A study of Galatians 5 enlightens us about life after the crucifixion of Jesus. A life of faith, of grace with a partner, the Holy Spirit verses man’s self-effort and ability to obey the laws of the Old Testament.
The purpose is to live life free from unrealistic expectations, freed from judgment from both ourselves and others. Freedom from fear that we are not good enough, not Christian enough.
In fact, it’s quite a revelation that could be rather audacious. The common argument becomes if Christ covers all my sins and I am blameless, then can I act anyway I want? If there is no sin, I can do anything I want?
That way of thinking is incorrect. While there may be no sin we can commit that Christ hasn’t already taken for us, we can still fall from his grace by falling back into self-effort.
In other words, go back to living like we are under the law instead of grace. If we fall from living in grace, we end up trying to accomplish life on our own, and we end up cheating ourselves of true freedom.
Because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit followers are directed by the voice of God inside of them, and in the word of God, having given up selfish desires and needs of materialism. Choosing to concentrate on one single command as the greatest law of all — love others as yourselves.
Let’s take a look at what Paul wrote to the church in Galatia.
“Christ has set us free; this means we are really free. Hold onto your freedom and don’t ever become slaves to the Old Testament law again.” Verse 1.
The law here represents the actual pages of rules they had to adhere to but also the idea of self-effort and achievement in obeying the rules and regulations that had become the standard for reaching God, pleasing God. The idea that we can reach God by some action or deed.
Paul promised the Jews and Gentiles that Christ wouldn’t do them any good if they were to continue to be so caught up with arguing over being circumcised. (Verses 2-5.)
No they would have to continue to obey all the laws if they were continue to act like that. If you are trying to please God by obeying the laws or the expectations of other people, you cut yourself off from Christ and his free gift of undeserved grace.
The spirit makes us sure that God will accept us because of our faith in Christ.
Verses 6-7, “If you are a follower of Jesus Christ it makes no difference whether you are circumcised or not. All that matters is your faith that makes you love others.”
As Christians we can be doing so well until someone says something to make you turn from the truth, perhaps even someone in the church by questioning if you’re doing enough to serve God or judging how you choose to study or meditate or pray.
Paul points out that people who undermine your relationship with God are certainly not sent by the one who chose you.
“You belong to the Lord, this makes me sure you will do what I have taught instead of what someone else tells you to do, whoever is causing trouble for you will be punished.” (8-10)
“Friends you were chosen to be free. So don’t let your freedom be an excuse to do anything you want, use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love. All the laws can be summed up in the command to love others as much as you do yourself. But if you keep attacking each other like wild animals, you better watch out or you will just destroy yourselves.” (13-15)
“If you are guided by the spirit you won’t open your selfish desires. The spirit and your desires are enemies of each. They are always fighting each other and keeping you from doing what you feel you should but if you obey the spirit, the law of Moses has no control over you.” (16-18)
“People’s desires make them give in to immoral ways, filthy thoughts and shameful deeds. They worship idols, practice witchcraft and hate others, they’re hard to get along with. People become jealous, angry and selfish. They not only argue and cause trouble but they are envious.” (19-20)
“Being drunk and carrying on at wild parties and doing other evil things. I (Paul) have told you before and I’m telling you again, no one who does these things will share the blessings of God’s kingdom.” (21)
God’s spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving any of these ways because we belong to Christ, and we have killed our own selfish feelings and desires.
God’s spirit has given us life and so we should follow that spirit. But don’t be conceited or make others jealous by claiming to be better than anyone else. (22-26)
(Rhonda Sexton is a staff writer for The News-Dispatch. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 451-3798.)