We’ve learned about the problem in the church at Galatia: a forced return to the old way of living under the law accompanied by neglect to recognise the new way of living under grace. This issue was a real test of loyalties in Paul’s day and involved getting rid of old and established ways of doing things.

Galatians is all about the change that came about as a result of the Jewish rejection of the Messiah. The original plan was clear: the Messiah was to present himself to his people, Israel in order for them to crown him as king and bring into being a righteous reign, but they rejected him and ‘hung him on a cross.’ God in his mercy offered another opportunity for the nation to repent but they stoned the messenger (Stephen) to death.

The focus in Galatians is on how to live as Christians. The issue in Paul’s letter was that the old way of living (according to the law) was being forced on the Galatians by a group of Jews. The Old way is all about compliance with the law – but there is a new way: under the administration of grace. In this 5th chapter Paul get’s practical and shows how this new way ought to work.

Psychologists often talk about the ‘change curve’. It’s a series of emotions we encounter when change comes upon us. It can involve surprise, denial, anger and eventually (hopefully) acceptance. At the time Paul penned his letter to the Galatians, God’s dealings with mankind were changing

We’ve seen how there was pressure on the Galatians to return to a Jewish way of doing things: this had even affected the apostle Peter. There was a danger that this issue would divide the church but perhaps of even greater concern was that the message of the gospel could be corrupted by those who ought to have known better.

Most human activities are governed by rules. We’ve just returned from a very pleasant holiday in the South of France – we flew from Gatwick airport to Barcelona, and drove from Barcelona to the beautiful seaside town of Collioure. We noticed as we drove from Spain into France that the roads more or less looked the same, but the rules changed.