Having made his point of justification by faith alone, now in 5.1 Paul now gives a wonderful summary and sets himself up to turn to his next topic: his defence of Christian liberty.
“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery”.
So far he has defended his authority as an apostle (2.1-10) and passionately pleaded with the Galatians to understand and accept the truth of justification by faith (2.15-4.31). Now he begins to turn toward the natural consequence of living a life justified by faith, but before he does entirely he sums up what has gone before and says that it is for freedom Christ has set us free. What a wonderfully succinct summary of chapter four!
He then writes that the Galatians are to stand firm, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery. Unbeknown to them, in trading paganism for the influence of the Judaizing law-bringers the Galatians were simply trading one yoke of slavery for another. Ironic. Paganism, with all its weird and wacky ways was being traded for (what we would call) Judaism, with all its burdensome and condemning laws. Paul’s word to them is to stand firm, something he regularly communicates to his readers (1 Corinthians 16.13, Philippians 1.27, 1 Thessalonians 3.8, 2 Thessalonians 2.15). Yes, the circumstances faced by the Galatians, the Corinthians, the Philippians, and the Thessalonians were all different, but at the core Paul is encouraging them to stand firm in the truth of their being accepted by God on the basis of their faith in Jesus.
Simply, he is encouraging them to live a life consistent with their confession. For the Galatians, that meant that if you profess and confess to believe that God has forgiven your sins and that you stand before Him acquitted of the consequences of them, then you ought to live like it and no be drawn into empty and hollow religious acts designed to earn that which you already claim to have!
The core truth is the same for you and for me. What we believe, truly believe, will show itself in our conduct and character. As an exercise in self-assessment we can flip this around: what does your life say about what you believe? When you pause and look at your life, is it consistent with what you say you believe? Think about where you go, what you do, who you spend time with, the words you choose to use, what you think is good and worthy of spending your money on, everything about your life…
Before we move ahead, then, into a section defending our Christian liberty, perhaps today is a good point to pause and take stock of how you are living right now, and if this is consistent with what you say you believe.