Seek Her Like Silver

Galatians - Part 4

July 29, 2019

We wrap up the letter to the Galatians with Paul’s elaborations on walking in the Spirit.

I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. These are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5:16-18

This is a very straight forward teaching Paul lays out for his Galatian brothers.

“Walking in the Spirit” is the opposite of “lusting in the flesh” (which can also be described as “doing the things you please”). One might, as the Judaizers probably did, assume that since being under the law is also in opposition to the flesh, that it therefore equates to walking in the Spirit.

However, Paul quickly corrects the faulty assumption and effectively states that being “led by the Spirit” is also antithetical to “being under the law”. This is a simple summary of what Paul has basically been saying for the past chapter or two, as we’ve seen in the previous post where we can see how he continually compares the Spirit and faith as being in one hand, while the law and bondage in the other.

Now the works of the flesh are revealed, which are these: adultery, sexual immorality, impurity, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, rage, selfishness, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I previously warned you, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control; against such there is no law. Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be conceited, provoking one another and envying one another.

Galatians 5:19-26

Paul then gives some example of what works of the flesh (i.e. the lusts or things we as humans are carnally inclined to want to do) actually are. Paul makes it clear (as he says he has already done in the past) that these things will forfeit any inheritance of God’s kingdom. Living in the Spirit does not mean living an immoral life “free of the law”. Sin is still sin. What living in the Spirit does produce, however, are a number of fruit. These fruits are grown from the heart of the believers who live in the Spirit.

Brothers, if a man is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, watching yourselves, lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if someone thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own burden.

Galatians 6:1-5

The Galatian believers are then also given another reminder. Rather than “provoking and envying one another” as he alludes to earlier in 5:26, believers should bear each other’s burdens (6:2). By doing so they fulfill the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? It should be obvious enough that it cannot be the Mosaic law, as not only would contradict the past few chapters, but there would have been no need to make the distinction at all. Paul could have just said that we could fulfill the law. Instead, we see that the context of bearing each other’s burdens, a contrast to the provoking and envy (or as we will see now, “bite and devour”), points us back to where he actually defined it in 5:14-15:

For the entire law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another.

The law of Christ is to love your neighbor. Bearing the burden of a brother, even in sin, is loving him. We are all equals in God’s eyes, so when we do help a brother we do it in meekness, and not in pride. We should also make sure to examine ourselves too. Although we have the body of Christ as support, we are ultimately responsible for ourselves.

Let him who is taught in the word share all good things with him who teaches. Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that will he also reap. 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. And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:6-10

Paul continues to reiterate the brotherly love concept in different ways. In this portion he emphasizes more of the reciprocation. When you are given (and he puts as an example, being taught), you should give back (i.e. share all good things). We should do good unto others, especially our believing brothers. This is the type of heart the Lord wants to see in the body of Christ.

You see what large letters I have written to you with my own hand.

It is those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For they themselves who are circumcised do not keep the law. But they desire to have you circumcised, so that they may boast in your flesh. God forbid that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be on all who walk according to this rule and upon the Israel of God.

From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brothers, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Galatians 6:11-18

Paul concludes with fervor, warning the Galatians one last time that the Judaizers do not bring meaningful doctrine. Their hearts are not in the Spirit, but walking in flesh. On top of that, Paul basically calls them out on their hypocrisy, as those compelling the Galatians to be circumcised (and follow the law) don’t even keep it themselves.

Note, “do not keep the law” does not mean that they are 100% law-evading Judaizers. That wouldn’t make any sense because as Jews, they would almost assuredly be circumcised themselves, and have therefore kept some parts of the law. Additionally, why would the Galatian brothers bother accepting such a doctrine from a group who would not remotely seem to practice what they preach?

As an example, if a couple is watching a movie together, it may not be uncommon for one to become distracted with their phone. One partner may call them out on them not watching the movie (as Paul does here), yet the other may claim they are, albeit through quick glances or half-heartedly (as the Judaizers would be with the law). What Paul is trying to get at is that the Judaizers are only interested in a shallow obedience, one based off works they can show off.

These works are what they would pride themselves in doing, and following, and hence demonstrate to the “weaker” Gentile brothers the “correct” way of living the Christian life. However, by submitting to this life of works of the law, they need to follow through with 100% of the law, and with a sinful heart like theirs (and ours), that will be impossible. Paul reminds the Galatians of the solution, Christ and his death on the cross, the only thing we can boast about. With His work, our circumcision or uncircumcision becomes irrelevant. We are new beings in Him, and our life should be led by His perfect Spirit in freedom, and no longer under the former bondage that was the Mosaic law.

Full Galatians overview
The final overview of how Galatians is approximately laid out, by topic.