Galatians 5

* An earnest exhortation to stand fast in the liberty of the

gospel. (1-12) To take heed of indulging a sinful temper.

(13-15) And to walk in the Spirit, and not to fulfil the lusts

of the flesh: the works of both are described. (16-26)

1-6 Christ will not be the Saviour of any who will not own and

rely upon him as their only Saviour. Let us take heed to the

warnings and persuasions of the apostle to stedfastness in the

doctrine and liberty of the gospel. All true Christians, being

taught by the Holy Spirit, wait for eternal life, the reward of

righteousness, and the object of their hope, as the gift of God

by faith in Christ; and not for the sake of their own works. The

Jewish convert might observe the ceremonies or assert his

liberty, the Gentile might disregard them or might attend to

them, provided he did not depend upon them. No outward

privileges or profession will avail to acceptance with God,

without sincere faith in our Lord Jesus. True faith is a working

grace; it works by love to God, and to our brethren. May we be

of the number of those who, through the Spirit, wait for the

hope of righteousness by faith. The danger of old was not in

things of no consequence in themselves, as many forms and

observances now are. But without faith working by love, all else

is worthless, and compared with it other things are of small

7-12 The life of a Christian is a race, wherein he must run,

and hold on, if he would obtain the prize. It is not enough that

we profess Christianity, but we must run well, by living up to

that profession. Many who set out fairly in religion, are

hindered in their progress, or turn out of the way. It concerns

those who begin to turn out of the way, or to tire in it,

seriously to inquire what hinders them. The opinion or

persuasion, ver. #8|, was, no doubt, that of mixing the works of

the law with faith in Christ in justification. The apostle

leaves them to judge whence it must arise, but sufficiently

shows that it could be owing to none but Satan. It is dangerous

for Christian churches to encourage those who follow, but

especially who spread, destructive errors. And in reproving sin

and error, we should always distinguish between the leaders and

the led. The Jews were offended, because Christ was preached as

the only salvation for sinners. If Paul and others would have

admitted that the observance of the law of Moses was to be

joined with faith in Christ, as necessary to salvation, then

believers might have avoided many of the sufferings they

underwent. The first beginnings of such leaven should be

opposed. And assuredly those who persist in disturbing the

church of Christ must bear their judgment.
13-15 The gospel is a doctrine according to godliness, #1Ti

6:3|, and is so far from giving the least countenance to sin,

that it lays us under the strongest obligation to avoid and

subdue it. The apostle urges that all the law is fulfilled in

one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as

thyself. If Christians, who should help one another, and rejoice

one another, quarrel, what can be expected but that the God of

love should deny his grace, that the Spirit of love should

depart, and the evil spirit, who seeks their destruction, should

prevail? Happy would it be, if Christians, instead of biting and

devouring one another on account of different opinions, would

set themselves against sin in themselves, and in the places

where they live.
16-26 If it be our care to act under the guidance and power of

the blessed Spirit, though we may not be freed from the

stirrings and oppositions of the corrupt nature which remains in

us, it shall not have dominion over us. Believers are engaged in

a conflict, in which they earnestly desire that grace may obtain

full and speedy victory. And those who desire thus to give

themselves up to be led by the Holy Spirit, are not under the

law as a covenant of works, nor exposed to its awful curse.

Their hatred of sin, and desires after holiness, show that they

have a part in the salvation of the gospel. The works of the

flesh are many and manifest. And these sins will shut men out of

heaven. Yet what numbers, calling themselves Christians, live in

these, and say they hope for heaven! The fruits of the Spirit,

or of the renewed nature, which we are to do, are named. And as

the apostle had chiefly named works of the flesh, not only

hurtful to men themselves, but tending to make them so to one

another, so here he chiefly notices the fruits of the Spirit,

which tend to make Christians agreeable one to another, as well

as to make them happy. The fruits of the Spirit plainly show,

that such are led by the Spirit. By describing the works of the

flesh and fruits of the Spirit, we are told what to avoid and

oppose, and what we are to cherish and cultivate; and this is

the sincere care and endeavour of all real Christians. Sin does

not now reign in their mortal bodies, so that they obey it, #Ro

6:12|, for they seek to destroy it. Christ never will own those

who yield themselves up to be the servants of sin. And it is not

enough that we cease to do evil, but we must learn to do well.

Our conversation will always be answerable to the principle

which guides and governs us, #Ro 8:5|. We must set ourselves in

earnest to mortify the deeds of the body, and to walk in newness

of life. Not being desirous of vain-glory, or unduly wishing for

the esteem and applause of men, not provoking or envying one

another, but seeking to bring forth more abundantly those good

fruits, which are, through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory

of God.
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