This is what was happening in the churches of Galatia.
False teaching had crept into their church by way of a group called the Judaizers. It was polluting the purity of the gospel that Paul had taught them, and in a very short time had turned their minds from the gospel of grace to a gospel determined by and dependent upon works.
Word comes to Paul in Antioch, and Paul is very upset. So he writes them a scathing letter.
It reads differently than the other epistles. You can tell right away that Paul is angry.
Written by Paul – 49 AD
Galatia was not a city. It was a region. Several churches were founded in that region by Paul on his first missionary journey.
Purpose for writing: Judaizers had come into the region and were diffusing and diluting the pure gospel message of Paul.
Galatians is a Miniature book of Romans. It was written 10 years before Romans.
It is the Charter of Christian Freedom.
Galatians can be divided into 3 different categories:
Chapters 1-2 – Personal – Paul defends his integrity as an apostle . Paul tells his testimony about his conversion. Paul attacks the ones who are perverting the Gospel. Paul vs the Judaizers
Chapters 3-4 – Doctrinal – Law vs Grace ; Justification by Faith
Chapters 5-6 – Practical – fruit of the spirit
Galatians 1:6 I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—7 not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him! 9 As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!
Judaizers had entered into the churches there and had begun to convince the young, predominantly Gentile believers that the Gospel Paul had preached to them was not all they needed. They also needed to carry on the traditions of Judaism…circumcision and other Jewish traditions were necessary for them to truly follow the Gospel of Jesus. But this was NOT the pure gospel.
Glossary of terms as they are used in Galatians:
Gospel – the Good News. The word gospel comes from the Old English god meaning “good” and spel meaning “news, a story.” In Christianity, the term “good news” refers to the story of Jesus Christ’s birth, death, resurrection, and His message of salvation by faith in Him.
Justification – an act of God whereby we, who are sinners and deserve a just punishment, are looked upon as righteous in the eyes of God, not because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus has done for us. Because of what Jesus did on the cross…conquering sin, death, hell, and the grave, we are viewed as righteous in the eyes of a Just and Holy God. It is “just as if I’d” never sinned.
Faith – Faith is believing in something and committing to that belief. It is a firm belief in the existence of God but also in the salvation that comes only from God…through His son Jesus.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen.“ – Hebrews 11:1
Grace – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Undeserved and unmerited favor. Grace is given, not earned.
Law – God’s standard of righteousness. Given to Moses out of necessity, it was a rigid and unforgiving standard of rules by which mankind was to live.
Freedom – The state of being set loose from the power or the control of something or someone else. To be in a position of liberty…exempt from the slavery and the confinement of sin.
Fruit – The product, effect, or result of living righteously.
This book is a great reminder to us of three major themes:
1. We are justified by Faith
You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by the Spirit, are you now finishing by the flesh?
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, Everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law is cursed.11 Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will liveby faith.
Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed. 24 The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. 25 But since that faithhas come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.
1505 – lightning. Surrenders life to monastery. As a Young monk, he was deeply devoted to monastic vows and lifestyle, observing the daily rituals and prayer patterns, all in an effort to reconcile his soul with the Savior.
Martin Luther just could not grasp how the “justice of God” was motivated by anything other than anger. He was terrified of God. Even angry with him.. He viewed God as this overbearing abusive Father who is just waiting to punish us when we make even the smallest of mistakes.
Is that your view of God today?
“Justification by faith, ‘is the head and the cornerstone. It alone begets, nourishes, builds, preserves, and defends the church of God; and without it the church of God cannot exist for one hour. “ – Martin Luther
“ Grace is the way to life and it is the way of life. “ – Charles Swindoll
Therefore……Our faith produces freedom .
2. We are called to Be Free
Galatians 5:1 For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm,then, and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer – another German theologian.
Cheap Grace – the idea that we can live any old way we want to because we are “under” grace. But that cheapens the the very nature of the gospel…which is to set us free from all that mess.
Conviction without compassion is damning – Legalism
Compassion without conviction is dangerous – Liberalism
Compassion with conviction is dynamic – Love
In Christ – We are no longer slaves!!!
When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir.
We have been called to freedom in Christ….the incarnate God. But this call is a call to die to ourselves and to embrace the grace of Christ which brings us life! That’s why Paul is able to pen these words in the second chapter of this Magna Carta of freedom:
I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
3.Our freedom produces fruit
As a result of this freedom in Christ, the natural result will be that we bear fruit.
God uses the word “fruit” often in His word when describing what knowing Him produces in our lives.
When we follow Him and obey Him our lives become fruitful.
When we walk in the Spirit, our lives are fruitful.
I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.[g]24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Observations on Fruit
Fruit is always visible – no such thing as invisible fruit . “If your relationship to Christ is only visible to you…then it’s not much of a relationship. If you are accused of being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you? Or would you be innocent of all charges? Fruit is always visible. If you are a Christian, people ought to know it.
Fruit is always consistent with the plant from which it was produced. It bears the character of the tree from which it is a part. Apple trees always produce Apples. Apples do not grow on Orange trees. That’s not the nature of the tree. The nature of the tree defines the makeup of the fruit. If you are a Christian, we ought to look like the Savior we serve in our walk and in our talk. So our lives should be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control… among other things.
Fruit does not exist for itself. Fruit exists for someone else to eat it. Your life in Christ is meant for loving and serving others.
For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.
15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.
Fruit doesn’t try to be anything that it is not. It just is. Pears aren’t trying to be anything but pears. Fruit is fruit…just because it hangs out on the branch to which it is connected.
The only way your life will produce this fruit….is to hang out with Savior to whom you are connected. Paul Called it …”to walk in the Spirit.”
How do you do that?
Jesus used a different word in John. Here is the secret to being a fruitful Christian.
To ABIDE!!! REMAIN. Just hang out!! Stay connected to Jesus!
John 15:4Remain (or abide) in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.
If we will abide in Christ everyday…our lives will be fruitful…giving honor to Jesus Only Jesus.
That fruit is born out of a freedom that comes from Jesus Only Jesus.
And this freedom is born out of a faith alone and grace alone that has been justified because of Jesus Only Jesus!
This is the message of Galatians. The Magna Carta of our Freedom in Christ. Learn it. Love it. And Live by it.
Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.