For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.

17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”  Galatians 2:17-21

The apostle Paul understood the grace of God.  The reason he understood the grace of God is because he knew the man he was before he came to Christ.  Before he came to Christ the apostle Paul was a pharisee.  He zealously followed the law of God, but understood it was impossible to keep the law.

Before he came to Christ he thought that Jesus was actually trying to destroy the law.  He zealously tried to destroy the early church seeking out directives from the religious leaders to hunt early Christians down and throw them in prison.  Paul even stood with approval as Stephen was being stoned to death.

But on the road to Damascus the apostle Paul had an encounter with Jesus Christ in which Paul’s life was turned upside down.  He committed his life to Christ and God used him mightily to write a majority of the new testament and to begin to plant churches and advance God’s kingdom.  The apostle Paul was sent as an apostle to the gentiles.

He understood that righteousness was through faith alone.  The purpose of God’s law was to govern the nation of Israel because it was a theocracy through a covenant established with God.  But the law was never meant to lead to righteousness.  The law reveals the righteousness of God and reveals man’s need for a savior.  For when one tries to keep the law perfectly it is impossible.

There is only one who was able to perfectly keep the law of God and that was Christ Jesus.  This is why He claimed He did not come to destroy the law, He came to fulfill it.  In fulfilling the law of God it makes it possible that anyone who would placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ would have the righteousness of Christ applied to them.  It is only the precious blood of Christ that is perfect and is only able to wash away our sins.

This is why it is no longer us who live, but we live by faith in the Son of God.  Daily we die to ourselves, decreasing that He may increase.  May we daily fix our eyes upon Jesus Christ and desire and seek to know Him in a deeper way.  He has made the way of salvation possible through the cross and it is through Jesus that we are able to draw near to the throne of grace with confidence.

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Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is simply the character and nature of Jesus.  It is simply a result of abiding with the Lord on a daily basis.  As we fellowship with the Lord and walk with Him daily, we are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  As our minds are renewed through the study of God’s word our lives are transformed.  There is a distinction between those who seek after the Lord and those who seek after the world.  We can’t claim to follow Christ and not reflect the character and nature of who He is.  To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to become like Him and be filled with His love.  This is what the fruit of the Spirit is all about.

Galatians 5:22-26

Image result for galatians 5 22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.  Galatians 5:22-26

The apostle Paul writes about the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  When we examine the fruit of the Holy Spirit we see that it is simply the character and nature of Christ.  It is produced in our lives as we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit each day.  As we study God’s word and spend time in prayer it is the Holy Spirit who transforms us from the inside out.

When we belong to Christ we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  In our Christian journey we are continually led by the Holy Spirit and we put to death the desires of the sinful nature.  Early in our walk with Christ it seems these desires still dominate our lives.  But as we grow with Christ progressively the strength of the lust of the flesh diminish and we simply walk in obedience to the Lord.  It is a progressive process throughout our lives.

It is important for us to keep in step with the Spirit each day.  The more time we spend with the Lord in intimate fellowship the more the voice and leading of the Holy Spirit becomes clear.  For us to walk in step with the Holy Spirit requires deep intimacy with the Lord.

We are called not to become conceited.  Being conceited is simply a result of pride.  The greatest thing that will guard our hearts from pride is walking in step with the Holy Spirit.  Pride will always blind us.  When we become conceited it will negatively affect our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.  May we walk in love and humility and continue to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh

13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
 
We have been given liberty through Jesus Christ. But the liberty we have in Christ is not to be spent on selfish gain. It is to be used simply for serving and love one another. It is impossible to truly love without knowing Jesus Christ. It is only through the freedom that one has in Christ that it enables one to truly serve and love another.
 
Our salvation we have in Christ is a gift from Almighty God. May we be wise stewards of the gift we have been given. It is not earned, it is simply received. May we understand how precious the gift is that God has given us and the price that Jesus truly paid so that we could be free. Because when we use the freedom we have in Christ to pursue the selfish desires within us we simply make a mockery of all that Jesus has accomplished.

