Galatians is written to people who are being told that they must do something by their own merits to join, or be identified with, Israel. Obviously they’ve seen something in their belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that tells them they are connected with the natural seed line to have opened themselves up to this type of deceptive reasoning. Paul is emphatically explaining that they are connected, through their faith in Yeshua (Gal. 3:29)!
Their salvation in Yeshua joins them as “sons of promise” just as Isaac was (4:28). Remember it took Yahveh opening Sarah’s womb for Isaac to be born. Hagar, typifies our own “trying” to make God’s promise come to pass, not believing God and allowing Him to bring it to pass… say create something that wasn’t there before – being born again. You can’t find anywhere in Torah where it lays out for a Gentile seeking to walk in the ways of Yahveh to become a Jew (which is what circumcision stood for). No, that was an addition of rabbis. Ironically, today many Christians have kicked out most things Jewish or Hebrew of their beliefs and worship, so they can’t imagine why anyone would want to be circumcised or be identified with the Jews by following Torah. They don’t see the Jewish connection to what they believe, but salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). Maybe we don’t have that same sense today since most don’t walk out a faith that is in the shadow of our Head (Col. 2:16-19), Yeshua the Messiah ? Anyway, when we seek to be justified by our own merits, we are doing a “Hagar” all over again – and what does that bring? Ishmael!! No, our justification for salvation (being born-again) is only through faith in Yeshua working through love.
Before you start dancing in the aisles at our not having to join naturally Israel see that Paul doesn’t stop at our entrance into the family. He goes on to point out something interesting… in our freedom (not having to rely on our own merits for salvation), we are not to serve the flesh, but walk in the Spirit. Why? Because the deeds of the flesh have already been judged by Torah, and when you walk in them you are placing yourself under the Law!! Flesh and Spirit are opposed, so don’t think you can get in by the working of the Spirit only to live by the flesh after, for those who do will never inherit the kingdom of God. In Romans, Paul points out that the flesh is hostile to God and does not subject itself to His law! And thereby can’t please Him! (Romans 8:7-8) So does that mean the Spirit is subject to the law? Romans says that by the Spirit we are to put to death the flesh (Romans 8:13). And in Galatians after listing the fruit of the Spirit (the outcome of living a life by the Spirit), Paul says that “against such things there is no law.”(Gal. 5:23b) Yup, there is no negative command or due punishment for these things in Torah! Then he says “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”(5:24) So we are to be dead to self. The Spirit is not “under the law” simply because when we live our lives in the body by its rule, we will not be doing things that deserve punishment by law. Paul also points out that each person will in the end have to “bear their own load.”(Gal. 6:5) Meaning that even we believers will stand before God to give an accounting for our lives and to be judged by our works. Not necessarily as to whether or not we are saved, though possibly, but our works will be tested to see if they are gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or stubble… some will make it, but as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). Our confession of faith means nothing if there is no fruit of our being changed in how we live our lives. James 2:14-26 makes it very clear that faith without works is dead. When we continue to live life by the flesh, we deny with our actions the words of our mouths and have dead faith.
Since everyone is familiar with the fruit of the Spirit, I’d like to list the lesser known (but more practiced) deeds of the flesh taken from Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-9; Romans 8:13; 1Corinthians 5:11-13, 6:9-10; 2Corinthians 12:20; Ephesians 4:17-22, 5:3-5. Let’s examine ourselves realistically to see want we are cultivating in our lives…
Immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, greed, passion, evil desire, abusive speech, malice, slander, disturbances, filthy speech, coarse jesting, silly talk, fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, swindlers.