - TEN - HUT! Those of a military background would recognize this command immediately - it means to come to attention and listen up for some very important instructions and information! It is the opposite of "AT EASE."
When a soldier is standing at attention his whole focus is directed at the drill sergeant, his hands are cupped with the edge of each thumb along the seam of his trousers, his chest is out, his head is locked and his eyes stare straight ahead. Every item of his dress is proscribed. His posture is practiced until he has it perfect. Every soldier stands in formation in a certain way, in a prescribed rank and order. And thus it is with this :STAND FAST - How?
Romans 7: 1 - 3 - 1Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?2For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
The believer is not to go back under the ceremonial observances of the law, for they have nothing to do with his justification. When a person gets saved by trusting in Christ's finished work, not only did he die to the law (Galatians 2:20) but the law died to him too!
that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing
This verse is aimed at the Galatians who have not yet received Jesus Christ. The context of this verse, as well as verse 4, is clearly to an unsaved man. Jesus Christ can profit no man who is counting on the Law for his justification. Such a man has "fallen from grace" for if he EVER starts counting on the law to save him, he must go "whole hog" and keep ALL of it - not just the Sabbath or the Ten Commandments but the ceremonial law as well!
For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. The meaning here, is that if a man gets circumcised in order to be justified in God's sight, he is LOST! Paul says it is not law AND grace - but law OR grace. It must be all grace, or it is not grace at all.
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
This is a favorite passage that "ARMENIANS" (all religions that proscribe to idea that one must do WORKS for justification) love to use to "prove" that a born-again child of God can lose his salvation and go to HELL after he becomes part of Jesus Christ.
Let's look at the Bible to see what is going on:
The thought of "severance" from Christ cannot even originate in the mind of a consecrated Christian, nor did it ever originate in the mind of Paul the Apostle, nor would have the Holy Spirit have put such a thought in the mind of any saved sinner after Galatians 1:8,9 - 8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
The idea of "sever" comes from Satan, the master Bible critic of all time (Genesis 3:1 - Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?) an arch deceiver (2 Corinthians 2:11 - Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.)
Those who reject Christ (as here) after the Grace has been offered (as here) are "fallen from grace" (as here.)
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
Notice how Paul changes the second person plural to the first person plural and adds "through the Spirit."
The "hope" of verse 5 is the same hope of:
We are in Christ, and it is through the Holy Spirit that we wait and walk while we are looking forward to the blessed hope when our righteousness will appear and the end result of our faith will be manifest where you can see it.
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
Notice that the Galatians (as the Ephesians) are "in Christ", they (as the Ephesians) have been baptized into Christ by one Spirit, they (as the Ephesians) have been saved by grace and justified by faith (as the Ephesians).
External conditions are no longer relevant to salvation. You can't brag about circumcision, you can't brag about uncircumcision. The Lord ignores either condition and looks only on the heart. In the believer, the Lord looks for faith that manifests itself in obeying the first two commandments (Romans 13:8,10 - 8Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.10Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.)
The fruit of the Spirit is love and cutting yourself or trying to get others to cut themselves will not profit a Christian, nor will it justify an unsaved man.
Observe that from here on in Galatians, Paul's discourse is aimed at the believer in the churches (vs. 7, 13, 16, 18, 24.)
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
Hebrews 12:1-4 - 1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,2Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 4Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
The Christian begins:
1 Corinthians 9:24 - Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
2 Timothy 4:4-8 - 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.6For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.7I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
who did hinder you
The Galatians are troubled. Somebody or something is by the track that is heckling them as they run the race.
This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.
The opinion or persuasion of which Paul speaks of here was no doubt that of the necessity of their being circumcised, and keeping the law of Moses, or of their mixing the works of the law with faith in Christ for justification. This was what the judaizing teachers tried to impose upon the Galatians, and this is what they had too easily fallen into. To convince them of their folly in this, Paul tells them that this persuasion did not come of Him that called them, that is, either of God or of the apostle himself, who had been called to preach the gospel unto them. It could not come from God, for it was contrary to that way of justification and salvation which He had established; nor could they have received it from Paul himself; for, whatever some might pretend, he had all along been an opposer and not a preacher of circumcision. Since then this persuasion did not come of Him that had called them, he leaves them to judge from what source it must arise. Paul sufficiently intimates that it could be owing to none but Satan and his instruments, who by this means were trying to overthrow their faith and obstruct the progress of the gospel. Therefore that the Galatians had every reason to reject it, and to continue steadfast in the truth which they had before so willingly embraced.
