Galatians 5:1-15

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Text: Galatians 5:1-15



A problem developed in the churches of Galatia. After Paul preached the gospel and people were saved in this geographical area, others came along and preached a gospel of a different sort.

Paul had preached that one is saved, and hence declared to be righteous, by grace and through faith. The Judaizers came along and preached that a man is declared righteous by keeping the Law. This, of course, confused not only the people, but confused the truth as well.

Now, don't be surprised when things like this happen. Satan is a master at confusing the truth and counterfeiting it.

In Galatians 5:1-15 we see that believers need to continue on in their status as free persons in Christ and not return to their former condition as slaves.

Paul's critics had apparently accused him of proclaiming a message which would lead people into lawlessness rather than into godliness and into license, thereby encouraging them to sin. This is because Paul taught that people were not saved by keeping the law but by believing that Christ died on the cross to pay for their sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day. He further taught that Christ is the end of the law for all who believed. Were Paul's critics right? Absolutely not! In chapter 5 Paul answers his critics regarding Christian liberty.


1. Turning to law ruins grace - 5:1-2

Galatians 5:1-2 - (1) Stand fast (i.e. be standing fast, keep on standing fast, or continue standing fast) therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled (i.e. stop being entangled or stop becoming entangled) again with the yoke of bondage. (2) Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

What is stated does not refer to those who have been circumcised as little babies because it is standard practice in the countries in which they were born; instead, it refers to those who submit themselves again to the law and who are circumcised as part of their submission to the law, thereby making circumcision a requirement for salvation.

Christ shall profit you nothing is the conclusion of the condition. It means that Christ will help you in no respect, Christ will aid you in no way, Christ will benefit you in no way, or Christ will be of no use to you.

The point of the passage is that the person is either saved by grace through faith or else he is saved by works of law. If he is going to adopt law or legalism as a system of salvation, Christ is going to do him no good. If he adopts Christ as a system of salvation, then Christ will save him.

If he adopts law or legalism as a system of salvation, he is repudiating salvation by grace through faith in Christ's death, burial, and resurrection for the forgiveness of sin. A genuinely saved person will not do this; however, a false professor can be expected to eventually repudiate Christ.

2. Turning to law makes man a debtor - 5:3

Galatians 5:3 - (3) For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

Man is the generic term which includes females as well as males; yet, boy babies are the only ones that are physically circumcised.

What Paul testifies to every man that is circumcised is that he is a debtor to do the whole law. It means that he is one who is under obligation or one who is obligated. To do the whole law indicates to do all the law, to do the entire law, or to do the complete law. The point is that when somebody is circumcised as a part of submitting to the law, he is obligated to do the whole law. He is not able to pick and choose various parts of the law to which he will submit, while at the same time choosing other parts of the law to which he will not submit. They had already begun observing days, months, times, and years (4:10). Now they were considering being circumcised to become the sons of Abraham. It would not be long before the Judaizers would introduce them to the necessity of keeping the whole law.

3. Turning to law is to fall away from grace - 5:4-6

Galatians 5:4-6 - (4) Christ is become (aorist passive = you are brought to nothing from Christ, you are abolished from Christ) of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen (aorist = fell) from grace. (5) For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. (6) For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

A person who believes that justification is by the law cuts himself off from justification by faith. The opposite is also true. The one who believes that justification is by faith cuts himself off from justification by the law. Salvation by grace through faith and salvation by works of law are mutually exclusive. One who chooses Christ rejects law as a means of salvation. Likewise, one who chooses law rejects faith in Christ as a means of salvation.

There is no mixing of salvation by works of law with salvation by grace and through faith. Christ is associated with salvation by grace and through faith. Christ has nothing to do with salvation by works of law. As a consequence of this, if somebody chooses to attempt to earn his salvation by keeping the law, Christ is not going to be related to him in any way except as his judge. It does not mean that there is a loss of salvation. It means that there will never be salvation if one is going to attempt to gain it through the works of the law.

Are justified is are being justified, are being declared righteous, or are being pronounced and treated as righteous. By the law is simply by law or by means of law.

Are fallen from is (aorist) fell off or fell from. What they fell off or fell from is grace or unmerited favor. The point is not that they have lost their salvation, but that if they choose to be saved by works of law, they remove themselves from the system of being saved by grace. A true believer will never do this. However, if somebody is unsaved, he may very well choose to try to earn his salvation; but he is not going to be saved in this way. There are two mutually-exclusive systems. One is salvation by works of law, and the other is salvation by grace through faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only one will work. A person who attempts to be saved by keeping the law has removed himself from the system of grace. This is not the unpardonable sin, however. If he changes his mind and trusts Christ as his Savior, God will forgive his sins and give him eternal life. He will then have removed himself from the system of law.

4. Turning to law hinders the progress of believers - 5:7-10

Galatians 5:7-10 - (7) Ye did run (imperfect = were running) well; who did hinder (aorist = hindered) you that ye should not obey (present = be obeying) the truth? (8) This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. (9) A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (10) 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.

5. Turning to law removes the offense of the cross - 5:11-12

Galatians 5:11-12 - (11) And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision (if I am still preaching circumcision), why do I yet suffer (present = am I still suffering persecution) persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased (then has the offence of the cross ceased). (12) I would they were even cut off (future middle = oh that they will cut themselves off, i.e. make eunuchs of themselves) which trouble you.


Galatians 5:13-15 - (13) For, brethren, ye have been called (aorist = were called) unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion (opportunity) to the flesh, but by love serve one another. (14) For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (15) But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

1. They have been called unto liberty - 5:13

2. Their liberty should not be used to fulfill the lusts of the old sin nature - 5:13

3. Their liberty should be used to serve each other out of love for each other - 5:13-14

4. Fighting with each other may result in their destroying one another - 5:15