Dear Brethren of Galatia, Before I address the issues that are on my mind concerning you, I would like you to know my ministry and authority was not granted to me by men. I have not received my place in the church by appointment from any of the disciples, but I have been directly called and commissioned with a certain message, directly from God himself. That message I preached to you. I preached to you the one true gospel of Jesus Christ, which came to me by direct revelation. I am so sure of the truth of that revelation, that even if an angel from heaven came and told you otherwise, I would say that that angel was from the devil himself. I came to you and preached the good news of grace that I received, and you gladly received it, but now I am absolutely amazed that you have moved from your faith in the gospel preached to you, to some other so called "gospel", preached to you by Judaisers who want you to return to the bondage of the Jewish religion. It is definitely not a gospel at all, for the gospel is "good news", but what these other preachers are trying to get you to believe, is a perversion of the truth. Is it not true, that regardless of the persecution I have received, I have still preached this gospel?. If it wasn’t so real to me or if I had invented it myself, then I could just have easily changed it. For then I would not have been persecuted. But here I stand and I can do no other, nor can I preach any other gospel, regardless of the consequences. You are well aware of my own testimony and experience of salvation. I was in the Jewish religion up to my neck. There wasn’t a more fanatical religious Jew than myself. But God intervened, and changed me completely, and He commissioned me to preach the message He gave me, to the Gentiles. I was so sure of the call and the message that I did not even go to Jerusalem to see the leaders of the church, I once persecuted. Rather I went alone to the deserts of Arabia for three years and there alone with God the revelation came. God himself, opened up the scriptures I had leant from my youth. He showed me how all the Old Testament is fulfilled in Christ and how salvation is of His initiative and His power alone.
After that time I went to Jerusalem and saw Peter, who I stayed with for a fortnight. I did not see or confer with any other disciple, except for James the Lord’s brother. From there I went preaching and setting up churches in Syria and Cilicia. I never met anyone from the churches in Jerusalem or Judea. None of them even know what I look like; all they know is what they have heard, that once I persecuted the church but now I am preaching the gospel. For which they praise God. Then I went up to Jerusalem about fourteen years later, with my fellow evangelists Barnabus and Titus. I went because God revealed it to me that I should go. While I was there I did not even discuss with the leaders concerning the Gospel, as to whether they preached the same gospel as I did. At no time did they even suggest that Christianity was an extension of the Jewish religion, in that I should circumcise the converts. In fact Titus who was with me was obviously a Gentile and they never questioned his part in the fellowship of believers. Certainly they never said anything about him needing to be circumcised. However I was aware at the time that even then, there were some false brethren who resented the gospel of liberty from the law that we preached. But we did not concede one iota to them, so that the good news of Jesus Christ might still be available to you Gentiles. We met all and sundry there, but even those who seemed to be the leaders had nothing to add to our knowledge of the Gospel. On the contrary they were convinced of my calling to the Gentiles as surely as they recognised Peter’s calling to the Jews. They gave us their blessing and bid us God’s speed on the way. They made mention of the need to remember the poor, but we were already doing that anyway. There was one significant occasion when Barnabus and I were in Antioch. Peter was there also and he was eating with some Gentiles. That was not surprising, because He of all people should be willing to fellowship with Gentiles because God has especially shown Him, that no longer could he call the Gentiles unclean, because He had cleansed them. However, to my amazement, when some people came from James, who is head of the church in