Spirit of Adoption (Part 2) (Galatians 5:1-6)
Spirit of Adoption (Part 2) (Galatians 5:1-6)
Galatians 5:1-6 – “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
1. As we learned in our lesson on the Spirit of Adoption (Part 1), the Spirit of Adoption gives followers of Christ “liberty.”
2. It is belief in Christ as Savior that makes believers free. This makes great sense when you think upon this point in naturalistic terms of everyday life. Think about the role of a business owner and its workers. The workers are restrained by the rules at the workplace. They must keep those rules exactly, or they risk being fired and losing their job. The boss, on the other hand, is at liberty to do what he pleases. Though it would be foolish to break the rules he established for others, and possibly place his business at risk, he is free to choose this option if he wills. He’s the boss; he can do what he wants. He has liberty.
It is in that sense that Christians have liberty. No longer under the rigid rules that the workers require, believers in Christ are promoted to the place of liberty. Christ expects His followers to adhere to His teachings through their own desire, rather than be forced to obey the rigid rules given to a disobedient people of God that historically ignored His pleas to conform to His will.
Christians are free. They are at liberty to walk the way they choose. By their very nature of submissive belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, they have chosen Him to be the boss over them. But this time, rather than giving them written rules, Christ came to earth as a human being and taught His followers about the way they should conduct their lives as they serve and glorify God.
When the LORD God looks down upon a follower of Christ to examine the works done in glory to Him, He recognizes a human being at liberty, rather than a human being ruled by strict guidelines of law. He has given Christians freedom to choose through the granting of liberty from the laws. In his infinite and perfect plans, the LORD God and the Lord Jesus Christ recognize that Christians have the heart and will to direct their efforts to please them. It is a symbiotic relationship; believers freely give their liberty to Christ to lead them.
No Christian is forced by stringent rules of behavior; rather they are given freedom to choose. When the choice for Christ is made, the Spirit of Adoption is given to the believer, designating full liberty of faith, separated permanently from impossible obedience of servitude by people that possess the Spirit of Bondage. The liberty to walk in Christ’s teachings is given to Christians through the Spirit of Adoption, and only through that Spirit.
3. Followers of Christ stand upon their feet, and this fact is found through the Gospels and other New Testament Scripture in the Word of God. Those not of Christ do not have that privilege. It is often reflected in healing accounts, especially where Christ restores a person suffering palsy to health. Their healing allows them to stand and walk. This miraculous restoration of their spiritual health that allows them to stand and walk is specifically done to reflect that “ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins” (Luke 5:24)
Thus, the encouragement to “stand fast” (Greek στήκω ) in Galatians 5:1 has typological connections in speaking of the liberty given through the Spirit of Adoption to believers. Hold firm, stand upright, and be in the position to walk and do the things of the Lord because of your surety of faith that Christ can indeed save you and forgive your sins is the message deeply supporting the liberty given believers.
4. Of course, those with the Spirit of Adoption are free from the yoke of bondage. The yoke of bondage is applied to those people required to obey the laws of God and are directed by the Spirit of Bondage. Now Paul was talking to the Jews who were interested in Christianity in his time. But through this discourse, a critical issue concerning the yoke of bondage is revealed in Galatians 5:1: Those who receive liberty through their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit of Adoption can mess up and become entangled once again in the yoke of bondage. Specifically, it takes the Believer to willingly or foolishly stumble into the place of bondage, and submit to Old Testament laws, ordinances, and precepts of God and reject the surety of faith in Christ (See Deep Dish Discussion).
Galatians 5:2-6 – “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”
1. To fully understand Galatians 5:2-6 and Paul’s teaching on circumcision it is helpful to look at verse 6 first. This verse shows that though Paul is teaching on the difference between those of bondage that have circumcision, vs. the new faith of Christianity, he is using circumcision as an example, not a precept. We know this because he says “neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision.” Thus, we are alerted to understand Paul’s teaching not as a requirement of law that demands those of faith be uncircumcised, while those of bondage be circumcised; rather, it is a matter that circumcision or uncircumcision is not important in the matter of faith.
