Galatians 6

S: Galatians 6:15- "Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation." O: Paul reminds us that change does not come from the outward-in; but true change comes from the inside-out. U: Let the Holy Spirit work in our hearts and speak to us; and when the Holy Spirit speaks to us, let us be obedient to Him. As a result, not only we, but others as well will see the transformation of Christ in us. L: We try to change others and ourselves by going at it the wrong way (from the outside in). We must submit to God and let Him change us and others from the inside out. That is when true lasting change takes place. Let us be obedient to the Holy Spirit's guidance and see what transformation takes place. We are supposed to be His new creation, caught up in seeking spiritual fulfillment, and not caught up in our old ways, clinging to our sinful desires of the flesh.

Galatians 5

S: Galatians 5:6- "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." O: Throughout the book of Galatians, Paul tries to drive home the point that our righteousness is not gained through how well we can keep the law, but it is through our faith in Jesus Christ. U: It is not our works or good deeds that saves us. We cannot "earn our ticket" to Heaven. It is through God's grace, our faith in His Son Jesus Christ and the love He showed by dying for our sins and resurrecting on our behalf that we are saved. L: If there is one thing that I learned while attending DSC, it is to not be a Christian who "jumps through spiritual hoops" to believe I'm a better Christian. For example, keeping a mental checklist such as praying everyday, reading my Bible, tithing, helping those in need, etc., and somehow thinking that if I can check these off of my list for the day, that I'm "good with God" is wrong thinking. I believe that if we find ourselves caught in that trap, we lose the essence of God's true heart for us. God wants a deeper relationship with us. We fulfill that calling through our faith in Jesus Christ and our daily sanctification process of becoming more like Him. According to the above passage, we also fulfill that calling by loving those around us the way Jesus loved.

Galatians 4

S: Galatians 4:7- "So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. O: Once we put our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are part of God's family. We are no longer slaves to our sins, but are free from them! U: We are part of God's family now. We share a bloodline through the blood shed at Calvary through Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and resurrecting so that we can have new life in Him. L: God is my Father in Heaven. I am His child and God has also made me an heir (vs.7). My Father in Heaven makes all things possible! His riches and blessings have no end! So why do I sometimes doubt that God will provide for me or that He does not hear my cries for help? Will not a father come to aid their child in need? What more with a Father who has an unlimited amount of resources and love to share? Yes, God has made me an heir and calls me His son, but I must realize (as a father myself) that you cannot give your children everything they ask for and your children must be disciplined in times of disobedience. It is sometimes a father's "tough love" that helps their children grow and mature.

Galatians 3

S) "You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for its obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the Cross was certainly set before you clearly enough" (Galatians 3:1  Msg).

O) As I began to read Chapter 3 in the Message translation a comment that Russ made earlier in the week came to mind. “The tone of Paul’s letter is harsh, reflecting his rather intense anger over the developments in Galatia. Paul was surely angry with the Judaizers, but he was even more upset that the Galatian believers . . .” This was personal, this hurt. To say he was disappointed would be an understatement. In the first two chapters Paul had to defend his apostleship against the scheming Judaizers. Now in chapter 3-4 Paul takes aim at the licentious teaching of the Judaizers with the fundamental question, “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law or by faith? The answer is found in (3:11) “clearly no one who relies on the Law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith” (Hab 2:4). And in another epistle Paul cites the same verse, “for in the gospel a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. (Romans 1:17).

U) Also in chapters 3-4, Paul masterfully demonstrates the superiority of the gospel over Judaism, of the Spirit over the flesh, of faith over works, of blessing over the curse, of the Abrahamic covenant over the Mosaic covenant, of being a mature son over being under a tutor, and of liberty over slavery. “The difference between the religion of works (Judaism) and the true religion of God (Christianity) is the difference between slavery and liberty.” ( INSTE  N..T p 227-229).

L) No time to sit on our hands. We can ill afford to be idle while the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion.  As Paul loved the people of Galatia so should we love those who are in many ways different than ourselves.  May we be found “about the Father’s business” with the same Knowledge and zeal that Jesus displayed in the temple as a youth. 

Galatians 2

S) “This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves” (Galatians 2:4).

O)  Tension seems to follow truth around, waiting for an opportune moment to inflict harm, confusion, jealousy, hypocrisy etc. “Free” and “Freedom” are key words for freedom? “OK Goggle” what is an antonym for freedom? Answer: slavery, captivity, restraint, limitation, imprisonment, subjection. In all fairness, how one defines freedom has much to do with its’ opposite.  Any additional requirement to God’s salvation by grace through faith is a threat toward legalism and slavery.  To act in any manner that is not in line with the truth of the gospel is to deny the power of the Cross. . . . “For if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.” (Galatians 2:21).

