Summary: There is a battle going on and the Conflict is between the Flesh and the Spirit.
The Conflict between the Flesh and the Spirit
Verse #1: - “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage”. Paul pleads with the people to stand firm in what God has done for them and don’t return to bondage again. It is just like a person that has been delivered from drug, alcohol, or smoking and they have been set free from that mess and for some reason go back to doing the same thing over again, they have returned back unto bondage.
Verse #2 - #6: - “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Paul was letting the people know that if they insisted on circumcision that they had to abide to all of the law, the sacrifices, the ceremonies, and all the rituals and because of this Christ would profit them nothing, because Christ came and fulfilled all the law; therefore they were nullifying what God had done through Jesus Christ, you have fallen from grace, which is the unmerited favor of God, to trying to achieve something through work of the flesh.
Verses #7 - #12: - “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.
And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you.” Paul said you started out just fine, you had that desire that nothing shall separate you, but what happened, what or who caused you to stop believing the truth and turn to this false doctrine and become under bondage once again. This is not something from God. You see how just a little sin will spoil everything, you must refrain from sin all together, even a little occasional sin is sin and defiles the truth. However, he believes that they will see the trouble of their backslidden condition and make a change before it is too late. Paul was saying if I preach circumcision which is the law and keep the law why then am I persecuted is the effect of the cross no good. Paul says he wishes that those that troubled the people were cut off from ever being able to trouble them again.
Verses #13 - #15: - “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” Paul gives one last warning to the people and tells them that they have been made free of the curse of the law, no longer are they under bondage. However don’t use your freedom from the law as an occasion to sin, but show love toward one another. Don’t become so consumed by how one is blessed differently than another, that will destroy you, but have love for each other has God commanded.
Verses #16 - #18: - “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” When you walk in the Spirit, you walk in the paths that are pleasing to the Lord and not the satisfying of the flesh. To walk in the Spirit is simply being lead by the Holy Spirit and living our lives Holy to the glory of God and not to the satisfaction of the flesh. There is a battle between the flesh and the spirit; however, here Paul was talking more about how the law and grace conflicted each other. The law requires works, circumcision grace required faith the two conflicted each other and because of this conflict you cannot do the things you would do. Example serve and worship God is limited by the law because the law stated that on certain days and certain times things were prohibited, conflict. If you are lead by the spirit you are not under the law, you are free to do the things the spirit requires you to do without conflict.