2. The word “availeth” (Greek ἰσχύω) means to be capable of holding power. Thus, the words clearly state that circumcision or uncircumcision contains no power at all. Though circumcision was initiated with Abraham by God to show the Covenant between Him and the generations coming from Abraham, it is changed through Galatians 5:2:6 shows in Christ a New Covenant is made with believers that are not part of the Law Covenant given to Abraham.
3. Thus, circumcision is also a law, and it is made powerless by the arrival of the Messiah into the lives of human beings.
4. Today, Jews receiving circumcision in their traditional rites becomes “debtor” (Greek ὀφειλέτης ) to God’s entire Law. This means that Jews are obligated to obey God’s all of God’s laws when they enter into the Covenant of God that is marked by circumcision in Genesis 17:10-14:
"This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant." (Ge 17:10-14)
5. But, with the arrival of Christ and the acceptance of Him as Lord and Savior, the New Covenant replaces all other Covenants for those that believe on Him.
6. Also, those that desire to serve the laws of God have no chance of receiving faith in Christ. Not only the inability to receive faith, but also the falling from the grace of the LORD God, seals those, such as the Jews, to be farther away from God than Christians according to Galatians 5:4.
7. The Spirit of Adoption and its reward of liberty to believers bring the faithful closer to the LORD God than His original Chosen People ruled by the agreement of obedience to His laws according to the Covenant of Abraham.
Deep Dish Discussion
That ridiculous notion that a believer will be forced or willingly receive the Spirit of Bondage is not as infrequent as today’s Christians might think and not just limited to the Jews. If a believer is forced to follow the edicts of a church, and that church stresses obedience to the Law of God over the expression of faith in Jesus Christ alone, then entanglement in the yoke of bondage can happen. Now people gather together in congregations and form churches to collectively worship God and take care of each other. The Bible is provided to govern believers’ lives and teach and correct problems with growth toward God. But, many sincere, dedicated gatherings of Christians are prohibiting some sinners from coming to the cross and reaching to Christ for salvation.
The Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for all sinners. Belief in Him alone and trust in the promise that God gave to redeem Christ’s blood for the sins of human beings, gives salvation and eternal life. Churches might develop different ways of approaching God and some might focus upon the laws to govern sin so exclusively, that the sufficiency of Christ is lost.
For instance, today with the LGBT community becoming proactive and often in-your-face with their right to deviate from heterosexual sex and promote their way of lives above the righteous, the knee-jerk response of some conservative and fundamental Christians is to quote Old and New Testament Scripture that forbids this type of association with a law, an ordinance, a forbidding. So misguided Christians pronounce the sinners as going against the law of God and thereby guilty of a sin so great that only their ceasing that activity fully and coming back into full obedience to God’s law, can salvation be achieved.
Sadly, it is impossible for a homosexual, a heterosexual, or an asexual human being from conquering sin without Jesus Christ in their life. To make some obedient to the law with a yoke of bondage, while others are free to receive and reflect their faith in Christ is not righteous, prudent, or just. All sinners have a right to come to the Lord Jesus Christ when they receive faith from God. All sinners will come to Him dirty. The Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient, and He will make all that come to Him in faith righteous, pure, and sin-free. Eventually.
But it is a process; it is the same process that happens to every sinner that comes to Christ. When the old sinner becomes the new being his eyes are opened by God to receive teachings through the Holy Spirit. The dropping away of sinful behaviors does not change overnight; until a believer receives the teachings of God and the full baptism in the Holy Spirit, and is guided by other believers into the new way of life, change is impossible.
Now the LGBT protests are in today’s news, and the best current example of the Church putting the yoke of bondage onto people. But, you can cite the different prohibitions of past time, whether it was dancing, gambling, women’s rights, husband’s duties, war, hostage taking, and keeping the Sabbath. Each generation has had their burdens of conflicting belief, and ours is dealing with the political and social fallout of LGBT activism.