Jerusalem, he left the Gentiles and went to sit with some Jews. Obviously he did this because he feared that they would take tales back to James. It seemed obviously quite clear to me that they had not totally left their religious connections, regardless of what they had said to me previously. I was amazed, even disgusted with Peter’s behaviour that he should treat the Gentile believers in such a manner, that I accused him of hypocrisy to his face. For since believing in Christ and receiving the Spirit they had themselves been as free from the old religion as the Gentiles, so why was he inferring that the Gentiles should be different from the Jews. They may not have had the revelation of the Law but they have come to know Christ. They do not need the law. They could no more keep it than we could. Even though we were brought up in it. We are glad to rejoice in the truth that Christ has set us free from the Law. We remember all those wasted years trying to stand justified before God by keeping it. We all know it is impossible. For this reason, God sent Jesus to bring the Law to its end. He fulfilled the law, bringing it to its fullness. Its demands (our death) were paid by Jesus Christ once and for all by one sacrifice forever. The law is finished with. It might be true that we still sin even though we are Christians, but that is not Christ in us who causes us to sin. On the contrary, He is our only righteousness. And now as Christians, if we desire to stop sinning, the Law isn’t going to help us. The reason we desire to be holy is not because we have the law to discipline us. THE LAW COULDN’T STOP US FROM SINNING BEFORE we came to believe in Jesus, IT WON’T HAVE ANY MORE POWER NOW. So we don’t need to bring it back. It’s not going to help us become righteous, because we are already righteous, by faith. The righteousness of Christ is the righteousness of the law. If you have his righteousness then by faith, why do you waste your time building up laws again. Why make yourselves a transgressor? For that is what you are doing. If you died when Christ died, then surely you are dead to the Law. So if you now try to live a righteous life by keeping rules and regulations, any righteousness is your own righteousness, not the righteousness of Christ, which you should put on by faith. In doing so you only bring yourselves under condemnation again. The law condemned us to death, so thankfully "we died" in Christ. That’s the end of the law as far as we are concerned. We are dead. God has brought us to new life just as He raised Christ to new life. He would not have given us his life if we were not righteous. We are now saved, not by our efforts or works but by HIS grace, through faith. There is no law, so there is no sin to separate us from God. Sin has lost its power to separate, for it received its power from the law. The only reason God sent the Law was to reveal sin. and reveal our condemnation. But now Christ has made an end to the law. You may ask, Does this mean that we can sin as much as we like? Not exactly! We could keep sinning and indeed there would always be enough grace to cover our sin if we believed, but that would be to frustrate the grace of God. Just as the Law was sent for a purpose, so grace has been showered on us for a purpose. That grace if rightly received should motivate us to please God by doing His will. If we don't respond to God’s grace then we are stopping it from accomplishing its purpose. We respond to the Love of God by returning that love. To love God and our neighbour is to fulfil the Law. But that doesn't justify us, we are already justified by our faith in Christ. Whether we sin or live holy, we will never add to or take way the righteousness we have received by faith. Once we start keeping rules or carry out spiritual rituals, to make us righteous, we condemn ourselves for we are building standards and measures we cannot live up to. We may never reach the standard of perfection in our behaviour as expected by the Law, but that does not stop us having Christ in us and He is our righteousness, and always will be no matter how holy we might become in the future. The work of Christ on the cross, was to save us. If now our salvation depends upon our works or behaviour then Christ no need to have died. Either He saves us or we save ourselves. If we can save ourselves then the cross was a waste of time.
