4/04/20 – Galatians 5:1-6
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.
stand fast – steko (stand firm; persevere; persist; keep one’s standing)
liberty – eleutheria (liberty to do or to omit things not [necessarily] to do with salvation; fancied liberty; licence; the liberty to do as one pleases) It has the idea here of freedom from the bondage of the law. The law dictated requirements and provided penalties for disobedience; while liberty permitted freedom from the penalties required by the law.
Galatians 5:1 relates to Galatians 4:31 (So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.) where those who were “of the free” were no longer under the bondage of being a slave to the law. “free” is the Greek eleutheros.
The law was the master and the slave had to obey or else; he had no real freedom at all to choose anything other than what the master told him to do. Freedom in Christ removed this bondage.
Paul uses the same word eleutheria for “liberty” twice more in Galatians 5:13 – For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. That is, you have been freed from the bondage of the law and are free to choose, yet that freedom should not be an excuse to serve our sinful desires. “Liberty”, “freedom” and “free” are a major theme in Galatians.
Paul is saying that if Christians are truly freed from the bondage of the law, then they should maintain their stand and not waver from that freedom.
Calvinism though, while it claims that the elect are truly free, actually teaches that the elect have no freedom and therefore must be assumed to be under the bondage of the law (but in this case, the law is the teachings of Calvin and Augustine).
Sonship Theology (from which new calvinism largely derived) teaches that there is no sin that any of God’s children can commit that can possibly prevent them from entering heaven. Thus they allegedly have the freedom to do whatever they like, because their God will not permit them to do anything that would adversely affect their salvation. Literally, if you can do it, then it cannot be wrong! It has led to a holy perfectionism doctrine in many churches that teach that it is impossible for Christians to be anything other than perfectly holy.
(One of the “fathers” of new calvinism, Robert Brinsmead, an Australian reformed Seventh Day Adventist, took his perfectionism to Westminster Seminary in the early 1970s where it sowed the seed for Sonship Theology and therefore new calvinism. “During the 1960s Brinsmead advocated a form of perfectionism which he described as the "[Sanctuary] Awakening" message.” (Wikipedia) He was disfellowshipped in 1961 from the SDA church for his perfectionist views.)
However, the other side of this same coin is that Sonship Theology does not permit people to have any freedom at all to choose anything for themselves. It only works if their God chooses all things for them; that is, he decrees (ordains etc) their every act, and every choice they make has to have been made beforehand (foreordained) by their over-controlling God. This is truly total bondage in that you cannot choose anything; your God has set out your life in total from before you were born. It is easy to see its connection to new calvinism!
I have had it said to me by calvinists that while man does not have “free will”, he is a “free agent”, or that he has “free agency”. It is clearly an effort to make it look like they believe in free will, without actually believing in it! But free agency in practice is exactly the same as free will.
Boettner is an author quoted by calvinists because he does a lot of verbal manipulation (or, as I term it, verbal gymnastics). Some of his sayings, as recorded in “The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination”, are:
“The actions of free agents do not take place because they are foreseen, but they are foreseen because they are certain to take place.” (P.32)
“A man is not saved because he believes in Christ; he believes in Christ because he is saved.” (P.75) He also quotes Augustine (whom Calvin hero-worshipped) as saying “The elect of God are chosen by Him to be His children, in order that they might be made to believe, not because He foresaw that they would believe.” (P.75)
Boettner is also often quoted by calvinists on the topic of free will versus free agency. He wrote (in “The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination” P.157) that “God controls our actions so that they are certain although we act freely. His decree does not produce the event, but only renders its occurrence certain; and the same decree which determines the certainty of the action at the same time determines the freedom of the agent in the act.” Thus free agency is having the right to choose that one outcome that God has already decreed beforehand that you will choose! Your freedom is limited to the event which God has chosen for you! This is not liberty but just the bondage of the law worded in such a way that it has the appearance of freedom without any freedom at all. It is Sonship Theology under the heading of new calvinism.
By the way, A W Pink wrote similar verbal manipulations (as quoted by MacArthur)
“Not one for whom He died can possibly miss heaven.”
MacArthur appears make similar verbal manipulations in his church’s doctrinal statement: “All whom the Father calls to Himself will come in faith and all who come in faith the Father will receive.”
Pink also wrote concerning sin: “Consider the wonderful wisdom of God, for though He had predestinated the fall of our first parents, yet in no sense was He the Instigator or Approver of their sins, and their accountability was left entirely unimpaired…..
