Why Am I Saved?
What Does That Mean?

A Study of Galatians
Part Eight

by David Chadwell

Background Overview Introduction -
Galatians 1:1-5
Section 1 -
Galatians 1:6-10
Section 2 -
Galatians 1:11-2:21
Section 3 -
Galatians 3:1-22
Section 4 -
Galatians 3:23-4:31
Section 5 -
Galatians 5 and 6


Section 5: Galatians 5 and 6

  1. Christ gave us freedom with the specific intention of our being free.

    1. Plant your feet firmly in that freedom; allow nothing to move you from that freedom.

      1. Consider the things that we, today, as the church, stress that Christians should "stand firm" in.

        1. The list would include the Word, the truth, sound doctrine, the authority of Christ, etc.

        2. Certainly, we should "stand firm" in all these things.

        3. But how often do you hear "freedom" placed on that list?

      2. Paul clearly stressed that these Christians should stand firm in the freedom that Christ gave them.

    2. To stand firm in Christ's freedom they must not "again" submit (RSV, JB), be subject to (NASV), be entangled in (KJV), be burdened by (NIV), be tied to (NEB) a yoke of slavery.

      1. The Greek word translated "submit" or "be subject to" means "to be held in" or "to be ensnared."

      2. Spiritually, laws formed a yoke that held or ensnared, and that yoke destroyed freedom.

        1. A yoke was not placed on oxen to free the oxen, but to control the oxen.

        2. The yoke harnessed the oxen's strength for the purpose of moving a burden.

        3. The yoke existed to use the oxen, not to free the oxen.

        4. The well being of the oxen was not the primary consideration.

      3. The word "again" provides an interesting insight into the inadequacy of the control of law.

        1. It seems to draw a parallel between the control of law under Judaism and the control of law under idolatry.

        2. For the non-Jewish Christians to escape idolatry and submit the Judaism was to escape slavery to enter slavery.

        3. The ordinances of both existed to control the person who submitted.

        4. The result of both was to burden the person, not to free the person.

      4. When your past religious life was formed and regulated by laws (ordinances), it is extremely difficult to stand in freedom.

        1. Freedom feels unnatural; because of past religious conditioning, it can even feel unspiritual.

        2. It feels "natural" and "spiritual" to submit to external controls and burdens; submitting to laws "just feels right."

        3. So you can easily escape an undesirable form of control to submit to a seemingly more desirable form of control.

        4. But, spiritually, the control of law (ordinances) equals slavery--regardless of the source or the nature of the system of laws.

  2. In verses 5:2-12, Paul placed his entire, collective influence and personal position as their original teacher behind this injunction: "If you allow yourselves to be circumcised to comply with Jewish ordinances, you will receive zero benefits or blessings from God."

    1. Please remember that Paul was not speaking about circumcision as a matter of health or hygiene (as it is often used today), but circumcision as a religious rite, a spiritual ordinance to be imposed on non-Jews.

      1. "If you allow yourselves to be circumcised:

        1. "You are obligated to practice every ordinance of Jewish law.

        2. "The moment your flesh is cut away in the act of circumcision, you actually sever the bond the binds you to Christ; you cut yourself away from Christ."

        3. "The moment that you seek to be just before God by an act of law is the moment that you fall out of God's grace."

      2. "It is the spirit and grace that gave us the hope of righteousness through faith in Christ."

        1. In Christ being a Jew or non-Jew means nothing.

        2. Therefore in Christ the ordinance of circumcision means nothing.

        3. In Christ only this is of true substance and enduring meaning: faith in what God achieved in Christ; faith that is busy and at work using the same love that gave us Christ.

      3. "What happened to you?"

        1. "Who hindered you from obeying the truth?"

          1. Please carefully note that the deed of obeying a law by submitting to circumcision was not obeying the truth.

          2. Standing in the freedom that Christ gave them was obeying the truth.

          3. Placing their trust, their confidence in what God achieved through Christ's death on the cross was obeying the truth.

          4. Serving through love was obeying the truth.

        2. "Christ did not persuade you to accept circumcision."

          1. Here, leaven or yeast is used as a negative symbol; at times it was also used as a positive symbol (Matthew 13:33).

          2. Just a few submitting to circumcision could become a powerful influence that encouraged the whole church to view circumcision as necessary for salvation.

        3. "I believe that you will reject this new view that you have been taught."

          1. "Whoever disturbed you about circumcision will endure his own sentence."

          2. "Do you not realize that if I taught what he taught that the Jews would not be persecuting me?"

          3. "If I preached that circumcision was necessary for non-Jews to become Christians, these people could accept the cross which is a symbol of shame."