It is as though a magician has fooled you by a sleight of hand trick. "now you see it, now you don't"; I find it hard to credit that anyone could be so easily duped as you have been. You, of all people who had the story of the cross so clearly preached to you, it was as clear as being there at the time. Just tell me one thing, how were you born again? How did you become a child of God? Was it by good works, or by your faith in what you heard. So if God gave you His Spirit, merely on the basis of your faith, does not that prove that you were perfect enough to satisfy God? How then has someone got you to believe that you need to do good works of the law to be "one of God’s people"? If you have His Spirit what greater credentials do you need to be a child of God? Don’t tell me you have lost all you had, I hope not. Surely you can see that those who minister the gospel to you and indeed do miracles, don’t do such things because they have been circumcised, but by faith. God wants you, and his church to live by faith. Faith is the all important ingredient He requires. Just think about Abraham, from whom the Jews get their religion, and their proud boast that they are the chosen "people of God". Abraham himself wasn’t accepted or chosen by God because of his good works or character, but because of his Faith . Genesis ch. 15 v 6, says that "Abraham believed God, and God credited him to be righteous because of his faith" So the real children of Abraham are children born of faith. That is why Abraham was promised that in him all nations would be blessed. It wasn’t because they were physical descendants of Abraham, because they clearly would never be, but that anyone from any nation who had the same kind of faith would receive the blessing that Abraham received, which was righteousness. The promised "blessing" could not have been the law because the scriptures says that anyone trying to fulfil the law, is under a curse, rather than any blessing; The Old Testament says that "the just shall live by faith". To live means to be spiritually alive, to God. To stay alive to God under the law you would have to keep them. Clearly no-one can do it, so all the law does for us is to condemn us, in fact it brings us under a curse rather than a blessing. That is why Christ died; he died to redeem us, ( buy us back) from under the curse of the law. He paid with his own blood, what the law demanded of us that we should pay. So the law has been paid and the Spirit has come upon us, and we are saved, justified, children of God. The covenant that God made with Abraham cannot be broken, nor ever will be. In Genesis ch. 22 v 18, notice that God promises to bless the world through Abraham’s seed. This is singular. it does not say seeds. So it is referring to only one of his descendants, and that descendent was Christ. So the promise to bless the world through Christ was a promise to provide righteousness by faith, to anyone who believed in Christ. Now if this covenant was in existence 400 years before the law came, then surely it must still be in existence and the law made no difference to it, and indeed could not make any difference to it. If God had chosen to bless the world through the law, then blessing would come by keeping the law and doing works of righteousness, but all the works of righteousness man is capable of, would never be righteousness enough to satisfy a just and Holy God. So God, knowing this, never intended to let man be justified by his works, but rather by faith in his promises. Abraham received a promise and believed it. This pleased God. Our works can never please God because they are faulty. Faith is not faulty because it is faith in Christ the perfect sacrifice. So then, you may ask, why did God send the law. Well, the law was sent for one reason only, and that was to show up our sin. Like a thermometer shows the sickness of a feverish body, so the law reveals a standard by which we all fall short. The law is not the cure. Just as the thermometer is not the cure. The law could not bring righteousness that leads to life. Rather it brings condemnation that leads to death. The old law covenant, was between God and Moses, a human being. When two make a covenant, one can break it. The new covenant is between God and Jesus, who are one. This is therefore a more sure and unbreakable covenant.
The law was like a foster parent, or guardian keeping us under control until we come of age. When we are children we have to do what our foster parents or guardian tells us. We are no different than slaves in that respect. But when we mature to the legal age, our guardians lose all their control over us and we come into liberty and inherit all that is ours. Now we have come to that time as the children of God, and all of us are the same. We were all under the same law of condemnation, and now we have all come to liberty, and are all under the same grace of forgiveness and righteousness. It matters not whether we are Jew or Gentile, black or white, rich or poor. We are all one in Christ. We are all in the one Saviour, baptised into his body which is the church. If we are in Christ, who is the promised seed, then we can boast as Gentiles that we are the true seed or children of Abraham. So if we are children, we are no longer slaves, there is nothing we must do, or are told we must do. Children receive the inheritance simply because they are the genuine heirs, not for what they do. Because we have exercised faith like Abraham, we are the genuine heirs. So I hope you can understand why I am so amazed at what you are doing now. You have "come of age" and have gone back to being under guardians and foster parents, to inherit the blessing. The law is not possible to give you any blessing, as surely as a guardian can’t leave you an inheritance, for it is not theirs to designate or leave it to anyone. All they can do is bring you