Galatians 5 – 6
Liberty as a Result of Understanding Our Position: Justification (5:1-12)
Christian liberty is an important subject in the New Testament. The basic principle is this: the Christian has been set completely free from every kind of bondage in order to do the will of God. The believer has been set free from the tyranny of indwelling sin (Rom. 6:7). Those who were once idol-worshiping Pagans have been set free from their bondage to Satan (Gal. 4:8). Those who were once Jews under law are no longer in bondage to law but are under grace (Romans 6:14). As those who are under grace, we have been liberated from the requirements of the Law, and every other "yoke of bondage" (Gal. 5:1). Having been set free in grace, there is liberty for the indwelling Spirit to act in our lives; "the perfect law of liberty" (James 1:25). When we are enjoying the liberty we have been brought into, our communion with God and our service for Him will be completely unhindered! In the whole wide world, the only people who are truly free, are the genuine disciples of Christ; "If ye abide in my word, ye are truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:31-32).Read more… In Galatians particularly, the danger is of coming under the bondage of the law.
Exhortation to Stand Fast in the Truth of the Christian Position (v.1)
Three Reasons why We should Stand Fast (vv.2-4)
- Law-keeping practically nullifies the work of Christ (v.2)
- Law-keeping is all or nothing (v.3)
- Law-keeping puts distance between the soul and Christ (v.4)
The Practical Superiority of Waiting and Working by the Spirit (vv.5-6)
v.5 – Faith is the principle to live by – counting on God alone.↓ – Spirit is the power indwelling that allows us to live for God.↓ – Hope is set before us to anchor our souls.v.6 – Love is the motive for Christian service.
|God’s love in Christ ⇒||the believer||⇒ Love toward God|
|⇒ love toward others|
The Leaven of Legality: How it Enters and Spreads (vv.7-12)
|Someone (“who”) brings it||⇒||we let them persuade us||⇒||it spreads|
Leaven in scripture is always a symbol of evil, and often of evil doctrine as well; e.g. "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (Matt. 16:6). As in physical baking, leaven is characterized by its infesting and spreading character. Yeast works in this way to create evenly spaced bubbles in bread. The Church is warned twice that evil must be judged, or the whole will be corrupted; in 1 Cor. 5:6 it is in connection with moral evil, and in Gal. 5:9 in connection with doctrinal evil.Read more… It seems shocking at first that legality would be considered on par with fornication. But then, doctrinal evil is the more dangerous, because the natural mind tends to view it only a differences of opinion instead of positive evil. Also, which is worse: to murder, or to teach that it is acceptable to murder? The doctrine is more serious. Without right doctrine, the means of addressing moral evil is lost. This is why Paul’s rebuke of the Galatian error is even stronger than that of the Corinthians (Gal. 3:1). Galatian error strikes at the foundation of the gospel. Evil doctrine will spread through the whole assembly, if it is not judged. As an application, another point is that evil doctrine in one area will spread to other areas of doctrine, because the whole of scripture is interconnected.
Liberty as a Result of Walking in the Spirit: Sanctification (5:13-26)
- The right and wrong use of liberty, love emphasized (vv.13-15)
- The law cannot control the flesh, but the Spirit can! (vv.16-18)
- The law can’t produce Christ-like qualities, the Spirit can! (vv.19-23)
- Normal Christianity with regard to the flesh and the Spirit (vv.24-25)
- Deliverance from the primary result of legality (v.26)
The Right and Wrong Use of Liberty (vv.13-15)
The Law Cannot Control the Flesh, but the Spirit Can! (vv.16-18)
||Solution to the conflict||Applies to:|
|Rom. 7:7-25||The old nature & the new nature||Believe the Gospel and be sealed||A quickened soul that is not sealed|
|Gal. 5:16-25||The flesh & the Spirit||Give the Spirit its proper place||A Christian that is in a bad state|
|Eph. 6:10-20||A Christian & the Devil||Put on the whole armor of God||A Christian that is in a good state|
The Law Cannot Produce Christ-like Qualities, but the Spirit Can! (vv.19-23)
|moral||our bodies||Rom. 1:24-27||Gal.5:19|
|spiritual||God||Rom. 1:21-23||Gal. 5:20a|
|social||fellow man||Rom. 1:28-32||Gal. 5:20b-21a|
- Love. The first and primary work of the Spirit of God in our lives is to “shed abroad the love of God in our hearts” (Rom. 5:9). When this happens, we are filled with the realization of God’s unconditional love, that caused Him to send His Son to die for us. This agápe love is “love of a settled disposition”. This means it has nothing to do with feelings. Being filled with the love of God, we will show that same love to others, the same way God loves us; not because of something good or desirable in the object. The law cannot make a person love. Only grace can do that.
