WE’VE BEEN SET FREE SO WE CAN LIVE FREE!
Galatians 5:1-6) [NIV] 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.
[NLT] So Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
[MSG] Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.
NOTE: We discover by the following verses that the freedom Paul is speaking of is freedom from the Law of Moses. Today, we could add the thought of freedom from any religious ideology that ties our justification to our good works.
Galatians 5:2) [NIV] Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.
[NLT] Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ cannot help you.
[MSG] I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered.
NOTE: There is a freedom that Christ Jesus won for us that we render useless when we determine that the way to an ongoing relationship with God is found on the street of “Good Works.”
QUESTION: Exactly what freedom is that?
ANSWER: We’ll get to that as we continue through these six verses.
Galatians 5:3) [NIV] Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.
[NLT] I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey all of the regulations in the whole law of Moses.
[MSG] I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law.
NOTE: In today’s reality, if you decide to stay in a right relationship with God by your efforts to do enough good things to outweigh the bad things you do, then you must keep every rule in the ideology that you’re involved in.
James 2:10-11) [NIV] For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
11) For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
NOTE: The trouble with adopting an ideology of justification by works is that the moment you fail to keep one of the rules you’re a lawbreaker. At that moment you’re no longer justified.
Galatians 5:4) [NIV] You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
[NLT] For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.
[MSG] I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace.
QUESTION: Is this verse telling us that if one of us who has trusted Christ for salvation turns to a “justification by works” ideology that we then lose the salvation we trusted Christ for?
1 Corinthians 15:10) [NIV] But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them-yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
Galatians 2:9) [NIV] James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.
ANSWER: No! I believe Paul is speaking about grace in the sense of Divine enablement in this passage, not Divine favor. When we begin to trust ourselves, which is exactly what turning to a system of works is, then we fall out of grace in the sense that we cut ourselves off from the Divine enablement that Christ desires to give us in our walking out our salvation. In that sense, we have been cut off from Christ.
Galatians 5:5) [NIV] But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.
[NLT] But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive everything promised to us who are right with God through faith.
[MSG] Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit.
NOTE: This verse reveals what motivates many Christians to turn to some kind of “legal” system to find peace with God. They aren’t satisfied with their walk of righteousness, they’re frustrated with their failures to do the right thing in certain situations, and they think if they place themselves under a law/a set of rules, then they will overcome their weaknesses.
We all grow tired of struggling with the flesh, but we must join Paul and “by faith” we must “eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.”
Galatians 5:6) [NIV] For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
[NLT] For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, it makes no difference to God whether we are circumcised or not circumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.
[MSG] For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.
Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church