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Galatians Chapter 5

1 In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].

2 Notice, it is I, Paul, who tells you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no profit (advantage, avail) to you [for if you distrust Him, you can gain nothing from Him].

Paul says, “Notice, it is I, Paul, who tells you” – He is saying, “KEEP IN MIND, THINK ABOUT exactly WHO is giving you this information!  Me!  Paul!  Passionate, zealous, devout Jew and Pharisee.   I embraced the LAW to the point I was willing to die and to kill for it.  If someone who knows the LAW inside and out, has studied it for years, believed in it with his whole heart and did my best to keep it in order to honor God – If THAT PERSON is standing here today telling you there is something better I must have a very good reason to believe what I am saying.”

3 I once more protest and testify to every man who receives circumcision that he is under obligation and bound to practice the whole of the Law and its ordinances.

If you plan on trying to keep even ONE LAW then plan to keep ALL OF THE LAW

4 If you seek to be justified and declared righteous and to be given a right standing with God through the Law, you are brought to nothing and so separated (severed) from Christ. You have fallen away from grace (from God’s gracious favor and unmerited blessing).

GRACE in the  original Greek is  Strong’s G5485 charis and  is used in Galatians 5:4 meaning:   the message of His grace of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of Christian virtues; to be subject to the power of grace, prompted by grace, the grace of God promoting the progress and blessings of the Gospel/Christian teachings, sustaining and aiding the efforts of the men who labor for the cause of Christ.

Paul is telling them that if you go back to the LAW or start trying to keep the LAW then you have forgotten the message of His grace and you are no longer aiding in the efforts of the men (pastors, preachers, prophets, messengers, teachers) who are trying to tell people the Good News of the Gospel of Christ.

It’s a choice.  You either promote the LAW or you promote GRACE.

If you are promoting the LAW then by all means – do your best to live by it.

But if you are promoting GRACE then by all means, do your best to live by it.

Not an indication of losing your salvation but a commentary on the power working (or not working) in you.

God does what we are powerless to do.

If we insist on trying to earn our righteousness through rules, rituals, traditions, regulations, and the LAW then we are attempting to stand in place of God. Either we can be God or God can be God. He seems to be more well equipped to be God since He IS GOD so we are to step out of the way.

5 For we, [not relying on the Law but] through the [Holy] Spirit’s [help], by faith anticipate and wait for the blessing and good for which our righteousness and right standing with God [our conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action, causes us] to hope.

6 For [if we are] in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith activated and energized and expressed and working through love.

If we are in Christ, based on accepting the teachings of the Gospel, believing He is Who He says He is, trusting Him to keep His word, and growing in a personal relationship with Him – then there is nothing we can do to make Him love us more and nothing we can do to make Him love us less. 

Our choices, our actions, our “works” are no longer a part of being in right standing with God but are now a message, a tool, used to show others the Love of Christ and to open doors for being able to tell non-believers the unbelievably Good New of the Gospel of Christ.  

The birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God represented the ultimate perfect sacrificial Lamb of God, slain in our place and His blood used to cover the sins of the whole world.  That was the only work that was required and He has already done it.  That was the only LAW that needed to be obeyed and Christ has already done it.  

Jesus took every imperfection, every mistake, every wrong choice, every hurt, every care, every embarassment, every failure, everything that was outside of the Perfect Will of His Father and He lifted it up to God and said,

“See all of this?  Mark it all down and total up the penalty for all of it and let me know because now I am going to pay for it.   After I pay for it, every time the Accuser comes to point a finger at one of Your children you go to Your ledger, Your book of rememberance, and You look up their name and let the record show BALANCE PAID IN FULL.  Then tell the Accuser, the Father of Lies, the Trouble Maker, the Bill Collector who delights in the misery of Your chosen ones, You tell Him he’s got nothing of value to say to You and he needs to run along.”

7 You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the Truth?

8 This [evil] persuasion is not from Him Who called you [Who invited you to freedom in Christ].

9 A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church].
10 [For my part] I have confidence [toward you] in the Lord that you will take no contrary view of the matter but will come to think with me. But he who is unsettling you, whoever he is, will have to bear the penalty.
11 But, brethren, if I still preach circumcision [as some accuse me of doing, as necessary to salvation], why am I still suffering persecution? In that case the cross has ceased to be a stumbling block and is made meaningless (done away).
12 I wish those who unsettle and confuse you would [go all the way and] cut themselves off!

13 For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another.

14 For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.
15 But if you bite and devour one another [in partisan strife], be careful that you [and your whole fellowship] are not consumed by one another.

16 But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).

17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.

18 But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.

19 Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency,
20 Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies),
21 Envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.

I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Doesn’t it seem an odd way to word a sentence?  “I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously” – doesn’t beforehand and previously sort of mean the same thing?