- Joy. When we have a sense of God’s love, the natural result is to be filled with a deep, inward joy! We have so much in Christ that our hearts can overflow with genuine gladness. Paul could say, in spite of suffering, “rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4). Self-occupation, which is what legality results in, will never produce joy.
- Peace. When we understand the place we have in Christ, and what the love of God has done for us, we are filled with a deep, inward peace. We know that our security is entirely in the hands of a faithful and loving God, and that we rest on the finished work of Christ! Legality puts us on the ground of our own responsibility before God, and therefore results in fear and anxiety. It isn’t so much peace with God; that we have as a result of justification. It is more the peace of God.
- Long-suffering. If we are established in grace, we will find it easier to be patient with others. When injustices come our way, we will be willing to suffer it. Why? Because we will remember that God has been very patient with us, and it would be out of character to treat another with less courtesy that we have been shown by our Father. Legalists tend to be impatient, because they are always comparing others to themselves.
- Kindness. In a similar way, when walking in the Spirit, we will be kind to others. We will reflect “the kindness and love of God our Savior” to a lost world, which knows very little of true kindness. To be kind is to be protective of the helpless, generous to the needy, forgiving to the offensive, and gentle with all.
- Goodness. God is good, and those who are filled with His Spirit will reflect that quality. Goodness is moral perfection. It is having good motives, and carrying those motives into action. By nature, man is not good. But the Christian has a new nature, and the Spirit of God as the power to act on the impulses of that nature. Goodness involves the motive as well as the action.
- Fidelity. The seventh quality is fidelity toward God. Fidelity is faithfulness to God. Walking in the Spirit will make us trustworthy servants of God. We will be sincere in our commitments to Him, and will therefore walk in obedience to His Word.
- Meekness. The Spirit will also reproduce the meekness of Christ in our lives. “Meekness” is not giving offense. It is connected in scripture with gentleness; “by the meekness and gentleness of the Christ” (2 Cor. 10:1). Christ Himself is the perfect example of meekness. Also we might think of Moses who is called the meekest man that ever lived (Numbers 12:3).
- Self-control. In some cases, self-control is the quality least seen in the lives of believers, especially those living in affluent countries like the United States. Our whole culture urges us to have as much of everything as we can get; food, pleasure, entertainment, etc. This is not self-control. The secret to having “self-control” is to offer our lives up to the Spirit’s control. Legality may seem at first like a good way to curb the appetites of the flesh, but it actually does the opposite (Rom. 7:7-11)!
Walking in the Spirit is Normal to Christianity (vv.24-26)
- Gal. 3:13 – the cross delivers us from the law (specifically Jews).
- Gal. 5:24 – the cross delivers us from the flesh.
- Gal. 6:14 – the cross delivers us from the world.
