Do not turn your liberty into license
Gal 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.
Do not turn your liberty into license. The apostle, in this Epistle, had been urging the Christians of Galatia to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free, and never to be again entangled with the yoke of legal bondage. He warned them against that error into which many have fallen. But you know that it is often our tendency, if we escape from one error, to rush into another. So the apostle guards these Christians against that Antinomian spirit which teaches us that freedom from the law allows indulgence in sin: “Use not your liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” Gal 5:13.
Gal 5:14. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Oh, if that “one word” were so engraven on our hearts as to influence all our lives, what blessed lives of love to God and love to men we should lead!
Gal 5:15. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
When dogs and wolves bite one another, it is according to their nature; but it is sad indeed when sheep take to biting one another. If I must be bitten at all, let me rather be bitten by a dog than by a sheep. That is to say, the wounds inflicted by the godly are far more painful to bear, and last much longer, than those caused by wicked men. Besides, we can say with the psalmist, “It was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it” Ps 55:12. It is natural that the serpent’s seed should nibble at our heel, and seek to do us injury; but when the bite comes from a brother,-from a child of God, then it is peculiarly painful. Well might the apostle write, “If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” Gal 5:15. I have lived long enough to see churches absolutely destroyed, not by any external attacks, but by internal contention.
Gal 5:16. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
If your life is guided by the Spirit of God,-if you are spiritual men, and your actions are wrought in the power of the Spirit,-“ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” Gal 5:16.
Gal 5:17. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh:
They will never agree; these two powers are always contrary one to the other. If you think that you can help God by getting angry, you make a great mistake. You cannot fight God’s battles with the devil’s weapons. It is not possible that the power of the flesh should help the power of the Spirit.
Gal 5:17-18. And these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
The law is ever to you the blessed rule by which you judge your conduct, but it is not a law of condemnation to you, neither are you seeking salvation by it.
Gal 5:19-21. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like:
The list is always too long to be completed; we are obliged to sum up with a kind of et cetera: “and such like.”
Gal 5:21. Of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
A very solemn, searching, sweeping declaration. Let each man judge himself by this test. “The fruit of the Spirit” is equally manifest, as the apostle goes on to say, —
Gal 5:22-23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Neither human nor divine. Good men make no law against these things, nor does God, for He approves of them. What a wonderful cluster of the grapes of Eshcol we have here! “The fruit of the Spirit”-as if all this were but one after all;-many luscious berries forming one great cluster. Oh, that all these things may be in us and abound, that we may be neither barren nor unfruitful!
Gal 5:24. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
It is not yet dead, but it is crucified. It hangs up on the cross, straining to break away from the iron holdfast, but it cannot, for it is doomed to die. Happy indeed shall that day be when it shall be wholly dead.
Gal 5:25-26. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Do Christian people need to be talked to like this? Ay, that they do, for the best of men are but men at their best, and the godliest saint is liable to fall into the foulest sin unless the grace of God prevent. Oh, that we could expel from the Church of Christ all vain glorying, all provoking of one another, and all envying of one another! How often, if one Christian brother does a little more than his fellow-workers, they begin to find fault with him; and if one is blessed with greater success than others are, how frequently that success is disparaged and spoken of slightingly! This spirit of envy is, more or less, in us all; and though, perhaps, we are not exhibiting it just now, it only needs a suitable opportunity for its display, and it would be manifested. No man here has any idea of how bad he really is. You do not know how good the grace of God can make you, nor how bad you are by nature, nor how bad you might become if that nature were left to itself.
Gal 6:1. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, …
If he travels so slowly that his faults catch him up, and knock him down: “If a man be overtaken in a fault” Gal 6:1,-
Gal 6:1. Ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness;
Set his bones for him if they have been broken; put him in his proper place again.
Gal 6:1. Considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
What would you wish others to do to you if you were in the position of this fallen one? The apostle does not say, “Considering thyself, lest thou also be overtaken in a fault” Gal 6:1. No, but, “lest thou also be tempted,”-as much as to say, “It only needs the temptation to come to you, and you will yield to it.”
Gal 6:2. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.