Paul taught we can’t earn our salvation but by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9), while Jesus taught we must be worthy to receive salvation (Luke 20:35-36) which is by keeping God’s commandments (Matt 19:16-19; Rev 22:14). Jesus never taught salvation by grace anywhere. The grace Jesus taught is conditional (Matt 22:1-14), reversible (Matt 18:21-35) and expiring (Luke 13:6-9) – given only to become righteous and holy before being cut off.
In this fifth chapter of Galatians, we will look into how Paul teach a false liberty, revoking his own irrevocable gift doctrine, clever wrapping of disobedience with faith, calling God’s covenant as leaven, rejecting the greatest commandment and the deception of walking in Spirit without we doing anything.
Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
What liberty is Paul talking about? Liberty from obeying God or made free from sins? Paul is talking about being free from the law. As was saw in previous chapters, Paul is using the law as a straw man argument to show that Christ freed the gentiles from the curse of the law while the gentiles were never under the law anytime.
John 8:31-36 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. “And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
Christ taught a different type of liberty. It is getting free from sin, if we abide in His Word. Being sinless is so important, without which we cannot abide in His house.
Gal 5:2-3 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.
While circumcision is not required for gentile Christians according to the New Covenant, the circumcised being a debtor to keep the whole law is a lie. Circumcision was given to Abraham as a sign of the covenant, even before the law was given to his descendants.
Paul revoking his irrevocable gift doctrine
Gal 5:4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
The above verse is a good example of Paul’s double tongue.
Eph 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Rom 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Paul writes to the church in Ephesus that grace. is a gift from Jesus Christ To the church in Rome, he writes, gifts are irrevocable. In summary, the gift of grace is irrevocable. Now, Paul writes that the irrevocable gift of grace given to Galatians can be revoked if they follow the law. What? Paul revoking his own irrevocable gift doctrine.
Let us listen to what Jesus preaches about grace.
Luke 13:6-9 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’ ”
Grace is given only to become righteous and holy to bear fruit before being cut down. It is an expiring grace. Grace is also conditional (Matt 22:1-14) and reversible (Matt 18:21-35).
Wrapping Disobedience with Faith
Gal 5:5-8 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. You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.
What does it mean to be in Christ? Is it faith working through love? No.
Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
To be in Christ means, we are to take our cross daily, deny ourselves and follow Him. It is obedience, not just faith.
As we saw in chapter 3, obeying the truth according to Paul is not obedience to what Christ said, but rather, faith in Christ without obedience, otherwise, he will have something to boast. According to Paul, righteousness is a hope by faith which he eagerly waits.
Matt 5:20 “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Rom 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also,
Paul throws away all the requirements of righteousness taught by Christ to have an imputed righteousness by faith which he hopes and waits for. It is going to be a very long wait since it is never going to happen.
Sign of God’s Covenant becomes leaven
Gal 5:9-13 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 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. And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off! 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.
Paul is calling circumcision as leaven. As we saw in the last chapter, Paul not only used the law as a straw man since gentiles were never under it anytime but stole what was promised to Abraham’s descendants to deceive gentiles, even rejected the sign of that covenant which is circumcision. Not, Paul calls circumcision as leaven.
What does it mean not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh? Does he say not to sin but to love one another? This is where we need to fully understand the fundamental difference between Paul’s and Christ’s doctrine.
- Paul’s doctrine is about salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9) and we obey because we love him. Here, obedience follows salvation and it is not a prerequisite for salvation.
- Christ’s doctrine is about obedience (Luke 6:46) and we must obey for Him to even love us (John 15:10). We must be sinless (John 8:34-35) to enter life (Matt 5:29-30). Here, obedience precedes salvation and it is a prerequisite for salvation.
We must also understand Paul has a double tongue where he writes not sin in one letter, and in another letter, nothing we can do can save us.
Rejecting the Greatest Commandment
Gal 5:14-15 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
Is it true that all the law is fulfilled by loving our neighbor? Absolutely not. Listen to what Jesus preached.
Matt 22:37-40 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
Jesus taught that loving the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind is the first and greatest commandment. It is important to understand that “Hear” translated in English is actually “Listen and Obey” in Hebrew because Hebrew does not have a separate word for “obey”. Hence, the first commandment is obedience to God. Paul is rejecting this first and greatest commandment of obedience to God but refers the second greatest commandment of love as the fulfillment of all the law.
Matt 7:8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Matt 7:12 “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
You may think of the above golden rule in the Bible but it follows how much God gives to those who ask Him, seek Him and knocks Him, and then asks us to do the same, just as God is good even to those who are evil.
Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
We must hate everything and everyone who comes in between us and God. This can even be our parents. It is important to note that the second greatest commandment of loving our neighbors cannot supersede the first and the greatest commandment of loving God. Thus, Paul deceives people by wrapping disobedience to the first and greatest commandment using the second greatest commandment.
Walking in Spirit is not what we do?
Gal 5:16-18 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; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Paul’s version of Spirit and flesh is very different from what Christ taught.
Eph 2:1-10 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
According to Paul, walking in flesh is living according to the lusts and desires of this world. However, walking in Spirit is not obedience to God or anything we do. But rather, walking in Spirit is walking in the path prepared beforehand by God to do good works.
Rom 7:19-23 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
We can see how Paul is walking in Spirit according to the inward man while he continues to sin with his flesh.
Mark 14:38 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
Christ taught that flesh is weak and it profits nothing. But He never taught flesh is against Spirit.
Matt 18:8-9 If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
Christ neither tolerated sin in flesh nor did He teach good works being prepared beforehand for us to walk in them. It is our responsibility to be sinless, even if it takes to cut off our hands and pluck our eyes.
Works of flesh but fruits of the Spirit?
Gal 5:19-26 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
As we saw earlier, Paul’s doctrine is about salvation by grace through faith and we are not saved by obedience or anything we do (Eph 2:8-9). Here, according to Paul, obedience follows salvation out of love and it is not a prerequisite for it.
This is why according to Paul, all that of the flesh are referred as “works”, or something we do and if we do these things, we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. However, all the good things prepared beforehand after we are saved by grace are referred as “fruits”, something God will work on us, and not something we do.
Luke 8:11-15 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
John 5:28-29 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
Jesus Christ neither taught fruits of the Spirit nor did He prepared beforehand any good works for us to do. He taught fruit of the Word which is obedience to His Word and only if we do good, we have the resurrection of life.