Week 129: Galatians 5
Read Acts 13-14
This is a good time to look at the back of your Bible and check out a couple of pages you’ve never looked at: Maps. There, you will find Paul’s missionary journeys.
The door has been swung wide open to the Gentiles with Peter’s visit to the Italian Centurion stationed in Caesarea. Paul, now radically converted from persecuting the Christians to making Christians, is now planting churches everywhere he goes. He preaches in the synagogues spread all over the Roman Empire. He takes the Gospel, first to the Jew, but the Gentiles begin to press in as the Lord opens their hearts for salvation. While many Jews certainly believe, more and more begin to oppose the Gospel and men like Paul who deliver it. After much conflict with the Jews, and even a stoning, Paul declares that he is turning to the Gentiles to give them everlasting life. Acts 13:46
The letters, or Epistles, that we find in the New Testament are written by Paul to the places where he has left churches. Galatia is a region from Paul’s first missionary journey where the Lord crowned him with success in preaching the Gospel. Galatia includes Perga, Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe (Where a young man and future pastor, Timothy, comes from)
Paul will assume four great missionary journeys throughout his Christian life. He will leave some of his letters to the Churches he planted: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Corinthians, Thessalonians, along with others, permanently with us in our Bibles.
Paul will ultimately wind up in the heart of the Roman Empire in Rome, Italy. There he will lay down his life for the Gospel being beheaded by Nero thirty years after his conversion on the road to Damascus.
Over the next twenty weeks, we will touch on golden chapters from Paul, where the Holy Spirit explains Salvation in Christ on every page.
“In the Old Testament, Christ is predicted. In the Gospels, Christ is revealed. In Acts, Christ is preached. In the epistles, Christ is explained. In Revelation, Christ is expected.”
On their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas did a rewind tour through five cities of Galatia to strengthen the new churches and appoint elders. But our adversary, the devil, will will not suffer loss of his property well.
I’ve known many new believers who are honest with me. “Pastor Jeff, it is hard to be a Christian. As soon as I began my walk with the Lord, everything broke out against me”
I tell them, “The devil doesn’t like to lose his property.”
False apostles and teachers arise to undo the liberty the new believers have in Christ. These want to recapture the new Christians with Jewish works and the Laws of Moses.
“And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”” (Acts 15:1, NKJV)
This poisonous teaching doesn’t only come from without, but from within:
“But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”” (Acts 15:5, NKJV)
If the devil cannot stop you from doing a good work, he will join you it. He can hinder you more effectively if he is right next to you. These so called, believing Pharisees, wanted to twist the Gospel of Christ into a different gospel. If you add anything to the Gospel, it becomes a different gospel. If you say, “I need Jesus to die from my sins and I need to keep Jewish rules to be a real Christian.” You are not really trusting in Jesus at all.
Paul marveled that the Galatians were so easily bewitched. He lays it straight:
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6–8, NKJV)
And then he repeats himself, in case they missed it the first time. Vs 9
The letter to the Galatians is a real bruiser. Paul is bare-knuckled and fighting like a lion, just like a mother who would fight a bear to save her children. Speaking of beasts. Jesus gave a heads up on lupine infiltrators.
““Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:15–16, NKJV)
Paul later refers to these wolves who are hungry to pull people to their personality cults in the church. He told the Ephesian elders:
“Know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. Acts 20:31
Jesus said they appear outwardly correct, but inwardly they are different. The devil knows most of you won’t hang out with lowlifes and ruffians. No, he will bring someone to you who knows a little Word, is a church goer and a spiritual talker talking God-talk. But they are off-track and dangerous. They may cloak themselves with good deeds:
“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:22–23)
Jesus says, “By their fruit you shall recognize them.”
Remember, Judas looked right on the outside while on the inside he was complaining, criticizing, and secretly making plans to feather his own bed until that moment when he is dead fruit hanging on a tree.
Paul would fight these fakes in every place he set his foot. The Corinthian church had a crew of false apostles who were pulling the same thing. Paul cut them off.
“But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” (2 Corinthians 11:12–15, NKJV)
Friends, the Bible mentions: false witnesses, false-teachers, false-swearers, false-apostles, false Christs, and false brothers.