A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
Here stands one of the most tremendous truths found in the entire Bible. This principle is a UNIVERSAL truth. Paul is asking the Galatians, "Where do you stop the leavening process?" If you begin self-justification with circumcision, do you stop there? Or do you adjust your diet to that of Leviticus 11? Having done that do you omit the feasts of Leviticus 23 and 25? Having done that do you avoid the laws on purification in Leviticus 10 through 16.
You don't. It leavens the WHOLE LUMP!
I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.
"He that troubleth you" can be any of a number of people, although the immediate reference here, is to the legalizers who are trying to get them to perform works as a part of justification. Paul encourages the Galatians to take the right position by saying he has "confidence in them" and that they will take no other view about the matter than the one Paul has.
And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
Look, Brothers! If I still preached circumcision as I did before Acts 9, these legalizers wouldn't be cussing me up and down the country and trying to get my brains knocked out every time I preach!
Acts 13:45 - But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
Acts 14:19 - And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
then is the offence of the cross ceased.
If Paul had yielded to the Jews, then would the offence of the cross have ceased. They would not have taken so much offence against the doctrine of Christianity as they did, nor would he and others have been exposed to so much suffering on the account of it as they were.
He informs us that the preaching of the cross of Christ (or the doctrine of justification and salvation only by faith in Christ crucified) was to the Jews a stumbling block.
1 Corinthians 1: 17 - 31 - 17For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
I would they were even cut off which trouble you.
What follows is a study of liberty under grace compared with liberty under the law. The drift of these verses is apparent in every line. You are free and no longer bound by any formal regulations, but this doesn't mean you can "let down the bars" like Epicures and the Hedonists and take up "situation ethics." Geographically, we are still in the flesh and we can make a mess of things (like David or Lot) even though we are saved by grace and kept by grace.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Romans 13: 8 - 10 - 8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.9For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
"Dog eat dog" is the common expression, and the word "backbiters" is still used today in our common language everywhere.
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
The Christians has two natures which are contrary to one another. He is prevented first by one and then by the other from doing what first one then the other desires to do. See Romans 6 & 7. The Holy Spirit desires what the flesh abhors, and the flesh desires what the Holy Spirit abhors and these items are listed in the next ten verses. The only way a Christian can avoid a lifetime of running errands for a corpse is to "Walk in the Spirit" while his regenerated spirit is still geographically located "in the flesh." Every Christian is a true schizo.
Lust GETS; love GIVES. The secret of a victorious Christian life is not in "eradication" or "suppression" of the old nature, but counteraction. If the Christian is walking in the power of the Spirit, he is obviously not controlled by the flesh. At any moment he is under the control of one or the other.
Because this is true, Paul now gives a checklist to the Galatians (and us!) to help them tell when the Spirit is running them and when the flesh is running them.
The first four "works" of the flesh are manifestly extremely "fleshly":
of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past
Here, for the second time, Paul makes clear reference to past preaching as in Galatians 4: 13 - 16. He repeats for emphasis.
that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God
In the Book of Revelations we will see some of things that make up the economy of the Kingdom of God when it does come to earth.
But the fruit of the Spirit
Not the "WORKS" of the Spirit, although that is what one would expect by a comparison with verse 19. Here God, through Paul, is showing the Christian another difference between the old and new nature. We worked for HELL before we were saved (Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.) but now God works in us while we let Him work (Philippians 2:13 - For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.); and thus our new life is characterized by FRUIT, not "WORKS" (Romans 4:5 - But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.)
Remember what we said earlier, Lust GETS; love GIVES? If the Christian is walking in the power of the Spirit, he is obviously not controlled by the flesh. At any moment he is under the control of one or the other. Now, Paul describes the FRUIT of the Spirit to the Galatians (and to us!) to help them tell when the Spirit is running them!
against such there is no law
The things listed above are not condemned by any law, and they are contrary to to nothing in the law. The Lord is the vine we are the branches. John 15. Notice that you don't practice fruit - you bear it. You don't practice joy, you experience it. You don't practice MEEKNESS, it happens Ė "naturally" in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit bears fruit in those who walk in the Spirit.
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
We should observe that this "crucifixion" is self-inflicted. The crucifixion in Galatians 2:20 was inflicted by God himself when the believer was united with Christ. See further: Romans 6:6; 7:24 and 2 Timothy 2:19.
Affections and lusts covers the tremendous field which TV capitalizes on 24 hours a day. The purpose of commercial advertising is to arouse or create covetousness. You like it or love it. You want it or desire it. You feel kindly disposed toward it or you are crazy about it. But when the affections are set on things above (Colossians 3:1 - 3) the flesh is crucified in the present tense.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
If we live in the Spirit (and we do, for we are "in Christ") let us also walk in the Spirit (which we often do NOT). We are in the flesh geographically but not Spiritually. Therefore, we really live in the Spirit.
Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
This verse needs no exposition.