Christian leaders should take care that they are always at the front of declaring the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and the promise of salvation so sufficient that the dirtiest of sinners can be saved. Homosexuals, heterosexuals, and asexuals all are fallen human beings with tremendous sins that prevent their coming close to God unless they come through the Lord Jesus Christ in faith of His sacrifice being sufficient. The moment a sinner’s faith leads to Christ, and the Holy Spirit of Adoption surges within their bodies, they are no longer under the yoke of bondage. Their focus changes from the precepts of the Laws of God (which are impossible to obey because of the fallen nature of mankind) and moves to the glorious and real relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
And here is the most marvelous witness of Christ that I have seen over and over again. When dirty sinners, no matter what their sins or how repulsive and wicked their lives have become, approach Christ in faith and receive Him as Lord, they become changed and new. Practiced behaviors of former lives of sin fall away; many immediately upon salvation. Some take a few years as the new Christians learn the teachings of Christ. Some take a lifetime as lifestyles of behavior became so practiced it becomes difficult to sort through.
In all cases, the Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient to teach the sinner to release sin and obtain righteousness according to the time set by God. But, no sinner can overcome sin without meeting the Lord Jesus Christ in faith first. Any church, Christian leader or follower that prevents sinners from coming to Christ by demanding strict adherence to the Law of God first, is placing a yoke of bondage on that sinner, and preventing him from coming to Christ; and that, my friends, is a possible serious sin when the Holy Spirit of Adoption is quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
In my opinion, a deliverance of the testimony to Christ given to sinners must be developed by responsible Christians that offer permission for sinners to approach Christ in faith and upon acceptance of Christ, receive Baptism in the Holy Spirit and thereby obtain the Spirit of Adoption insuring liberty, receive teachings by Christians to learn His things and develop a personal relationship with the Lord. It is only then that the fullness of the Spirit of Adoption can participate in the new believers’ lives and make them new creatures fit for service to God.
1. What is the difference between the laws formed by denominations and church congregations and those delivered by God in His Word?
2. Do non-believers seeking Christ need to be convicted of all their sins before coming in faith to Him?
3. What are some other good examples to explain the difference between a person of liberty and a person bound to laws?
4. What profound complications are associated with sinners that are forced to find Christ without the assistance of other Christians?
5. How can the testimony of Jesus Christ, the witness of His Gospel, and the assurance of believers be delivered to sinners when their eyes are just beginning to be opened by God?
6. In your experience, how long is usual between the beginning processes of a sinners eyes opening to the point of full acceptance of the Lord as their Savior. What problems can develop during that process to stop the sinner from forming a relationship with Christ? What problems can develop in that process to stop the sinner from forming a relationship with other Christians? Is that even a problem?
7. Is it prudent for Churches to write detailed laws for membership in their congregations to protect themselves from eventual lawsuits and exposure to deviant people? Do these laws stop the witness of Christ to sinners?
8. In your experience, how long a process was it before every sin dropped away after you accepted Christ as Savior (be honest…most of the good Christian folk you are sitting next to right now are still sinning, but hopefully a whole bunch less than before)?
9. In the early history of the Baptist church, some solved the problem of witnessing to sinners by having the first hour of church deliver the message of salvation and faith where all who desired to hear the Word of God could attend (sinners and saints together), and then the next hours restricted to accepted, born-again members of their congregation, where the deeper things of faith were taught (saints alone). Is this a solution that could work in today’s churches?
10. At what point in the salvation process, when acceptance of the Lord as Savior is assured in faith, and receipt of the Holy Spirit of Adoption within you, did you notice a complete change in your lifestyle that moved from common to enhanced spiritual relationship with God? When your spiritual relationship with God matured, were you more equipped to make major changes in your lifestyle to better reflect your walk and works with Him, or did those changes happen immediately upon your faith expression?
11. What other type of sinners in today’s world are prevented from coming toward Christ and receiving His Gospel from the church? Do the church programs developed to deliver the testimony of Christ to the LGBT community fit with other sinner-excluded categories or is it specific only to the sinners that choose sexual perversions as their way of life before salvation and the Spirit of Adoption sets them at liberty?
Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament). Vol. 1997. electronic ed. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.