Beloved in Christ, and dear friends,
Time is short, and Christ return is at hand. I believe we can all agree on this, whether you know Christ as Lord and savior or not. So many, many folks in the Church today are in bondage to sin, and walk in legalism, and by works of the law and the flesh to obtain a good standing with God, even those who were saved by grace through faith. So many start well, and then turn back to works and good deeds to please God, and "atone" for their sin, and feel a sense of comfort by their giving, and deeds in and of the flesh, to obtain salvation and the righteousness of God. This is sad and deadly as well. There is one way to God, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ, through the cross of Christ, the blood of Christ! The cross is a word that offends the flesh and those who love it, and are bound by it, and controlled by it. Legalism fills most church pews and some pulpits, as folks are taught to 'come up here' and say some words, get baptized and join our group, and by the way, let us load you down with church activities and duties, and even a title after you've done enough, and never miss a Sunday... All the while preaching ( some of them at least) salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, yet after a while these dear people become 'programmed' to trust in their "experience" something they said or prayed or did at one time, and they get comfortable in their sin, and begin to "earn their salvation" by being good church goers, and tithers, and always showing up, and having church duties, or perhaps do not go to church at all, because of they do not see the need of godly fellowship with other believers, and so these too, work out their salvation on their own terms and reasonings, and become "religious" and abuse God's grace and they suffer loss, the loss of the true communion with Christ, the power of his spirit, and they, in their discouragement, begin to wander into duties, works, and legalism...
Below here, I have taken this passage of scripture in Galatians 5: 1-25. I have commented, or expounded, brought emphasis, in "GREEN letters".
I pray this will bring clarity, and freedom and liberty to you, and keep it to those of you, who have not lost their true freedom in Christ by grace, and not turned to a legalistic form of godliness....
It is all grace. All what God has already done for us on the cross. He is the same yesterday today and forevermore. The Gospel of "come and die to self" take up your cross daily and follow Christ, all by grace and faith, has NOT changed... It stands forever true! Amen
1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
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.
Now let's take a closer look..... My 'commentary' in GREEN.
Yes, there is 'repetition' in this commentary, and the scripture calls for it, as we will see. Paul is really driving this home to us, so please bear this in mind...
1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, (by faith) and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Do NOT allow the flesh to rule or have mastery over you. If we live in sin and bondage, this is not God's will for us obviously, His will is that we trust in His strength and power to keep us in the freedom he has set before us through the cross of Christ. Freedom is a gift through grace, and if we do not choose to walk in that, we again become entangled in slavery to the flesh nature, and try to earn our justification).
2 Mark my words! ( Paul is saying, you best trust what I am saying here, this is all true I assure you) I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves (give into, make the choice to, submit to), be circumcised, (try to please God through the effort of the flesh nature, and try to do the work only the Holy Ghost can do, and try to purify self, through self - effort 'apart from Grace' - God's enabling power. When we embrace the law and try to earn salvation, we separate ourselves from Jesus, he is no longer our righteousness, for we have at this point become self-righteous, a law unto ourselves ) Christ will be of no value to you at all. ( there will be NO help from the Lord or his blood or spirit. He does NOT recognize flesh).
