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The Book of Galatians

Works of the flesh and Circumcision


                         Part Twelve


Keith Hunt:

Continuing in chapter 5 with verse 7. Paul reminds them that they
at one time did run well, and did obey the true gospel, and that
the One who called them (God the Father) spoke nothing to them of
this idea that justification could come by earning it through
diligent laws of Moses observance. But some spiritual leaven,
wrong doctrines (see Matthew 16:6-12) had inflated among them. It
may have started small, but the leaven of sin and corruption (see
1 Cor.5) does not have to be large to gain a foothold and
multiply until the whole is leavened. They had not rooted it out,
stop it in its tracks, hence if grew and grew until the large
majority in Galatia were working the works of the flesh in one
form or another.

There was, by the time Paul wrote his letter to the Galatian
Christians, MANY types of the works of the flesh manifest among
them, it was not all just the wrong theological teaching of those
of the "circumcision party."  It was not just that so had done
back to their again to their old false pagan observances of false
days and festivals like Sunday, Easter, December 25th, January
1st, Octerober 13st (or Halloween as we call it today) and other
times of pagan god worship feasts.  It was even more than all
that, it was that many of them had gone back into the works of
the carnal flesh.

But before he gets to the specifics of the "flesh" as opposed to
the "spirit" he tells them he has confidence in them that they
will get back to being of the like mind to him that called them
(verse 10). He reiterates to them that he is suffering
persecution still from the circumcision teachers, and so he has
NOT changed his teaching or view on this matter, which some among
them would have them believe, and with a twist of words, a play
of words, he tells them that he would want those false apostles
that were troubling them to "be cut off" (verse 12). They, the
false apostles were teaching males to cut off a part of their
skin, and Paul wished they themselves (the false teachers) would
be cut off. Paul was in effect asking and wishing that God would
step in and by whatever miracle and power, get those false
teachers out of midst of the Galatian Christians. 

From the following words of Paul in chapter 5, we can discern
that with all that was going on in the Christian communities of
Galatia, there were now various problems of seriously large
proportions, which were resulting in a "Christian liberty" gone
WILD! The Galatians were thinking and practicing a "liberty" that
was NOT the liberty of God at all, but a liberty of working the
works of the flesh, going back into gross sins, theological false
doctrines, and all of it resulted in people BITING and DEVOURING
each other. They were acting like wild animals who had not eaten
for a week or so....consuming each other with the lusts of the
flesh (verses 13-16).

Paul then starts to list the lusts of the flesh in an open
graphic manner. It would seem from the way he did this that is he
probably mentioning sins that they had fallen back into
practicing and living (19-21).

He then contrasts all these sins of the flesh with the FRUITS of
the Spirit (verses 22-23), and tells them at the same time that
the FLESH is at war with the SPIRIT, that we are constantly in a
spiritual BATTLE, the flesh resisting and fighting the leading
and nature and fruits of the Spirit (verses 16-18). Those who
would be led of the Spirit, under the Holy Spirit's influence and
control, would not come under the law, come under its curse and
pentalty, as he had explained to them earlier in his letter. See
also Romans chapters 6 and 7 on this matter of sin, the law, and
the power of the Spirit to keep people away from going back into
a life style of practicing sin and so again coming under the
penalty of the law. See also my in-depth studies called "Saved by
Grace."

Paul tells them that if they walk and live in the Spirit then the
law cannot claim its pentalty of death (verse 23)... And he tells
them that those who are truly Christ's have put away or killed or
curcified the works of the flesh with all its carnal lusts (verse
24). If we claim, he says, to live in the Spirit, we are obliged
to LIVE and WALK in the Spirit. The spirit will NOT lead us to
work the works of the flesh that many of them had returned to
doing. That is what he was saying to them in verse 25.

Paul now goes on in chapter 6 to cover another aspect of the
problems that the Christians of Galatia were having. SOME of them
were REMAINING TRUE to the gospel he had preached to them, the
true Gospel of Christ, the New Covenant teaching. And they,
seeing many others fall back into sin and corruption and being
led astray with the false ideas of the circumcision party, were
CORRECTING them in no uncertain manner, and they were VAIN in
this correcting, so much so was it the wrong way to correct, that
it, the correction, was also leading to PROVOKINGS. With even the
correctors ENVYING one another (the correctors in a vain glory
battle as to who was the best corrector or who was winning back
more people from the wrong pathway they had fallen into - verse
26 of chapter 5).

