Galatians 5:1-6. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2: Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3: For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5: For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6: For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."
In chapters 5 and 6 of Galatians, we have Paulís warning to the believer to ďStand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.Ē The believer has been delivered from sinís judgment, delivered from the penalty for breaking the law, and delivered from the law itself, and has entered into the law of liberty in Christ Jesus.
This is something new, the believer now walks in a place that he has never known before. He is still here in this world and subject to the Lord Jesus Christ, and is brought into the glorious liberty of enablement not to do the will of the natural man, (the flesh), but liberty to glorify God through a holy, triumphant life. If we attempt to go back to some legalistic system such as Judaism or one of those prevailing in Christendom today, we would be "entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
The Christian today has to be thoroughly aware of what Scripture teaches on this subject because much of World Christianity, like the Galatians, adds works to salvation by grace.
During all the many centuries the Jews were under the law, not one of them found salvation through the ceremonial law or the commandments. Every man failed, and found himself still under the Law. It would be foolish to go back under law once you were free from its bondage. Christ brought us into liberty by fulfilling the Law for us.
Paul, a Jew, was in that bondage once, but God delivered him from it. The Gentiles never knew that particular bondage but they were under bondage to idols and idol worship. He asked the Galatians this; Now that you know something of the liberty of Christ, are you willingly to go into the bondage that God delivers every Jew from who gets saved? You know that God says, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Galatians 3:10). If you canít keep it all, you are cursed.
Verse 2: "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing." If they were dependent on the rite of circumcision for any part of their salvation, they made Christís atoning death meaningless.
Verse 3: "For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law." If a believer had been misled and had accepted the teaching of the Judaizers, he has not lost Christ; but if he is depending on the Law for security in Christ, he has made the death of Christ meaningless. If you depend on the Law for the first step, you have to go all the way, because the law is one. You canít take what you want from it and reject the rest.
Verse 4: "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." If you are seeking to be justified by law, youíre seeking to be right with God on the basis of human effort.
In the Old Testament, God commanded His people to keep the Law. Then, in the New Testament we read that "the law was our schoolmaster until Christ." Christ has come and we are no longer under the schoolmaster, the Law. If you go back to the Law, you set Christ aside. The two principles of law and grace canít be linked together.
In Romans we are told that if salvation is "by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work" Romans 11:6. It has to be one or the other. Either you earn your salvation by works, or you accept it as the free gift of God. If you trusted Christ as your Savior you received it as a gift. If you did anything to deserve it, it could not be a gift.
"To him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt? But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" Romans 4:4-5.
If you turn back to law after you have known Christ, you are deliberately setting your Savior to one side. "Ye are fallen from grace." A better translation is ďyou have turned away from grace.Ē This does not mean that if a Christian falls into some kind of sin, he loses his salvation and is no longer a Christian. If thatís what it meant, then every believer would cease to be a Christian every day, because there isnít a person anywhere that doesnít sin some kind of sin every day, be it sins of thought, word, or deed. Falling from grace isnít sinking into immorality or some other sin; itís turning from the standard of salvation by grace alone to attempting to keep one's salvation by human effort.
You put yourself on legal ground if, after believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, you think that your salvation is made more secure by baptism, or taking the Lord's Supper, or by giving money, or joining the church. If you do anything in order to help save your soul, you have fallen from grace and you fail to realize that salvation is by God's grace alone.
We do those things solely out of love for Christ. Christian obedience is on the principle of love for Christ. Itís the grace of God working in the soul that makes the believer want this holiness and righteousness, and to be in obedience to the will of God. Thatís where real joy is found, in service of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 5: "For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." Everything for the believer is through the Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in us and God works in us by the Spirit. Instead of trying by human effort to earn divine favor, we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that He may work in and through us to the glory of Christ.
Our hope of righteousness is the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ. At the moment of our salvation, the believer is made the righteousness of God in Christ.
We may have failures every day, so every night we kneel before God and confess our sins. In doing this, we are looking forward to the time when Jesus will come back again and transform our earthly bodies and then we shall be fully like Him. "When He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is" 1 John 3:2.
Verse 6: "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision but faith which worketh by love." It makes no difference if a man is a Jew or a Gentile or if he is a rigid law-keeper or an idolater, "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" Romans 3: 23, but when people put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in them, and they are said to be "in Christ," and, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" Romans 8:1.
Human works and religious ceremonies count for nothing as far as justifying the soul. What does count is ďFaith which worketh by love.Ē And as we walk in fellowship with Him, and are taken up with the Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts, that faith makes Christ real. Hebrews 11:1 "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Faith tells us Jesus lives and that the sin question is settled and we are in Christ. By faith, we look to Him for new supplies of grace day by day. Through His love for us, Christ fulfilled the Law for us and we donít need to be under the law in order to live right.
Christian obedience springs from the heartís devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The new nature Christ gives us makes us want to do good and to help others, to tell others of this free salvation and to minister to those in need. We delight in what Jesus Himself calls "good works," because we love Christ and we want to do those things.
