If it hasn’t been clear before, it couldn’t be clearer today. When Paul wrote of our freedom from the Law in this letter, he was speaking about the Law of Moses. He certainly wasn’t speaking about the law of Christ, because we read in 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” We are expected to keep Christ’s law!
Yet many commentaries on the book of Galatians will tell you that the theme of the letter is “salvation by faith alone, apart from works.” This is only true if by “works,” it is meant “works of the Law of Moses, particularly circumcision.” So often, however, the phrase “salvation by faith alone” is construed to imply that holiness has nothing to do with salvation, so you can live like hell and go to heaven as long as you say you believe in Jesus. That, however, is heresy. Don’t forget, just three years before Paul wrote this letter to the Galatians, a letter from James was circulated among all the churches that included the statement, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (Jas. 2:24).
Moreover, in this final chapter, Paul warns his readers that everyone will reap what he has sown. Only holy people, those who are “sowing to the Spirit” as opposed to “sowing to the flesh,” will reap eternal life (6:7-8). “Sowing to the Spirit” simply means to do good continually (6:9-10). A sower plants lots of seeds. Remember, Paul warned yesterday that those who practice the works of the flesh will not inherit God’s kingdom (5:21). Today he repeats that warning using slightly different words (6:8).
Again, we see that circumcision was the primary issue, as Paul mentions it five times today. In fact, Paul summarizes the point of his entire letter in 6:15: “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” It makes no difference if one is circumcised or uncircumcised. What is important is if one is born again and living like a new creation. Such people are the only people who are truly holy, as they are being transformed by God’s Spirit.
Paul points out that the false teachers who are so focused on circumcision do not keep the rest of the Law of Moses. They boasted in their circumcision, as if that is what made them righteous in God’s eyes, effectively denigrating Jesus’ death on the cross and nullifying salvation by grace through faith. We can say along with Paul, however, that we boast only in the cross of Christ, because it was there that our salvation was purchased through the work of God, and from there His grace flowed to save us. Our old self was crucified with Christ, and we have become dead to the world and the world has become dead to us. It no longer has the attraction for us that it once had, as we see it now in its darkness and rebellion. We long for a better place.
True Christians are radically different from the world. We feel like aliens living on this planet. We can’t understand why everyone doesn’t repent and receive the forgiveness and transformation that God so graciously offers to all. We love to do good, and we live to please God.
Finally, a side thought. Today we read, “The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him” (6:6). This is an admonition for Christians to support their pastors/elders/overseers materially, as well as any apostles, prophets, evangelists or teachers from whom they’ve benefitted spiritually. It is heart-breaking to observe today how many wolves in sheep’s clothing are profiting from the sheep whom they regularly fleece. I admonish you, dear reader, don’t give any of God’s money to alleged “apostles” and “prophets” who flaunt their wealth and proclaim their gospel of greed, or to false teachers and evangelists who turn God’s grace into a license to sin. Don’t attend or support an apostate church overseen by a hireling pastor. Support those who unashamedly proclaim the truth! Help spread the truth!