into bondage and subjection. Just as a child comes to maturity at a special designated time, so God sent Jesus at a special designated time. Jesus became like us, under the same law, but He was different, for He kept the law. He did on behalf of man, as a man, what no other man could do. He did the deeds of the law and reached the standard acceptable to God, which is perfection. So he had no need to die. But he did die. Therefore we are assured that His death was not for himself, to pay for his own wrongs, but his death was payment for us, who now believe in Him. God now accepts us as his righteous sons. He gave us his Spirit when we believed, did he not? That same Spirit in us causes us to call God our Father. Without that Spirit we could never do that. We could, but He would ignore us. Have you ever seen on the hillside, a lamb having lost its mother. So it goes nestling up to another sheep, maybe thinking it’s his or her mother, but very often the sheep will shoo them away. Similarly we could not nestle our way into God’s family and God would certainly never regard us as his children unless we really were. What more do you want than to know the true God, and even more than that, to be known by the one True and Living God. Before you came to know God you were slaves to other gods. Now it seems you have returned to the slavery of the "law" god. Compared to what we have in Christ, the law is weak in that it could not give you righteousness and poverty stricken because all it did was turn you into a beggar, pleading for mercy. Why return to that? I hear you are observing special religious days, and months. Such rituals are all dead religion. If you return to that then all I have preached to you has been a waste of time. I urge you again to become like me; - Free from under the law. I came to you when you were as Gentiles, free from the Jewish law and preached the gospel that had set me free from the Jewish law, and now you have gone back to what I left. Please don’t think that I am attacking you, because of any animosity against you. You have certainly never hurt me, indeed when I first started preaching my eyesight was very poor so I did not travel far, and I came to you because you were near. You were so kind and receptive that you would have given me your own eyes if you could have done. You couldn’t have treated me better had I been an angel from God. But I am speaking sternly and harshly to you now because of the desperate situation you have got yourselves into, by going back to this foolish religion of the Jews. When I was with you, you testified of the blessedness of your experience. Where has all that gone?. These Jews who are telling you that you can’t be a "Christian" unless you are circumcised, they are just religious fanatics. They say they are the true Christian and exclude you by saying "You’re not a true Christian because you haven’t got this mark in your flesh". Let me tell you, you should thank God you are excluded. You shouldn’t want to be like them. Be zealous and fanatical by all means but be fanatical about something which is true. You may be attracted by the thought that you would like some physical evidence that you are a child of God, (or even of Abraham,) like signing a card, or being plunged in water, or having your flesh cut, but they are all things of the flesh and not of the Spirit. God works in the realm of the Spirit. Honestly, I feel as though I am going through labour pains again over you. How I long that you would really come to your maturity in Christ. If Christ was really formed in you completely you wouldn’t even be thinking of adding such things to your salvation. How I wish I could be with you, then maybe I would not be so anxious or agitated as I am when writing to you now. Let me explain a little more to you about the law and The Spirit. You will recall that Abraham had two sons. Ishmael was born to Hagar who was a servant girl. Isaac was born of Sarah who though married, was not a slave to Abraham. Ishmael was born as any other child, it was just a human fleshly act that brought about his birth. But Isaac was born by the work of God. He was born as a result of a promise, which Abraham believed. Isaac was a child of faith. So one was born of the "flesh and the other was born of "spiritual" things such as the promise of God and faith. Now all this was arranged by God as a picture story of what He was to do for us through Christ. Hagar stands for the Law covenant and Sarah stands for the Grace covenant. We are descendants of Isaac in that we are children of the promise, and therefore of the freewoman. We are not bound to any earthly place, such as Jerusalem. You don’t have to be a Jew to be a child of God. It’s like saying you can’t be a child of God unless you go to Jerusalem. We are the spiritual Jerusalem which is the one in heaven, which we read of in Revelation, when John was invited to see the bride of Christ, and the city of Jerusalem came down from heaven. We are part of that Jerusalem- from above. It is just not physically possible for everyone in the world to go to Jerusalem. It is not even possible for everyone to be baptized in water. But it is possible for any one from anywhere to believe and have faith. So all nations can be blessed, as promised. Furthermore, just as Hagar and Ishmael opposed and persecuted Sarah so it is today. The people born of the flesh are opposing those born of the spirit. And within ourselves, our old life, wars against our new life. The old life, the flesh is proud and wants to show how good it can be, but the newman is humble and boasts of no righteousness of his own. Just as then, so now the instruction is the same "Get rid of the bondwoman", and anyone who wants to bring us into bondage. For we have been set free as the children of God by our faith in Christ and we will not be dragged back into any kind of bondage.