….These two things we must believe if the truth is not to be repudiated: that God has foreordained everything that comes to pass; that He is in no way blamable for any of man’s wickedness, the criminality thereof being wholly his. The decree of God in no way infringes on man’s moral agency, for it neither forces nor hinders man’s will, though it orders and bounds its actions. Both the existence and operations of sin are subservient to the counsels of God’s will, yet that does not lessen the evil of its nature or the guilt of its committers. Someone has said that though God does not esteem evil to be good, yet He accounts it good that evil should be.” (The Total Depravity of Man by A.W. Pink) Illogical garbled nonsense!
hath made …. free – eleuthero (to make free; be delivered from; set at liberty)
Both eleutheria (“liberty”) and eleutheroo (“hath made … free”) derive from eleutheros (free; freeborn; not a slave) which Paul used 5 times in Galatians 4:21-31 (“freewoman”, “free”). It is clear that Paul was heavily emphasising the freedom we have in Christ. Therefore it is the use of eleutheros 5 times in our last passage that leads into our passage for today.
Therefore, says Paul, persevere (stand firm) with the freedom with which Christ has truly set us free, and not be entangled with (ensnared by) the yoke of bondage (slavery) again.
John 8:31-32 – 31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, [then] are ye my disciples indeed; 32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
So why do so many “Christian” belief systems put their believers into bondage to their doctrines while at the same time declaring that the truth has set them free?
Galatians 5:2 – Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
say – lego (say; affirm; maintain; teach; exhort; command; direct; point out with words)
“I Paul affirm (point out with my words) to you that if you have to be circumcised (believing it to be a necessary part of your salvation), then trusting in Christ for salvation will be no advantage to you at all.” That is, there is no benefit in having faith in Christ if you also have to be circumcised according to the law.
It’s like the allegory of the bondwoman (Hagar) compared with the freewoman (Sarah). Paul explained that you were either of one or the other. You had to be under bondage to the law or free from the bondage to the law. The moment you make a rule that demands bondage to the law, then you have effectively cancelled your freedom in Christ. It all comes down to a choice between bondage and freedom.
So why do so many Christians feel that they have to do something extra in order to be more acceptable to God? Can we win favour with God by doing things to please Him? But what things can we do that would please God without God already having enabled us to do so. Without God we have nothing to offer anyway.
Isaiah 64:6 – But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
The only way we can please God is to have faith in Him that He has everything under control, keeping in mind that faith can only be used when we cannot reason otherwise.
Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Faith believes in the impossible. Therefore, says Paul, if you want to also believe in your works for God, then you have turned your focus away from trusting God, to trusting that which you can do. In other words, a self-sufficiency rather than faith.
So often we might prefer to do something ourselves rather than trusting it to someone else. In particular this applies to situations we consider special. It results from thinking that we would rather trust ourselves to do the job than another person. In a way, requiring a work of the law that we can do (that we can point to as evidence of our industry) is like telling God that we do not fully trust Him to be able to do the job properly. It’s like telling God that we trust our own endeavours rather than fully trusting that He will do what He says He will do.
It’s like taking a bet each way, relying upon trusting God but also making sure we have the backup plan in place. Isn’t this what Jesus condemned in His letter to the Laodiceans? That they were sitting on the fence, hedging their bets waiting to see which way to jump before they jumped?
Revelation 3:16 – So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
And God condemns fence-sitting! Faith is nothing less than trusting God fully!
Galatians 5:3 – For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
testify – marturomai (to cite a witness; call a witness; declare solemnly; protest; beseech; exhort solemnly)
debtor – one who owes another; a debtor; one held by some obligation; bound by some duty
whole – holos (all; whole; completely) The complete law with none missing.
Note that if we fail in only one point of the law, we have failed in all.
James 2:10 – For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all.
Paul is spelling it out for them. He testifies (as one might in a court of law) much like taking the oath to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth in court. He isn’t just saying this; he is testifying that this is the truth.
And what is this truth that Paul is so heavily emphasising? That even if you were to obey some of the law (such as being circumcised), it would be totally useless if you had disobeyed just one other point of law elsewhere. Being circumcised was of no benefit if you broke another part of the law. To keep a ship from sinking you need no holes in the hull. One big enough hole will sink it – just ask those on the Titanic. It didn’t matter how much they had done to make this ship unsinkable. The White Star Line announced that “We place absolute confidence in the Titanic. We believe the boat is unsinkable.” They had boasted that it would take at least two holes in the hull to sink it, probably three holes. Yet just one hole sank the Titanic!
So what’s the point? It only takes one hole in the law to sink it too!
In Acts 15:1 some of the Jews stated that unless one was circumcised according to the law of Moses, one could not be saved. But they didn’t actually say that circumcision could save one, either! Interesting! But it is also interesting to note that circumcision could save only if the whole law could be kept. It wasn’t just circumcision but all the law, or nothing!
Romans 2:24-25 – 24For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. 25For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
Galatians 5:4 – Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
(Christ) is become of no effect unto you – apo (of separation; a state of separation; of any kind of separation of one thing from another by which the union or fellowship of the two is destroyed) + katargeo (render idle; unemployed; inactivate; inoperative; cancelled; annul; abolish; pass away; severed from; separated from) Thus “has been rendered null and void, inoperative”.