A man reaps what he sows

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8 NIV

God has created the world with a principle of sowing and reaping.  When we sow to the things of God’s kingdom we will reap the blessings of the Lord in our lives.  The work of the Holy Spirit will be evident in our lives and we will continually grow in the character and nature of Jesus.

But when we sow to the things of the sinful nature the only result will be destruction.  If we claim to follow Christ but continue in the things of sin we simply invite destruction into our lives.  This is why the Lord calls us to repent.  Repentance means to fully turn away from the things of sin and fully turn our hearts to the Lord.

God is full of grace but He is also a loving Father who has given His children freewill.  He has given us freewill to choose how to live our lives.  Those who choose to pursue the Lord with their whole heart will experience all that God has for them.  But those who choose to live for themselves and the things of the sinful nature will in the end experience destruction.  God has given us warning after warning in His word and instruction after instruction to pursue Him and His kingdom.  May we simply pursue Him with our whole heart and remove any idol or anything that hinder our relationship with Him.

Galatians 6:7-8: A man reaps what he sows

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Galatians 6:7-8

What we sow into our lives is what we shall reap.  The apostle Paul makes a distinction between the flesh and the Spirit.  Sowing to the flesh is simply indulging in the lust of the flesh.  When our lives are built upon simply seeking after and fulfilling the lust of the flesh, it will ultimately lead to destruction.

What many fail to understand is the destructiveness and deceptiveness of sin.  When we begin to indulge in sin it is like a snake that begins to wrap itself around us.  The more we indulge the more it wraps itself around us and eventually begins to suck the very life out of us.  We get so focused on fulfilling the sinful desires within us that ultimately it will destroy our lives.

But when we sow to the Spirit we grow in the nature and character of Christ.  Sowing in the Spirit is simply following the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Examples of sowing to the Spirit are things like studying God’s word, spending time in prayer, spending time with fellow believers, sharing our faith, ministering to those in need.

When our lives are built upon following the leading of the Holy Spirit we will experience the abundant life that Jesus proclaimed.  We are saved by the grace of God, but it requires us each day to walk with Christ and seek after Him.  There have been some who have begun with Christ, but in the end have abandoned the faith and the Lord.

Growing in Christ requires effort on our part.  It requires us to chase after and seek after the Lord.  Every day we have on this earth is either an opportunity to grow in Christ or move away from Him.  A true disciple is one who walks closely with the Lord on a daily basis.  May we commit ourselves to daily seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.  That we will continually sow to the Spirit and resist the lust of the flesh.

But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Galatians 5:13 NIV

In Jesus we are set free.  But our freedom is not to be used to indulge the selfish desires of our sinful nature.  When we come to Christ our lives are no longer our own.  They belong to the Lord and our lives should be a living sacrifice to the Lord.  In all that we do we should bring honor and glory to His name.  Some have distorted the grace of God as simply a license to indulge the sinful nature.  Claiming that where sin abounds, that grace abounds even more.  But when we rightly understand the grace of God and especially all that Jesus went through so we could be free.  We will view the lives we live and the choices we make much differently.  May we use our freedom to walk in obedience and walk in holiness and simply pursue the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Galatians 5:7-15: For you, brethren, have been called to liberty

You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.

11 And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. 12 I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!

13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! Galatians 5:7-15.

The apostle Paul asks the question who hindered you.  The Galatians were abandoning the truth they had first received which was salvation and freedom through faith alone.  They were being influenced by the false teacher of the day and were turning to keeping the law.  They were trying to earn from God what God had already paid for by giving His own life.  The apostle Paul says that a little leaven leavens the whole lump.  He is referring here to the false teaching going forth that was infecting the church in Galatia.

Knowing God’s truth is vital for guarding our hearts and minds.  If we know the depths of God’s word we will easily recognize when we are being lied to.  The greatest deceptions of the enemy are the hardest to discern.  But the truth is that when we make the ambition of our lives simply to know God’s word we will recognize the lies of the enemy easily because we will be led and guided by the Holy Spirit.

Paul says that if indeed he himself preached circumcision then why is he still persecuted.  It is the cross of Jesus Christ that sets us free and not the demands of the law.  The demands of the law show us that in our humanity we are broken and unable to keep God’s law.  But through the cross of Jesus Christ we have been set free from the curse of sin and death.

