Cutting Words: An Apostolic Guide to Identifying God's People

George Marshall - 2/19/2024


Call to worship: Acts 10:34-43

Text: Galatians 5:1-6


Having illustrated the difference between grace and law through the examples of Hagar and Isaac, Paul moves to apply the message to the Galatians. They are free! What a glorious truth! And they are not to sacrifice this freedom for anything the world offers. And to be specific, circumcision is simply off the table for them. Though its proponents promise that it will truly make them one of God's own, and open up the door to righteous living, Paul spies the fly in the ointment. If these Galatians reject Jesus' work for a work of the flesh, even one with such a biblical pedigree, they will find themselves severed from Christ, cut off from his Spirit-filled people. They will find themselves bound to the law, its terms, its promises of coming judgement for unbelief and sin.

Sermon Outline:

  1. What Christ's victory bought (5:1)
  2. An all-or-nothing choice (5:2-6)
    • -Walking with rebellious Israel (5:2-4)
      -Walking with Christ Jesus (5:5-6)


Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Galatians 5:1-6.
  2. What is the yoke of slavery that Paul refers to (v 1)? How is the Mosaic law a "yoke"? In what ways was this a blessing for the nation of Israel? Why is Paul so emphatic that it is not a good thing for the Galatians? How does Jesus use the idea of a yoke or burden to teach his disciples? What does this tell us about how we are to live now, and how we live in light of future realities?
  3. What are we freed from by Jesus' cross (v 1)? How are death, sin and Satan related, and how do the cross and resurrection address all these foes? What does this tell us about those who do not trust in Jesus for salvation?
  4. How does circumcision obligate obedience to the whole law (v 2-4)? What complicating factors affect an attempt to return to the Mosiac covenant for righteous standing before God (cf. Deuteronomy 6)? Is circumcision able to motivate obedience to the law? Why or why not? In what ways are we tempted to "turn back" to human ways of securing salvation and spiritual growth?
  5. How are warning passages (cf. Hebrews, James, 1 John) helpful in the lives of believers? What is the proper response Paul hopes for from the Galatians (v 1, 5-6)? How does this compare to Jesus' own instructions in the gospels?
  6. Bonus Question: Read 1 John 1-2 and John 15. What similarities in emphases or themes do you see with Galatians 5:1-6? How do these passages work together to strengthen God's people?
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