It was for freedom that Christ set us free, therefore, stand firm and do not be burdened again by a yoke of bondage. (Gal 5:1)
In Galatians 5, Paul shares with us what it means to truly BE FREE as followers in Christ:
Gal 5:4-7 (NASB)
“You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified BY LAW; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by FAITH, are waiting for the HOPE of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but FAITH working through LOVE. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did NOT COME from HIM who calls you.”
A true follower of Jesus Christ is one who has received the free gift of grace will no longer rely on the law to prove themselves righteous. In Gal 5, Paul identified the problem: some believers were “falling from grace” by trying to the satisfy the Jewish law of circumcision as a means for proving their “righteousness by the law”.
“If you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.”
What the Apostle Paul is stating is this: when we as believers rely on rule keeping, checking off boxes and religious performance to prove our faithfulness to God, as the Pharisees did, we will miss the true power of grace! After all, what does grace do? It justifies! In our own strength, we could never live a life of perfection or be “good enough” to truly please God. Scripture tells us that the only way to please God is by faith. (Heb 11:6)
As believers, we should never support hypocrisy. Sin is sin and it must be confessed! But when we are making our best effort to follow Jesus and we fall short anyway…that is where true GRACE becomes the power of Christ in us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to set us FREE! The Holy Spirit will fill us with power, sealing us to God when we place our faith in Jesus Christ and surrender our lives to His authority! (Titus 3:3-7; Eph 1:13).
Grace and the power of the Holy Spirit go hand in hand. When we receive and truly rely upon the grace of Jesus Christ for our salvation and no longer rely on our own strength, we become empowered in the Holy Spirit to operate by the Spirit. From the place of surrender, true humility and faith will operate through love. (Gal 5:6)
In Gal 5:7-9 Paul says something that just makes my stomach turn:
“You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This PERSUASION did not come from HIM who calls you. A little leaven leaves the whole lump of dough.”
So, the question I am hoping we will ask ourselves is this: is anyone or anything in my life, trying to persuade me to doubt my salvation by faith through grace and the infilling of the Holy Spirit? Is anyone “disturbing your confidence” as Paul states in verse 10? If so, that person or group of people “shall bear HIS judgment”.
Then Paul states that true freedom in Christ will enable us to walk by the Spirit rather than serving the flesh, and walking by the flesh:
For you were called to FREEDOM, only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love SERVE ONE ANOTHER. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
To walk by the Spirit means to operate in grace, love, and wisdom from above. The power of the Holy Spirit will flow like a river through pure vessels of mercy (Rom 9:23,24) who do not defile themselves with pride, malice, dissension, greed, jealousy, disputes, anger and strife. Paul gives us a list of “bad fruit” to avoid:
But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another. But I say, Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets, it’s desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
The Apostle Paul, no doubt received heavy persecution for refusing to conform to the religious leaders of his day. His example gives us clear instruction for how to protect our faith and peace in the Lord:
“But if you be led by the Spirit, you are not under the law”.
When we are under the direction of the Holy Spirit, we are less likely to be controlled by man’s religious laws and denominationally bound belief systems. Remember, freedom is NOT lawlessness. When we love God, we will want to obey His voice!