Let’s look at it in several different translations:

Galatians 5:21  King James Version (KJV)
of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past

Galatians 5:21  New King James Version (NKJV)
of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past

Galatians 5:21  Amplified Bible (AMP)
I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously

Galatians 5:21  Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
of which I tell you before, as I also said before

Galatians 5:21  Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before

Galatians 5:21  New International Version (NIV)
I warn you, as I did before

In the original Greek, the word used for BEFOREHAND is Strong’s G4302 – prolegō and means:  to say beforehand, to predict

PREDICT:   foretell, advise, give notice, to say before, to state or make a declaration about in advance, esp on a reasoned basis; to declare or tell in advance; Predict, prophesy, foresee, forecast mean to know or tell (usually correctly) beforehand what will happen. To predict is usually to foretell with precision of calculation, knowledge, or shrewd inference from facts or experience; it may, however, be used without the implication of underlying knowledge or expertise

In the original Greek, the word used for PREVIOUSLY is Strong’s G4277 – prolegō and means:
1) to say before
a) to say in what precedes, to say above
b) to say before i.e. heretofore, formerly
c) to say beforehand i.e. before the event: prophecies

PREVIOUS:  coming or occurring before something else; prior; earlier;

Paul is making a prediction and obviously, he has made this prediction to them at some time in the past and he wants them to take it seriously, as a warning.

WARN:  to give notice of impending danger; to give advice to a person or group of impending evil, possible harm, or anything else unfavorable; to urge or advise to be careful; caution; to admonish or exhort, as to action or conduct; to notify, advise, or inform; attempting to prevent another from running into danger or getting into unpleasant or undesirable circumstances; To warn is to speak plainly and usually in strong terms about danger and possible penalties.  To caution is to advise about necessary precautions, to put one on one’s guard about possibly harmful circumstances or conditions, thus emphasizing avoidance of undesirable consequences;

[immorality, impurity, indecency,  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, ill temper, selfishness, divisions, dissensions, party spirit, factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like]

Paul is pointing out adjectives and words one would associate with people who hold idols, greed, and themselves (selfishness) up as important instead of Christ and His love and grace.

18 But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.

19 Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency,
20 Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies), 21 Envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.

I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Remember, the whole letter to the Galatians was to urge them not to listen to anyone trying to get them to look to the LAW instead of GRACE.   Paul has not changed topics.  Paul is making a comparison.  The comparison is the produce of people who FOLLOW the LAW as opposed to the produce of people who are LED by the SPIRIT.  

With the Mosaic LAW as well as with legal systems of governments, you are provided with a list of rules and regulations.  If you adhere to the rules and regulations you are considered in line with the law and it is inferred that you are a productive part of that society.  If you step outside of those rules and regulations, either intentionally or inadvertantly, there is a coresponding penalty you must pay.

The trouble with a system like this is that it is not perfect.   Consider the following statements:

People who never break the law are fine, upstanding, productive members of society contributing to its growth and wellbeing.

Not necessarily true.  You (theoretically) could never break a law of any kind and still be a mean, selfish, hateful, extremely unpleasant person.  In fact, especially in the days of the Galatians, prostitution was lauded and widely practiced in the temples of lesser gods and idols.  It was perfectly within the civil law so frequenting male or female prostitutes would not have been an infraction.  However, the legality of the practice would not – and in fact did not – prevent the wide spread of sexually transmitted diseases which most clearly does NOT contribute to the wellbeing of a society.  The letter of the law will not save you from the consequences of your actions.  Adhering to the law will not make you a good person nor necessarily a happy person.

People who break the law, whether intentionally or inadvertently, and then pay the corresponding fine or penalty have made amends, served their time, and should now be treated and considered equal once more to all upstanding, law abiding citizens.

Well, yes and no.  Here’s the problem.  Regardless of the situation, be it the Mosaic LAW or a governing power’s civil law, people put value on infractions.  WHICH LAW did you break?  Did you get a speeding ticket?  Not such a big deal especially if there were extenuating circumstances such as a medical emergency or maybe you simply failed to see the sign indicating a speed limit change.  Innocent. Harmless enough.  What if the law you broke involved murder?  does that equal a speeding ticket?  Well, yes and no.  The person who failed to see a speed limit change and received a violation is a different story than the person who planned and plotted cold blooded murder.  But what about the hunter who thought he was shooting an animal in the forest to provide food for his family and as it turns out he actually has killed his neighbors child out playing in the woods?  Let’s compare him to the person who has had fifteen speeding tickets and still insists on going well above the speed limit even in residential areas and school zones?  Now factor in the financial factor as well as the political factor.  What about the person who has ample means to pay any fine so feels no need to adhere to the law as others are expected to do because they will just keep paying the fine with no impact on their budget. What about the person who can afford a better legal defense?  What about the person with “connections” at the top?  Making a phone call to a high level friend who dismisses the charge – does that make you an upstanding citizen contributing to the growth and wellfare of your community?  The scenarios are infinite.  Even in a secular setting, the intent of the heart and mind are factored in a court of law and in sentencing.  