U) When men get around other men it isn’t long before someone asks, “So, what do you do for a living?” There was a time when I was a college student working as a janitor at night. My next job involved an apprentice position in the printing trade. Actually, my primary responsibility was transportation, delivery and janitor duties on weekends.   I would one day be the production supervisor. I would like to think that I worked my way up the ladder on my own but there is the matter of my marrying the boss’s daughter. The point is we understand “work”. My weekly paycheck was not a gift. I worked for it. I earned it. Thus it is only natural that we see “who we are” through the lens of “what we do.” A salvation based on what we do is nothing less than a moving target. So, why do we do this to ourselves? I’m pretty sure it has to do with us being sinners. We can ill afford to dismiss foundational truths of our great salvation such as propitiation, righteousness, justification, and sanctification.  These are not just fancy words for pastors only.    

L)  In an effort to appease certain members of the circumcision group, Peter, Barnabus and other Jews were found influencing gentile believers to follow Jewish customs.  Paul was quick to exhort the church toward her responsibility to train up the next generation for the task at hand. 

Lord, help us to examine our theology. Thank you for the accountability of our Grow Groups and for the opportunity to encourage one another to grow in Christ likeness. The fear of man is a snare and is dangerous today as it was in Paul’s days. Yours O Lord, is a powerful salvation, accompanied by signs and wonders. Forgive me of my fear of man.

Galatians 1

Destination: Galatians is the only letter Paul specifically addressed to a group of churches in an area dating back to third century B.C.  By the first century A.D. the term “Galatia” was used geographically to denote the northern central region of Asia Minor, and politically to designate the Roman province in south central  Asia Minor.  Paul sent this letter to an area that included the towns of Antioch, Iconium, Pisidia, Lystra, and Derbe.

Date: There is some question of the date of Galatians.  By correlating Gal. 2:1-10 with Paul’s visit to Jerusalem with the events of Acts 15, then Paul could have written the letter about A.D. 55 or 56.  This would have been in Macadonia or Corinth during his third missionary journey.

Occasion and Purpose:  Where there is truth one need not look far to find the counterfeit.   In this case legalists called Judaizers infiltrated the church teaching that Gentiles must be circumcised before they could fully experience salvation.  They did not deny that faith in Jesus was necessary, but insisted that it was.  One must add to faith observance of the Law.  They sought to discredit Paul’s teaching by challenging his authority calling him a compromiser who made the gospel more attractive to Gentiles by removing its valid legal demands.  Paul defends his apostolic authority and explains the gospel of grace through faith.

Content: Galatians contains biographical, doctrinal, and practical divisions of two chapters each. In the first section (chs. 1 & 2), Paul defends his apostolic independence, not in a spirit of personal indignation, but to establish the divine origin of his gospel. In the doctrinal section (chs. 3 & 4), Paul presents a series of masterful arguments and illustrations to prove the inferiority of the Law to the gospel and to establish the true purpose of the Law. In the practical application of his doctrine (chs. 5 & 6), Paul exhorts the Galatians to use their Christian liberty properly. Rather than giving license to sin, the gospel provides the enabling means to attain the righteousness that the Law demands.

Personal Application: The same perversion of the gospel that Paul combats in this letter keeps appearing in various forms. Legalism, which teaches that justification or sanctification depends upon a person’s own efforts, thus denying the sufficiency of the Cross, is the most persistent enemy of the gospel of grace. Circumcision and other requirements of the Mosaic Law may no longer be issues pertaining to salvation, but oftentimes the observance of certain rules, regulations, or religious rites is made coordinate with faith in Christ as the condition of Christian maturity. Galatians clearly declares the perils of legalism and establishes the essential truth of salvation by faith alone. This epistle was the battle cry of the Protestant Reformation and is the Magna Charta of spiritual liberty for all time.  (Hayford’s Bible Handbook p.371-377)

God has made it abundantly clear, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Galatians 5

5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

There is such a tension here between outward acts that we use to measure holiness and simply standing passively on the sidelines and saying that the Holy Spirit will do everything for us.  So what does it mean to live by the Spirit?

The more we attempt to live by rules and regulations the more we stifle the work of the Holy Spirit. Although Bible study, prayer, worship, witnessing, and other behaviors are commanded of believers and are necessary to faithful Christian living, spirituality cannot be measured by how often or how intensely we are involved in such things. To use them as measures of spirituality is to fall prey to legalism, whose only significance is in the outward, the visible, the humanly measurable. To live just by a set of laws is to live in self-righteousness and hypocrisy and to suppress the Spirit, who alone is able inwardly to produce works of true righteousness. Holiness comes only from the Holy Spirit.

Yet in emphasizing the central work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life, some Christians have lost the tension between the human and the divine 

The power for Christian living is entirely from the Holy Spirit, just as the power of salvation is entirely in Jesus Christ. But both in the justifying work of Christ and in the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, man’s will is active and commitment is called for. We are not to sit on the sidelines and just watch the Holy Spirit do battle for us. We are called to consider that we are “to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus,” to refuse to let “sin reign in [our] mortal body,” to resist presenting “the members of [our] body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness,” and to present them “as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom. 6:11-13).

