Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love (Galatians 5:1-6).
The believers in Galatia were encouraged by Paul to continue living in the grace of God and to not revert back to the keeping of the law to appease a guilty conscience. The Judaizers as we call them were demanding that these newly converted Jewish believers submit to circumcision and obedience to the law as well as to their faith in Jesus.
The purpose of the law was to reveal the weakness and inability of the flesh. The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. The law could never save from sin. The law, with its demands for outward rigid performance, is impossible to keep without the indwelling of the Spirit.
Paul urges with great intensity and passion for those who are in Christ to remain free from the dictatorial demands of religion that place accomplishment of outward demands in the place of a living current relationship with the Father.
Here in Galatians, he contrasts the works of the flesh, or the works of the law with the fruit of faith, or the fruit of the spirit. One is cold and lifeless, while the other is alive and invigorating.
Life with Jesus frees us from the outward demands of the law because it creates a desire for closeness with the Father and a motivation to shun anything that would compromise that intimacy with the Most High. Walking in the grace of God creates a liberty that frees me to respond to the Father from within and literally cancels the yearning of the flesh!
When I think of work, I think of sweat, hard toil, tiredness, and labor. The Father has freed me from a works consciousness that does to please. Now I am what I am by the grace of God! The liberty of grace working in me produces fruit. When I think of fruit I think of refreshment, of a meadow full of trees bearing all sorts of delectable fruit that awaken my being and bring delight! Fruit is easy. It comes natural. And the fruit of the spirit are borne from my personal intimacy with the Father.
When I was about a year old in the Lord, I decided that I needed to fast a couple of days a week to discipline my flesh. A few weeks into this regimen, the Lord very abruptly told me to stop fasting. He told me that I was doing this as a form of works to be pleasing to Him. And He told me that it was producing spiritual pride in my life as I looked to see if others were as disciplined as I was. I stopped the regular fasting for a long time. I had to grow spiritually before I could fast with the right heart motive and not to gain favor with God.
The grace He has given us cost the Father so much that He is never pleased when we turn to the flesh and outward things to prove our rightness in His eyes. The grace provided by Jesus’ sacrifice more than enables you and me to stand in the presence of the Father fully pleasing to Him.
Stand fast in your liberty from religion today and your freedom from outward performance in order to please. God’s Grace is enough!