Tags: Bible study on Galatians, Biblical freedom, bondage, commentary on Galatians, Cross of Christ, Galatians 6, lessons on Galatians, liberty, Sunday School lessons on Galatians, true freedom
In the Book of Galatians we learn about the liberty that comes from grace, as opposed to the bondage found in works, but we also see that grace emanates from a source: the Cross of Jesus Christ.
In the Cross there is:
Freedom from self-worship
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Freedom from the flesh and our own desires
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Freedom from the world
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
There is also the freedom from having to keep a list of religious rules, such as whether to be circumcised or not. Rules become a secondary consideration next to the real issue: Are you a new creature?
From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
The Apostle Paul was “marked,” but he was not referring to the mark of circumcision. He was referring to the scars of persecution, and he was telling his critics that those marks marked him as being on God’s side more than their marks of circumcision. Beware of any outward show of piety that keeps you from persecution.
As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
True freedom comes by paying a price, but it is not the price of self-inflicted wounds. It was the price that Christ paid on the Cross, so that He may freely offer His freedom to us.
Here are links to the previous lessons in Galatians:
1. Grace vs. Works
2. That Man Was Certifiable!
3. Confronting the Issue of Law and Gospel to Its Face
4. It All Depends on What Your Definition of “OF” Is
5. Our Part with God
6. The Doctor Who Never Fails
7. From Cursing to Blessing
8. The Freestyle
9. Going to Extrem(iti)es
10. Don’t Love Yourself
11. Dependent Freedom
12. Is it Animal, Mineral, or Tomato?
13. How Whack-A-Mole Can Help Your Marriage
14. Getting Full (Part 1)
15. Making the Proper Comparisons
16. Different Types of Burdens *
17. The Warning to the Weary
18. The Family of Faith (Galatians 6:10)
19. Especially the Family (Galatians 6:10)
* most-read post in category
Tags: Biblical freedom, commentary on Galatians, encouragement, encouragement for Christians, encouragement for church members, encouragement for pastors, Galatians 6, pastors, Sunday School lessons on Galatians
After the Holy Ghost had spent most of the first five chapters of Galatians driving home the point that Christians are saved, and set free from the law of sin and death and destructive fruitless rule-keeping, by God’s grace through faith in His Son, Jesus, He wanted there to be no confusion about the outworking of this great doctrine in our lives. Therefore, He plainly and passionately tells us in Chapter 6 that God’s grace is a motivation to work hard, not a license to lapse into sin.
If you are involved in active ministry at your local church, or anywhere else ordained by God, you will be tempted to get weary in well doing, because doing is hard work. Our encouragement is in the reminder that “doing” something in response to God’s calling is doing something that is “well,” something that is “good.” And that, eventually, if we faint not – if we don’t quit – we will reap from the good that God has allowed us to sow.
When my wife and I were first married, our pastor used to quote Galatians 6:9 all the time. Back in those days, when I was doing more pew-sitting than faith-walking, I could not understand why a preacher, of all people, would need encouragement not to get weary. Many years later, I can tell you from experience, and, more importantly, from the Truth of God’s Word, that fatigue brought on by doing well for God is more refreshing to my spirit than a seven-day vacation at the beach is to my flesh.
Tags: boasting, bragging, burdens, commentary on Galatians, comparisons, Galatians 6, legalism, legalists, Sunday School lessons on Galatians
Galatians Chapter 6 deals with the troubles that the legalists were causing. Obviously, they were trying to corrupt the Gospel, but they also interfered with, and hurt, the spiritual life of the church.
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. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.
Legalists are interested in adding to burdens instead of alleviating burdens. People in church will fall into sin. We can use that as on opportunity to pick them up, or to step on them and try to make ourselves look higher. Meekness preserves love and causes God to help us resist sin. Pride alienates others and provokes God. A good indicator of my spirituality is not how I measure up to others (Can I carry a heavier load than him?), but “Am I bearing my own burden when it used to be too heavy for me?” In other words, the test is how I measure up to what I used to be.
There are burdens which are not meant to be carried alone, and then there is the soldier’s pack, which it is his responsibility to bear on his own as he serves a greater cause.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
In giving help to others, we are also helping ourselves, but the secret is to give in love: not giving to get.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
Sowing to the flesh reaps corruption.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Near the end of Galatians we are reminded that freedom brings responsibility.
As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
We have a responsibility not to brag about our freedom, or what it allows us to do.