Liberty in Action: Results of “Walking in the Spirit” (6:1-10)
- Liberty… restores a fallen brother (v.1)
- Liberty… undertakes for others in the sorrows/cares of life (v.2)
- Liberty… remains humble in spirit (v.3)
- Liberty… conscientiously fulfills individual responsibilities (vv.4-5)
- Liberty… abounds in generosity and good works (vv.6-10)
Liberty Restores a Fallen Brother (v.1)
Liberty Undertakes for Others in the Sorrows and Cares of Life (v.2)
Liberty Remains Humble in Spirit (v.3)
Liberty Conscientiously Fulfills Individual Responsibilities (vv.4-5)
Liberty Abounds in Generosity and Good Works (vv.6-10)
Conclusion: A Summary, Motives of Both Sides Exposed (6:11-18)
- Galatians 6:18. When we have been carrying on in a legal way, and when we have been corrected.
- Philippians 4:23. When there are disagreements between brethren.
- Philemon 25. When we are called on to forgive someone who has offended us.
- 2 Timothy 4:22. When we look around and see failure in a day of public ruin.
- Kelly, William. Lectures on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians.
- “The hope of righteousness”… And what is that? That I shall be with Christ in the very same glory that He has. For this the believer is waiting. – Kelly, W. Lectures on the Epistle to the Galatians.
- At this natural division the Spirit of God recurs to the thought of liberty with which He had opened the chapter. It is put forward in a twofold point of view. Liberty as a question of justification we had in the early part; liberty now we have as that which leads into, and ought always to be connected with, practical holiness. For we must remember that this is the subject-matter of the remainder of the chapter. Now there are many persons who more or less understand that Christ has brought us liberty in the matter of righteousness, or the standing of justified men in the sight of God; but they do not know liberty in the daily walk with God. – Kelly, W. Lectures on the Epistle to the Galatians.
- The Holy Ghost, then, says, “In order that ye may not do the things that ye would,” The very point of the verse is this. He was showing them why they were called upon to walk in the Spirit; and what was the true preservative against the lusts of the flesh. … the Holy Ghost is an inward power, identifying Himself with the affections of the soul, and giving strength to desires after what is good, and against natural lusts, or any way in which the flesh may show itself. … Though the lusts of the flesh are there, you have the Spirit, too, in order that you may not fulfil those lusts. If what we have in our version, “so that ye cannot do the things that ye would,” were correct, it would be like blowing hot in the one verse and cold in the other. He would be telling them in one verse that they must walk in the Spirit, and in the next that they cannot do it after all. Such a rendering carries its own refutation on its face. I press this the more strongly, because it is a practical point to christian people. – Kelly, W. Lectures on the Epistle to the Galatians.
- It is not “so that ye cannot,” but “in order that ye might not.” – Darby, J. N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. G. Morrish, 1940.
- The Spirit of God it is which enables a Christian man to walk aright, not the law. – Kelly, W. Lectures on the Epistle to the Galatians.
- He shows that all that are Christ’s have gone through the great question of what was not His: they have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. They have submitted, by faith, to the sentence of death on all their nature — they have “crucified the flesh.” – Kelly, W. Lectures on the Epistle to the Galatians.
- Kelly, W. Lectures on the Epistle to the Galatians.
- The words for “burden” in vers. 2 and 5 are different; ver. 2 is the same as Matt. 20:12; ver. 5 as Matt. 11:30. – Darby, J.N. A New Translation. Galatians 6:2
- In fact, we have here the two great practical principles of Christianity: the one is active energetic love [v.2], which bears the burdens of others; and the other is personal responsibility [v.5]. – Kelly, William. Lectures on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians.
- This reaping, plainly, is in glory. We are not to expect it here. We may meet with that which is sweet and grateful, but we are not to be surprised if we do not. – Kelly, William. Lectures on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians.
- The apostle wrote himself, and, from not being used to writing, he drew attention to the large characters in the epistle. – Kelly, William. Lectures on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians.
- Two parties are spoken of, and not one only. “As many as walk according to this rule,” are rather the Gentile believers; and the “Israel of God” are the Jewish saints, not the mere literal Israel, but “the Israel of God;” the Israelites indeed, whom grace made willing to receive the Saviour. – Kelly, William. Lectures on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians.