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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

Freedom

with respect.

Galatians 5:7–15 (ESV)

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Back in the glory days of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, they parodied a commercial where a diamond cutter makes a crucial cut in the back seat of a Lincoln riding on a rough road. He inspects the result and pronounces it, “Perfect!”

The SNL parody showed a rabbi circumcising a child in the back seat of a Lincoln. “Perfect!”

I wonder if they had verse 12 in mind when they thought that one up. Paul’s pique with the Judaizers is so great that he wishes for a catastrophic slip of the knife.

Paul also seems to be defending himself against the claim that he advocated circumcision. (He stopped that long ago.) Apparently, the Judaizers used Paul as a reference for their doctrine. Paul refutes that simply with, “But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted?

But the real meat in this passage is in the second paragraph.  Freedom in Christ is not freedom to party. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Then Paul says something seemingly contradictory, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

Who cares about fulfilling the whole law? Isn’t Paul’s point that we’re no longer slaves to the law?

This gets to a point that’s crucial for Christians to understand—the law is still good. So, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. — Romans 7:12 (ESV)

Even though we’re not slaves to the law, it deserves our respect. But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

A dog-eat-dog system is worse for everyone.


Many ways of living, and many systems of government, simply do not work. Many recent experiments in government have turned into brutal dictatorships, often spawning genuine humanitarian crises.

Systems that don’t recognize, and design for, fallen human nature will invariably fall into corruption.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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