Paul shows his intensity in the statement that he wishes those who troubled them would cut themselves off.  Paul here is referring to their sexual organs because when circumcision takes place it is when the foreskin of the penis is cut off and Paul demonstrates his intensity for God’s truth by stating that he wished the false teachers would go the entire way and cut themselves off.

Paul states that we have been called to liberty and freedom.  But the freedom we have in Christ is not meant that we would indulge in the flesh.  On the contrary the freedom we have in Christ enables us to walk in holiness with the Lord because it allows us to draw near to God with confidence.  Every hindrance has been removed by the precious blood of Jesus.  It is through faith alone that we are declared righteous and we are declared free.  When we truly examine the book of Galatians we see the foolishness of believers desiring to abandon faith and turn instead to the demands and requirements of the law.

Galatians 5:1-6: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free,[a] and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:1-6.

The apostle Paul was perplexed by the believers in Galatia.  The apostle Paul had gone there and established the church their in that region establishing the church on the truth that salvation and righteousness is by faith alone.  What the apostle Paul could not understand is why they would want to place themselves in bondage once again by following the demands of the law.

The false teachers who came forth proclaimed that the gentile believers not only had to follow the law but that they needed to become circumcised.  They claimed that without circumcision they were not truly righteous before the Lord.  It was only through following and holding to the law that they could be declared righteous.

But this is contradictory to Christian truth.  Salvation and righteousness are not a result of our works or our efforts.  It is a gift from the Lord by faith alone.  The moment we place our faith in Jesus Christ we are saved and we are declared righteous before the Father.  We are able to go boldly to the throne of grace with confidence.

When the apostle Paul writes of being estranged from Christ and falling from grace it is because they changed the confidence and faith they had in Jesus Christ and instead placed it in their ability to keep the law.  There is no grace when we are trying to follow the law and earn God’s favor.  When we live by faith alone we already have the favor of God upon our lives.  When we abandon faith and instead try to earn righteousness we are no longer operating by the grace of God because we have abandoned faith.

This is why it is by faith alone we are saved.  If humanity could earn their way to salvation they would have something to boast about.  But because it is by faith alone it is simply because of God’s grace.  Our focus in our relationship with God is our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus and the love that the Lord has for us.  Everything is simply about faith and love.  The reason the gospel is simply the good news is because everything we have from God is a gift and all simply because we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Galatians 4:21-31: Two Covenants

21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the[d] two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.27 For it is written:

“Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband.”[e]

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say?“Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.”[f] 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. Galatians 4:21-31.

The apostle Paul uses the account of Hagar and Sarah to demonstrate the difference between the Old and the New Covenants.  The old covenant is symbolic of Hagar and her son Ishmael.  Ishmael was not the son of promise.  Ishmael was a result of Sarah becoming impatient and having Abraham sleep with her handmaiden.  This was not the promised child that God has promised Abraham and Sarah.

But Issac on the other hand is symbolic of the new covenant.  Issac was born to Abraham and Sarah when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old.  This was the child that God has promised them.

What the apostle Paul is trying to demonstrate to the believers in Galatians is how foolish it is to abandon living by faith and instead turning to the requirements of the law.  Again the law was never meant to make someone righteous, the law was meant to show humanity and the nation of Israel its need for a savior.

Anyone who rejects faith in Jesus Christ is simply in bondage.  There is nothing we can do in our own strength to free ourselves from the curse of sin and death.  The only thing that can atone for our sins is the blood of Jesus.  Jesus lived a life without sin and it is His precious blood alone that can wash away our sins.

This is why the covenant and relationship we have with God is based upon faith alone.  By us simply placing our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the Son of God are declared righteous and our sin no longer remains.  The Galatians allowed themselves to be deceived by the false teachers of the time who declared to them that they needed to follow the law.  Let us not be deceived by simply live by faith and enjoy the Lord’s presence one day at a time.  We have the ability by faith to simply draw near to the Lord with confidence.  Our sin no longer remains and no longer separates us from God.  This relationship with Jesus Christ is all about intimacy with the Living God.