With all of those warnings, it isn’t a matter of if these will be in your life, but it is a matter of who are they and when will they come?
Read Galatians 5:1-18
Paul tells the believers that Christian character is the result the Spirit’s work not self-effort.
The group that was trying to get the Gentile believers into to their groups were essentially saying, “You can believe in Christ, just get circumcised and follows Jewish rules.”
Circumcision was an outward mark of the old Covenant. Paul tells them that Christ cannot profit the sinner who rejects grace and trusts in the law and his own good works.
“Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.” (Galatians 5:2, NKJV)
Paul’s enemies argued, “If Christians are free from the Law, they will live wicked lives! We need the Law to control them!” What they didn’t realize is that Grace, not the law, is the greatest teacher and controller in the world.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,” (Titus 2:11–12, NKJV)
Some young men were taunting another young man into joining them in a wrong path. They mocked him, “Your worried that Father will find out and you are afraid of what he will do to you.” The young man meekly replied, “I’m not afraid of what my father would do to me. I’m afraid of what it would do to my father.”
This is what is looks like to be led by the Spirit rather than the law.
The young man enjoyed the grace of his father. Jesus said, “Those whom the Son has set free, we are free indeed. John 8:3 We do not want to return to those things that we are now ashamed of and the things we have been set free from. Grace has taught us to say ‘no’ to those things because we value our liberty.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1, NKJV)
Read Galatians 5:16-26
The Judaizers who were trying to get the new Christians to get circumcised had a focus on outward works. Paul emphasizes that it is only the work of Jesus Christ that matters. The Holy Spirit changes the inside of a person.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.” (Galatians 6:15, NKJV)
To walk in the Spirit means the new believer will no longer live for the flesh. It isn’t that we might not fall into sin, but it means we don’t dive into it anymore.
Let’s get this right: You can’t live by the Spirit unless you have first been regenerated by the Spirit. That means to be reborn spiritually—or to be given a new heart.
“Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”” (John 3:3, NKJV)
“We are saved by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,” (Titus 3:5)
The Prophet Ezekiel saw this miracle of regeneration through the Spirit many years before Christ.
“Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,” (Ezekiel 11:19, NKJV)
The outward works of an unregenerated man are listed by Paul:
“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.” (Galatians 5:19–21, NKJV)
Any physical altering of the outside of a man cannot change him. Circumcision, extreme cosmetic makeovers, or any variety religious acts do nothing to change a man.
The only thing that counts is a new creation through Jesus Christ.
Read Galatians 5:16-26
Once a heart is changed, good spiritual fruit starts to show up. Being born again gives you the desire, for the first time in your life, to want to be led by the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit guides your life, you will see a whole new set of inward values bring new results to the outside of your life. These new actions are good works.
These works are not a means to salvation, they are the result of salvation.
“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.” (Ephesians 2:8–10, NKJV)
We need a saving faith, and if we have it, the works will show up. Faith is a means to salvation, works prove the salvation.
A Changed Life is Proof of Life
To be genuinely saved means you have a replaced life. Paul says, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16, NKJV)
Love replaces selfishness. And it feels good.
Joy replaces fun. One is eternal and the other is temporary.
Peace replaces striving. Things we once tried to stressfully fix, we now surrender perfectly to God.
Patience replaces Impulsiveness. We used to hurry into trouble. Now we let God unfold His purposes in our lives.
Kindness replaces revenge. We used to get even, now we get praying for them.
Faithfulness replaces infidelity. We used to break our word, now we keep it, even if it hurts.
Gentleness replaces rudeness. We used to bite, now we bless.
Self-Control replaces instant reaction. We used to jump. Now we still ourselves. One leads to a bad outcome. The other leads to good rewards.
One old preacher said, “If you want to bone from a dog, give him a steak.” Paul says, “Walk in the Spirit and you will not walk in the flesh.”
A final word. When you are sorely dealing with temptation and the flesh. Take this to heart:
Sometimes, the worse thing we can do, when our Christian lives are faltering, is to do more stuff. What we need when we are faltering, is more faith--more Christ.