Paul in verses 1 to 10 of chapter 6, teaches them HOW to correct
and RESTORE those who have fallen into sins and faults, and it is
NOT by being VAIN about it, but it is by being MEEK, HUMBLE, with
an attitude of realizing that they also are flesh and are subject
to falling into error or sin, if they are not on guard at all
times. They were each to bear the burdens of the other, as this
was the teaching and law of Christ (verses 1-2). They were to
always have a humble mindset about themselves, if they did not,
they really would only be deceiving themselves, for human kind is
really nothing when compared to the God kind. There was to be a
mutual communication between parties. No matter what the function
of any individual in the body of Christ, each should be willing
to be taught of the other. Him that is taught in the word,
teaching or communicating unto him that teaches the word. There
are times when ALL can communicate to each other in the true and
good things of God. None of us are above errors, mistakes, faults
and sins. So at the right time, and in the right manner, we can
all be CORRECTORS of each other when correction and guidance is
needed to restore someone (student or teacher) to Christ's true
way. But it must all, this restoring and correcting, be done in
the spirit of meekness (verses4-6, with verse 1).

Paul reminds them that God sees all things, and will reward
according to what a man does. If you do things in the carnal
flesh way, you will receive the results of carnal flesh, and you
will be from the flying pan into the fire (in all kinds of
problems, errors, sins, faults, vanity, un-soundness, as the
Galatians seemed now to be in, from all that Paul has talked to
them about). If you sow to the Spirit, the correct way to live,
and talk, and think, then you will reap of the Spirit LIFE
EVERLASTING (verses 7-8).

He finishes this section to them on a positive note - do not
become tired and weary of DOING THE RIGHT THING, walking in the
CORRECT way of the Lord, FOR by going the straight and narrow
way, in all things, in our life and actions, attitudes and words,
correct theological teachings, doing what is God's way in all the
things he has written to them in his letter, Paul tells them they
will reap GOOD, they will reap life eternal from the Spirit, but
they must not faint in walking the straight and narrow highway to
God's Kingdom (verse 9).

He tells them to do GOOD to each other as the opportunity arises,
do good to all people, but especially to those in the household
of FAITH, those who call themselves Christian, who have come to
the New Covenant, who have believed that salvation is by grace
through faith in the blood sacrifice of Christ (verse 10).


BARNES' NOTES ON THE NEW TESTAMENT:

CHAP.6:12,13.  As many as desire to make a fair show in the
flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised....

'As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh.' 

     To be distinguished for their conformity to external rites
and customs. To be known for their zeal in this cause. They
sought to show their zeal by making converts, and by inducing
others also to conform to those customs. Paul here refers
doubtless to the Jewish teachers, and he says that their main
object was to evince their zeal in the observance of rites and
ceremonies: 

'They constrain you.'

     You who are Gentiles. They insist on circumcision as
INDISPENSABLE to salvation. 

'Only lest they should suffer persecution.'  

     It is not from any true love for the cause of religion. It
is that they may avoid persecution from the Jews. If they should
renounce the doctrine which taught that circumcision was
indispensable, they would be exposed to the rage of the Jews, and
would suffer persecution. Rather than do this, they make a show
of great zeal in inducing others to be circumcised. 

'For the cross of Christ.'    

     From attachment to the cause of a crucifies Saviour. If they
insisted on entire dependence on the merits of his blood, and
renounced all dependence on rites and ceremonies, they would
suffer persecution. This verse shows the true cause of the zeal
which the Judaizing teachers evinced. It was the fear of
persecution. It was the want of independence and boldness in
maintaining the doctrine that men were to be saved only
by the merits of the Lord Jesus. By attempting to blend together
the doctrines of Judaism and Christianity; by maintaining that
the observance of the Jewish rites was necessary, and yet that
Jesus was the Messiah, they endeavoured to keep in with BOTH
parties, and thus to escape the opposition of the Jews. It was an
unhallowed compromise. It was an attempt to blend things together
which could not he united. One MUST really displace the other. If
me depended on the rites of Moses (any laws of Moses, in view of
earning justification - Keith Hunt) they had no need of
dependence on the Messiah; if they professed to depend on him,
then to rely on anything else was, to fact, to disown and reject
him. Embracing the one system was, in fact, renouncing the other.
Such is the argument of Paul; and such his solemn remonstrance
against embracing any doctrine which would obscure the glory of
simple dependence on the cross of Christ.....
(for forgiveness or justification. As we have seen from the
comments of Barnes, this has nothing to do with abolishing the
commandments of God, but it has all to do with HOW an individual
is "justified" or forgiven their sins - Keith Hunt)

'For neither they themselves who are circumcised.'

