Sunday Evening Bible Study

April 7, 1996

Galatians 5:13-15


Paul is writing to a group of churches which he had helped to establish.

After having established these churches, there were a group of teachers called "Judaizers" who came in and began spreading their own doctrines.

The Judaizers felt that a Gentile couldn't really be saved apart from first becoming a Jew, and that started by being circumcised.

:13-15  Don't abuse the liberty

:13  ye have been called unto liberty

Paul has spent much of the last few chapters showing how we are free from the Law when we come to the Lord.

He's been showing us that trying to please God by keeping the Law was a form of slavery, and that we have been bought from that slavery and set free.

:13  only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh

flesh - sarx - flesh (the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood) of both man and beasts... ;

But here it means - denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God

occasion - aphorme - a place from which a movement or attack is made, a base of operations; a springboard

Paul is warning the Galatians not to abuse this liberty in Jesus.

Some would say, "Gee, I don't have to obey the law anymore?  Whoopee!!"

And then they would use this knowledge as a springboard to go out and break every law that was ever written.


Freedom from the law doesn't mean it's okay to sin.

Paul is concerned that the Galatians don't go from one form of bondage to another.

He doesn't want them to go from being enslaved to the Law, to becoming enslaved to their own sin nature.

Romans 6:16  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

1Co 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

For some people, being under the law is like being in prison.

As long as certain people remain in prison, they don't break the Law.

But as soon as they get out of prison, they can't handle the freedom, and they go out and break the Law, almost seeming as if they want to go back where they're safe.

Some people had accused Paul of teaching that since we are free from the Law, that we can do whatever we want to.

Yet Paul taught that when a person came to Jesus, there was a radical change in their nature, and they now had the ability to say no to sin.

Romans 6:1-4  What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?2  God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?3  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?4  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even

so we also should walk in newness of life.

We need to wake up to the fact that when we accepted the Lord, He put a new nature within us, a nature that no longer has to sin.

:13  by love serve one another

This becomes the overall guiding influence in our lives, love.

Jesus said that this was His commandment:

Joh 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Joh 15:12  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

1Jo 3:23  And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

2Jo 1:5  And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.


Get your eyes off of yourself, and serve others.

Rather than our focus being on fulfilling the lusts of our flesh, we need to turn our focus on serving one another in love.

I think that sometimes the greatest problem I have is ME.

When my focus is too much on ME and what my needs are, I center my life around getting my needs met, and my whole focus is selfish.

But when I focus on others, I'm a lot closer to what God wants me to be like.

Philippians 2:1-4  If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2  make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 4  do not [merely] look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (NAS)

:14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself

The one word is "love".

Matthew 22:36-40  Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38  This is the first and great commandment. 39  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

If you love your neighbor, you aren't going to kill him.

If you love your neighbor, you aren't going to steal his VCR.

If you love your neighbor, you aren't going to commit adultery with his wife.

If you can just get down this "love" thing, you've got it made!


Isn't it interesting that Paul has made such a big deal about not being in bondage to the Law, and not trying to please God by trying to keep the Law, and now he turns around and tells us how we can fulfill the Law?

The issue has never been getting rid of the Law, as if the Law were a bad thing.

The issue is only that we understand that we can't make God's standards by trying to keep the Law on our own.

Ro 8:4  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

:14  love thy neighbour as thyself

A lot of people make a big deal out of the fact that if we are to do this correctly, loving others, that we must first love ourselves.

But the Scripture never asks us to put the focus first on ourselves.

In fact, the Scripture assumes that we already do love ourselves, probably too much.

Eph 5:28-29  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  29  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

If you didn't love yourself, then when you looked in the mirror in the morning, it wouldn't bother you that you're so ugly.

If you didn't love yourself, then you wouldn't care what you looked like.

But the fact that it bothers you that a hair is out of place shows that you very much love yourself, and want yourself to get the best of attention.


Get the focus off yourself, and onto others.

Then your perspective is correct.

:15  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another

bite - dakno - to bite with the teeth; metaph., to wound the soul, cut lacerate, rend with reproaches

devour -  katesthio - to consume by eating, to eat up, devour; metaph. to devour i.e. squander, waste: substance

consumed - analisko - to expend; to consume, use up, destroy

If we're not careful, we can get so caught up in "getting even" with someone, that we don't realize that we're ruining ourselves at the same time.

There is a famous story of two snakes that grabbed each other by the tail and each swallowed the other.

Apparently, due to the influence of the false teachers, the Galatians had started developing factions and bitter strife in the church.

Paul warns them that if they keep up this petty stuff, they're going to ruin the church, especially it's testimony.


The enemy isn't in the church.

There are churches where different groups and factions develop.

Rivalries start, and one group competes against the other for attendance, or "spirituality".

It can happen within church staffs, and then people start following their own particular staff person, rather than being a whole, unified church.

The enemy isn't some other person in the church that you disagree with!

The enemy is Satan!

Eph 6:12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].

There may be people in the church that you disagree with, but you need to grow up and put the differences behind you, or else you end up bringing destruction to the church.

As I've often shared during communion, when we celebrate our oneness together, "you better get used to one another, because you're stuck with one another"

You can tell a lot about a church when you get the people talking about who their "enemies" or "rivals" are.


Pastor Chuck tells a story about an incident when he belonged to the Rotary Club.

They sponsored an "competition" night, where each businessman was to invite his chief business competition to a dinner.

Someone asked Chuck which church's pastor he was going to invite.

He responded, "I'm not in competition with other churches.  We're on the same team.  I'm going to invite the local bar owner."


Divisions and factions in the church is an evidence of carnality.

I think this is one of those "occasions" for the flesh to manifest itself in the church (verse 13).

When there are divisions in the church, it's not any kind of measure of any of the groups' spirituality, it's a clear indication that the groups within the church are CARNAL!

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, they had divisions in their church as well:

1Co 3:3-4  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas [there is] among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4  For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I [am] of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

Next time you find yourself taking sides in an argument in church, or feeling like some other group isn't quite as spiritual as you, WATCH OUT!

Most likely, you yourself are the carnal one.

:16-26  The Spirit versus the Flesh

:16  Walk in the Spirit




:16  and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.