Galatians 5:1 says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
The Greek literally says, “Persevere, triumph - do not be moved off of - the freedom through which The Messiah (Jesus) has liberated us; and never be ensnared again with the yoke of slavery”.
From many hours of study in the book of Galatians, I believe this is the key verse - the verse that sums up the whole book. We must stand firm on the grace of Christ, which is the Gospel of Christ (Gal 1:6).
There is no other Gospel. There are many teachings and doctrines in the world, but there is only one Gospel (Gal 1:7). Paul was so passionate about the purity of the Gospel, that he made the bold proclamation that if anyone preached anything else, they should be accursed (condemned to Hell).
What was the false doctrine that the Galatians were being tricked by? The doctrine of works righteousness. And sad to say, this false doctrine still permeates Christianity - as it started to in the first century.
Galatia was not a town, but a province. It included Antioch Pisidian, Iconium, Derbe, Lystra, and the surrounding communities.
Paul preached the Gospel and established churches, then he would remain and preach there for months, or in some cases, years. He then would set pastors over these churches and move on to evangelize new areas. After Paul would leave, false teachers would come in behind him and subvert the Gospel. They would teach that while Jesus is the Christ, you still had to keep all or some of the Old Testament rituals to be saved (circumcision, feasts, special days, abstain from certain foods, etc.). Paul’s letter to the Galatians was a strong rebuke of these lies.
Why was Paul so adamant about grace and freedom? Because he knew first hand the utter fruitlessness of trying to be right with God through the works of the law. “For by the works of the law, shall no flesh be justified (declared righteous) Gal 2:16, Rom 3:20. If anyone could have been declared righteous by keeping the law, it would have been Paul. Paul was a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, and the son of a Pharisee. He was of the tribe of Benjamin. He was circumcised the eighth day. Concerning the law, he was blameless. In other words, no one tried harder to be right with God through keeping the law (Philp 3:4-10). However, Paul failed. In all of his zeal and passion, he always fell short. Even on his best day, the law would still show him somewhere he missed it. That’s what the law does. It shows us God’s perfect standard - and that we can’t keep it. It doesn’t bend. It doesn’t except 99% completion. It demands perfection.
Paul knew first hand you could not be justified by the law (Act 13:19). He knew it made nothing perfect (Heb 7:19). He knew people that tried to live by it were under a curse (Gal 3:10). He knew that the law brings forth death (Rom 7:11, 2Cor 3:6-9). This personal, first-hand knowledge made Paul a warrior for Jesus Christ. It made him uncompromising in the salvation that comes by God’s grace through faith in Jesus (Eph 2:8-9). It caused a holy anger to rise within him to see his churches being led away into legalism and bondage. Any attempt to be right with God through your works is a futile effort. If you could be justified by your works, then Christ death was for nothing (Gal 2:21). And I guarantee you, Christ death was absolutely the most necessary event in history. We owe everything to Him. Everything.
Paul, nor I, are against the law of God. It is pure and holy (Rom 7:12). What Paul, and I, are against, is the idea that by keeping the law, you can be right with God. Why? Because you have to keep all of it, or you fail (Jam 2:10). Your hard try and good effort means nothing. It’s perfection or rejection. Ultimately, mankind has two choices: He will try to be right with God through his own effort and works - or he will put faith in the One who did keep the law perfectly, which is none other than God in the flesh, Jesus Christ. I’ll make it easy for you, and tell you which one to pick. Pick Jesus! Don’t stand before God in your own measly effort. Stand before God in the finished work of Jesus. Don’t stand in your own righteousness (which, by the way, is like a filthy rag - Isa 64:6). Stand in God’s righteousness (Rom 3:21-22). You must humble yourself. You must put down your pride. You must utterly abandoned your “good person” mentality. Lord only knows how many “good people” are in Hell right now. Follow the “Romans Road”, (Rom 3:10, 23; 5:12, 6:23, 10:9-10, 13) and get right with God right now! Until next time, rejoice in the Lord!