3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself ( simply allows it) be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. ( if a man is going to be led by the flesh nature and works of the flesh to obtain God's favor and salvation and freedom, then he is under the law, and must keep every ordinance and ritual and rite and custom and rule of the Mosaic law. There are over 600 commandments to keep in the law of Moses. Can you keep all those, or even remember them on your own power? I think not, but this is where we walk 'when we depart from grace' and faith in Christ to give us the power only he can give to obey the word of God, and walk in his peace and freedom from the bondage of sin)
4 You who are trying to be justified ( set free from the sinful nature's control- pardoned by God ) by the law have been alienated from Christ; (no fellowship, No oneness with the spirit of God. Again, no help from the Lord Jesus. We have alienated ourselves from his grace, and there is no power but our own at this point to walk in His salvation, to overcome sin, or walk in his peace and freedom promised to those who continue in his grace and peace by Faith.) you have fallen away from grace. ( By "choice," this person has fallen from 'the enabling power of the grace of God' by the holy spirit to bring true salvation, and to walk an overcoming life, and overcome the world, the flesh nature, and the devil. They have now become the very person Satan seeks to devour ( see 1 Peter 5:6-11) and has legal right to, as they have separated themselves from the mighty saving hand of God, and in 'their Pride,' have neglected such a great salvation of Grace)
5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. ( To 'eagerly await' speaks of 'intense yearning', and the 'true believer yearns for the righteousness of Christ to work in him,' as he yields to and obeys the word of God by the power of the Holy Sprit, it is only by the spirit of God and the righteousness of Christ, that we are justified and made righteous- our hope of Christ-likeness has to come from the liberty of the holy spirit, and not anything of our own device or works)
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (The Only thing that counts is Faith working through love. If a man be 'in Christ,' if he is walking and living and being led by the spirit of God, 'he knows' that no matter circumcision or not, (here, referring to the custom and works of the Mosaic law,)- "trying to obtain righteousness by and in our own good works," this, counts for nothing in the eyes of God. Only the finished work of Christ on the cross, and the continued walk of faith, and trust in the 'enabling power of His grace' to keep us, and to overcome the world, the flesh nature, and the devil, and walk in God's love. This, is what Counts in God's eyes. Love conquers all. It is all grace, and all faith in God's ability, and what he has already done, not ours. Remember, it is "the circumcision of the heart" that matters, and in 'this circumcision' we are made new, and our desires are no longer for the desires of the flesh. Here is true freedom and liberty, not legalism or works or striving ).
7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? (You started in grace and faith, what happened, why now are you trying to obtain salvation and please God by works of the flesh? Who cut in on you? False teaching, and your 'own choice' to walk in works cut in on you!)
8 That kind of persuasion ( which comes from the flesh nature and the devil) does not come from the one who calls you. ( God is not the problem. His grace is not the problem. 'Your choice' to walk by your own intellect and good deeds/works, this is the problem).
9 "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." ( a little sin, a little self - effort to help God out will soon consume and destroy the whole man)
10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. ( there is NO other view of Christ's saving hand, other than grace and faith, and walking in obedience to the word of God, it is all by faith in him to empower us to do so. It's all grace. It's all the cross. Come and die to self) The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. ( be it false teaching, False teachers, false thinking, stubborn rebellion "of the flesh to submit to the holy spirit," to walk in obedience by Grace and faith, or the works of the law and the flesh, and those who teach it, be it men, or demons through their lying teaching, will pay the penalty. Death.)
11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? ( if I am speaking, preaching and teaching, and walking by works of the flesh to obtain God's righteousness, I would NOT be persecuted, but I am teaching and walking in God's grace alone, and those who want to be righteous by self-effort hate this, their flesh and self- righteousness hate the 'way of the cross' to come and die to all self, and will rebel and persecute those 'who teach obedience to the word of God' and salvation by grace alone. They go as far to call obedience to the word of God "works" and have no true understanding of the crucified life. Obedience to the word of God has been ignored, and replaced by self-effort and a 'perverted view' of the Gospel of Christ. Works of the flesh has replaced true freedom and liberty in these people, and they are a law unto themselves, "I don't have to obey the word of God they say, just be a nice person and do good works, and my duty is done they reason to themselves") In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. ( if pursuing salvation and deliverance and justification, that is right standing with God, if this is by works of the flesh, the offense of the cross which is "come and die to self" and let Christ live through you has been "abolished to them." To abolish, is to "do away with, put an end to." In this case it is to do away with the way of the cross in their lives, ignore true sincere obedience to the word of God, and live in your own righteousness, make your own set of rules. May this never be! it is all Jesus. It is all Grace. So if this, the way of the cross, offends you, 'then you will have to save yourself,' and you cannot. "I die daily" said the Apostle Paul. Knowing nothing but Christ and him crucified.)
