Vs. 1, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” Paul continues to expound upon what freedom in Christ looks like in our life. Rather than ignore those who are going astray, Paul encourages believers to reach out (vs. 1-5). However, in the process of reaching out, we must be careful not to be so prideful to think that we cannot be stumbled. Paul goes on to encourage the Galatians to share and support those who have given their lives to teach and minister (vs. 6-10). It is so important to remember that none of the things we have belong to us. We are stewards of any thing we own and we must remember to use them wisely for the good of the church. In the latter half of our chapter (vs. 11-18), Paul concludes his whole letter to the Galatians. His conclusion summarizes his intent of writing this letter. It was so important for the young believers in Galatia not to succumb to the false teachings of adhering to the law and circumcision. Paul compares and contrasts the Judaizers and himself (vs. 12-17). One of the major differences is that Jesus is in Paul’s intentions while legalism is in theirs.
Regarding application…Doing Good. Vs. 9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” One of our responsibilities as believers is this: doing good. Because we live by the Spirit, we are no longer bound by our own selfish desires. Some may perceive doing good as part of the legalism that Paul was trying to refute. Doing good and bearing good works does not bring salvation. However, those who are truly saved will do good things and bear good fruit. We do good for each other, especially in the church (vs. 10), even when we are not perfect. Question: How are you doing at doing good for others? Don’t grow weary, but know the Lord sees our actions and most importantly, the intentions of our hearts!
Vs. 1, “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.” Freedom is one of the major overarching themes in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Having explained his own freedom and expounding upon theological arguments, Paul now goes into sharing practical ways of living out this so called “freedom” in Christ. Many of the Judaizers were fearful that such ways of thinking would cause the believers to sway into living anyway they wanted. Question: What is this freedom that Paul is talking about? Freedom in Christ is being free from the bondage of sin. Freedom in Christ is having full access to the Lord Almighty. Freedom in Christ is having the Holy Spirit with us. When we are in that amazing relationship with the Lord, there is freedom to be what God desires us to be without any pressures. Freedom is not being able to do whatever we selfishly want. We are now servants of the Lord Most High. Let us not be obligated to the law (vs. 2-6) or be sidetracked by those who try to sway us (vs. 7-12). The latter half of our chapter (vs. 13-26) involves Paul exhorting us to live by the Spirit rather than the flesh (worldly ways). Jesus summed up the law in loving God and loving others, and Paul refers to such adherence (vs. 13-15). Paul expounds upon the fleshly way of life (vs. 19-21) and then contrasts that with the fruits of the Spirit (vs. 22-26).
Regarding application…Replace It. Vs. 16, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Question: Do you see it? In order to stop living the worldly way of life, we must replace it with walking with the Spirit. Paul expounds and shares how these two things are in conflict with each other (vs. 17-18). If we try to live this life based on our own merits and abilities, we will fail. The flesh tries to overcome trials in life. But the Spirit involves us dying to ourselves in surrender. When we replace ourselves and put Christ in the rightful spot, it is then that we are able to live a life in the Spirit. Question: What conflicts are you facing in your life today? Don’t be surprised, because such conflict will come when you surrender yourself to the Lord. Take time to pray that the Lord would reveal in your heart any desires of the flesh that are contrary to the Spirit. Replace such ways of thinking with the fruits of the Spirit! Any doubts you may have could be because you are not truly believing that freedom from sin is possible! Let us not be double-minded and doubt as James reminds us (James 1).
Vs. 6, “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” Paul continues to give us examples to understand the purpose of the law in the bigger picture (vs. 1-7). I love how practical and relevant Paul is when it comes to explaining something so difficult to grasp. Like an heir waiting to mature to receive an inheritance, that is how God’s people waited until Jesus came. The inheritance through Jesus would break the barrier and offer everyone to be children of God. The second section of our chapter (vs. 8-20) deals with Paul confronting the Galatian Gentiles for reverting back to their old ways of thinking. By adherence to the false teachings of the Judaizers, Paul’s efforts might be in vain. And the last section of our chapter (vs. 21-31), gives us Paul’s final argument against the Judaizers. Paul use of Abraham and his two sons (Ishmael and Isaac) give us an allegorical example of why we now are to live as offspring of the free woman. Hagar and Ishmael came about through the desires of man’s will (flesh), rather than trusting in God’s promise. The flesh represents what the Judaizers were reverting back to.
Regarding application…Wily Ways. Vs. 17, “Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them.” We live in the country that boasts the most professed Christians in the world! While there are pockets of persecution in the United States, for the most part, we live in a pretty tame place. Yet, I believe the enemy is more wily than we realize. There are people, like the Judaizers of Paul’s day, that are in open rebellion against anything Christian. But their attacks are more subtle and their wily ways can go undetected. They come like wolves in sheep’s clothing. I recall a movement here in southern California where this occult would infiltrate local churches. Their strategy was to send out families who would establish relationships with people for 1 – 2 years in the local churches gaining trust. They would then begin to encourage others to alienate the church and go to their occult. Let us not be naïve to the wily ways of this world.
