Galatians 5:1-6 “Stand Firm”

Posted: November 9, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam in Biblical Studies, Galatians
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Gal.  5:1-6  “Stand Firm”

Galatians 5:1–6 (ESV) — 1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Turning to the Law is Turning Away from Christ (1-2)

Turning to the Law makes you a Debtor (3)

Turning to the Law is Falling from Grace (4)

The Spirit brings Faith, Eager anticipation, Hope and finally Righteousness (5)

Works of Faith through Love is what really matters (6)

 

Turning to the Law is Turning Away from Christ (1-2)

1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

–          This is a transition verse that I attached to the previous section last week. In summary, trusting in the law is like being a carnal, natural born son of Hagar, thus not of promise according to the Spirit. Christ died to set you free from that marriage to the Mosaic covenant.

–          Paul argues in Romans 7 that the law has affect until it dies and then you are free. The Mosaic covenant was fulfilled in Jesus and dies in his death. His resurrection ushers in a New Covenant whereby we are joined to Christ by faith and made possessors of the Spirit.

–          Notice indicative/imperative. We live out what is objectively true. Some people struggle with freedom, believe it or not. Some imprisoned criminals find it hard to acclimate to life outside the walls, becoming bound and dependent upon the institution of prison.

2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.

–          “Look” (behold) is used by Paul on one other occasion and the force is to draw attention to himself in all that He is to these dear believers.

–          “if you accept circumcision” – Circumcision was once the sign that you were in and included in God’s covenant community, so much so that God was searching out Moses to kill him for failure to circumcise his son:

  • Exodus 4:24–26 (ESV) — 24 At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision.
  • Things have changed dramatically. You neglect circumcision, God’s judgment is upon you; now, if you insist on circumcision, God’s judgment is upon you.

–          “Christ will be of no advantage to you” – not of little advantage, but of none, you put your trust, even just a little bit in something else, then you have totally rejected Christ’s finished work on the cross.

  • This is dangerous. We need to hear the Gospel, love the Gospel, and constantly examine ourselves as to whether we are trusting at all in anything else. The second we say something else is necessary is the moment we say that the Cross is not completely sufficient and that Jesus died in vain. Even if you say that cross is necessary, in addition to something else, you are still denying the cross.

–          Turning to the Law is Turning Away from Christ (1-2)

 

Turning to the Law makes you a Debtor (3)

3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.

–          “I testify again” – Paul is again forcefully drawing attention to the words he says as of utmost importance for the Galatians.

–          “every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law” – in v. 2 Paul says that Christ will be of no advantage and here he elaborates further and says that circumcision will lead you away from Christ and back to slavery to the law, binding you to keep it all, which is bad news.

  • Deuteronomy 27:26 (ESV) — 26 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
  • You will be indebted to God for your failure to keep the law, and having already turned away from the debt-payer in Christ, then one is going backwards into slavery. Why would one turn away from Christ to the law as a mediator for salvation?
  • We’re told to stand firm in our freedom in Christ, not to go back to Egypt

–          Turning to the Law makes you a Debtor (3)

Turning to the Law is Falling from Grace (4)

4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

–          Paul is saying the same thing over and over again. You are cut off from Christ, which implies that you were once in Him. Paul follows by declaring that such a person has fallen away from grace. Imagery is similar to the vine/branch illustration Jesus gives…some will be cut off. That is the idea here. In a very real sense, these apostasies were connected to Christ and are now being cut off, just as Israel was because of unbelief.

  • We live in the tension of the already/not yet. we posses justification and yet are waiting eagerly for final justification or vindication. The final justification is for those (v.5) who eagerly wait for it in hope.
  • Some say that Paul doesn’t have in mind whether you can lose your salvation or not and that he is merely talking in generalities about two realms: one of works and one of grace. You can’t serve two masters. If you choose the pathway of works, then you are forfeiting the path of grace.
    • I believe that apostasy is real, however apostasy involves a conscious choice to abandon Christ, knowing full well what they are doing. Does apostasy mean that they were never saved? Perhaps so, however Paul speaks here of actually losing one’s status in grace. One can argue that Paul has in mind being part of the outward covenant of Grace, where we would assume that professing members are partakers of. By abandoning the Church, they are forsaking their objective status of partakers of grace in Christ. We can only go off what we see, so in this sense, those who are apostatizing are in fact forsaking something and being severed from something to which they once belonged.
    • Paul has contrasted two covenants previous to this and it may be best for us to understand Paul within the framework of the corporate identity within the Church. To follow the Judiazers is to forsake the Church, which is forsaking Christ and the grace given to the covenant community. There is ordinarily no salvation outside the Church because the Church actually represents the body of Christ and has been given the means of grace whereby we grow, but we have seen many who have trampled under foot those things that were once considered dear. Not only are such people severed, but the Church is called upon to acknowledge such when unrepentant sinners are removed from the Church until they be restored through repentance. This is all indeed a tragic thing. There is definitely a great measure of complexity and mystery in these things and we ought to respond within the Biblical framework of tension, rather than imposing a systematic theology upon texts to explain how the text isn’t saying what it seems to be saying.
      • I believe that those whom God has saved will forever be held in His hand secure and at the same time we have these warning passages which present before us what seems to be the contradictory doctrine of apostasy. Apostasy by definition means to fall away, which means that you are falling away from something.

–          “are severed” and “have fallen away”are both in aorist tense, which means that it is a completed past event, which may mean that Paul sees this folks as demonstrating their unbelief in their actions. The aorist can also mean a prophetic tense of what is certain to happen.

  • John 15, Jesus says He’s the vine and we’re the branches. He threatens to cut us off if we don’t produce fruit. Romans 11 says that Israel was cut off because of unbelief.

 

The Spirit brings Faith, Eager anticipation, Hope and finally Righteousness (5)

5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.

–          Galatians is summarized well in this and the following verse. We see the Spirit, Faith, Hope, Righteousness (dikaisunye), and then in v 6, Jesus, faith working through love.

–          The emphasis here is on the Spirit, it is through the Spirit we are able to do anything. faith, eager waiting, hoping for righteousness is all fruit of the Spirit. You are Spirit people. Gal 3

Works of Faith through Love is what really matters (6)

6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

–          “in Christ Jesus” –  he is the source, the location, the foundation, the only one that provides salvation for us

–          Faith working through love. Paul can be charged as discounting the law in such a way that he advocates sin and antinomianism (an anti law ethic that leads to wicked sin in the name of freedom). He is aware of this, so he one ups the New Covenant ethic to that which is miraculously wrought through the Spirit:

  • Galatians 5:16–18 (ESV) — 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
  • Galatians 5:22–24 (ESV) — 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

–          The ethic of love:

  • Romans 13:8–10 (ESV) — 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1–13 (ESV) — 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

–          Jesus

  • He has purchased our true freedom from the law so that we might be the real fulfillers of the law by the Spirit.
  • The New Covenant doesn’t lessen our desire for holiness, but actually increases it and enables it.
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