Now that you have been joined to Christ, make sure you stay, harnessed to him. For there is true liberty in being bound to him. For goodness sake, don’t start harnessing yourself to the law again. The law will bring you into all kinds of bondage. For once you start living by rules and regulations you will find that you have to be perfect to feel justified. In fact if you go back to such things then Christ’s power to justify is totally redundant. If you are going to try to keep the law again, in order to obtain righteousness before God then you don’t need Christ. Anyone, no matter who he is who tries to please God by keeping the law, is obliged to keep the whole law, every jot and tittle, before he could please God. We all know that is impossible. But now we have Christ as our Saviour He is our righteousness and our sins are covered by his precious blood and we live within God’s undeserved favour, because He sees Christ and not us. But you can’t enjoy grace if you are trying to gain merit by doing this and doing that as laid down in the law.We grow in grace and as we grow in grace as the sons of God we also grow in righteousness, but it is the righteousness of God, not our righteousness, because it is the Spirit that produces the righteousness. You are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. You could not be in a safer state or place. Although we are now free from the law, we all know that God desires us to be holy, as He is, but that is the process which takes place while we live in grace. It is a work of the Spirit, it is not something we do ourselves. There is no power in the law to make us holy, but there is power in faith for it works by love (or grace). We walk with God, because he sets his grace on us because of our faith. We believe and trust in Him because we recognise his great love to us. We reason that if he loved us enough to die for us while we were still in our sin, then now that we have acknowledged our sin and cast ourselves upon him to save us, then we can fully trust him to cleanse us from all our sin day by day. As we walk with Him in such light the process works within us, to make us more like Him. The Christian pathway is definitely not a sinful pathway, just as the keeping of the law is not a pathway of holiness. The difference is that those who walk the pathway of the law will never reach the standard. but in the Christian pathway we have already been lifted up to that standard by faith and as we remain on that pathway by faith, so the Holy Spirit changes us, so that we are day by day and year by year becoming more like a true Son of God, like Jesus. As our spirit life grows, so our flesh life decreases. On the other hand, all we do when we live our lives on the "pathway of the law" is mere human effort. It is of the flesh, and there is no chance that the flesh will ever please God, or reach any standard that glorifies Him. To say I am disappointed in you is an understatement. You were running a good race, but for some foolish reason you have been led off the race track completely. This racetrack of the law which you have been diverted on to, is not what God has called you to. So get back on track and have nothing to do with anyone who would have you do otherwise. The gospel I preach is the pure gospel. Even a little bit of false teaching, regarding the need for the law, ruins the whole gospel. Keep the gospel pure in your beliefs and behaviour. I have confidence in you that you will respond and those who have troubled you will answer to God. They go round cutting off bits of flesh, but I would that they themselves were cut off. For they have taken away your liberty. So remain in your freedom in Christ, but just remember that it is not a license to sin, that Christ has given you. He has not set you free to get entangled again, for so you will if you don’t turn from sin. Instead of serving sin you should now be serving God by serving the fellow members of your church. When you have said all about the law, you could sum it up in one line; "Love your neighbour as yourself. " There is great liberty in love, as Sarah was not a bondwoman, though she was a wife. She knew her husband loved her and she loved him so it was a joy to please him and obeying him was easy because she knew he loved her and would not ask her to do anything that would hurt her. That is what it means to be in liberty. We are not in liberty to please ourselves as if we had been given a license by God to do those things which are against his will and purposes. No we have been called to a pathway of love. We love him and serve him, we are called to love one another and serve one another also. If we hit each other over the head with the law, competing, judging, condemning one another and biting one another, you can be sure that soon there will be nothing of you left, for you will eventually devour one another. So enjoy your Christian life and walk day by day conscious of the presence of God’s spirit with you and be sensitive to his will. If you do that you will be truly happy and satisfied and the sinful desires of the flesh will have no leeway. For the things of the flesh and the things of the spirit are so diametrically opposed that one excludes the other. But the law is