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The Purpose of Freedom
Galatians 5 (Pastor Brian)
Freedom in Christ
1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. 7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. 11 Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! 13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
Life by the Spirit
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
In the OT, God painted a picture of himself, but when Jesus came, he DECLARED – portrayed, painted – him perfectly.
“He that has seen me has seen the Father.” Jesus poured out his life, the Father had poured out His life IN Jesus – to die for us, for our sins.
People in business would write “tetalesty” = “paid in full” the price for our redemption, for our sins. “He paid a debt he did not owe, we had a debt we could not pay…Christ Jesus paid the debt I could never pay.”
A farmer/shepherd would pick a lamb destined for sacrifice, and look for blemishes (only flawless lambs could be used). If there were none, and the lamb was meek, “tetalesty” = “perfect” – it was used then as a guilt offering.
Jesus also was the Lamb of God – JB (John the Baptist) introduced him as such.
This is Jesus in these pictures and this declaration. Jesus didn’t say, “I am finished” on the cross, but “IT is finished” (the work, the sacrifice, the justification of the sins of the world).
This was portrayed to the Galatians, and now Paul wonders why they’d turn back from this freedom in Christ – through his death – and go back to the preparatory stages of the Law.
If we turn back to the Law (mainly he’s talking to the Gentiles who were being taught to “follow our customs if you want 100% pure and full salvation”)… No, we are justified by faith in Jesus. If we turn back to the Law, we would be saying that Christ ISN’T sufficient.
- “If you [turn back to the law], Christ will be of no value to you at all.” (v. 2)
- You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ. (v. 4)
- We eagerly await the righteousness for which we hope. (v. 5)
It doesn’t matter – Jew or Gentile – this Law has no value. It’s faith that works through love.
v. 13-15 – he emphasizes the obligation to love.
“You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” (v. 13) Don’t be a slave to sin, don’t be a slave to law, but rather, serve one another (this is the way of Heaven). That obligation still remains (Romans 13:8 “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt we have to one another. For he who loves his brother has fulfilled the Law.” The entire Law is fulfilled by keeping this single Law “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In chp 3, Paul argued that the Law was temporary – until Christ came (this was referring to the old covenant).
Here, he’s talking about Law (as obligation to love one another) as a permanent thing.
Paul’s opponents probably were saying that grace wasn’t sufficient – we would need the Law to instruct us. Paul says, “We don’t need rules like you look to in the OT, but we need to follow the ‘law’ of loving one another.”
Paul says, “If you bite and devour one another, watch out or you’ll be destroyed by one another.” (i.e. don’t obsess about the details of the Law – LOVE one another).
If we live by the Spirit, we won’t do the things that hurt others, we will love them. (Fruit of the Spirit vs. Fruit of the Flesh) You are not to do whatever you want. You are to serve one another in love, and not MERELY serve yourself. “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law (the letter of the Law).”
- “The acts of the flesh are obvious: … 15 things…” Some are very obvious, but others are less so – and probably going on in Galatia (and even in our lives) – idoaltry, hatred, discourd, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy…
- “The fruit of the Spirit is… 9 things… and against such things there is no Law.”
The Law is not solution to sin, but Jesus IS. We need him not only on the day of Judgment, but also in the here and now – to live the Christian life here and now. We have put to death the sinful life and its passions and live the Christian life when we fix our eyes on Jesus.
Paul reminds them of the ultimate and basic truths of the gospel.
Martin Luther for one, valued this letter so much, and admitted that it was difficult to live like this. Old habits die hard (even Peter was openly rebuked by Paul for his failure of going back to the Law).
We need to keep our eyes on Jesus and the cross.
Are you wondering what I’m talking about? If you feel like you need to pray this prayer with me, then please do so.
Thank you for sending Jesus to save us. I admit that I’m a sinner. By faith I repent of my sins, and ask Jesus to come into my life and lead and guide me for the rest of my life.
In Jesus Name Amen.
Tell someone if you prayed that prayer.