Read Galatians 5
Freedom in Christ
5 It 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.
2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised,Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
Life by the Spirit
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and 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.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the fleshwith its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
This chapter is split into two segments: 1) the freedom found in Christ, and 2) walking in the Spirit. Finding our freedom in Christ is Paul’s first appeal in this passage. Finding this freedom enables us to walk in the Spirit. Christ is the cornerstone on which freedom is found. There is no freedom apart from Him. For believers, we depend on Jesus for freedom through salvation. We are dependent on Him to walk by the Spirit. This dependence is an abiding relationship founded on God’s endless love for us and nothing can be added to or taken away from this love. Christ offers this freedom to everyone! No one is ineligible.
We have witnessed how broken this world is, and our own shortcomings contribute to this universal sin problem. Sin is hurtful, unjust, cruel, and wrong regardless of how large or small. God’s faultless Son (Jesus) was the perfect sacrifice that paid all sin in full. Jesus asks us to put our trust in Him as Savior (accepting His sacrifice on our behalf) and Lord (submitting ourselves to His authority). Rather than forever punishing humankind for our wrong-doing, which we deserve, Jesus Christ offers the freedom of being eternally reconciled with God to us out of boundless, immeasurable, and unthinkable grace! For those who have accepted Christ’s life, death, and resurrection on their behalf, we live in freedom (v. 1-15).
When our understanding of freedom is set on the foundation of Christ, we walk by the Spirit (v. 16-25). Lies, temptation, hardships, and sin will vie for our heart, yet walking in the Spirit and carrying out the desires of the flesh are not compatible (Matthew 6:24). We will want to sin because we are susceptible to believe the lies spun by the enemy and this world. Yet, for those of us in Christ, our flesh has been crucified with Him (Galatians 2:20). Christ’s Spirit remains, and we can all too easily forget or ignore the Spirit’s presence. Truly sit in that for a minute. God—sovereign, infinite, glorious God—placed His very Spirit within you. Satan is not even close to touching God’s power. While we can struggle to walk by the Spirit, God does not struggle. This is all the more reason to abide in Him.
- What does it mean that Jesus alone is our righteousness and freedom?
- How are you tempted to go back into sin?
- Do you understand what the Holy Spirit’s presence within you means for walking in the Spirit?
C.S. Lewis once said the following:
“Our desires are not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Take time to confess today how you are too easily pleased, and reflect on what God’s infinite joy means for your life now and eternally.
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