     The Jewish teachers, or perhaps ALL Jews. It was true in
general that the Jews did not wholly and entirely obey the law of
Moses; but it is probable that the apostle refers particularly
here to the Judaizing teachers in Galatia.   

'Keep the law."

     The law of Moses, or the law of God. Paul's idea is, that if
they were circumcised, they brought themselves under obligation
to keep the whole law of God. See Note, chap.5:3. But they did
not do it.
(1) No man PERFECTLY observes the whole law of God.    
(2) The Jewish nation, as such, were very far from doing it.     
(3) It is probable that these persons did not pretend even to
keep the whole law of Moses. Paul insists on it, that if they
were circumcised, and DEPENDED on THAT for salvation, they
were under obligation to keep the whole law. But they did not.
Probably they did not offer sacrifice, or join in any of the
numerous observances of the Jewish nation, except some of the
more prominent, such as circumcision. This, says Paul, is
inconsistent in the highest degree; and they thus show their
insincerity and hypocrisy. 

'That they may glory in your flesh.'  

     In having you as converts, and in persuading you, to be 
circumcised, that they may show their zeal for the law, and thus
escape persecution. The phrase "in your flesh," here is
equivalent to "in your circumcision;" making use of your
circumcision to promote their own importance, and to save
themselves from persecution.....

'But God forbid.'   

     Note, Rom.3:4. "For me it is not to glory, except in the
cross of Christ." The OBJECT of Paul here is evidently to place
himself in contrast with the Judaizing teachers, and to show his
determined purpose to glory in nothing else but the cross of
Christ. Well they knew that he had as much occasion for glorying
in the things pertaining to the flesh, or in the observance of
external rites and customs, as any of them. He had been circum-
cised. He had all the advantages of accurate training in the
knowledge of the Jewish law. He had entered on life with uncommon
advantages. He had evinced a zeal that was not surpassed by any
of them; and his life, so far as conformity to the religion to
which he had been trained was concerned, was blameless, Phil.
3:4-8. This must have been, to a great extent, known to the
Galatians; and by placing his own conduct in strong contrast with
that of the Judaizing teachers, and showing that he had no ground
of confidence in himself, he designed to bring back the minds of
the Galatians to simple dependence on the cross.  

'That I should glory.'

     That I should boast; or that I should rely on anything else.
Others glory in their conformity to the laws of Moses; others in
their zeal, or their talents, or their learning, or their
orthodoxy; others in their wealth, or their accomplishments;
others in their family alliances, and their birth; but the
supreme boast and glorying of a Christian is in the cross of
Christ.    

'In the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.'

     In Jesus, the crucified Messiah.....


Keith Hunt:

CHAP.6:6  FAITH WHICH WORKS BY LOVE

James was inspired to explain the true NEW COVENANT faith that
all Christians must exhibit in their life if they hope to inherit
eternal life in the family of God (see James 2:14-26). Faith
which by LOVE is mighty in operation (Tindal) equals a humble
submissive attitude of obedience to the commandments of God, for
the word of the Lord says, "For this is the love of God, that we
KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS: and His commandments are NOT GRIEVOUS" -
1 John 5:3


Those who try to use Paul to say the LAW of the Ten Commandments
are now under the New Covenant "abolished" are not only NOT
reading ALL of what Paul wrote, and some VERY PLAIN AND CLEAR
verses on the Commandments of God, but they are NOT reading what
the apostle John wrote and James, about the Commandments of God. 
Such people who claim the Ten Commandment law is "done away with"
under the Gospel of Christ, are quite ILLITERATE and first class
DUNCES in Bible reading, to be frank about it.

It is one thing to say and believe that the FOURTH commandment
has been CHANGED from the 7th day to the 1st day, but to teach
that "the law of God" period, is abolished in Christ, is the
height of total "flunked out" Bible reading, if there ever was.
But nevertheless, when I first came to Canada in 1961 I ran
smack-dab into many Christian "fundamentalists" - some with
"theology degrees" - who believed and TAUGHT that the Ten
Commandments were indeed ABOLISHED in Christ. It was a SHOCKING
experience for me.

Are you willing to read through Psalm 111; 119; and then have the
attitude that David did in Ps.119:136? This positive attitude of
David's towards the law and commandments of God is no doubt one
reason as to why the Eternal said that David was a man after His
own heart.

I hope you have come to see the letter of Galatians with new
insight. I hope that what you have seen in the writings of Albert
Barnes (one of the old famous Bible Commentators) and myself, has
given you some edification in this book of the New Testament,
that you may have never had before.

                             .................
End of our study on Galatians


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