If we are led by the Holy Spirit we must be willing to go where the Spirit sends us and do what the Spirit leads us to do. To claim we are surrendered to the Holy Spirit but not be personally involved in God’s work is to call Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” and not do what He says (Luke 6:46).

A life led by the Holy Spirit is one where we are continually conscious of His presence in our lives and we are desiring to let Him mold and shape us in the image of Christ.  We are willing to obey Him.  We are committed to letting Christ be glorified in our lives and that only happens as we are open and obedient to the promptings of the Spirit.  We must constantly tend the garden of our heart so that the fruit of the Spirit can develop.  We cannot become good by what we do but in the willingness to listen and respond to the Spirit (walking in the Spirit) we are made in the image and likeness of Christ.

Lord I will live by the Spirit.

Galatians 4

4:18-20It is a good thing to be ardent in doing good, but not just when I am in your presence. Can't you continue the same concern for both my person and my message when I am away from you that you had when I was with you? Do you know how I feel right now, and will feel until Christ's life becomes visible in your lives? Like a mother in the pain of childbirth.

I totally identify with Paul and his passion for the people under his spiritual care.

Paul, up to this point, has been pretty upset with the direction the Galatians had been going in listening to the Judaizers.  He spends the first three chapters laying out the doctrine very carefully so that they understood.  But he is careful to remind the Galatians that the reason for this impassioned writing is because of his deep love for them.  It is important that as leaders, parents, those in authority, we remember our motivation for correction.  It should always be generated by a deep love and concern for those we are leading.  And we must always remind them that it is because of that love and concern that we have to bring correction.

Lord, help me not to just get frustrated because people aren't "getting it" and so I respond in anger motivated by that frustration.  Instead let me continue to love the people that you have entrusted me with so that even in correction they can be assured that there is a deep love and concern for them.

Galatians 2

From the moment of Adam's sin onward, manking has been plagued with guilt.  We are born separated from God the Father and that sinful nature makes us feel guilty and what we try to do is allieviate that feeling of guilt.  We have approached that endeavor from trying hard to feel good about ourselves, whether it be by psychology, positive thinking and lots of "good works."   Sometimes the guilt gets too much for us so we try to escape it through alcohol, drugs and self-gratification.  Still it persists.

Adam's sons give us an understanding of what we do and what we should do in regards to this guilt.
God had instructed Adam to go through a sacrificial ritual (a foreshadowing of Jesus' work on the cross) where the shedding of the animal's blood was a connection of what was to come in Jesus' work on the cross.  Adam was instructed to obey the instructions of the sacrifice as well as to do so with a broken and contrite heart.  The sacrifice was not what forgave the sin, it was God who forgave.

When Cain offered his sacrifice of grain to the Lord, he sinned both by disobediently bringing the wrong kind of offering and by offering it in the wrong spirit. Rather than bringing an animal sacrifice as God had commanded, he brought the fruit of his own labor, proudly supposing that this offering of disobedience was just as acceptable to God as the one He had prescribed. His was the first act of works-righteousness, the forerunner of every such act since his time. Every person of every era who has tried to come to God on the basis of his own merits and works, or by some humanly designed religious prescriptions, has followed in the unbelieving, grace—rejecting steps of Cain. By rejecting God's prescribed animal sacrifice, Cain rejected God's provision of substitutionary salvation in His Son toward which that blood offering pointed.
Abel, on the other hand, by obediently offering the blood sacrifice God required, in faith leaped across the centuries and touched the cross. God accepted his offering not because it had any spiritual benefit in itself but because it was presented in faith and obedience.

Since the time of Cain and Abel the two divergent lines of works and faith have characterized man's religious life. It is the very thing that Paul is dealing with in Galatians and the very thing we still deal with today in the church. The "work" of the sacrifice does not free us from sin, it is Christ who frees us and we must walk in faith that when Christ frees us we are truly free.


When men and women get their hands on religion one of the first things they often do is turn it into an instrument for controlling others, to put or keep them in their place.  It is a long and glorious tradition. 

Saul of Tarsus was doing his best to add yet another chapter to this dreary history when he was converted by Jesus to something radically and entirely different - a free life in God.  Through Jesus, Paul learned that God was not an impersonal force to be used to make people behave in certain prescribed ways, but a personal Savior who set us free to live a free life.  God did not coerce us from without, but set us free from within.

It was a glorious experience and Paul set off telling others, introducing and inviting everyone he met into this free life.  In his early travels he founded a series of churches in the Roman province of Galatia.  A few years later Paul learned that religious leaders of the old school had come into those churches, called his views and authority into question and were reintroducing the old ways, herding all these freedom-loving Christians back into the corral of religious rules and regulations.

Paul was, of course, furious.  He was furious with the old guard for coming in with their strong-arm religious tactics and intimidating the Christians into giving up their free life in Jesus.  But he was also furious with the Christians for caving in to the intimidation.

His letter to the Galatian churches helps them, and us, recover the original freedom.  It also gives direction in the nature of God's gift of freedom - most necessary guidance, for freedom is a delicate and subtle gift, easily perverted and often squandered.


Eugene Peterson