Introduction: Freedom is such a sweet thing! We all know that we
want to be free. We know when we are not free. But, what, exactly,
does freedom mean? I might have the freedom to punch my neighbor in
the nose. But, he would not think that he was free if he was
regularly getting punched by me! What does Paul mean when he tells
us to “stand firm” in our freedom? Let’s dive into our study of
Galatians and see what we can learn!

  1. Stand Firm

    1. Read Galatians 5:1. Who has given us freedom? (Jesus.)

      1. When you consider the author of our freedom, does
        that tell us something about the nature of our
        freedom? For example, would Jesus give us the
        freedom to harm others?

      2. From what are we free? (Paul tells us that the
        “burden” of “a yoke of slavery” has been lifted.)

    2. Read Galatians 5:2-4. What is this yoke of slavery? (Paul
      specifically mentions circumcision, but he also mentions
      “the whole law.”)

      1. If the law is the transcript of God’s character, as
        I have repeatedly heard, then how can it be a yoke
        of slavery? (I don’t think that the law or
        circumcision are the “yoke,” rather I think it is
        the requirement that we keep the entire law or die
        that is the yoke of slavery. It is work to
        accomplish the impossible. It is Sisyphus pushing
        the rock up the hill.)

      2. When Paul says, “Mark my words,” what do you think
        he is saying? (This is important!)

      3. Is righteousness by works “anti-Christ?” (Yes. That
        is why this conversation is so important. If you
        believe that your works are essential to save you,
        then you have thrown Jesus out and your works have
        taken His place. You are anti-Christ.)

      4. Isn’t there some sort of middle ground – that I
        believe in salvation by faith but I also believe
        that good works are necessary for my salvation? (If
        we think our works justify us, then we are
        “alienated” from Jesus. We cannot claim grace for
        we have “fallen away from grace.”)

  2. Consider Freedom

    1. Read Galatians 5:5-6. If righteousness by works is to be
      avoided, what should we seek? (The Holy Spirit. The Holy
      Spirit is the agent to bring us righteousness.)

      1. Is faith a mere declaration? (Paul refers to “faith
        expressing itself through love.” It is more than a
        mere declaration.)

    2. This idea of expressing our faith through love steers us
      back to our discussion about what freedom means. If you
      were truly free, you could do anything, right? Let’s jump
      ahead for a moment. Read Galatians 5:19-21. If you were
      truly free, you would be able to do these things, right?
      (Paul tells us that we cannot do these things and inherit
      the Kingdom of God. Paul must have a different definition
      of freedom.)

    3. Consider an illustration. Assume that you have a two
      year-old child. You say to your child, “I give you
      freedom. You can do anything you want. But, if you want
      my continued guidance and help, you have to live with me
      and follow my instructions.” If you are the two year-old,
      what would be the way of freedom? (You will die if you
      choose to go out on your own. Being dead ends freedom of
      choice. The only way to live is to choose your parent.
      Jesus gave us the opportunity for freedom from eternal
      death. But, true freedom requires us to walk with Him.)

    4. Let’s look at this from another angle. What kind of
      freedom do you want to enjoy in heaven? Would you like
      your fellow citizens in heaven to be able to enjoy
      “hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish
      ambition, dissensions, factions and envy?” (If the source
      of suffering on earth makes its way into heaven, you
      would not enjoy the freedom.)

    5. One final illustration. Think about the sin that you
      committed that you most regret. Did you “enjoy” freedom
      in that sin? (Clearly, you were free to commit the sin,
      but what followed was suffering! Friend, we can look to
      our own experiences to know that the only way to enjoy
      freedom of choice is to make right decisions.)

  3. Freedom and Love

    1. Read Galatians 5:13-14. Where have you heard that before?
      (You may be surprised to know that you have heard it more
      than once! Read Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 22:37-40.)

      1. Does the freedom given to me by Jesus mean that I am
        without obligation? (No! It means that I have an
        obligation to love others as I love myself and an
        obligation to avoid gratifying the desires of my
        sinful nature.

    2. Does Paul’s statement fit our discussion about what we
      think is true freedom? (He is not telling us something
      that is alien to our own experiences.)

      1. Do we agree that when we harm another person that we
        harm our self? And, when we love another person, we
        love our self?

    3. Read Galatians 5:15. What does this tell us that we
      already know about hurting others with our “freedom?”
      (They bite back! They will take a chunk out of your

  4. The Advocate on the Other Side

    1. We have been skipping around in Galatians 5, let’s go
      back and pick up the verses we missed. Read Galatians
      5:7. This is an odd way to describe righteousness by
      faith: obeying the truth!” Or, is it? (It is not odd. The
      decision to believe God and trust God (as in Abraham’s
      case) is the same as the decision of the two-year old to
      obey and trust his parents. It is a decision about

    2. Read Galatians 5:8. Who can we eliminate as the author
      of righteousness by works? (Jesus.)

    3. Read Galatians 5:9. How difficult is it to combat error?
      (It is insidious! It creeps in and infects the whole

    4. Read Galatians 5:10. Can we take Paul at his word? Why
      should he be confident, given what he has written so far?

      1. If we have some sort of “new” idea to stir up the
        church, what should we consider? (If our idea is not
        based on the Bible, if we are stirring up confusion
        in the church, then we will pay a penalty.)

        1. Do we know who is creating the confusion? (At
          bottom, it is Satan. Paul tells us that it
          cannot be Jesus. So, it must be Jesus’ opponent
          (Satan) and his followers who do these things
          in the church.)

    5. Skip ahead and read Galatians 5:12. For comparison, re-read Galatians 5:6. How do you reconcile these two
      statements? (Fundamental error needs a strong response.)

    6. Read Galatians 5:11. Why is the error of righteousness by
      works a “fundamental error?” (It cancels the cross. Our
      God was crucified. The idea of a god being crucified is
      an “offense.” Who would follow a god who was killed? We
      do! Christians understand that the life, death and
      resurrection of our God is the key to our eternal life.
      If you do not get this right, you are not a Christian.)

    7. Friend, do you grasp Paul’s argument that God’s path to
      true freedom is to believe, trust and obey Him? We are
      saved by grace, by choosing Jesus, but this is not just
      words, it is a life choice. It is a choice to love God
      and love others so that the guilt, sadness and conflict
      of selfishness will be left behind. We can stand in the
      light and the joy of true freedom. Will you make that
      life choice today?

  5. Next week: Living by the Spirit.