Continue to be free in Christ
1 Christ has made us free because he wants us to be free! So, be strong and continue to be free. Do not let yourselves become slaves again.
2 Listen carefully! I, Paul, tell you this. If you let someone circumcise you, then Christ will be worth nothing to you. 3 I say it again. Every man who lets someone circumcise him must then obey all of the Jews' rules. 4 You people who try to become right with God by the Jews' rules will make yourselves separate from Christ. You have stopped believing that only Christ can make you right with God. You have stopped believing how very kind God is to us. 5 But God's Spirit causes us to hope certainly that we will become right with God. We will be right with him because we believe him. We are waiting for this and we want it to happen very much. 6 We are united with Christ Jesus. And so, it does not matter whether anyone has circumcised us or not. The only thing that matters is that we believe God. And those who believe him must love God and other people. And then they will show that they believe him.
7 Like good runners, you were doing so well! You should not have let anyone stop you. You should not have stopped obeying what is true. 8 It is not God who has caused you to stop. No, because God asks you to come to him. 9 ‘Only a small amount of yeast can cause a whole lot of bread to rise,’ as people say. 10 But I still feel sure about you, because we are united in the Lord. I feel sure that you will not think differently from me. But God will punish the man who is confusing you. Whoever that man may be, God will punish him.
5:9In the Bible, yeast is often like a picture of something bad that grows to cause many more bad things.
11 My friends, I do not still tell people that someone should circumcise them. If I did tell people that, then nobody would still cause trouble and pain for me. Then what I taught about Christ's cross would not cause anyone to become angry. 12 The people who are confusing you should cut their own bodies. That is what I want them to do!
Live by God's Spirit
13 My friends, God has chosen you to come to him so that you can be free. But you must be free in the right way. You are not free to do everything that, as a human person, you may sometimes want to do. Instead, you must be like servants to each other because you love each other. 14 One rule brings together all the rules that God gave to the Jews. This one rule says: ‘Love other people as much as you love yourself.’ 15 But do not be like wild animals. Wild animals fight and eat each other. If you are like that, be careful. Be careful that you do not destroy each other completely.
16 So, this is what I am saying to you. Live by the power that God's Spirit gives. And let him lead you. Then you will not do any wrong things that, as a human person, you may sometimes want to do. 17 Your own human power wants completely opposite things to what God's Spirit wants. It fights against what God's Spirit wants. And so, you cannot do the things that you really want to do. 18 But if God's Spirit leads you, then the Jews' rules have no authority over you.
19 Everyone knows the kinds of bad things that people can do by their own human power. They have sex with people who are not their own wife or husband. They think and they do dirty things. They do things that people ought to be very ashamed to do. 20 They worship false gods. They ask bad spirits to help them. They become enemies and they fight. They hate other people because they themselves want to be like those people. They become very angry without any good reason. They want to be more important than other people. They refuse to agree, and so they belong to separate groups. 21 They want things that are other people's. They are drunks. They have parties where they do all kinds of bad things. I have told you before how dangerous it is to do these things. And now I am telling you again. People who do things like this will not be God's people. They will not belong to God's people that he rules over. Nor will they receive the things that God has prepared for his people.
22 But God's Spirit in us causes us to love God and other people. He causes us to be happy and without trouble deep inside ourselves. He causes us to be patient, kind and good. He causes us to believe that God will continue to help us. 23 He causes us not to think that we are better than other people. He causes us to rule ourselves properly. And there are no rules against these things that God's Spirit causes us to do. 24 Those people who belong to Christ Jesus have killed their own human power on his cross. They have killed it, so that it does not make them feel things any more. Nor does it make them want to do things any more. 25 We live by God's Spirit. So, we must obey God's Spirit and we must let him lead us. 26 We must not want people to think that we are better than anyone else. We must not make each other angry. We must not want each other's things so that, as a result, we hate each other.