12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! ( Not only a literal 'castration,' Paul refers to here, but also to be cut completely off from their 'legalistic voice' to confuse and confound their hearers, and turn those in grace and faith, 'back' to Legalism and salvation by good works alone)
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. ( free from the control of the flesh nature, and from striving, and the bondage it brings to those who practice it, and try to earn their salvation. Also, to those who ignore the enabling power of God's grace to obey his commands, and walk in his peace and freedom by faith in the finished work of Christ and the cross) But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ( in other words, "do not presume on God's grace, and continue to use it as a license to sin," or use his free gift of grace as once saved always 'safe.' His grace is NOT a get out of hell free card, so we can walk in sin and practice the deeds of the flesh) rather, serve one another humbly in love. (God IS Love, and whoever loves 'as God does', lives in Christ and he in them. Remember, this is God's kind of love, not our fleshly idea of love.)
14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." ( to love God with all the heart soul mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself, fulfills all the law and the prophets have said and commanded. I keep the ten commandments by walking in God's kind of love, and by faith that he has given me the 'enabling power' of His grace to overcome the world, the flesh nature, and the devil, and make me righteous)
15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (The sons of God are led by the spirit of God... He always leads us into righteousness, not works or legalism or unrighteousness. Walking by the Spirit, speaks of obedience to the will of the holy spirit of God, and if we yield to his will, we will not practice sin, or love the deeds of the flesh any longer, but find the power to walk in an overcoming life filled with the true peace of God, and no longer a yoke of bondage, nor any longer entangled by the deceitfulness of sin, but rather being free, truly free from its mastery and slavery that seeks to destroy us)
17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. ( it is a warfare. A spiritual warfare, and also a warfare of the flesh nature, to once again be dominated and gain control IF we submit to it. It is resisting the devil, and suffering in, and dying to the sinful flesh nature. All by God's grace to us daily, and we take up our cross 'die to self' and follow Christ)
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. ( if we are led by the spirit of God daily to put to death the sinful deeds of the flesh, then, we are not under the law, "judgement")
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. ( this, is obviously NOT the leading of the holy spirit, nor is 'any sin' in us the work of the Spirit of God. It is however, the work of the flesh nature and the devil. And if you are thinking, "well, I do not have any of these sins in my life listed here.." Recall the word "IMPURITY" in verse 19 above, so whatever is not 'pure in heart' is impure to God. This covers any and all sin. The spirit of God 'will always lead us away from sin,' from unrighteousness, and he will always lead us in the righteous ways of God. Righteousness= "What is right in God's eyes" not our own ).
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 ( put to death) the flesh with its passions and desires. ( They no longer allow the flesh nature to master them, to control them, or to lead them into legalism and works, or sin. But they obey the word of God by faith, established in their heart by the Holy Spirit. Their passions and desires are 'now motivated' by and for, the love of God, and the "enabling power of his GRACE." )
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. ( walk with him, and follow him in obedience to the word of God, and lead us in all righteousness)
A CLOSING WORD.....
So, beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray this has found its mark in your heart, and rekindled your understanding and love for the cross of Christ, and the righteousness of God in your hearts by grace through faith, and not by some words or deeds or some religious exercise or duty. Not by some "experience you once had," nor by excessive emotionalism, nor by your own idea of God's righteousness. I pray we all see God's great salvation and freedom, as only by grace through faith in the beginning, and throughout our entire walk unto the end, when we are called home... It begins and ends in our total trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross and his resurrection, and his resurrection life working in and through us daily as we submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit to put to death the deeds of the flesh, and walk in the liberty and freedom that only Christ can do in and through us... Amen!
Greatest blessings to you all who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ with a pure and sincere heart.
~ Gary R. Kane~