Vs. 1, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.” Paul would now get personal! Though it may seem harsh to call the Galatians foolish, Paul would emphatically remind them of the truth (vs. 1-5). They were their own witnesses to the saving grace of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul was a wonderful candidate to be able to go up against the Judaizers, for he also knew the Old Testament (vs. 6-14). Paul would refer to a plethora of Old Testament scriptures to validate his stance. They distorted the truth of Abraham, for he was justified by his faith, not his works. God would start with Abraham, but the end goal was to bless all nations (vs. 8-9, Genesis 12:3). The latter half of our chapter (vs. 15-29) involves Paul now appealing to the logical side. God’s promise to Abraham would not be overridden by the law given to Moses. The covenant with Abraham was made four centuries before Mount Sinai. The law served its purpose for its time. It convicted the Israelites of their sin, but did not save them. The law ultimately prepared the way for the Lord Jesus.
Regarding application…Godly Unity. Vs. 28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul cut through the ethnic, social, and gender barriers with one statement. While the Lord did make us all different, that should not keep us from the spiritual unity He desires for us. You may recall Jesus’ beautiful prayer (John 17) for the unity of the disciples and future church. We have a challenge for us today because we live in world where there is always the obvious disparity (ethnicity, social, gender). Consider unity as one of the ultimate tests for the church. Question: Are we getting a passing grade? As the old idiom states, “Let’s not be part of the problem, but part of the solution.” Consider how God can use you in helping bring unity to your local church.
Vs. 8, “For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles.” Paul continues his testimony and defense regarding the false teachers who had infiltrated the Galatian churches. He shares his past experience for the Galatian churches to understand their own present situation. After Paul’s first missionary journey with Barnabas and Titus, they would go up to Jerusalem to share in their joys and experience (vs. 1-10). However, Paul would experience conflict by Judaizers who would try to demand the new Gentile believers be circumcised. This debate became so big that they would call a council (Jerusalem Council – Acts 15) to help settle the matter. Paul would use Titus (Gentile) as his test case to show that he was in fact saved but not circumcised. The council headed up by James (1/2 brother of Jesus), the apostles, and the whole assembly would deliberate on this. Led by the Holy Spirit, James would issue the right judgment by declaring Gentiles did not have to be circumcised. Paul ensured he shared this to remind them that the matter had already been settled, but the enemy was not giving up. The latter half of our chapter (vs. 11-21) involves Paul giving one more important example of an encounter with Peter eating with believers in Antioch. Paul rightly rebuked Peter’s public action because something bigger was at stake. The unity of the church, the justification by faith, and the freedom we receive in Christ was all ramifications of such old ways of thinking.
Regarding application…It’s Not About Me. Vs. 20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” We can have the tendency to live a in very myopic world. But Paul didn’t just speak to Peter, Barnabas or the Galatians, he was reminding us all! While we may not have the traditions of Judaism, we do have our own cultures. And when I say cultures, I’m not just talking ethnicity. Our cultures can be predicated on geography and even within the realms of our church denominations. When we make it about ourselves, walls of division and hostility are sure to come up. However, don’t misunderstand, we do make it about someone and that is Jesus! Jesus is both portrayed a lion and a lamb. He brings peace, yet also a sword. Paul would take the sword of God’s word and cut through the bologna of the Judaizers! Booyah~~~ Let’s live this life in faith to King Jesus!
Vs. 6, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.” After greeting and reminding the Galatian church who he was (vs. 1-5), Paul also ensured they understood full well who Jesus was! This was important because the Galatians, though saved by grace, had now begun to foolishly follow false teachers (vs. 6-10). All believers are saved by grace, but Judaizers (people teaching others to adhere to Old Testament law) had infiltrated the church. They were teaching that you cannot be saved without fulfilling the law (circumcision, sacrificial system, etc). Paul had some harsh words to share about people who would teach a false gospel (vs. 8-9). The latter half of our chapter involves Paul having to defend himself against the Judaizers discrediting Paul’s apostleship (vs. 11-24). Paul wanted to remind them that he was once like the Judaizers (vs. 13-14) as he persecuted the early believers. Unlike new believers, Paul had direct revelation from Jesus on the road to Damascus (vs. 15-16). Because God was calling Paul to a ministry with Gentiles, he would lead him down a very different road before he would go to Jerusalem (vs. 17-24). All these events happened to prepare Paul to minister in the most effective way years later.
Regarding application…Pleasing Others. Vs. 10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Paul had been accused of many things, but one thing is for certain; no one could accuse Paul of pleasing others. That’s one of the things I really respect in Paul’s courage to stand up for truth! Sometimes we have a tendency to mistake emotion and passion as weakness; a true professional is even-keeled and not stirred up. But this wasn’t an issue regarding winning or losing or stocks rising or falling, this was about the gospel that brings salvation and death! The last thing Paul was worried about was pleasing others. Jesus would not have endured the cross if he had just placated the Sanhedrin. Certainly, we must pray for wisdom in our response. We cannot force people to believe in the truth, but that doesn’t mean we should just tolerate it. Take time today to consider how you can ensure you are standing up for truth rather than pleasing others.
