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Galatians  ◦   Chapter 5

1 Christ has set us free from selfishness, free from fear, free from ignorance about God — free to be his friends. So stand firm in the truth about God as revealed in Jesus, and don't let yourselves be duped back into a system of rituals and works motivated by fear and selfishness.

2 Now listen carefully. I, Paul, want to make this extremely clear: If you include circumcision as a necessary element in the Remedy to sin and selfishness, then you dispel Christ and nullify the true Remedy he brought.3 I say it again: Any person who is circumcised as a means of healing from sin and selfishness is choosing a course without Christ's free Remedy and thus is required to heal and cure themself.4 Those of you who are trying to be healed and set right with God by observing a set of rules or rituals have rejected Christ and his methods that heal; they have rejected God's graciousness and accepted a false remedy.5 But we, who accept Christ's Remedy, trust that God will finish his work of healing and transforming us back into righteous, Christlike friends of his.6 For Christ Jesus revealed that no ritual — such as circumcision — has any value with God. The only thing that counts is trust in God, established by the evidence of God's supreme trustworthiness revealed by Christ, which expels fear and selfishness and results in loving, Christlike character developed within.

7 You were doing fine and were getting well. Who tricked you into abandoning God's Remedy for a lie?8 Persuasion based on deceit and flattery does not come from God.9 You well know that only a little yeast will transform the entire batch of dough. Likewise, even a small lie, cherished and believed, infects and deforms the entire person.10But I am confident in the Lord that — after reasoning it through — you will reject the lies and hold earnestly to the truth. But the one who has rejected the truth and is presenting these lies to you is already reaping the consequences of a darkened mind and damaged heart — whoever they are.11 Isn't it clear, brothers and sisters, that if I were still promoting circumcision or any ritual as a remedy for the heart and mind, I would not be persecuted? If I were promoting ritualistic remedies, then the self-denying, self-sacrificing message of the cross would lose its power and the legalists would no longer be offended.12 If those who are confusing you by promoting circumcision believe that cutting themselves somehow brings healing, maybe it would be better if they kept on cutting and just castrated themselves–at least then they might stop producing more people to follow their lies!

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free–free from selfishness, free from fear, free from death. So do not use your freedom to gratify the selfish desires (which only destroys your freedom and makes you slaves all over again), but rather minister to each other in love.14 The entire written code and Ten Commandments law are all designed to reveal the one true Law of the universe, the one true principle on which life is based–the great Law of Love. So love your neighbor as yourself.15 But if you instead practice the principle of survival of the fittest and attack and destroy others in order to promote yourselves, you will only experience ruin and death.

16 So I tell you plainly: Live by the principles and power of the Spirit, and you will not practice the selfish methods of survival-of-the-fittest.17 For the selfish nature desires to promote self at the expense of everyone and everything else, and this is exactly the opposite of the Spirit of love, as the Spirit of love desires to promote the good of everyone else at any expense to self. The selfish nature and the Spirit of love are diametrically opposed to each other, so if you follow the Spirit of love, you will no longer do what your selfish nature wants.18 Therefore if you practice the methods of the Spirit, you no longer need to be quarantined and supervised by the written law.

19When the selfish nature is in charge, it is obvious, because the life reflects the destructive behaviors of the selfish nature, which include lewdness, sexual perversion, immorality, all kinds of self-promoting,20 self-worship, Wicca, voodoo, mysticism, all forms of idolatry, gossip, envy, jealousy, loss of control, all types of acting-out, rage, hatred, grudge holding, self-exaltation, racial and caste discrimination,21 drunkenness, getting high on drugs, orgies, and the like. Let me warn you again: All such behaviors destroy the image of God in humankind, dethrone reason, sear the conscience, inflame the debasing desires, and result in individuals–although created in God's image–digressing into nonthinking, animalistic brutes incapable of entering the kingdom of God.

22 But the outgrowth of the Spirit of love is a character like God's–manifesting character traits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustworthiness,23 gentleness, and self-control–complete self-governance. With character like this, there is no need for a written law to diagnose defects, or quarantine, or provide external supervision,24 because those who have been unified with Christ Jesus have had the selfish nature with all its motives and desires eradicated from their characters.25 Since we are being healed by the working of the Spirit of love and truth, let us choose to cooperate with him in every way.26 So don't show off or try to make a name for yourself; this only tempts others to become jealous and envious, and leads their minds away from Jesus.