That is, you have become as if you were never saved by Christ; your relationship with Christ has been cancelled (abolished); you are no longer Christians. There is no longer any effect of Christ upon your life. This is the consequence of being justified by the law. And if you claim to be justified by the law (by declaring circumcision to be a necessary part of your justification), then you have fallen from grace, therefore denying Ephesians 2:8-9 (8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.) Note that being saved by grace through faith denies the works of the law here. It is one or the other; it cannot be both.
Paul is stating it very clearly: if you insist on the necessity of circumcision for salvation, then this work of the law will deny you your salvation by grace through faith in Christ! The consequence of being justified by the law is the equivalent of falling from grace.
Not only will the law fail you (unless you are perfectly obedient for all your life), trusting in the law will leave you without a faith lifeline! Paul said in Vs 2 above that “if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” It’s one or the other. In mathematical terms, these two (the law, and faith in Christ) are mutually exclusive. You cannot have both. And, the law will also profit you nothing unless you are perfect! Choosing the law is to lose in every way possible. You cannot win if you trust in the law.
Galatians 5:5 – For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
wait for – apekdechomai (assiduously and patiently wait for)
the hope – elpis (expectation of good, hope, evil, fear; joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation) Also used in Titus 2:13 (see below).
We wait – that is, it isn’t going to happen all at once. Faith requires a step into the unknown. It’s like a blind person being told that he must take a step in a certain direction to get onto a bridge that he cannot see, knowing that if the bridge isn’t there, he will fall to his death below. Once he takes that step, he is committed; he cannot go back to known safety again. He must trust the directions he has been given. Thus he must have faith in the character of the one who is guiding him. If he cannot have faith in the one who gives the directions, then he cannot trust those directions!
Faith requires a stepping out to take a pathway that cannot be seen until you have traversed it some distance. Faith is the evidence of what is yet unseen, and your action demonstrates your faith. Faith is “the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
We believe we are saved and will go to heaven, but we will not be able to verify this truth until we have finished our walk here on earth. Our faith will be tested for a long time, probably many years, before we can “prove” that it was justified. We must wait in expectation of what we trust to be in our future.
Titus 2:13-14 – 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Only on completion of our life here on earth may we be perfected.
Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ: (where the word translated “will perform” is translated “made perfect” in Galatians 3:3)
“the day of Jesus Christ” must be assumed to be either at our death or if Christ should return before we die.
the hope of righteousness – We do not have actual righteousness while here on earth. It is a potential righteousness. We are imputed with the righteousness of Christ the moment we are saved, but our actual righteousness will only occur when we leave our physical bodies behind. Our faith trusts in the certainty of our righteousness, but that faith is only confirmed once we die, at which time our faith becomes a reality (and technically no longer faith anymore). It is at death that the corruption of our flesh becomes our incorruptible immortality. Only then can faith become reality in our lives.
1 Corinthians 15:53-54 – 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
It does say in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.) that we are made the righteousness of God in Christ, but we can also wander away from this righteousness at times and need to be brought back to fellowship through confession and cleansing as per 1 John 1:9. Yet, even then, we are imputed with Christ’s righteousness so that we may still come before God for forgiveness as per Hebrews 4:16 – Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Romans 8:24-25 – 24For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25But if we hope for that we see not, [then] do we with patience wait for [it].
Galatians 5:6 – For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
availeth – ischyo (to be strong; in sound health; to have power to do things; have the strength to overcome; to be able; can)
worketh – energeo (to be operative; be at work; put forth power; to effect; be effectual)
neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision – That is, circumcision is not a matter for discussion on this agenda. It is irrelevant to your faith whether or not you are circumcised. The circumcised Jew and the uncircumcised Gentile are equally saved the same regardless of their state of circumcision.
Colossians 3:10-11 – 10And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all.
Also note 1 Corinthians 7:19 – Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
Galatians 6:15 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
It is only faith which works according to the love God has for us that has the power to change our lives, to save us to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). The law can never save, only condemn.
by love – God loved all mankind regardless of whether or not we loved Him (John 3:16).
God loved us while we were sinners (Romans 5:8).
God loved us before we loved Him (1 John 4:19).
God’s love caused Him to reconcile us to Himself when we were enemies (Romans 5:10). This means that God didn’t wait for us to choose Him before He chose to do something for us.
Some people teach that God only loves His own. (Many calvinists believe this.) Others teach that God loves all people, but He loves His own more. Yet how much more could anyone love us than to die for our sins while we were yet enemies. John 15:13 says Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Yet Christ laid down His life for His enemies, including all those who hated Him, even including those who screamed for Him to be crucified –Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)
So why does MacArthur teach that “Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of the mob that screamed for His blood.” (The Sacrifice that Satisfied) Then who was Jesus asking the Father to forgive?
The truth, though, is that it is “faith which worketh by love” that has the strength to overcome (“availeth”), and that applies to all (without exception) who call upon the name of the Lord to be saved (Romans 10:13).
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