Paul has moved from a position where he had to defend his calling and his message, to taking a more proactive stance where he rebukes the churches and calls them back to the true gospel and to walk in the spirit. In these last few paragraphs of the letter (chapter 6), Paul takes on a more fatherly stance where he encourages the churches to look out for one another, make their faith practical, and take a stand for Christ. He concludes with a final blessing to those who are faithful to the Gospel of Christ.
BURDENS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
In all the discussion and defense of the truth, it is so easy to finish with little thought for the real everyday practical things. So Paul tries to leave them with a message of reconciliation. Some have strayed, but it is the burden and responsibility of the community to be diligent concerning its walk with God, while also being attentive to how individuals are going. The Law of Christ is about the practical expressions of love, for ultimately, that is what Jesus did when He went to the cross. Even as we have disputes and some of us backslide, the message of the cross is about seriousness of sin, and about how God in His grace and love has dealt with it.
DO GOOD TO ALL, ESPECIALLY TO THE HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH.
The teaching of the word is also about character and deeds, not just information. We deceive ourselves it we think we can separate our words from our deeds. We will reap what we sow, because God is not mocked. He has made a world where there are consequences that flow from our actions, no matter how we might like to justify or interpret them. If we talk about the Spirit but sow the flesh, don’t expect anything but corruption. Religious hypocrisy may look good on the outside, but in the end the fruit will show us for whom we really are. Walking in the Spirit is about manifesting the fruits of eternal life now, even as we continue to struggle with the realities of sin and suffering. We must remain faithful, take every opportunity to 'do good', and encourage one another in the faith. Then we will taste some of the fruits now and reap the harvest in eternity.
GLORY IN THE CROSS, NOT THE FLESH
Paul makes a final rebuke to those who preach circumcision and water down the gospel so as to avoid persecution. He reminds them that those who preach the law and undermine the gospel to avoid conflict are making the cross of Christ to no effect. They go after popularity in this life and know nothing of the unity and hope that comes from becoming a new creation through faith in Christ.
Christ fulfilled all the Laws requirements, and then took the full force of its judgments on Himself, in our place. So, when we walk in the Spirit of Christ, we need no law for the fruit of the Spirit breaks no law.
Then Paul reminds them again that His message is about exalting Christ, not the flesh, for the message He brought to them was not about him. Paul considers himself as being crucified to the world and the world to him, because living for Jesus Christ and bringing glory to His name was what his whole life purpose was about.
NO MORE STRAYING
Finally, Paul ends with a blessing on those who are willing to walk according to the Gospel of Christ. He asks them to put aside these false teachings, send the false teachers packing, and have compassion on him by not giving him any more trouble and grief over the issue. He ends with a reminder that it is the grace of God that must operate in their lives and in their midst.
Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia, is a well argued and passionate defense of the Gospel entrusted to him by God, and an appeal to his converts to walk away from those who seek to promote a version of Christianity that imposes the laws of Moses and undermines the very Gospel that they had first received from him. The true Gospel must be preserved from those who would turn it from a message of freedom, love and grace into a message of religious obligation, legalism and self effort.
1.Why is it important to build our faith on the finished work of Christ rather than on keeping the law, including circumcision?
2.Faith in Christ may be the foundation, but good works must be the fruit. Discuss.
3.We often use the expression “You reap what you sow” when talking about consequences. What specifically is Paul warning them about when it comes to sowing and reaping?
4.“But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Discuss.
5.What does Paul mean when he calls us a new creation in Christ? See Gal 2:11-21.
Read more articles by Mark Trodd or search for articles on the same topic or others.