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╫ Is It Really Spirit vs. Law? – Galatians Series (Chapt. 5 – 6)

For a time, many have assumed that walking in God’s law is contrary to walking in the Spirit. This is because of Paul’s fierce language against circumcision, which he calls a “yoke of slavery.” He also says that anyone who tries to keep the law, is obligated to keep it all! So now, we must rather “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:5).

But what if the idea of “circumcision” Paul is addressing was not the biblical circumcision? What if Paul has never been against keeping any of God’s law (Romans 3:31), but only when we do so for the wrong reasons? And what if, walking “by the flesh” is actually when we break God’s law, while walking “in the Spirit” would be keeping it?

It may sound crazy, but you will discover that this may actually be what scripture says. Join us in this episode of the Galatians series for a verse-by-verse study to see what Paul really meant, by reading his letters with us through a first-century perspective.

1 thought on “╫ Is It Really Spirit vs. Law? – Galatians Series (Chapt. 5 – 6)”

  1. Hi PD,

    First off, allow me to say how much I appreciate your heart and humility when teaching the scriptures. I believe you to be a very sincere individual who wants to see the glory of God through Jesus. Anything I say below is just in an effort to best ascertain the truth from the verses we both observe in scripture. I will lay out some of my initial concerns, but certainly hold the door open for kick-back in the event I am wrong and need to see something clearer as I think some of these topics /can/ be confusing.
    I watched the videos you sent me about “Why Did Jesus Cast The Demons into Pigs” and the Galatians video “Is It Really Spirit vs Law?”

    If you are willing, I wrote a book that I would like to send to you in .pdf form. I am sure you are busy, and no obligation to read the whole thing. However, if you would be willing to read chapter 3 as it is very pertinent to this discussion I would greatly appreciate it. Maybe you could give me your thoughts after reading? It will probably take approx. 20 – 30 minutes to read. The chapter is called “Sin and The Law.” I attempt to go through Paul’s discussion in Romans and Galatians and buttress what appears to be the natural reading with how the early church closest to the Apostles understood the scriptures on this topic. Again, while I do not believe early church fathers like Irenaeus to be canon, I think they have a slight advantage in interpretation over us for a number of reasons (NOTE: I am very suspicious of early church fathers post Nicaean as I believe some Catholic dogma began to get integrated. Irenaeus wrote “Against Heresies” to combat Gnostic heresy around 180 AD. Constantine was around 320 AD. That is a considerable amount of time after. I mention all of that to say that I believe God indeed raised great, Godly men up after the Apostles to keep the true doctrine going and we may have missed this benefit at times due to instantly thinking “Catholic” when we hear of an early church father and avoiding what they had to say.). Continuing on, the advantages as I currently see them:

    1) They had the same scriptures and Holy Spirit we have – so there we are on even playing field.

    2) Irenaeus knew Polycarp, and Polycarp was a disciple of John the Apostle. That said, while I am sure Irenaeus wasn’t correct in all things, he had the distinct advantage to interact with someone who was directly discipled by an Apostle. So, when he speaks on really big topics that are central to our faith, I listen very closely to ensure I am understanding the Apostles doctrine well. I don’t check my brain at the door though, I look at the claims very discerningly from what I already know of the scriptures.

    3) They participated in the physical local churches that were planted by the Apostles and presbyters after them. This gives them a practical, contextual advantage to understand certain things better as they saw it in their day-to-day lives.

    4) As an important side note, Irenaeus juxtaposed the Gnostic dark magic as counterfeit spiritual gifts, with the true move of the Spirit to heal, and raise the dead that Irenaeus said was STILL going on in the churches throughout the world at the time. I point this out merely to suggest that Irenaeus isn’t just writing as a Theological intellectual. He certainly believed in the active Spirit’s power.

    All that to say this: While we would agree on a high level that Jesus came to restore Adam’s original created value to cause our hearts a longing to love God and obey God’s law – we would disagree on all of the elements of that law that carried over. I had sent you Irenaeus robust teaching on the law and how he went into the reason it was given via FB messenger. I hope I am not misrepresenting him, but here is a high level preview as to how I understood him: seemingly, according to his understanding of what the Apostles passed down, some of the law within the old covenant was part of, what we can call, the “eternal law” because it directly affected whether or not someone loved God or their neighbor. It will never go away as that is the means by which God achieves His end kingdom goals and desires. Some of the law however, due to Israel’s hardness, was put in as a sort of restraint that was certainly binding to them so that it increased the probability that they would comply and not sink into the oblivion of the pagan nations. He and other early church fathers talk about how circumcision didn’t exist until Abraham. Seems their logic (as well as how I currently understand the NT letters on these topics) is this: If God is trying to get us back to natural created order via birthing us again to desire what He was aiming for from the beginning of creation, then one can conclude circumcision wasn’t part of God’s original design. Thus, is a reason it can safely be discarded when the Spirit circumcises the heart. This seems to line up with the natural reading of Paul in Acts 15, 1 Corinthians 7:17-19, and Galatians 6:15. Paul was telling them not to even bother with the concern either way in Christ.

