Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
When God talks of “liberty” He does not talk of getting out from under authority.
Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
It is important to remember that man is created by God. God has the right to demand a certain standard from man. God, in His wisdom created man with the ability to choose whether or not he would follow God’s way or not. God gave Adam very clear instructions regarding his right to choose. God told Adam exactly what would happen if he chose not to obey Him. In spite of all the information that Adam had, he chose to disobey God. Adam was not God and he did not know the depth of the effect of his sin. He knew all he needed to know to make a wise choice, but he chose to make an extremely foolish choice.
I am not going to waste my time on the what if’s. God does not deal in what if’s. God deals with reality. God in His wisdom had a plan in place to counter man’s very unwise choice. That plan was declared in Genesis 3:15:
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
God did not have to provide a way for man to be redeemed from his foolish choice. God told Moses that He would destroy the nation of Israel and start over with Moses. Moses pleaded with God not to do that. We know God had a plan and we know that He continues to give man the opportunity to choose wisely. No man will ever have the opportunity that Adam had. We are all born lost. The good news is that God has placed in man a conscience. Man has the ability to know that the path he is on from birth is the wrong path. Man has the ability to hear the voice of God speaking to him through his conscience. Man can turn to God and be set free from sin.
The enemy that is causing interference is the devil. He is a liar and a murderer. He lied to Adam and Adam died as a result of believing that lie. Adam died spiritually the moment he sinned. He began to die physically at the moment he sinned. Every human being born has been born under the curse that God gave to Adam and to Eve in Genesis 3. The devil has been quite successful in putting out a counter narrative to God’s truth. The lost person sees things in a clouded manner and often makes very foolish choices.
II Corinthians 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
The good news is that God is greater than the devil. Even though the devil is capable of blinding the minds of the lost, he cannot blind them to the extent that they cannot see the truth. The Bible proves over and over again that lost people can see the greatness and glory of God. The lost can be saved. I can personally testify to that fact. I was born a lost person and I remained lost until I was 20 years old. I tried a form of “Christianity” as a younger person, but found it too difficult and I turned my back on God. I wanted nothing to do with Him. I tried to immerse myself into the life of a wicked person. No matter how hard I tried to erase God from my mind, I could not do it. God is gracious and He broke me. He loved me enough to give me the opportunity to be set free from the curse of sin. He has put His love in me and that is what motivates me to seek to help others to know the truth.
The Bible gives us some of the testimony of the apostle Paul. He began as Saul and he trained hard to be a “good Pharisee”. He rose up in the ranks of that ungodly religion. He was in bondage and he sought to shut down the truth. Yet, God was merciful to him and He saved him. Saul did not need to bow to God, but he finally did. He was blessed in doing so. God changed his name to Paul to demonstrate His authority over Paul. The Greek word translated as “Paul” means “little or small”. Paul was constantly reminded that he was not that big man he thought he was before he was saved. God is good. Paul did not complain about being saved. He suffered greatly for being a faithful servant of God. However, Paul had liberty as a saved man that he did not have as a lost Pharisee.
God directed Paul to write and warn the saints in Galatia and also those alive today, that it is foolish to go back to bondage, after being liberated to serve God. There is nothing to be gained in listening to liars. False teachers are all liars.
In verse 3 of our text we are reminded again that every person that uses circumcision as a tool for salvation is in bondage. They must understand that you cannot pick and choose which laws you want to make important and which ones you want to make of lesser importance. God gave the law and all of it is of equal importance. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, but he also had interactions with his own people — the Jews. Old Testament law was that all Jewish males needed to be circumcised at 8 days of age. Those Jews who were not circumcised were to be cut off from the nation of Israel. As we noted yesterday, circumcision was necessary for national identity. It had nothing to do with salvation.
Those who wanted to live by the law of circumcision for salvation, needed to understand that they were a debtor to the whole law. Law keeping is bondage. Some people confuse law keeping with God’s standards of separation. The apostle Paul was addressing those who were making the law the means of salvation. Paul lived by God’s standards of separation. He was not a law keeper. He was saved and created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God had before ordained that he should walk in them.
The good works that born again Christians produce do not save them. They do not guarantee their salvation. They are required by God for those who are saved. The love of God that indwells the true child of God helps the true child of God to see that he or she has been set at liberty in the new birth. Thus they do not see the requirement of good works as bondage, because it is not. They see it as liberty. The true child of God has the liberty to exalt God free from the stain of sin that does not allow them to glorify God.
Paul stated in verse 4 that law keeping pushes Christ right out of the picture. There can be no such a thing as a “Christian Seventh Day Adventist”, for example. The Pharisees of Paul’s day could not be considered as Christians. Anyone who wants to make law the means of salvation is not saved.
You see in verse 4 that Paul is writing to those who believe they are justified by law-keeping. No one is justified by law-keeping. The true child of God is at liberty to serve God with joy and peace in their heart. They can help others to come to know God’s peace as well.