I. Misunderstanding Christian Liberty

A. Liberty From The Law Is God’s Idea V. 13a

1. V. 13a– Christians have been called to liberty.

a. The liberty which Paul speaks of is liberty from having to live under law.
b. Freedom from having to approach God according to obedience to law.
c. Freedom from hoping to be justified (saved) by obeying law.
d. Freedom from thinking one needs to earn a good standing before God by having perfect or near perfect obedience to law.

2. V. 13a- Morris- “He is not saying that a certain measure of liberty was grudgingly accorded believers. He is saying that freedom is of the essence of being Christian; it is the fundamental basis of all Christian living.”
3. A Christian’s liberty from the law is not something to guard against, but something to pursue. This is a mindset that needs to be adopted and maintained.

B. A Worried Response To Liberty

1. A natural, carnal, and legalistic response to Paul’s declaration is to think that if a Christian lives without law, then they will live an uncontrolled life.

a. Natural, carnal response- It is a desire of our nature to avoid (some) sinning, but our nature tries to guard against sin by self-control. This is easily observable.
b. Legalistic response- It is in our nature to make rules to correct ourselves and others.

i. This truth is proven by our tax codes, our judicial system, and our churches.
ii. The Federal tax code has grown so complex that it takes 73, 954 pages to contain it. In 1913, it only took 400 pages.

2. Some people believe that Christians need rules and more rules to restrain people from sin, and to promote right Christian living.
3. They overlook the fact that God sent His Holy Spirit to lead and guide the Christian.

C. An Indulgent Response To Liberty V. 13b

1. V. 13b-Some Christians presume that since they live under grace, they can sin as much as they want.
2. They use their liberty (from the law) as an opportunity for the flesh.
3. They think all they have to do is apologize, and all is well, and the cycle can repeat.
4. This would be presuming upon the grace of God as a cheap covering for one’s indulgence of their sins. It would reveal that they have no personal sorrow over sin.

D. A Correct Understanding Of Liberty Vs. 13c-15

1. A legalist must ask himself, “What is the goal of my rule following?” “What do I hope to accomplish?” “How will I know that I am pleasing God?”
2. Vs. 13c, 14- Paul explains that love is the goal we ought to aim for.
3. We are liberated from living under the law so that we might be free to love one another.

a. Legalism doesn’t inspire or equip us to love people, only to judge them.

4. Love- agape this love is the essence of God’s love, which is self-sacrificial.

a. The law attempts to cause us to not be selfish or sinful, and to sacrifice for others, but it doesn’t have the power to accomplish that within us.
b. The Holy Spirit accomplishes both of those things in the life of a yielded Christian.

5. V. 15- It seems that legalism had caused arguments and strife among them.

a. The word if can also be translated since. They were fighting as a result of the law.

II. Accomplishing Godly Christian Living Vs. 16-26

A. Choosing Our Method Of Living

1. The Christian will have one of two views on navigating life: The Law of the Spirit
2. The stated goal is probably the same for both kinds of people: Living a holy life
3. We must understand that living under the law and living by the Spirit cannot co-exist.

a. The two methods of living are mutually exclusive.
b. When “law living” starts, then “spirit living stops”.

4. V. 16– Paul seems to suggest that the desire of the Galatians was to NOT fulfill the lust of the flesh, but their efforts were misdirected towards legalism.
5. V. 16- Paul says that the way to victory over fleshly living is to “walk in the Spirit”.
6. V. 17Wuest translation- For the flesh constantly has a strong desire to suppress the Spirit, and the Spirit constantly has a strong desire to suppress the flesh. And these are entrenched in an attitude of mutual opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you desire to do.
7. V. 17- The fact that the Spirit battles against the flesh sometimes results with the Christian giving in to the flesh, and doing the things that he doesn’t wish to do.
8. V. 18- The Christian must choose which influence he will yield to: flesh or Spirit?
9. Wuest- When the flesh presses hard upon the believer with its evil behests, the Holy Spirit is there to oppose the flesh and give the believer victory over it, in order that the believer will not obey the flesh, and thus sin. When the Holy Spirit places a course of conduct upon the heart of the believer, the flesh opposes the Spirit in an effort to prevent the believer from obeying the Spirit. The purpose of each is to prevent the believer from doing what the other moves him to do. The choice lies with the saint. He must develop the habit of keeping his eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus and his trust in the Holy Spirit. The more he says NO to sin, the easier it is to say NO, until it becomes a habit. The more he says YES to the Lord Jesus, the easier it is to say YES, until that becomes a habit.

B. Evidence Of Fleshly Living Vs. 19-21

1. V. 19- Works- The actions and activities, things that are put forth through effort.
2. V. 19- Evident- obvious, well known
3. V. 21- Those who practice such things- to do, to practice habitually.

a. To exercise, to practice, be busy with, to carry on.
b. Those whose lives revolve around these things will show that they are not followers of Jesus. I would add that I believe that they are those who justify their behaviors.
c. There is a vast difference between those who practice these things, and those who fall into them on occasion. Those are two different scenarios.

C. The Fruit Of The Spirit Vs. 22-26

1. V. 22- Fruit is something that is produced by being joined to a life source. Fruit stands in opposition to works, which are things that are manufactured or done through self effort.
2. V. 22Against such there is no law- This is Paul’s understatement, offered in a somewhat sarcastic manner. If the legalists were worried about not breaking the law by doing the wrong thing, then here was a list of things that they could do and not be worried. God does not prohibit these attitudes and behaviors.
3. Fruit, not fruits. Paul presents these qualities not as individual fruits, but as a cluster of fruit. Not separate gifts that some have and others don’t, but qualities that can be present in every follower of Jesus.
4. Jesus taught about fruit. (See John 15:1-8)
5. May our intention be to stay connected to Jesus in mind and heart.