Introduction: One of my greatest blessings is to have lived all my
life in a place where we have both political and economic freedom.
During my lifetime, a greater proportion of the world has become
free, both economically and politically. That slashed the rate
poverty and hunger worldwide. I recently read an article reporting
that absolute poverty dropped by more than 80% from 1970 to 2006 and
it continues to drop. There is no doubt in my mind that political and
economic freedom are linked to the abolition of poverty. What other
freedoms are linked to enjoying a better life? Surely there is a link
with religious freedom. In our study today, Paul asks us to consider
carefully theological freedom. Let’s dive into our study of the Bible
and learn more!

  1. Freedom

    1. Read the first part of Galatians 5:1. Why did Jesus set us
      free? (Paul says, “it is for freedom.”)

      1. What do you think that means? (It must mean at least
        that God has a very high opinion of freedom.)

      2. Think about the Bible as a whole. How has Jesus set
        us free? (When Adam and Eve sinned, we were condemned
        to eternal death. See Romans 5:14. Jesus set us free
        from our death sentence.)

    2. Read all of Galatians 5:1. What “yoke of slavery” does
      Paul mean? Is he talking about the slavery of sin? (Paul
      repeatedly refers to slaves and slavery in Galatians 4. He
      is talking about the slavery of being under the law.)

    3. Read Galatians 5:2-3. How does this clarify what Paul
      means when he writes about slavery? (Paul says that he is
      talking about circumcision and “the whole law.”)

      1. Why is Jesus of “no value” to us if we are obligated
        to keep the whole law? (When we accept Jesus in
        baptism, we die with Him and are raised with Him to
        eternal life. If you are trying to be saved by
        obedience to the law, you have ignored Jesus’
        sacrifice on your behalf.)

    4. Read Galatians 5:4. What is our status in life if we are
      “alienated from Christ?” What hope do we have if we are in
      that situation? (We are lost! We are under the
      condemnation of those who must, but who cannot, keep the
      “whole law.”)

      1. Let’s assume that you are a very good person. You are
        better than most people you know. You may have no
        temptation in certain areas of life, but is that true
        for all areas of your life?

      2. When I was a teenager, an adult would ask my friends
        and me if we were sure we were saved? It was a great
        question to ask, and I’m sure this adult felt he was
        promoting the Kingdom of God by asking it. The
        problem was that this adult was dishonest in small
        things – and he would suggest dishonesty to me to
        save on small fees. Can you see why obedience in all
        things is so difficult even for good people?

    5. Read Galatians 5:5. Who gives us the attitude to eagerly
      await righteousness? Who is the operative agent in
      bringing righteousness into our life? (The Holy Spirit!)

    6. Read Galatians 5:6. How does faith express itself through

      1. Let’s contemplate this a few moments. God wants to
        give us freedom. Are faith and love linked? (If we
        love someone, we want them to be free. Paul begins
        his argument with the idea that faith brings certain
        results in our life.)

  2. Interfering With the Truth

    1. Read Galatians 5:7-8. Any runners reading this? What does
      it mean to “cut in” on a runner? (I assume it means to get
      in your lane and get in your way so you cannot run as
      well. Your path is blocked.)

      1. When Paul refers to “that kind of persuasion” not
        coming from God, what does he mean? God does not “cut
        in” on our lane? (We know from the Genesis account
        that God gives us free choice. The proponents of
        salvation by works were trying to limit the freedom
        of the Galatians.)

    2. Read Galatians 5:9. How carefully should we guard against
      the argument promoting righteousness by works? (Paul says
      it is insidious – it permeates the entire church.)

    3. Read Galatians 5:10. Paul cannot be writing about Satan,
      because Paul knows who he is. That must mean Paul is
      talking about a person. What happens to those who promote
      righteousness by works? (They will “pay the penalty.”)

      1. What do you think is the penalty for that teaching?

      2. I personally doubt that anyone you know will say “I’m
        getting to heaven based on my works, forget Jesus.”
        But, have you been told that if you do not obey the
        law you will be lost?

    4. Read Galatians 5:11-12. Apparently some of the “pro-circumcision” crowd started the rumor that Paul agreed
      with them. What reasons does Paul give to prove that rumor
      is false? (1. If Paul agreed with circumcision, he would
      not be suffering persecution. 2. He cannot promote
      circumcision and at the same time promote what Jesus did
      for us at the cross. 3. He has a hostile attitude toward
      the circumcision crowd.)

  3. Obedience and the Truth

    1. Read Galatians 5:13. If I cannot use my freedom, am I
      really free? (Yes, you can choose. Paul says, “Choose

      1. Is there slavery in sin?

      2. Let’s think about this a moment. Paul tells us not to
        “indulge the sinful nature” and then he tells us to
        “serve one another in love.” Why are those opposites?
        Why mention them as being in contrast with each
        other? (Most sin involves selfishness. You want to
        have an abortion because you selfishly prefer
        yourself to your unborn child. You want to have an
        affair, because you selfishly prefer yourself to your
        spouse, your partner’s spouse, and all of the
        children involved. You steal because you selfishly
        prefer yourself over the property rights of another.)

    2. Read Galatians 5:14. Do you agree? (Read Leviticus 19:18
      and Matthew 22:37-40. Paul did not make this up. Leviticus
      and Jesus agree.)

      1. I just wrote “Most sin involves selfishness” because
        I thought there might be an exception. If the entire
        law is based on loving others as we love ourselves,
        then all sin must involve selfishness. Can you think
        of an exception?

      2. Does this mean that loving ourselves is fine? (Yes!
        Just not at the expense of someone else.)

    3. Read Galatians 5:15. What is the specific problem with the
      Galatians? They need to become vegetarians?

      1. I thought the problem centered on their view of
        salvation. Why does Paul raise this issue? (It must
        be that they not only disagree on the substantive
        issue, but the way they go about disagreeing is a

        1. Do you know people like this? They cannot
          disagree on an issue, without attacking the
          other person?

    4. Friend, do you want to be free? Paul tells us that grace
      give us theological freedom. We are not slaves under the
      condemnation of the law. But, at the same time, Paul tells
      us to choose wisely and do those things that show love to
      others. Will you ask the Holy Spirit to help develop an
      attitude of love in you?

  4. Next week: Living by the Spirit.