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A Life of Freedom

At last we have freedom, for Christ has set us free! We must always cherish this truth[a] and firmly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.

I, Paul, tell you: If you think there is benefit in circumcision and Jewish regulations, then you’re acting as though Christ is not enough. I say it again emphatically: If you let yourselves be circumcised you are obliged to fulfill every single one of the commandments and regulations of the law!

If you want to be made right with God by fulfilling the obligations of the law, you have cut off more than your flesh—you have cut yourselves off from Christ and have fallen away from the revelation of grace!

But we have the true hope that comes from being made right with God, and by the Spirit we wait eagerly for this hope. When you’re joined to the Anointed One, circumcision and religious obligations can benefit you nothing. All that matters now is living in the faith that works and expresses itself through love.

Before you were led astray, you were so faithful.[b] Who has deceived you so that you have turned from what is right?

The One who enfolded you into his grace is not behind this false teaching that you’ve embraced. Don’t you know that when you allow even a little lie into your heart, it can permeate your entire belief system?[c]

10 Deep in my heart I have confidence that the Lord, who lives in you, will bring you back around to the truth. And I’m convinced that those who trouble you, whoever they think they are, will bear the penalty!

11 Dear friends, why do you think the religious system persecutes me? Is it because I preach the message of being circumcised and keeping all the laws of Judaism? Not at all! Is there no longer any offense over the cross? 12 To tell you the truth, I am so disgusted with all your agitators. I wish they would go even further and cut off their legalistic influence from your lives![d]

13 Beloved ones, God has called us to live a life of freedom. But don’t view this wonderful freedom as an excuse to set up a base of operations in the natural realm. Constantly love each other and be committed to serve one another.

14 For all the law can be summarized in one grand statement:

“Demonstrate love to your neighbor, even as you care for and love yourself.”[e]

15 But if you continue to criticize and come against each other over minor issues, you’re acting like wild beasts trying to destroy one another![f]

The Holy Spirit, Our Victory

16 Let me emphasize this: As you yield to the dynamic life and power of the Holy Spirit, you will abandon the cravings of your self-life.[g] 17 When your self-life craves the things that offend the Holy Spirit you hinder him from living free within you! And the Holy Spirit’s intense cravings hinder your self-life from dominating you! So then, the two incompatible and conflicting forces within you are your self-life of the flesh and the new creation life of the Spirit.[h]

18 But when you yield to the life of the Spirit,[i] you will no longer be living under the law, but soaring above it!

19 The behavior of the self-life is obvious: Sexual immorality, lustful thoughts, pornography, 20 chasing after things instead of God,[j] manipulating others,[k] hatred of those who get in your way, senseless arguments, resentment when others are favored, temper tantrums, angry quarrels, only thinking of yourself, being in love with your own opinions, 21 being envious of the blessings of others, murder, uncontrolled addictions,[l] wild parties, and all other similar behavior.

Haven’t I already warned you that those who use their “freedom” for these things will not inherit the kingdom realm of God!

22–23 But the fruit[m] produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions:[n]

joy that overflows,[o]

peace that subdues,

patience[p] that endures,

kindness[q] in action,

a life full of virtue,[r]

faith that prevails,

gentleness of heart, and

strength of spirit.[s]

Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.[t]

24 Keep in mind that we who belong to Jesus Christ have already experienced crucifixion. For everything connected with our self-life[u] was put to death on the cross and crucified with Messiah. 25 If the Spirit is the source of our life, we must also allow the Spirit to direct every aspect of our lives. 26 So may we never be arrogant, or look down on another, for each of us is an original. We must forsake all jealousy that diminishes the value of others.[v]


  1. 5:1 Or “stand strong.”
  2. 5:7 Or “you were running well.”
  3. 5:9 Literally “A little yeast goes through the whole lump of dough.” The text uses a metaphor of “yeast” that has effects that cannot be hidden when it is folded into dough. The yeast is the lie of legalism.
  4. 5:12 Or “castrate themselves.”
  5. 5:14 See Lev. 19:18.
  6. 5:15 Both Aramaic and Greek manuscripts read “biting and devouring,” which is a metaphor for critical attitudes that will destroy the fellowship. These terms were often found in classical Greek literature to describe wild animals fighting each other in deadly conflict.
  7. 5:16 Or “the natural realm.”
  8. 5:17 The concept of the “new creation life of the Spirit” is implied in the greater context of Galatians, and referred to explicitly in 6:15–16.
  9. 5:18 The word for Spirit is actually “Spirit-Wind.”
  10. 5:20 Literally “idolatry.”
  11. 5:20 Literally “witchcraft.” The Greek word for “witchcraft” can imply drug usage.
  12. 5:21 Literally “drunken binges.”
  13. 5:22–23 The Greek word here can be translated “harvest.”
  14. 5:22–23 There is clear textual inference that the “fruit” (singular) of the Holy Spirit is love, with the other virtues displaying aspects of the greatest quality of Spirit-life, agape love.
  15. 5:22–23 This translation has chosen to supply action to these virtues, for they are not meant to be abstract virtues, but made visible with actions.
  16. 5:22–23 The Greek word for patience is taken from a verb that means “ever tapping” or “never quitting.”
  17. 5:22–23 The Aramaic word can be translated “sweetness.”
  18. 5:22–23 Or “goodness.”
  19. 5:22–23 The word self is not found in this verse; however, most translations render this as “self-control.” The word is actually “lordship,” or by implication “spirit-strength.”
  20. 5:22–23 Literally “there is no law set against these things” or “there is no conflict with Jewish laws.”
  21. 5:24 Or “all our fleshly passions and desires.” See 1 John 2:15–17.
  22. 5:26 As translated from the Aramaic.

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