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Tags: commentary on Galatians, freedom, Galatians 5, grace, independence, Spirit-led, Sunday School lessons on Galatians, the flesh, the Spirit
The evidences of a flesh-driven life are works – dead things which produce nothing living.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
The evidence of the Spirit-led life is fruit. Fruit does not come about by “working.”
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
1. Admit that the flesh is stronger than your will power.
2. Go where the Spirit wants to go. The Spirit wants to go to church, to Sunday School, to the Bible, to prayer time, to go soul-winning, to visit the nursing home. The Spirit doesn’t want to go to the nightclub, the worldly party, the gossip session.
3. Don’t go easy on the flesh. Crucify it.
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Don’t try to beat the flesh on your own. You will only strengthen it even more. Do not go where the flesh wants to go – where it gets fed. Stay with the Spirit, having a grand time of joy. Starve the flesh. Make it weak. Remember, at the moment of salvation you were “baptized into Jesus Christ.” He died for you, and you died with Him. Your flesh was crucified, buried, and you were raised with Christ – to walk in newness of life. You became something fundamentally different: a new creature. You were rescued from hell.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking grace is insufficient. We can’t add to it with our show-offy, better-than-the-next-person rule-keeping or legalism. You weren’t saved by the Law; don’t act like you were. God will never be fooled into thinking you’re more holy than anyone else. Attempting to do so is just a form of self-worship.
Don’t fall into the other trap, either, though. Don’t “presume” upon grace as an excuse to sin. Grace brings freedom from sin, not freedom to sin. The freedom to act like an idiot and destroy myself, or to bring shame to the very thing that helped me to get free, is not the kind of “freedom” that grace delivers.
Tags: circumcision, commentary on Galatians, freedom from sin, Galatians 5, Grace vs. Law, guilt, Judaizers, Law of God, liberty, Sunday School lessons on Galatians
I would they were even cut off which trouble you.
This is extreme language (about as extreme as it gets, at least in the New Testament). It shows how serious the Lord is about this circumcision issue. It’s as if the Apostle Paul told the Judaizers, “If you are so fixated on circumcision – if you enjoy circumcision so much – you should just go all the way. Stop “cutting around,” and, well, just “cut off.” The King James translation preserves the pun – the play on words. Paul is indicating that if the Judaizers would just go ahead and completely mutilate themselves, they wouldn’t be in any condition to bother him and preachers of the true Gospel any more.
There is a deeper issue here, though. People who are so zealous for rule-keeping are often trying to divert attention from their own fixation. They are not only teaching falsely – that keeping rules means greater spirituality – but they know their own lack of spirituality and their own perversion, and they believe that, by pointing at everyone else, the guilt and suspicion they feel will be deflected away from them. The wicked flee when no man pursueth, and the hypocritical accuse others even when no one suspects them.
Now, we go into a section of Galatians where it’s as if Paul knows that the Judaizers are going to argue (and surely they had been already) that, if people walk in liberty, if they are set free from God’s law, then what’s going to stop them from sinning freely?
In a sense, it’s the same old argument: “Grace? Grace? What’s going to keep us in line after we’ve been forgiven for all our sins?” The proponents of this argument act as though they have forgotten that we are called by God unto salvation. They sound like they think that God was just annoyed that there were some people who had to be judged, so He waved His hand, and said, “Fine, I’ll let you off the hook. I’ll stop being God for a minute. There, you’re free. Now go do whatever you want and leave Me alone.” Such a doctrine would be heresy.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Liberty frees us from the bondage of the flesh – not the existence of the flesh. The “calling” of salvation is a calling to liberty. It’s a “setting-free” from the unconquerable power that sin has over an unbeliever. Christians are set free from the position of sinners: those that must answer for their own guilt.
Christians are also set free from the eternal pain of sin, as well as the judicial guilt of sin. They are set free from the penalty of sin, which is the punishment for sin: the specific retribution of God against sinners for sinning against Him!
Here is freedom: Jesus came and fulfilled (not destroyed in the natural sense) the Law for us. Now He, in the person of the Holy Spirit, comes to live in us, and He causes, us, too, to obey the Law. This is not the bondage of the Law, not the letter of the Law, but the spirit of the Law – the Truth of the Law.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Tags: children of God, commentary on Galatians, faith and works, Galatians 3, Jesus Christ, Justification, one in Christ, standing before God, Sunday School lessons on Galatians, the Gospel
Galatians Chapter 3 contains some of the strongest writing in the whole Bible. It has the logic and language of a brilliant lawyer who is arguing for his own life. It combines the truth about what happened to Jesus and the readers’ own experiences with Old Testament Scripture, and then combines the two together in a masterful closing argument.
