Galatians 5:1-6, 13-25
The text today makes numerous references to the divisions within the Galatian churches- see vs. 8-12, esp. vs. 12, vs. 15, vs. 26. There was a spirit of division, disunity and contention in the churches of Galatia, that was threatening not only their peace, but even more deeply, their very soteriology (vs. 1-2). Paul confronts this by dealing with the biblical means to obtaining spiritual peace. Christians do not seek to get along just to get along, as so many churches teach, by sacrificing doctrine and theology along the way; but rather, we all get along, and enjoy the peace of Christ, because we hold to the same essential biblical doctrine, and are agreed in it. And those who are mature in the faith understand that coming to such a mature perspective takes a great deal of time, and thus show loving deference towards those who are not mature in the faith. So the means to resolving differences in the church is not to ignore major differences, but rather, to have one great theology and purpose in common, and then to demonstrate loving deference to those who are new in the faith. In so doing, we resolve our differences in a spiritual, Christ-like, and mature fashion.
In our text today, Paul profoundly explains the essential link between Christian liberty and genuine spiritual growth- and as we will see in our conclusion, you cannot have one without the other.