Galatians 5:7-15:"Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8: This persuasion cometh not of Him that calleth you. 9: A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. 10: 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. 11: And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offence of the cross ceased. 12: I would they were even cut off which trouble you. 13: For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14: For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 15: But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."
Christian liberty is not license to live after the flesh, but it is liberty to glorify God. Paul looks back over the Galatians earlier years and reminds himself of their first devotion and joy, how consistent they were and how they sought to glorify the Lord.
Now their testimony has been marred, their earlier love has been lost, no longer were they devoted servants of the Lord Jesus Christ as they were before false teachers came in.
Verse 7: "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" Was it the idea that they were justified by faith but had to also be sanctified by the law to keep their salvation that turned them aside? That error is still with us in the world today.
A common teaching today is that, while the law canít justify, itís obedience to the law that sanctifies. The law cannot sanctify, it cannot justify. These Galatians had lost sight of this.
Verse 8: "This persuasion cometh not of Him that calleth you." The false teachers were taking advantage of the fact the Galatians could be easily changed in their religious views. They started out right, but when the false teachers came they listened to them and followed their teaching. Paul says that this readiness to be persuaded by human teachers is not of God. If you are walking with God you will be listening to Him and hearing His Word, and would have kept away from this false doctrine.
Verse 9: "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." In 1 Corinthians 5:6, Paul warned the Corinthians against the tolerance of immorality in their midst with a similar Scripture. Here, in Galatians, he is referring to adopting false doctrine. He is warning them that false doctrine is like yeast mingled with dough, if they donít reject it in the light of God's Word theyíll find that "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." This false doctrine would spread and they would lose their sense of the grace of God altogether.
The church has been working to convert the world for nearly 2,000 years. We are not converting the world very fast. Instead of the world being converted, Iím afraid the professing Church is being unconverted.
Jesus spoke of three kinds of leaven. He said, "Beware of the leaven of Herod, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, beware of the leaven of the Sadducees." The leaven of Herod was political corruption and wickedness, that of the Pharisees was self-righteousness and hypocrisy, and that of the Sadducees was denial of the resurrection. Any one of these is ďleaven that leaveneth the whole lump." The only thing that stops leaven from working is fire. The gospel has the effect of fire on false teaching. When false teaching is exposed to the light of the gospel of Christ it canít work any longer.
Verse 10: "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." Paul is not willing to give these Galatians up, instead he warns them. Iím sure he believes their faith in Christ alone well be recalled and that they will come out all right. He knows how real their faith was in the beginning. God has said, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" Galatians 6:7. Iím certain they believed that down deep in their hearts.
Verse 11: "And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, Why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offence of the cross ceased." If Paul had preached all these legalistic things, he wouldnít be persecuted by his detractors as he was now. If he did, they wouldnít be offended by Christís death on the cross and he wouldnít be preaching what he believed.
The cross was a shameful way to die, it was like the gallows is today. Yet the Son of God died on a cross. The Holy One, the Eternal Creator, the One who brought all things into existence, went to a cross and died for our sins. If you trust any other means for salvation in place of the death that Jesus died to put away sins, you are making His death of no value.
Verse 12: "I would they were even cut off which trouble you." Paulís desire was that these men who had perverted the gospel of Christ would ďcut themselves off,Ē keep their beliefs to themselves and stop trying to force these false beliefs on the true believers.
Verse 13 "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh but by love serve one another."
Paul reminded the Galatians they had been set free from the Law and any other observances and rituals. They were free men, no longer slaves to a ďreligionĒ of any sort. They were saved by grace and were free to glorify the God of all grace! This liberty brings holiness and righteousness to the believer. Accept it with joy and also with humility. The Lord set the example when He took that place on earth. "If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet" John 13:14.
Verse 14: "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." If a person loves God as they should, they will not sin against Him. Joseph was exposed to one of the most severe temptations you could put before a young man, and yet his answer to the temptress was, "How shall I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" He loved God and that is what kept him in his hour of temptation.
If we love our neighbor as ourselves we won't violate the commandments. There would be no violation of God's law of love, no wrong done to others if we are walking in love. But, as long as we are in this flesh, there will be times we will fail. When you find a believer acting in an unloving way, you may be sure that it is the old nature, not the new, dominating him at that moment.
Verse 15: "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." If we fail in our attitude of love for each other, the natural result will be that you will be "consumed one of another." This may well be the leading cause of divorce today, lack of true Christian love for oneís spouse. Also, many bright testimonies for God today have been ruined by a spirit of quarrelsomeness and faultfinding among Godís people. There is no way God can bless us if you and I are guilty of that. We need to get in the presence of God on our knees and examine our ways and search our hearts, and confess our sin in His sight. Romans 12:1. "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
If you have never come to Jesus, you may be asking,
"Is there really a power that can lift a person above a life of sin,
enabling one to live that way?"
Come to the Lord Jesus Christ and put your trust in Him,
receive Him as your Savior and you will experience that freedom from the penalty of sin.
Open the door of your heart to Him today.