    However, I feel you said in your Galatians video (correct me if I am wrong), that while it isn’t a salvific issue – it is an evidence that you truly want to do what God wants. Please correct me if I am wrong there. I currently feel that if that interpretation was correct, Paul could have said it as you did in the video. He could have given clarification to such a generalized pronunciation — but he doesn’t. He doesn’t say “you can be circumcised in order to honor God as long as you don’t believe it is what saves you.”

    You state that Paul is just coming against it because people linking it to salvation, but I would disagree. I think Paul understood the aim of what circumcision under the law was aiming towards, but was never part of original creation. God never had Adam circumcised. Jesus comes as the last Adam, but now stands as the new man. We are to be born of that man. When you are born of the man from above, our Lord and Savior Jesus, you are not under /certain/ aspects of the law as institutionalized by God through Moses for hardened Israel. Jesus even said that Moses allowed divorce due to the hardness of their heart (Note: I am NOT saying that’s why God instituted physical circumcision — there are various reasons for why certain things were levided at the time they were). As a result, it helps us to see that certain things were enjoined on them merely because of a hard heart. However, if your heart isn’t hardened anymore by being born again, you have an inner tutor for righteousness (the Holy Spirit) that trains you in the spirit and intent of what all of the elements of the Old Law were aiming for. It doesn’t mean that everything within the Mosaic law though went away. God captured the eternal law on the stone tablets as well as laws that were designated as a point in time merely due to the hardness of Israel. God basically mixed His eternal law in the Old Covenant with point in time laws (so-to-speak) that benefited a hardened Israel to attempt to stay on track and to hamper further reprobation so God wouldn’t have to destroy them. Some were direct infractions of God’s moral law, and some laws were given as fences to keep them far from violating God’s moral law. I would say the “fences” go, but God’s moral law will always remain.

    I go into a more robust explanation in chapter 3 of my book. Would you be willing to email me at the email I put in this post so I can send it and you read it? This is for 2 reasons:

    1) Just as you sent me some videos so you wouldn’t have to re-speak everything in a chat, this will help you get your mind wrapped around this side of the discussion better as I reference a lot of scripture along with commentary on it. WHat I typed above was a brief synopsis.

    2) If it happens to resonate with you, I think that would be wonderful and mutually edifying.

    3) If I happen to be in error (and I mean this), you seem to be versed well in the other side of the discussion and I would want to consider whether or not I need to adjust. I will give your thoughts a fair hearing in prayer and reading to see if the Lord changes my mind.

    I am sure you understand why this particular topic is so heavy to me and very important to get right. Paul has some very strong language in Galatians about if circumcision is preached. I heard your perspective in the video, but as of now, it feels like it goes against the natural reading and a proper delineation of what carried over from the original law as established by God and delivered via Moses, and what inherently went along with it when Christ ransomed us with His blood and revealed the significance that those elements were pointing towards. The law wasn’t given for the righteous:

    1 Timothy 1:8Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. 9We realize that law is not enacted for the righteous, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for killers of father or mother, for murderers, 10for the sexually immoral, for homosexuals, for slave traders and liars and perjurers, and for anyone else who is averse to sound teaching.

    As Irenaeus said in “Against Heresies” – “Christ did not abrogate the natural precepts of the law, but rather fulfilled and extended them. He removed the yoke and bondage of the old law, so that mankind, being now set free, might serve God with that trustful piety which becomes sons.” There is a harmony here where we can both say on a high-level that “God didn’t do away with His law when He birthed you again — He birthed you again to uphold the law!” But also acknowledge that part of what was in the original law was only valid as long as that covenant was in affect.

    Separating the “natural precepts” of God’s law within the Old Covenant and, what I currently perceive, the temporary elements of that law is what the real disagreement is here. Not at all the high-level reason the Spirit was given was to cause us to love God by loving His natural law.

    Thanks again for your heart, PD. Even though we currently disagree on this topic – I feel I have already learned some valuable things from your heart.
    Sincerely,
    Chris

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