In Galatians 5:7-26, the Holy Spirit says this through the Apostle Paul:
“Ye were running well; who hindered you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion came not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence to you-ward in the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? then hath the stumbling-block of the cross been done away. I would that they that unsettle you would even go beyond circumcision.
For ye, brethren, were called for freedom; only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through love be servants one to another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
But I say, Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would. But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law. And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof.
If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk. Let us not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another.”
In the Book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul is addressing churches that have tolerated a fake gospel — a gospel that says you must earn God’s favor. In Galatians 5:7-26, the Apostle Paul points out the teacher that was teaching this gospel, defines the freedom from this attempt at earning salvation, contrasts two types of freedoms from this religion, and commands his audience to live in the true freedom.
First, in verses 7-12, Paul points out the false teaching and the false teacher that were among the Galatians. He begins by telling them that they were actually running the race of faith well, so he asks them, “who hindered you that ye should not obey the truth?” By this question, he is implying that the Galatians were not obeying the truth by tolerating and accepting the false gospel of salvation by works. Then, he answers his own question by saying that the “persuasion” of accepting the false gospel did not come from the God who calls the Galatians. Then, he rebukes them by saying that a little leaven, or yeast, leavens the whole lump of dough. In other words, the false teaching, or leaven, had infected all of the churches of Galatia. However, Paul says that he believes that the Galatians will not deny that the false teaching is a dangerous infection in their churches. Nevertheless, he says that the false teacher will endure his own condemnation, implying that the Galatian Christians will not be eternally condemned for tolerating the false gospel. Then, Paul implies with a rhetorical question that he is not preaching circumcision, or salvation by works, because he is being persecuted by those who preach circumcision. Furthermore, he says, if he preaches circumcision, then the block that causes people to sin — the cross, or gospel of Christ crucified for our sins — has been done away with. By saying this, he is implying that the stumbling block of the cross has not been abolished, and that it causes people to sin because it goes against their belief that they can earn God’s favor. Paul ends this identification of the false teachers by saying that he wishes that those who preach circumcision for salvation would mutilate themselves, implying that this would deter people from following their religion of salvation by works.
In verses 13-15, Paul defines the freedom from this salvation by works. He begins by saying that the reason that this religion of salvation by works is intolerable and abominable is because the Galatians were called to freedom, not to slavery to a system of attempting to earn God’s favor. However, he commands them not to turn this freedom into an opportunity for their flesh, or the evil part of their bodies, but to serve one another through self-giving love. Then, he gives them a reason to do this: the whole Old Testament Law, which is what the false teachers were saying to obey to earn salvation, is fulfilled, or obeyed, in the statement, “you shall love your neighbor [or fellow human] as yourself.” Notice that he did not call it a command, but a word, or statement. In other words, this a statement of fact, not just a command to obey. Paul is saying that this command from the Old Testament was actually a promise for Christians: they will love their neighbors as themselves. In so doing, Christians fulfill the entire Old Testament Law. However, Paul warns, if the Galatians hurt and take from one another, they ought to take care that they are not wholly consumed by one another.
In verses 16-24, Paul contrasts two freedoms from this false religion of salvation by works. He begins by explaining how the Galatians can avoid wholly consuming one another: if they walk, or daily live, by God the Spirit, then they will not carry out the desire of their flesh. Why? Because the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit sets His desire against the flesh. Why? Because they are opposed to one another, so that Christians cannot do anything that will please them. However, Paul says, if one is led by the Spirit, then he is not under the Old Testament Law. In contrast to this leading and freedom, Paul lists the deeds of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, overindulgence in pleasure through the senses, worship of any thing and anyone other than God, sorcery, witchcraft, or demonic magic, hateful passions, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, disunion, factions, envying, drunkenness, letting loose, and things like them. Then, Paul warns the Galatians beforehand that those who practice them and things like them will not enter into God’s kingdom, but will enter into hell.
In contrast to the deeds of the flesh, Paul next lists the one fruit, or deed, of the Spirit: self-giving love, the ability to be happy in any situation, peace of mind in any situation, patience with anyone and any situation, kindness toward others, goodness of heart, faithfulness to God and other Christians, gentleness toward others, and self-control. Paul then says that there is no law against those things. He finishes his comparison of living in the flesh and living in the Spirit by saying that those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its evil passions and desires.
Lastly, in verses 25-26, Paul commands the Galatians to live in the freedom of the Spirit. He says that, if they spiritually live by the Spirit, then they ought to also daily live by the Spirit. Then, he commands them not to become boastful, nor to challenge one another, nor to envy one another.
Are you running well, or are you disobeying the truth?
Have you adopted the view that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough, or are you okay with gospels that say we must earn our salvation?
Are you turning your freedom from earning God’s favor into and opportunity for your flesh, or are you serving your brethren in Christ through love?
Are you hurting and taking from your brethren in Christ?
Are you walking by the Spirit, or are you carrying out the desire of your flesh?
Are you practicing immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, overindulgence, or anything like?
Do you love others, have joy, inner peace in hostile situations, patience toward others and situations, kindness toward others, goodness of thought, belief, feeling, and life, faithfulness towards God and your brethren in Christ, gentleness toward others, and self-control?
Have you crucified the flesh with its evil passions and desires?
Are you becoming boastful, challenging your brethren in Christ, or envying your brethren in Christ?
Do you understand the gospel of Christ crucified for our sins? The Apostle Paul wrote about it this way:
“. . . I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
This is what the Apostle John said about the gospel in John 1:1-18:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me. For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
This is what Christ Himself said about the gospel:
“. . . God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:16-20
John the Baptist said this: “. . . he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on [stays directed toward] him.” – John 3:36
The Apostle Paul said this in Romans 2:4-16:
“. . . despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified; (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.”
“. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.” – Romans 1:18-32
Speaking of those that practice sin, the Apostle Paul uses this quote:
“. . . There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness . . .” – Romans 3:10-14
This is my appeal to you, as written by the Apostle Paul:
“. . . we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21
This is how you become reconciled to God:
“. . . if thou shalt confess [acknowledge] with thy mouth Jesus as Lord [Greek: kurios, or Supreme in Authority], and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him [depend upon Him]: for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [who He is, what He has done, and what He can do] shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13