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Christ Has Set You Free

After four chapters of defending his ministry, defending the gospel and showing the Galatians scripturally that the Judaizers are wrong, Paul now begins to explain what Christ has done for them through the Gospel.

As we have seen before, the Judaizers have not brought freedom to the Galatians.  However, Paul writes what Christ has done for them.  In fact, the first verse of chapter five may be the theme of the entire epistle.  For freedom Christ has set us free.  Why did Christ set the Galatians free?  For freedom.  That sounds like overkill, but it’s true.  Before Christ, the Galatians were slaves.  Slaves to sin.  Now they have set free for freedom.  They are to stand firm and are not to submit again to a yoke of slavery.  The Galatians now have the ability to make the choice of whether they will be slaves again and Paul tells them to stand against that and not take up the slavery of legalism in place of the slavery of sin that once shackled them.

How could they be shackled again?  The Judaizers were teaching them that they must follow the Law to experience the fullness of the Christian life.  These Gentiles were being told that they had to be circumcised in order to grow as Christians.  What does Paul say to that?  If you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.  In other words, if you after being freed from slavery, take the yoke of the slavery of legalism upon you, you will not have the advantage of freedom through Christ.

What will it mean for them if they take this yoke of slavery upon them?  Paul writes that every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.  In other words, if they are circumcised because the Judaizers tell them that this will bring them into a fuller relationship with God, then they must keep the entire law themselves.

What is the result in the Galatians life?  The Galatians are severed from Christ. Why?  Because they would be justified by the law.  They have fallen away from grace.  What does this mean?  Have they become unsaved or unjustified?  That isn’t what Paul means.  What he means is that they have laid down their dependence on Christ and grace and taken up legalism and slavery in an attempt to grow in Christ.

How do they avoid this?  For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.  The Galatians, because they are in Christ, have been given the Spirit of Christ into their hearts.  They have the ability, because of the Spirit, to live by faith, not the slavery of legalism.  Because of faith, they can wait for the hope of their faith being reckoned to them as righteousness.

What is the result of all of this?  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.  Paul’s point is that no one can depend on the law that depends on the outward display of circumcision.  Neither can anyone depend on the opposite law of the outward sign of uncircumcision.  The Galatians must depend on faith in Christ that comes through the love of Christ.

What can we take away from this?

1.  Christ performed his work so that we could be free in Him.

2.  You cannot experience the fullness of Christ living a life of legalism.

3.  Mixing the law and grace just does not work.  You must live one or the other.

4.  We receive the hope of our righteousness by faith through the Spirit.

5.  Faith works through love in those that are living by the Spirit.

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