          4. "Instead of trying to circumcise you, I wish these people would 'cut themselves off."

  3. "It is very important for you to understand the true nature of the freedom you have received in Christ" (5:13-15).

    1. "You were not given freedom in Christ to create the opportunity for you to indulge your sensual desires."

      1. The true nature of freedom is not the opportunity to indulge oneself.

      2. The true nature of freedom is the opportunity to serve.

      3. To gain the force of what Paul said, contrast this new right to serve God with the denied right to serve God demonstrated in the functions of the high priest, the priests, and those who had the "right" to perform services for God or the gods.

    2. "If you are really concerned about fulfilling the heart and intent of law, practice the foundation principle of the Jewish law: serve your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18).

      1. Concerns about the law generated conflict.

      2. Chewing on each other would lead to the destruction of each other.

  4. Paul addressed the unending struggle that exists in every age for every Christian: the intensely personal struggle between sensual desires and spiritual focus (5:16-26).

    1. How could a person who escaped the slavery of idolatry live his daily life with a spiritual focus that did not yield to sensual appetites?

      1. "Because you are free in Christ, let the Spirit (not your sensual desires) direct the way that you live your daily life."

      2. Function daily in the guidance of the Spirit.

      3. Do not function in the guidance of sensual desires.

    2. Essential realizations:

      1. Many of these Christians could not read.

      2. Books, printing, nor the New Testament existed.

      3. The letters that would eventually form the New Testament were in the process of being written and collected.

      4. Christians then received the Holy Spirit in the form and to the degree that enabled them to receive daily guidance from the Spirit.

      5. The Spirit did not overpower them or control them through force; they chose to allow the Spirit to guide them.

      6. They were to choose the guidance of the Spirit and reject the guidance of their sensual desires.

    3. They could have the guidance of the Spirit only if they stood in the freedom that Christ gave them.

      1. The Spirit would not lead them to the law.

      2. The Spirit would not place them under the control of the law.

      3. The Spirit would not destroy the freedom that Christ gave them.

    4. Sensual desires and the Spirit were (are) enemies of each other.

      1. The struggle between the Spirit and sensual desires prevented converted idolaters from doing what they wanted to do.

      2. If they wanted to follow their sensual desires, the Spirit struggled against those wishes.

      3. If they wanted to follow the Spirit, their sensual desires struggled against those wishes.

      4. The deeds of sensual desires were obvious:

        1. They were sexual deeds expressed through:

          1. Sexual immorality.

          2. Impurity.

          3. Sensuality.

        2. They were deeds that honored other gods or spirits:

          1. Idolatry .

          2. Sorcery.

        3. They were deeds arising from ungodly emotions:

          1. Enmity.

          2. Strife.

          3. Jealousy.

          4. Angry outbursts.

          5. Envy.

        4. They were deeds that created division:

          1. Disputes.

          2. Dissensions.

          3. Factions (heresies).

        5. They were deeds of indulgence:

          1. Drunkenness.

          2. Carousing.

        6. They included any deeds similar to any of these things (obviously, Paul was not making an exhaustive, all inclusive list).

        7. "I warned you before and I warn you now: practicing these things will destroy your spiritual inheritance."

          1. They oppose and defeat the Spirit.

          2. They destroy the freedom that Christ gave Christians.

      5. The fruit (singular) of the Spirit is just as evident.

        1. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

        2. The law does not oppose any of these.

      6. All a Christian man or woman needs to do to determine if he or she is controlled and guided by sensual desire or by the Spirit is to examine his or her own life.

        1. Is your daily life characterized by the deeds produced by sensual desires?

        2. Is your daily life characterized by the fruit of the Spirit?

      7. Those who give possession of their lives to Jesus Christ crucify (deliberately execute) sensual hungers and desires that oppose the Spirit.

        1. Crucifixion is a slow death.

        2. It is also a painful death.

        3. This is self-inflicted crucifixion.

      8. If the Spirit gave us spiritual life, then let us follow the Spirit.

      9. Let's forsake bragging, challenging, and envying--the things that create conflict with each other.

  5. Instructions (chapter 6).

    1. Remember the situation that motivated Paul to write this letter and consider Paul's instructions in that context.

      1. The things Paul revealed through the teaching of this letter likely created the groups among the congregations in Galatia.

        1. A group who clearly understood that Christians depend on Christ 100% and on the law 0%.

        2. A group who understood some things Paul taught but were confused by some of Paul's statements.

        3. A group who felt that Paul had personally attacked them and considered it their responsibility to oppose Paul and his teachings.

