Galatians 5

This devotional is written by Chris Hassell.

Galatians 5

Freedom in Christ
5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is required to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 ‘A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.’ 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offence of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

Life by the Spirit
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.


Sometimes, as followers of Jesus, it’s easy to fall into one of two extremes: “For God to accept me, I need to do the right thing”, or, “God loves me so I can do what I want”. In our passage today, Paul urges the Christians in Galatia, not to find a ‘middle way’, but to follow a different way, life by the Spirit.

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, has been reminding them that their life in God comes from faith in Christ alone and not as a result of a legalistic submission to the Old Testament Law. A group of legalistic Jews had been urging the Galatian Christians to become circumcised, suggesting that only circumcised Christians were true Christians. In our passage today, Paul tells the Galatian Christians that to be circumcised, one of the key requirements for Jews in the Old Testament, is to turn their back on the life of grace and freedom won by Jesus on the cross. It’s the choice to submit to the rule of Law once again and a declaration that the cross of Christ is not enough. However, our position as acceptable before God, our ability to come before him freely and unhindered, can never be dependent simply upon what we do, because it could never be enough. Equally, Paul says, “You may be free in Christ, but don’t abuse your freedom.”

By grace, my right standing before God, my position as acceptable and enough before God, depends simply on the knowledge that I am loved by him purely for who I am. That I do get it wrong, often many times a day, but Jesus loves me, he died for me and he’s forgiven me. Paul suggests that his love for us and our love for him can direct our actions. We choose to live in certain ways, doing some things and not doing others, not because we have to (the Law), but because our love for God compels us to live in ways that would honour him. We can worship God through our actions.

Today, the invitation is to keep our hearts set on our love for God, trusting in his love for us and his leading throughout our lives. He will lead us in “paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3) and we will find that our wills and desires will become aligned to his will as the Holy Spirit moulds us into the image of Jesus. Paul says, “Live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (5:16). The Holy Spirit will birth in us fruit, ways of living, that will honour him: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Lord Jesus, thank you that your love for us is overwhelming and all-consuming. Thank you that there is nothing we can do to stop you loving us and that, by your Spirit, you mould us into the image of Jesus. Today, may we experience your presence once again.

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