1It 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.
2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
7You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9"A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." 10I 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. 11Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
13You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 15If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
Life by the Spirit
16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For 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. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and 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.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Freedom…This is the truth that comes when one is free in Christ Jesus. One is no longer a slave to sin but free to live righteously in Christ. How sad that we forsake what the Cross and Resurrection gained for us. So many turn to the law to receive a righteousness it cannot give. They willingly take upon themselves the yoke of slavery and claim they are free!
In Matthew 11:29 Jesus tells us to take His yoke upon us. In the time of Jesus many Rabbis would call out to gain followers by saying, “Take my yoke upon you” This was a way of saying, “Follow my teachings.” They taught strict rules and called for their disciples to live lives of holiness. This seems to those who do not know Jesus, to be a good thing, yet it is slavery to the Law that leads only to death. Galatians 3:24 already taught us that the Law was a schoolmaster to lead us to the Life in Christ Jesus. It was to bring us to maturity which comes by faith. Yet, it seems that some find security in seeking their own righteousness instead of trusting in Christ Jesus.
The yoke that God gave to Abraham was circumcision. This was to show that God’s people we set apart to Himself. Yet, here Paul states that to set one’s self under part of the Law makes them obligated to obey the whole Law. Many teach grace and then negate it by teaching one must be obedient. This is true if one understands obedience is that of Christ and not of our own. For it is of the obedience of Christ that we are made righteous. (Romans 5:19) How if one is made righteous by the obedience of Christ Jesus can one suppose they can make themselves more righteous? It is as if some believe they can add to Christ Jesus’ righteousness… and in doing so negate the only righteousness they have. For one cannot trust in Jesus and trust their own righteousness to be saved. Paul speaks strongly and rather boldly of those that follow the way of the circumcision and tells them to cut it all off for all its worth which is nothing.
So many start out trusting Jesus, and fall into corrupt teaching. They start with the purity of Christ alone and then are taught to add their own works. Worse they are taught they must produce fruit… We are not fruit producers but fruit bearers. The branch cannot produce fruit without the vine.
The higher Law of Love is what we are called to. Paul states, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Sadly many fail to do this but appoint themselves as judges of righteousness forgetting that no one is right with God. Only Jesus is truly righteous. We must live by the Holy Spirit in total dependency. In that way we only find freedom; freedom from sin and its wages which is death. It is easy to spot those who are not free and follow the sinful nature. They practice the very sins they claim to be against! “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” Paul paints a sad picture. There are some of these judges that have even confessed they have a hard time not hating people who live free in Christ. They practice rage and cause dissension… and glory in their factions. Yet… even with all this how glorious is the contrast of those who live by the Spirit and practice Grace.
Those that live by the Spirit bear the fruit of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control” and as Paul states; there is no Law against these things.
Yet, also as we live by the Spirit we need be careful to not become proud and fall into the trap of the flesh. We must not become conceited that we are better than others. Humility is the conduit of Grace. Without humility, we cannot bear the very fruit we seek to bear.