For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Can you make someone love you by implementing laws?

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the GALATIANS – Chapter 5

1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.
3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.
4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. – Galatians 5:1-4

Paul continues to reinforce the effects of living by the law. Represented here by the act of circumcision Paul states that if you trust in circumcision for salvation you must obey the whole law to achieve it. This is a yoke is slavery for the law causes us to be in bondage. The more we try to follow it the more we realise the depth of sin in our hearts. But Christ came to set us free:

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:34-36

Through being made sons we have been set free. Jesus used the example of the King’s sons and taxes:

25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?”
26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. – Matthew 17:25-26

If the sons’ are free then they are free indeed. No one can accuse you, no one can stand against you:

No one shall be able to stand against you. The LORD your God will lay the fear of you and the dread of you on all the land that you shall tread, as he promised you. – Deuteronomy 11:25

Don’t let legalism separate you from the grace of God in Christ Jesus. Don’t be severed from, cut off from, dead to the life you have in Christ. Embrace the One who gave up everything to set us free.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39

5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. – Galatians 5:5-6

Faith is the engine but love is the fuel. Faith can move mountains and resurrect from the dead but without love it is of no eternal value.

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

By faith we get to know the love of God. By faith:

3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. – Hebrews 11:3-12

9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. – 1 John 4:9-10

7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you.
9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. – Galatians 5:7-10

Paul recognised that the Galatian churches were running well. He often used illustrations from Olympic sports probably as they were so well known. He points out that the Christian life is a marathon that needs endurance (Hebrews 12:1). But you can become hindered. Someone else cut in on you, swerved in front of you and slowed you down. Satan is the father of lies:

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. – John 8:44

He will use people to cause us to fall. Sadly human nature likes to bring people down. If you are successfully keeping off drugs or alcohol the people you used to hang around with may belittle and dispise you with comments like “you think you are better than us now” trying to entice you back to your old ways. We see that here with the legalistic, religious crowd wanting to draw back Christians into the “yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). To make them come under the law again, represent by circumcision. This is not what God has called the church to but to liberty and freedom. Then we have the reference to “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Leaven (the effect of yeast on dough) consistently is used in the bible to represent the effects of sin and corruption. In Exodus 12 the Children of Israel were fought to get rid of all the leaven in their houses and eat unleavened bread for seven days. A type or repentance and turning from sin. Jesus warned:

Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” – Matthew 16:6

Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. – Matthew 16:12

Bad teaching will corrupt the gullible hearer. We are called to guard our hearts:

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. – Proverbs 4:23

By meditating on the word of God and learning His ways we can protect ourselves from false teaching. Paul trusts that the Lord will deal with the one who is troubling them. We are not to seek revenge. It is the Lord who judges and it is in His hands to deal with those who cause little ones to stumble.

But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause. – Jeremiah 11:20

11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.
12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! – Galatians 5:11-12

Paul is absolutely firm that the cross of Christ does away with the law for salvation. The cross which seems foolish to this world is the very centre of the plan for redemption:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,
16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.- Ephesians 2:14-18

Paul is so angry with those who want to pervert the truth that he wishes they would “cut themselves off”, would loose their ability to reproduce. Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. – Matthew 23:15

He too felt very strongly that the religious teaching of keeping the law, of you get what you deserve is so far from the Fathers heart. God is a holy God, a God of fairness and justice and the dead will stand before Him to give account of their lives (Revelation 20:11-12) but those who are alive in Christ receive the imputed righteousness of Christ (Romans 5:9) and when they are presented before the Father they will be as Christ is the sons of God (Romans 8:14, Galatians 3:26-27). His is a God of compassion, a God of mercy and he wants to reconcile the world to Himself. The way is through Jesus Christ and all who believe in Him will be saved.

And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” – Acts 16:31

9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” – Romans 10:9-11 

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. – Galatians 5:13-15

The freedom we have in Christ is not an opportunity to do what ever we want without repercussions. Paul taught in Romans:

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? – Romans 6:1-2

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,
18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. – Romans 6:15-18

Our freedom is given so we can be obedient to God through the Spirit, as a gift so that we can serve others:

even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:28

And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” – Matthew 10:42

For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. – Hebrews 6:10

What a great spiritual principle and moral compass is given in verse 14
– For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” taken from Leviticus:

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. – Leviticus 19:18

If everyone would love their neighbour what a different world we would be living in. But sin prevents that and makes us operate from a self governed heart that looks after “number one”. If we “bite and devour” others we will reap what we sow:

As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. – Job 4:8

Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail. – Proverbs 22:8

7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
8 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. – Galatians 6:7-8

