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Chapter Five of Galatians
by Lawrence Walkup 
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Lawrence Walkup

If there was such a thing as chapter breaks in the original language of the Epistles of Paul; chapter five of Galatians would certainly be one of the greatest, if not the greatest chapter ever written in the Bible....next to Romans chapter eight.

Verses 1-3: Most understand freedom in regards to how our own Country was formed. People wanted to escape the tryanny of England. The final end result of that produced the greatest country in the world. The country where everybody else wants to come and live because of freedom. And yet as great as this freedom is, God has called us to even a greater freedom. A freedom that is not dependent upon the conditions of the world, because it is not of the world. A freedom beyond what you ever could have imagined until you enter into it. I would say that the next freedom after this one, is the one when we are standing in heaven.

Paul is specifically and adamantly addressing Christians from the first four chapters of Galatians to stand firm in this freedom that God has called you to. Do not go back again to that which you came out of....slavery. Do not go back again to being a prisoner of the law. Funny how we as Christian Denominations will take and claim certain aspects of the law as an identity marker. The Seventh-Day Adventists' belief is to keep the seventh day holy. The Baptists take water baptism from the New Testament and use that as their identity. This will be what separates us from the rest. Boy! we are still sheep gone astray not knowing that if one could possibly keep the law....all of it has to be kept....not just parts of it.

Verses 4-6: If we performers insist on being justified by the law, then our relationship with Christ has been broken. The freedom is immediately gone. We have become religious. Our salvation is not lost, but our relationship with Christ has been lost for the moment. Let's not stay in that moment too long. We have fallen away from grace which means we have automatically fallen under law. Fulfilment of the law is love (verse 14; Rom. 13:10). Only Christ did that. Since we cannot keep the law, we cannot love. Love is what God is ultimately after in us. Keeping the law or not keeping the law means nothing. What means everything is faith expressing itself through love. Our faith in Christ....our trusting Christ....results in love.

Verses 7-12: The ones who are not free cannot help themselves but to try to bring the rest of us under the slavery in which they live. This is also what you find in the secular world. They need to be identified and cut out before their erroneous teaching ruins the rest of the body. If erroneous teaching is coming from leadership then maybe you need to find another body. We should adopt Paul's attitude and also have great disdain for this.

Verses 13-15: Because we were called to freedom, and are not under any kind of law whatsoever; why not just go out and fulfill the desires of our flesh to our heart's content? Mainly, fulfilling the desires of the flesh really isn't that fulfilling, if you have noticed. At first it seems to be, but what comes afterward is unfulfilment, if you have noticed. This is called reaping what you sowed. Gal. 6:8 says: 'For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.' I like to compare flesh vs. spirit with eating out of the dumpster vs. eating out of the buffet line. If you as a bum were offered by the nicest restaurant owner ever, and who had the best food ever....the gift of eating out of his buffet line everyday for the rest of your life; why would you ever want to go back to eating out of a dumpster? But this is what we do.

Verses 16-18: To best understand what it means to walk in the Spirit, we simply look to our example and see how he walked in the Spirit. Jesus Christ went to a cross for the purpose of giving his life for us....in order to give his life to us....in order to live his life through us. Most Christians understand this except for the last part of Jesus living his life through us. And I don't understand why, when Jesus' life on earth was a perfect illustration of that. Yes, Jesus was God, but he relinquished his diety in order to give us a demonstration of how a man is to live in relation to God. And the way that a man is to live in relation to God, is to let God live through him. Jesus didn't perform any miracles; God the Father performed all those miracles through him (John 14:10-11). Jesus' role was to simply trust God that he would. This is the example that he left for us that we are to do with him now.

As Jesus was completely dependent upon the Father, resulting in the Father living through him, we are to now be completely dependent upon Jesus, resulting in Jesus living through us. This is what it means to walk in the Spirit. We walk trusting the fact that he is going to live his life through us. It's not like we're robots and our lives are completely taken over. In fact we are to participate in the divine nature (11 Pet. 1:4). I don't know how it works exactly. Hec, we don't really even have a clue as to what spirit is exactly. We won't know those details until we are on the other side. But for now on this side, we live by faith and hope.

We need to ask ourselves....what makes sense? Is Jesus inside of us just to go along for the ride? No, he's there to be more than just a guarantee to get into heaven. Why else would the Apostle Paul say in Gal. 2:20: "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." That corresponds with Rom 12:1 when it says to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. As a living sacrifice, I am sacrificing the me that lives inside of me in order to let him do the living inside of me. I don't know what could be more of a clear cut explanation than the parable in John 15: The life of the branch (us) is in the vine (Jesus). The branch only lives because the life of the vine is pulsating through it. The vine is the one that does the producing of the fruit. The branches simply bear the fruit....they don't do the work. Our life is really Jesus, and only he, by living through us, can produce the fruit that counts. He is the one doing the work and we get to participate and enjoy the fruit. And last but not least: When Jesus walked the earth two thousand years ago, the body of Christ was himself. Now today as born again Christians we are his physical body. What is there for us to do but to let him live through his own body. He certainly knows how to do that much better than I.

And the way that we put all this into motion is to play the same role that Jesus did with the Father. We simply trust him that he will. Like I said before, I don't know exactly how it all works, I just know it does. Faith means not knowing the details. Trust Jesus that he will live his life through you and watch the results unfold. Watch the fruit that develops.

Notice that it doesn't say that we are to clean up our flesh first before we can walk in the Spirit. (This would be the world's understanding of what it means to be a Christian. And because this is their understanding, it is the very thing that keeps them from becoming a Christian.) No, by simply walking in the Spirit only, the flesh is taken care of automatcally. However, as we all experience, the flesh riles up its head to fight for its existence. This is our ongoing battle as Christians until the day we die. But also we need to remember in all reality, that the flesh has been put to death and no longer has its power over us (Rom. 6). The reason why it riles up its head occasionally is because we fall under law occasionally. The power of sin is the law (1Cor. 15:56). Or, it riles up its head a lot, because we are under the law a lot.

Verses 19-21: Here we have a list of what the flesh does....the deeds. We as Christians do not practice these things, but we occasionally do these things.

Verses 22-24: Remember love is what fulfils the law. The fruit of the Spirit is love. This is what God is ultimately wanting to produce in us. The words that follow after love are adjectives that describe love. Compare with 1 Cor. 13. There is no law against love. Paul reiterates in verse twenty four what he completely spells out in Romans chapter six.

Verses 25-26: Since we have come out of spiritual death by receiving life in the form of the Holy Spirit; let us continue to keep in step with what the Spirit wants to do through us. Paul ends chapter five with the admonishment not to take on prideful characteristics.


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Bea Edwards  19 Aug 2014
Exceptional article Lawrence!


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