Galatians 5* An earnest exhortation to stand fast in the liberty of thegospel. (1-12) To take heed of indulging a sinful temper.(13-15) And to walk in the Spirit, and not to fulfil the lustsof the flesh: the works of both are described. (16-26)1-6 Christ will not be the Saviour of any who will not own andrely upon him as their only Saviour. Let us take heed to thewarnings and persuasions of the apostle to stedfastness in thedoctrine and liberty of the gospel. All true Christians, beingtaught by the Holy Spirit, wait for eternal life, the reward ofrighteousness, and the object of their hope, as the gift of Godby faith in Christ; and not for the sake of their own works. TheJewish convert might observe the ceremonies or assert hisliberty, the Gentile might disregard them or might attend tothem, provided he did not depend upon them. No outwardprivileges or profession will avail to acceptance with God,without sincere faith in our Lord Jesus. True faith is a workinggrace; it works by love to God, and to our brethren. May we beof the number of those who, through the Spirit, wait for thehope of righteousness by faith. The danger of old was not inthings of no consequence in themselves, as many forms andobservances now are. But without faith working by love, all elseis worthless, and compared with it other things are of smallvalue. 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 thatwe profess Christianity, but we must run well, by living up tothat profession. Many who set out fairly in religion, arehindered in their progress, or turn out of the way. It concernsthose who begin to turn out of the way, or to tire in it,seriously to inquire what hinders them. The opinion orpersuasion, ver. #8|, was, no doubt, that of mixing the works ofthe law with faith in Christ in justification. The apostleleaves them to judge whence it must arise, but sufficientlyshows that it could be owing to none but Satan. It is dangerousfor Christian churches to encourage those who follow, butespecially who spread, destructive errors. And in reproving sinand error, we should always distinguish between the leaders andthe led. The Jews were offended, because Christ was preached asthe only salvation for sinners. If Paul and others would haveadmitted that the observance of the law of Moses was to bejoined with faith in Christ, as necessary to salvation, thenbelievers might have avoided many of the sufferings theyunderwent. The first beginnings of such leaven should beopposed. And assuredly those who persist in disturbing thechurch of Christ must bear their judgment. 13-15 The gospel is a doctrine according to godliness, #1Ti6:3|, and is so far from giving the least countenance to sin,that it lays us under the strongest obligation to avoid andsubdue it. The apostle urges that all the law is fulfilled inone word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour asthyself. If Christians, who should help one another, and rejoiceone another, quarrel, what can be expected but that the God oflove should deny his grace, that the Spirit of love shoulddepart, and the evil spirit, who seeks their destruction, shouldprevail? Happy would it be, if Christians, instead of biting anddevouring one another on account of different opinions, wouldset themselves against sin in themselves, and in the placeswhere they live. 16-26 If it be our care to act under the guidance and power ofthe blessed Spirit, though we may not be freed from thestirrings and oppositions of the corrupt nature which remains inus, it shall not have dominion over us. Believers are engaged ina conflict, in which they earnestly desire that grace may obtainfull and speedy victory. And those who desire thus to givethemselves up to be led by the Holy Spirit, are not under thelaw as a covenant of works, nor exposed to its awful curse.Their hatred of sin, and desires after holiness, show that theyhave a part in the salvation of the gospel. The works of theflesh are many and manifest. And these sins will shut men out ofheaven. Yet what numbers, calling themselves Christians, live inthese, and say they hope for heaven! The fruits of the Spirit,or of the renewed nature, which we are to do, are named. And asthe apostle had chiefly named works of the flesh, not onlyhurtful to men themselves, but tending to make them so to oneanother, so here he chiefly notices the fruits of the Spirit,which tend to make Christians agreeable one to another, as wellas to make them happy. The fruits of the Spirit plainly show,that such are led by the Spirit. By describing the works of theflesh and fruits of the Spirit, we are told what to avoid andoppose, and what we are to cherish and cultivate; and this isthe sincere care and endeavour of all real Christians. Sin doesnot now reign in their mortal bodies, so that they obey it, #Ro6:12|, for they seek to destroy it. Christ never will own thosewho yield themselves up to be the servants of sin. And it is notenough that we cease to do evil, but we must learn to do well.Our conversation will always be answerable to the principlewhich guides and governs us, #Ro 8:5|. We must set ourselves inearnest to mortify the deeds of the body, and to walk in newnessof life. Not being desirous of vain-glory, or unduly wishing forthe esteem and applause of men, not provoking or envying oneanother, but seeking to bring forth more abundantly those goodfruits, which are, through Jesus Christ, to the praise and gloryof God.
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