Jesus said:

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
38 This is the great and first commandment.
39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40

We regret “biting and devouring” but no one will regret loving.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. – Galatians 5:16-18

Paul now moves into his final point of this letter. Freedom means we can be led by the Spirit, no longer slaves to our sinful nature. He makes clear that the flesh (our sinful nature with its desires and lusts) is opposite to the Spirit. The Spirit will enable us to do that which is opposite to our natural response. If we are offended our flesh wants revenge but the Spirit will help us to love and turn the other cheek. If we are accused wrongly our flesh wants to be angry and defend our reputation but the Spirit helps us identify with Christ and be of no reputation. Is our flesh wants to sin the Spirit will enable us to be holy and He is holy.

15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:15-16

Named the Holy Spirit (Psalm 51:11, Mark 1:8) and the Spirit of Holiness (Romans 1:4) the essential nature of the Spirit of God is holiness, just as the Father and the Son are Holy (John 17:11, Acts 4:30).

The fruits of the Spirit which Paul will go on to define are fruits of holiness. To be holy is to be consecrated to the service of God, to be His and to be a part of his nature. This is what we have been called to – to be as He is not by following the rules but as the gift of God through the redemption Christ secured through the Holy Spirit. That Spirit that lives in Jesus now lives in us (John 14:17, Romans 8:9) but the out workung of us becoming Holy needs us to co-operate with God and walk by His Spirit, cleansing ourselves by the choices we make to be obedient to Him.

7 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. – 2 Corinthians 7:1

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,
21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19-21

The works of the flesh. Interesting that Paul uses the term “works” of the flesh. This whole letter has concentrated on the question “do we have to keep the law of Moses to be accepted by God?” Law verses faith, works verses walking in the Spirit. And Paul has concluded that we are not justified by our works but by faith in Jesus Christ. Especially it seems if the works of the flesh are such as these. This list does not seem to be in any order of priory but are grouped into sexual sin, idolatry, negative emotions and alcohol misuse. Really every one of these are things that God has given us but have been perverted for our own selfish use. God ordained sex for our pleasure but we use it with lust instead of love. Who has given us a heart of worship but we use it to worship ourselves, or a false idea of God. God gave us the emotions of anger and jealousy as He is angry with sin and rebellion and jealous over His people but we use it for our own purposes to get vain victory over others or to build our possessions. God gave us wine to enjoy but we use it to get drunk, loose our inhibitions and indulge in lust fuled sex or anger fuled violence. Works of the flesh. Not fruits of the flesh. There is nothing here that reproduces life, love , compassion, mercy or any of the attributes of God in us. That can only come from the Holy Spirit.

5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:5-7

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,
21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
22 And have mercy on those who doubt;
23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. – Jude 1:20-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

The fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit bears fruit in our lives. We are the branches He is the vine:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5

We cannot bear fruit unless we are in Christ, filled with the Spirit of God and doing His will. We were not born as part of the vine but when we became born again were grafted in to the vine:

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, – Romans 11:17

The Lord is looking to see if we will bear good fruit. He does not want us to produce works of the flesh:

What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? – Isaiah 5:4

There are no laws against the fruits of the Spirit. God’s ways are perfect:

30 This God-his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?- – Psalm 18:30-31

God has given us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, because He wants to guide us into all truth:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. – John 16:13

We Spirit leads us into truth so we will be set free:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. – 2 Corinthians 3:17

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8:2

Free to live by the Spirit and not by works of the flesh. The flesh is crucified which we will look at next.

24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. – Galatians 5:24-26

We belong to Christ. We have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) . We belong to Christ because we were bought by His blood (1 Peter 1:18-19). So then through the cruxifixtion we became one with Christ. In Romans Paul summaries the theme of this letter to the Galatians and this particular issue:

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.
5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.
6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. – Romans 7:4-6

Now we serve in a new way, living by the Spirit, walking in the Spirit and putting behind childish things (1 Corinthians 1:11) such as being conceited, provoking each other and being envious. We have no right to be proud. Christ died for us so that our old man, the flesh is crucified. We should no longer live for ourselves but for Him:

and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. – 2 Corinthians 5:15

We should not provoke, combat, contest with one another in a negative way, as the Children of Israel provoked God in the wilderness (Hebrews 3:7-12) but provoke each other to love. We should not give in to envy, the very emotion that caused Cain to kill Able (Genesis 4:6, 1 John 3:12) but we should embrace the godly jealousy the Father has over His people.

(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), – Exodus 34:14

We have been set free to live by the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit, to be used by the Master so that others can be set free as they hear the good news of salvation through Christ.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.