People see and care what you are producing and the implications and impact it will have on you and  on society.

Keeping laws and paying penalties is a means to try and curb worse case outcomes but it never has been and never will be a permanent solution nor a equitable situation for all people.

GRACE however, IS equitable for all people and the produce of GRACE and a life led by the Spirit is always contributing to  the growth and wellbeing of the individual and to the community.

In the original Greek, the word used for INHERIT is Strong’s G2816 – klēronomeō and means:
1) to receive a lot, receive by lot
a) esp. to receive a part of an inheritance, receive as an inheritance, obtain by right of inheritance
b) to be an heir, to inherit
2) to receive the portion assigned to one, receive an allotted portion, receive as one’s own or as a possession
3) to become partaker of, to obtain

In the original Greek, the word used for KINGDOM is Strong’s G932 – basileia and means:
1) royal power, kingship, dominion, rule
a) not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom
b) of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah
c) of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah’s kingdom
2) a kingdom, the territory subject to the rule of a king
3) used in the New Testament to refer to the reign of the Messiah (see below)

BASILEIA:  Royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah; royal power and dignity conferred on believers in the Messiah’s kingdom; royal power and dignity belonging to God; refers to the Reign of the Messiah; the kingdom over which God rules; the kingdom of the Messiah, which will be founded by God through the Messiah and over which the Messiah will preside as God’s vicegerent; the kingdom of heaven, i.e. the kingdom which is of heavenly or divine origin and nature – the rule of God. Based on the prophecies of Daniel in the Old Testament Book of Daniel – declaring it the purpose of God to once and for all time break the bonds of all kingdoms and rule other than His own and the world given for all time to His holy chosen people; Jesus used the phrases kingdom of God, kingdom of heaven, or just kingdom to indicate that Perfect order of things He was about to establish, in which all those of every nation who should believe in Him were to be gathered together into one society, dedicated and intimately united to God, and made partakers of eternal salvation and all powers hostile to God will be vanquished; God’s heavenly kingdom denotes the exalted and Perfect order of things which already exists in heaven and includes all blessings, benefits, fortunes, and conditions both present and future over which God holds total and ultimate sway.

INHERIT THE KINGDOM means to be an heir and a partaker in the exalted and PERFECT ORDER of things which already exists in heaven and INCLUDES ALL BLESSINGS, BENEFITS, FORTUNES, and CONDITIONS both present and future over which GOD holds TOTAL AND ULTIMATE SWAY.

To inherit the kingdom of God held a special significance, especially to the Jews who had inherited the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey. Yes, some had actually lived to achieve it, and then they spent the rest of their lives fighting to keep it only to lose it.  This was a reminder of the life they were promised under the GRACE and FREEDOM of the New Covenant.

By believing in Christ as the Messiah, accepting His free gift of salvation, not only do we need to ACT like we are free by not adhering to the LAW and not being in bondage or imprisoned under burdens of rules, regulations, rituals, traditions, religious pretense, or any other yoke except the yoke of Christ which He professed to be easy and light and not hard, sharp or pressingbut we also can take comfort in thinking about a time to come when we will once and for all live in the peace and prosperity God ordained for His people in the beginning.

In a nutshell Paul is summing up his entire message to the Galatians by telling them they must choose.

Choose to follow the law (civil law of lesser gods and idols or the Mosaic LAW of the Jews) and this will be the produce, the fruit I will expect to see:  immorality, impurity, indecency,  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, ill temper, selfishness, divisions, dissensions, party spirit, factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like

Choose to follow grace being led by the Spirit and this is the produce, the fruit I will expect to see:  Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, 23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].

24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.

True believers, dedicated to having a personal, meaningful, growing relationship with Christ will have the Holy Spirit ALIVE AND WORKING from the inside out.

None of the fruit of the Spirit will come from self effort.

You won’t have to wake up and make a mental note to be kind or patient. The Holy Spirit living in you and working through will manifest the fruit and it will come without effort on your part. In fact, you may be just as surprised by it as others are.

It will delight you as if it was done TO YOU and not BY YOU.

It will bless you in the same way it blesses others because even though from an outward appearance it will
seem you are the perpetrator of the kind word or gracious deed, you will know it comes from something inside you – the Holy Spirit.

Your spirit, upon believing, becomes ONE with the Holy Spirit.   When you make a conscious effort daily to bring your “flesh” – the senses of the body and the will of the soul – into alignment with the peace of the Holy Spirit, your spirit will in turn help you to sense the leading of the Holy Spirit. You won’t need any laws to guide you. The Holy Spirit will commune with your spirit and be your guide.

25 If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]

26 Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another.

<  Previous:  Galatians 4

Next:  Galatians 6  >

Introduction to Galatians
Galatians 1
Galatians 2
Galatians 3
Galatians 4
Galatians 5
Galatians 6

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