definitely among the flesh region. I should know because I kept the law better than anyone, but I truthfully say that I am the greatest of sinners. If the law had any good effect then I would surely not feel such a great sinner, but that just proves that all the law will do, no matter how holy you try to be in yourself, is to make you feel a greater sinner. Many church goers, do so out of guilty consciences, and thousands who have no sense of guilt whatsoever, never go near a church. So those trying to keep the law and live good lives are more conscious of sin and guilt than those who don’t. Try to learn to live in the Spirit. Practice the presence of God, walk with him, because now you can, for your sin no longer separates you from Him. He sees you as his child, as you walk and live in God’s company, by the Spirit, so you will get to know Him and become like Him, You eventually won’t even want to do the things you used to enjoy. You have been brought from the "flesh life to a "spirit life" All the evil things you used to practice, should now be replaced with things that the Spirit produces through you. Sexual immorality, impurity of thought, worshipping money, witchcraft, hate, quarrelling, jealousy, bad temper, envy, drunkenness, all such things are not practiced in the Kingdom of God into which you have been born. So live in the new kingdom and you will produce the life of Jesus in your life. This is what the Holy Spirit will produce in you, such things as love, joy peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self discipline. These are the things you should be cultivating as you grow in grace. When you became a Christian, you were accepted by God on the basis that you died by faith when Christ died. So if you died, then seek to live a new kind of life, don’t just carry on living as you did before. To live by faith is to live in the Spirit. If the Spirit has brought you into a new kind of life, then live in that life. Do not follow after the desires of the flesh. Be careful not to seek glory for yourself in the church. If God blesses, do not provoke the weaker brethren to envy by your testimony. If you are strong in the Lord, just remember that there are weaker struggling brethren with greater burdens than yourself. Be concerned for them. Be a help, not a hindrance to other brethren and sisters in the Lord.
"So if a brother does fall in this way then don’t all kick him to death, because he has broken the law, help him, support him back to the way. One day you might slip up and then you will want some love and understanding yourself. Be concerned for one another, for this is what Jesus meant when he commanded us to love one another. There is no place in the church for anyone to thinks he is better than anyone else for we are all sinners and we are all in grace. It is not for anyone of us to put anyone else down, we are only responsible for our own lives and we are not to judge another in condemnation. That is up to the Lord, for the Lord is his master not you. Another thing you should remember to do, is to give to those who teach you the word of God. Don’t look upon it as though you are losing something, rather as something you are investing. Whatever you sow you reap. Giving to the Lord’s servants is an investment, for you will share in their reward if you help them to do it by giving in this way. Especially those who are "living by faith", trusting God for their daily needs to be supplied. If they went to work they wouldn’t have the time to read, study, preach and pray or enable them to minister to you. I trust you will realise by my writing that I have written this personally. My eyesight is so weak that I can only write with large letters. But I was so desperate to write to you I did not want to wait for someone to take it down in dictation from me, So I wrote it myself. I was and am very concerned about these people, who are teaching you wrong things. They are only after you to enhance their own reputations. If they preached the true Gospel they would be persecuted as I have been, by their fellow countrymen. I count you as my "converts" but I certainly don’t think I am anything to boast about. I lost all that when I became a Christian. All that pride and self importance is of the world, and when I died in Christ I died to all that. In fact if I wanted to boast about anything I would boast about the cross. Because it rid my life of all that worthless nonsense. I now live in Christ, and I am a completely new creature. I haven’t added to, nor cut bits off to please God, All that cutting off or even any putting on counts nothing to God, what God wants to see is the completely new person He has made us in Christ.. They are the real Jews, the true people of God, those who are justified by faith in Jesus Christ. I hope this is the last I shall hear about these people. If there is any mark in my flesh, to say I am a child of God, then it is not due to circumcision, but rather the marks from the beatings and stoning I have suffered as a Christian. They are the true marks of Jesus, for he also had such marks in His body, and they are the only kind of marks I want in my flesh also. May God be with you, may the grace of Jesus Christ ever remain within you brethren.