This chapter continues the argument from the previous chapter, to induce the Galatians to renounce their conformity to the Jewish law, and be entirely conformed to the gospel.
Verse 1 – Stand fast therefore in liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Do not allow yourself to be placed under any yoke, where it demands rites, ceremonies, or customs. False teachers will tell you that you have to “do this” to please God.
Verse 2 – Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.
Verse 3 – And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.
Verse 4 – You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
If we could be justified by any other way other than through Christ, we wouldn’t have needed Him to die on the cross. Grace here means “salvation by grace,” which is not by works or any other way.
Verse 5 – For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
True Christians have no other hope of salvation than by faith in the Lord Jesus. It is not by their own works, nor by conforming to the law. The hope of righteousness is justification through faith in the Redeemer.
Verse 6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
Love for others is the response of those who have been forgiven. Those who have been forgiven love much.
Verse 7 – You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
Verse 8 – This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.
Meaning: Who persuaded you to believe it was necessary to obey the laws of Moses, and to intermingle the observance of Jewish rites with the belief of the Christian doctrines in order to be saved.
Verse 9 – A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
Verse 10 – I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear judgment, whoever he is.
Verse 11 – And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.
Verse 12 – I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!
If Paul had preached what the false teachers were preaching, no one would have been offended. However, because he preached the truth, he was persecuted. Jesus told His disciples not to be surprised when the world hates them, because the world hated Him first. One of the biggest reasons people reject the truth is because when they hear it, it makes them feel guilty and they hate that feeling.
Verse 13 – For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Don’t use your liberty to gratify the flesh in sin. Use that liberty to serve others openly and freely.
Verse 14 – For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Verse 15 – But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another.
When we are not motivated by love, we become critical of others. We stop looking for the good in people and only see their faults. Loving others start with loving yourself and knowing the love that Christ has for you.
Conflict Between the Spirit and the Flesh
Verse 16 – I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
Most of the time Christians walk through life by their emotions and desires, which is walking by the flesh! Those that do that, will reap corruption. When we walk by the Spirit, we are influenced by God’s word, not our own reasoning.
Verse 17 – For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
Verse 18 – But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Works of the Flesh
Verse 19 – Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness,
Verse 20 – idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
Verse 21 – envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
This list is not the characteristics of a born-again, blood bought Christian. None of these are acceptable behaviors of a Christian. We may have done some of these before we were saved, but they cannot be a part of a Christians continuous life. Those who ignore such sins or refuse to deal with them reveal that they have not received the gift of the Spirit that leads to a transformed life! Read them again and see if there is anything you need to work on.
Fruit of the Spirit
Verse 22 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Verse 23 – gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Self-control is placed last in this list for emphasis, because all the works of the flesh reflect lack of self-control. There is no need for law when people’s lives exhibit love and self-control.
Verse 24 – And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
As Christians we still have the capacity to sin, but we have been set free from sin’s power over us and no longer have to give in to it. We submit our will to Christ and we will draw power from His Spirit to overcome.
Verse 25 – If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Verse 26 – Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Some of the Jews felt above others because of their blood-line. Some thought on account of their wealth, rank, or talent, they were more superior than others. The distinctions between people in this life are only temporary. In the grave, wealth, rank, and talent, do not avail there. One day the poorest of people will wear as bright a crown as the rich if they belong to Christ. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Love your neighbor as you love yourself!