Summary: This is the second part of a message dealing with freedom in Christ. Having discussed the consequences of embracing works, Paul now concludes this section by asking some questions of those who have "fallen away from grace."
“Paul’s doctrine of grace is dangerous!” cried the false teachers in Galatia. “It replaces law with license. Why, if we do away with our rules and abandon our high standards, the churches will fall apart.”
Those first century false teachers, known as Judaizers or legalists, were not the only ones afraid to depend on God’s grace.
In our churches today we have many who are afraid to depend on God’s grace. There is a continuing misunderstanding of the doctrine of grace. And that is why Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians.
Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians to counter the false teaching of the Judaizers. The first two chapters of Galatians are personal in which Paul defends his apostleship.
Chapters 3 and 4 are doctrinal in which Paul defends the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
Now, beginning in chapter 5, Paul begins a section which is application. He now begins to apply the doctrine of justification by faith to our personal lives.
The Christian who lives by faith alone is not going to fall into license or legalism, Paul explains. Instead, he will be led by the Spirit of God to obey all that God has commanded. He will be governed by faith and not by the flesh. He will look to Christ for his source of power and not try to find the power within himself. He will recognize that all self-effort is doomed to frustration and disappointment.
"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 law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit 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 and kept 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 will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. 11 Brothers, 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!" (Galatians 5:7-12)
In a recent NCAA cross-country championship held in Riverside, California, 123 of the 128 runners missed a turn. One competitor, Mike Delcavo, stayed on the 10,000-meter course and began waving for fellow runners to follow him. Delcavo was able to convince only four other runners to go with him.
Asked what his competitors thought of his mid-race decision not to follow the crowd, Delcavo responded, “They thought it was funny that I went the right way.”
Delcavo was one who ran correctly. In the same way, our goal is to run correctly—to finish the race marked out for us by Christ.
The apostle Paul is waving to us to follow him in the passage before us. He knows that some believers have followed the wrong leaders, and now he writes to show us the right path.
Let us review what we covered last time in Galatians 5:1-6.
I. The Thesis Concerning our Freedom (5:1)
Paul begins his discussion with the thesis concerning our freedom. He first gives a statement, and then follows it up with a command.
A. The Statement (5:1a)
Paul’s statement is that “it is for freedom that Christ has set you free” (5:1a).
B. The Command (5:1b)
Paul’s command is in the second part of verse 1, where he says, “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (5:1b).
II. The Consequences of Embracing Works (5:2-6)
After making a statement concerning our freedom in Christ, Paul then gives us four consequences of embracing works as the basis of trying to gain right standing with God.
A. Christ Will Have No Value (5:2)
The first consequence of embracing works is that Christ will have no value. We will want to add our righteousness to the perfect righteousness of Christ, and as soon as we do that Christ becomes of no value to us. That is why the apostle Paul says in verse 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.”