Focusing on outward signs does not transform a life into a warrior that is equipped for spiritual battles. Battling and squabbling about outward signs or rituals do not glorify the LORD GOD. The debate or squabbles that were happening at the time that Paul wrote this letter was circumcision. Jews had been circumcising their sons since the time of Abraham, and gentiles were uncircumcised. The Messianic Jews thought that all gentiles needed to be circumcised. The gentile males were astounded that Jesus would expect that because while He was on Earth, He never told males this outward sign was a requirement to be saved. The act of circumcision was the LORD GOD's idea not man's.
God continued to Abraham, “And you: You will honor my covenant, you and your descendants, generation after generation. This is the covenant that you are to honor, the covenant that pulls in all your descendants: Circumcise every male. Circumcise by cutting off the foreskin of the penis; it will be the sign of the covenant between us. Every male baby will be circumcised when he is eight days old, generation after generation—this includes house-born slaves and slaves bought from outsiders who are not blood kin. Make sure you circumcise both your own children and anyone brought in from the outside. That way my covenant will be cut into your body, a permanent mark of my permanent covenant. An uncircumcised male, one who has not had the foreskin of his penis cut off, will be cut off from his people—he has broken my covenant.”...Since the time of Abraham when God made a covenant with Abraham, the LORD. Genesis 17:9-14
In CHRIST, we are called to the Life of Freedom. That is the whole focus of Galatians 5. Here are some questions to spark thought and prayerful searching.
1. What was PAUL doing in his pre-Damascus Road days? Why is this pointed out in the context of the circumcision debate?
2. Why are outward duties and rituals perhaps an indicator that one has shackled themself back into slavery, forsaking the FREEDOM offered in CHRIST?
3. Do personal "behind close door" practices and rituals have a place in the believer's life? (IE … also consider the other things you do behind closed door … think hygiene and the implications if you do not do regular rituals of hygiene).
4. Paul confirms that God has indeed called us to a free life, yet Paul issues a warning of something we are NOT to do with this freedom. What was that warning??
13-15 It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom.
5. How are we supposed to walk out freedom in our lives then?
Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows.
6. What is an act of true freedom? AND what is the natural consequence to ourselves, our relationship, communities, and the world if we don't choose that freedom?
7. Paul gives sound counsel of how a person can work out this life of freedom … is it possible to live a two-face existence?
8. What kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time … or to live a SELF CENTERED LIFE? (HINT: there are 15 items listed)
9. Will you inherit God's kingdom if you choose to live out life in this self-serving, "got to have my own way all the time"?
10. What happens when we live God's way?
11. What are these God given gifts? (HINT: there are 9 listed)
12. What is legalism? AND how are those who belong to Christ seated in that concept?
13. What TWO things did Paul warn us about if we choose to live out a Spirit led life? Are both equally important?
Let me know if you have any questions or comments. 😀