Paul's Emancipation Proclamation
Coming from someone who declared himself to be a Pharisee of Pharisees (See Acts 23) Galatians 5 is a doctrinal 8.9 earthquake. It is an arrow piercing the core of our human nature that wants to do it ourselves. When we are small and watching our parents do something we often cry out, “Let me. Let me.” But we can’t. Salvation is way beyond our skill set. In the passage below taken from Galatians 5, Paul speaks specifically of circumcision because that was the issue of the day. However, the foundation of Paul’s argument is the inherent principle. That means we can supply any “work” in place of the word circumcision. It could be food, tithing, etc. Not that those are not important. They are. The point is they are not contributors to our salvation. They are the fruit of salvation.
“Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. . . For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
Please note the “only” thing that counts. It is a constant theme for Paul. Please check out I Corinthians 13. If I have not love I am only a clanging symbol. Galatians 5 is Paul’s Emancipation Proclamation. It is a declaration of freedom.