      2. It would be naive to conclude that Paul addressed this complex problem with one short letter and created perfect understanding among all the Christians in all the Galatian congregations.

    2. Instruction # 1: treatment of the Christian who failed (6:1-5).

      1. The situation: if you catch a person in a trespass (NAS); if a person is caught in wrongdoing (TEV); if a person is overtaken by a trespass (RSV); if a person impulsively does something wrong (NEB); if a person misbehaves (JB); if a person is trapped in a sin (NIV).

        1. This person spiritually has failed.

        2. Christians have discovered the failure.

        3. Perhaps the person has not come to the awareness of failure.

        4. The context does not seem to indicate that Paul was talking about a situation of remorse and repentance, but a situation where a Christian is trapped in his own failure.

      2. Note that his instruction does not stress discipline but restoration.

      3. The attempt of a caring, concerned Christian to restore the Christian who failed must:

        1. Come from spiritual mindedness ("You who are spiritual...).

        2. Come from a spirit of gentleness.

        3. Not come from a spirit of superiority or self-righteousness.

        4. Begin with the Christian (who wishes to restore) conducting a self-evaluation to protect himself or herself from temptation.

      4. If the Christian who attempts to restore does not have a Christ-like attitude that is gentle, he also has spiritually failed.

      5. "To you who are so impressed by the law, give priority to Christ's law: bear each others burdens (love each other as Jesus loved you--John 13:34,35).

        1. Do not regard burden bearing as something beneath you.

        2. To think that you are something that you are nothing is mere self-deception.

        3. The arrogance of self-righteousness is not spiritual mindedness.

      6. Consider how easy it would be for those who understood Paul to be frustrated and impatient with those who did not understand him.

        1. The Christian who did understand needed to remember that he had held the same wrong convictions.

        2. Earlier he was also in the state of ignorance and confusion.

        3. Do not act superior as though you never had the problem.

      7. The scope of helpfulness that Paul emphasized was broad.

        1. Restore those who fail.

        2. Assist those who are burdened--help them with their burdens.

      8. Live and direct your life on the basis of self-evaluation rather than on the basis of evaluating others.

        1. Do not find your sense of accomplishment on the basis of "I surely straightened them out and brought them under control."

        2. Base your sense of spiritual achievement and self-respect on the foundation of how you are dealing with your own life and inadequacies.

        3. Just as a Christian is responsible to help those who struggle, a Christian also must accept responsibility for himself.

    3. Instruction # 2: a set of directives (6:6-10):

      1. Financially support those who teach you.

      2. Do not create the deceptive confidence that you can hide anything from God (you cannot knowingly choose to practice evil and gain God's blessings).

      3. In your life, you will harvest what you plant.

        1. If everything you plant is focused on your physical existence, you will harvest a dead, decaying body.

        2. If everything you plant is focused on Christ, you will harvest eternal life.

      4. Do not get discouraged while you doing good; if you don't get tired and quit, your harvest from the good will come.

      5. Do good at every opportunity for everyone.

      6. Be especially diligent in doing good in God's family.

    4. Conclusion (6:11-18):

      1. You can see by the size of the writing that I wrote this letter myself.

      2. Realize that the Christians who are urging you to be circumcised do so to escape persecution for believing in Christ's cross.

        1. This could be Jewish Christians.

        2. This could be non-Jewish proselytes.

      3. Those who are urging you to be circumcised do not keep the law.

        1. They want to receive credit for your decision to be circumcised.

        2. They want to brag about the influence they have over you.

        3. The only boasting that I will do is boasting about what God accomplished in the crucifixion of Jesus.

        4. Through that act the world and I were crucified to each other.

      4. Circumcision is nothing; being a new creature in Christ is everything.

        1. May peace and mercy be upon those who follow this rule and on God's Israel (all those who receive the promise by having Abraham's faith.)

      5. Let no one cause me any more trouble--my body has on it the physical marks of belonging to Jesus.

      6. Christ's grace be with your spirit.

David Chadwell

Galatians Study Guide (part 8)
Wednesday evening Bible class, 14 January - 3 June 1998
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Copyright © 1998
Permission is granted to freely copy and distribute with text unchanged, including author's name.
previous beginning section

Background Overview Introduction -
Galatians 1:1-5
Section 1 -
Galatians 1:6-10
Section 2 -
Galatians 1:11-2:21
Section 3 -
Galatians 3:1-22
Section 4 -
Galatians 3:23-4:31
Section 5 -
Galatians 5 and 6

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell

  Link to West-Ark's Online Library

West-Ark Church of Christ