Paul’s letter to the Galatians was most likely written after 49 AD after the famous Jerusalem council in Acts 15. There are differing opinions on the dating of Paul’s writing, but most likely it was around the mid 56 or 57 AD. The region of Galatia is modern-day Turkey (see map) and the people originally came from the area around France. Paul had established churches in Galatia through his missionary journeys. While he was on his third missionary journey, Paul had heard a report from the Galatian churches on some struggles they were enduring. This letter was a response to address some of those issues. The overall theme of Galatians is about how the just should live by faith. There were opponents who were teaching false truth’s regarding holding onto legalism.
Vs. 7, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Question: Are we living by the flesh or by the Spirit? Paul now shares some practical ways we as Christians can live in community with each other. We are to share our burdens with each other (vs. 1-5), but must be careful to do it wisely and gently. We then are reminded of the responsibility we have as Christians (vs. 7-10). Doing good things will not save us, but one of the sure evidences of saved people is doing good works. Our lives as Christians is not just a personal faith, but a sharing of community in the church and in this world. We are called to share the love of Christ and do good in His name! In the last part of our chapter (vs. 11-18), Paul uses this opportunity to summarize his overall purpose of why he is sending this letter to Galatia. Remember, Paul is responding to the Judaizers who are trying to force the old ways upon Gentile believers (vs. 12-13). Most importantly, Paul reminded them that his identity was found in his new creation through Jesus Christ (vs. 14-18).
Regarding application…Don’t Give Up! Vs. 9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” There will always be opportunities to do good in this life. It takes time, blood, sweat and tears to build God’s church. There are undoubtedly moments where we just want to throw up our hands in frustration. Don’t give up. Question: How do we stop from being weary? Spending time with Jesus. Hear Jesus’ own words in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” In God’s timing…we will reap a harvest! But, we must be patient with each other, bearing the fruits of the Spirit that we read about yesterday. And when it comes to the church, look how Paul made sure we didn’t forget about how important it was to love our fellow believers and do good for them! What a timely reminder as I am preparing to ask my own church to step out in love and service! I love God’s timing!
Vs. 1, “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.” Question: What is this freedom? It means we were once lost and now found. It means that we are enjoying fellowship with God and therefore free from the yoke of sin and slavery. Paul reminds us in Romans 8:2, “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death.” We have access to God the Father because of Jesus on the cross and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. We are not free to do anything we want (vs. 13-15), but we are now free and given the chance to do what is right. By being set free we are able to love God and love others. By adhering to the law (vs. 2-12), they would be nullifying what Jesus did for them. It’s also interesting to note Paul’s sarcasm (vs. 12). Alas, Paul continues to expound upon this concept of what are lives are to look like now that we have freedom and life in the Spirit (vs. 13-26). We have a tendency to abuse freedom when it is given to us, so Paul now exhorts us to not live in the flesh. Paul gives us two lists, one that is living in the flesh (vs. 19-21) and one that is living in the Spirit (vs. 22-23).
Regarding application…Keep Up! Vs. 25, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Earlier (vs. 16) we were given this picture of walking with the Spirit. Keeping in step with the Spirit. Question: What is this to look like? Walking gives us the understanding of movement. We are not to be dormant and still. As we walk, we are going towards a direction and gaining progress towards our destination. Spiritually, we are to walk with the Spirit through prayer, bible reading, and growing in the knowledge of the Lord. I’ve been reminding the ministry I’m in that we are in a marathon, not a sprint. This life is a daily walk as we leave our sinful past and go towards our final destination in heaven. Let’s keep up and not fall behind and forget where we are going!
Vs. 7, “So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” Paul opens up this chapter giving us a this idea that a child waiting for an inheritance is no different than a slave (vs. 1-7). Jewish life and law was like waiting as a child for the inheritance. That child waiting for the inheritance was no more richer than a slave. But now Jesus brings the inheritance to Israel, but many rejected it. So, Paul is exhorting them to realize that Jesus now brings that inheritance to them with all the promises of God’s provision and love. Yet, Paul is deeply concerned because of their negative influences and actions taken from the false messages of the Judaizers (vs. 8-11). He reminds them of how they opened up their heart to Paul when he was very ill and their initial response to the Gospel (vs. 12-16). But now there were the Judaizers trying to sway them back to their slave-like ways of living (vs. 17-18). Lastly, Paul uses allegory to give us some insight going back to Abraham and his two sons (Ishmael and Isaac) (vs. 21-31). The old covenant law was like Ishmael, born of the flesh. Isaac didn’t come until many years of waiting, but brought joy when he came. There is spiritual truth in this historical event recorded in Genesis 16, 17 & 21. Are we born of the flesh (like Hagar) or the trusting promises of God (like Sarah)?
Regarding application…Known by God. Vs. 9, “But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” There is a certain amount of esteem we find by those who know us. If my Facebook friend was President Obama, that would look quite impressive! I would brag about the fact that he knows me! I like how Paul emphasizes to the Galatians that it is God who knows them. There is advantages and power in who we know and more importantly who knows us. As Christians, God doesn’t only know us…but we are adopted as His sons and daughters! Once lost, but now found! Find comfort today in knowing that God is aware of all the things going on in your life. You are known by God!