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
The Greek word translated as “foolish” is the word for a barbaric fool, and it would be similar in our day to calling someone an illiterate blockhead. When Paul says “who has bewitched you?” he is asking them, “Who waved a shiny little trinket before your eyes, and led you over a cliff? Who led you into this ridiculous state by tricking you? The fact of Jesus’s crucifixion was placarded (“evidently set forth”) before your very eyes! Why do you think He had to die like that if there’s still something you can do to save yourself?”
This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
As we read this today, we need to ask ourselves the same question. In your own experience, how did you receive the Holy Spirit? Did you receive Him by being sprinkled with water? By paying money? By joining an organization? By keeping rules? By jerking or twitching or rolling on the floor or barking like a dog? No! It was by the hearing of faith! You heard the truth, and you believed the truth, and you received the Holy Spirit! What makes you think you are going to become more spiritual, or more “complete” by working? Or by keeping rules? Or by following the traditions of men? Foolish! The Apostle tells them that they’ve been suffering for nothing, if that’s what they were suffering for!
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
The Gospel came from God; it came through the Jews; but it was intended for all men, or else God was lying.
Recap: The Galatians’ experience was that they were saved, and received the Spirit, through faith. The Scriptures – God Himself – said it was through faith. Therefore:
But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
No one is righteous by birth, by nature, or by deed, but anyone can believe.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
The purpose of the Old Testament Law was to teach people that they were lost. The purpose of the whole Bible is to point people to Jesus Christ. Not so we can start working for Him. Rather, so He can start working in us.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Apart from Christ, we have no part with God. We are utterly alienated – not related by birth or adoption. But in Christ, we have a part with God – and not a distant, academic part – we are His children! We are servants, yes, but more than just servants. We are friends, yes, but more than just friends. Children. Beloved. Sons and Daughters of the Most High God.
Children serve their parents, and that is right, but when children disobey, they are still children by birth of those same parents.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Your nationality, social status, gender, or skin color do not matter a whit to God in the sense of your justification. If you are truly a Christian, you stand before God on the same level as Queen Esther, Billy Graham, and the Apostle Paul. God is a loving Father, and He has more than enough love for every one of His children.
Tags: Apostle Paul, Apostle Peter, commentary on Galatians, Five Solas, Galatians 2, Grace vs. Works, Law vs. Gospel, Paul and Peter, sola fide, Sunday School lessons on Galatians
Galatians Chapter 2 references the Jerusalem Council that was documented in Acts 15. The main issue there was whether Christians had to be circumcised in adherence to Judaism before they could truly be considered Christians. Paul was very agitated about this because he had been going all around the country preaching salvation by grace through faith. That is the true Gospel, but the Jews had a hard time with this because of the emphasis which Judaism placed on separation from the gentiles. Furthermore, Peter had eaten with gentiles at Antioch, and then had withdrawn from their company when Jewish elders arrived.
The Judaizers who were trying to dilute the Gospel were “false brethren” motivated by Satan. They wanted to add works to faith. At the Council, Peter, John, and James all came squarely down on the “right side:” Christianity is one Spirit, one Salvation, one Savior, one Body. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
After Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation, several years later some of the Reformers would use these “solas” to describe what they believed: “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone); “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory). These doctrines refuted the Roman Catholic tradition of faith-plus-works which was an error similar to that of the Judaizers in Paul’s day.
Paul’s argument used his ministry partner Titus as Exhibit 1. Titus was a gentile, he was uncircumcised, and he was a true Christian
But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
Galatians 2:6-10 are very uncharacteristic of the Holy Spirit’s writing through Paul. It is a passage which may be contrasted against Ephesians 1 where Paul goes on for 14 verses without a period, because he can’t stop praising God for how great salvation is. In Galatians 2:6-10 his frustration and anger made it so that the translators had to use parentheses because he can hardly stop interrupting himself! And much of this anger and frustration was caused by Peter.
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
Peter should have known better.
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
He seems to be saying, “You, Peter, are a Jew, and you know better than anyone that the Law can’t be kept in your own strength. How are you going to say we have to make the gentiles keep the Law?”
We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
Paul and Peter had been born into families that had trained them since infancy to avoid sin.
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Those who understand the Gospel have the Truth – freedom in Christ Jesus – which is the only real freedom and the only salvation. No one was ever saved by doing works of the Law. Going all the way back to Abel, who was declared righteous by faith, on to those who participated in the sacrifices of the Old Covenant given through Moses, only those who reached into the future by faith and touched the Cross were saved. It is as if Paul were saying, “We must not now, even if it offends all our sensibilities, lead men to believe that the keeping of the Law is the means of salvation.” Note the “instrumental dative” in the Greek for the word “of” in Galatians 2:16. Even “our” faith (which should be demonstrated by works) is not sufficient. We would fall from grace if not for the faith of Christ.
Tags: Apostle Paul, commentary on Galatians, Galatians 1, glory of God, good works, Jeremiah 45, Judaism, Judaizers, Sunday School lessons on Galatians, true Christianity
Galatians is a book which addresses the issue of grace versus works.
Grace = Liberty
Works = Bondage
Grace = Cooperation
Works = Competition
Grace = God gets the glory
Works = Man gets the glory
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
This is an exceptionally terse greeting for Paul, in the form of a short doxology, but it is very important – especially Verse 5: “To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” That is not a “throwaway line,” because God’s glory is key to the true Gospel.
Of all the major world religions, Christianity stands alone as the only one that acknowledges the truth that sinners can not merit God’s favor through good works. True Christians are going to Heaven, but not on their own own merit. They are going to Heaven on the merits of Another: Jesus Christ the Righteous.
The enemies of the Gospel in Galatia were the Judaizers. They opposed the Gospel and Paul by: perverting, reverting, and deserting. They were trying to pervert the true Gospel by mixing in works-based requirements along with grace and faith. They were trying to revert back to what they believed was the Old Covenant system. They were deserting Christ Himself in favor of false teachers. Judaism and Christianity can’t be mixed. Grace and works can’t be mixed. Liberty and legalism can’t be mixed.
The Apostle Paul distinguished himself from the false teachers as he sought to please Christ, not men.
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Paul’s conversion teaches us these truths:
1. God saves egregious sinners.
2. Salvation happens instantly.
3. Salvation results in a real change.
4. There will be an outward change, but it is always the result of an inward change.
5. Salvation is for a purpose:
a. The purpose of glorifying God
b. The purpose of helping others
And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not…
What motivates you to serve God? Your own good? Or God’s glory?
Tags: drunken behavior, drunkenness, Epheisans 5, Galations 5, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, pneumatology, temperance, wine
Lord, thank You for the great gift of the Holy Spirit. He is our Helper, our Comforter, our Counselor. He gives us joy and hope and peace. May we never grieve You, Holy Spirit. May we never quench You. May You have free reign in every cavern of our hearts. May You lead us into all Truth. In the Name of the Lord Jesus I pray. Amen.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
“Be not drunk” is a command, and it is an easy thing to learn from this verse, but it is not the primary principle being taught here. Here the subject of drunkenness is used for the purpose of contrast – in a way that is similar to the contrast which is highlighted when things that reflect light look very bright against darkness. Jewelers use this to their advantage when they show customers brilliant diamonds against a black cloth.
When the Holy Spirit says, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit,” He is not saying, “Go ahead and get drunk, but don’t do it by drinking wine.” He’s not saying that He will make you act like a drunk person. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit is a set of character qualities or virtues that are the opposite of the way a drunk person acts.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Drunkards are not usually peaceful. In fact, they are often downright belligerent. They are not longsuffering (willing to put up with a great deal of offense). Actually, they tend to be very easily provoked and offended. They are not known for being gentle, nor meek. They are often loud, boastful, and boisterous. Temperance is sometimes used as an antonym for drunkenness.
No, Ephesians 5:18 is not offering a “clean way” to be loud, obnoxious, clumsy, and stupid. It’s saying drunk people are full of wine, but sober, kind, loving, wise, Christian people are filled with the Spirit.
So, which do you want to be? Do you want to think you’re ten feet tall and bullet-proof when you’re really basically incapacitated mentally – stumbling around like a fool? Do you want to be loud but with nothing intelligent to say? Do you want to be muttering and mumbling and grumbling and complaining and getting on everyone’s nerves because you feel like nothing ever goes your way? Or do you want to be wise – and kind – and loving – and respected – and useful for the Kingdom of God? If so, then you want option two: you want to be filled with the Spirit.
Next time, we’ll take a look at how to do that.