We should live as free people
1 Christ has made us free so that we can be really free! So, be strong and do not turn back. Do not let yourselves become slaves to the Jewish rules again.
2 Listen carefully! I, Paul, tell you this. If you agree that someone should circumcise you, then Christ will be worth nothing to you. 3 I will say it very clearly. Every man who lets someone circumcise him must then obey all the Jewish rules. 4 I say this to you people who try to obey the rules of God's Law. If you think that God will accept you as right because you do that, you have turned away from Christ. You no longer agree to accept God's kind gift. 5 But if we trust what Christ has done for us, God's Spirit helps us to wait. We are sure that God will accept us as right with him. 6 We belong to Christ Jesus. So it does not matter whether anyone has circumcised us or not. The only thing that matters is that we believe in Christ. As a result we will love others in the way that we live.
7 Like good runners, you were doing very well! You should not have let anyone stop you. You should have continued to obey God's true message. 8 It is not God who has caused you to stop. No! God is the one who has chosen you to serve him. 9 People say this: ‘Only a small amount of yeast in the flour will cause a loaf of bread to grow big.’ 10 But I still feel sure about you, because we belong to the Lord. I know that you will agree with what I say about this. But as for the man who is confusing you, God will punish him. It does not matter who he is, God will punish him.
5:9In the Bible, yeast is often like a picture of something bad that causes many more bad things to happen.
11 My Christian friends, do you think that I still teach that someone must circumcise believers? If I really taught that, then I would not still receive trouble from people. Then what I teach about Christ's death on the cross would not cause anyone to become angry. 12 Those people who are causing trouble and want to circumcise you should cut their own bodies! Yes, that is what they should do!
Live by God's Spirit
13 My Christian friends, God has chosen you to serve him as free people. But you are still weak and human. So you are not free to do anything that you might want to do. Instead, you must serve one another, because you love each other. 14 One rule brings together all of the rules in God's Law. That one rule says: ‘Love other people as much as you love yourself.’ 15 So you must not live like wild animals. Wild animals fight and they eat each other. If you live like that, be very careful! You may destroy one another completely.
16 So, this is what I say: Let God's Spirit show you how to live in a good way. Then you will not do the wrong things that you may want to do, as people who are weak and human. 17 The things that you want to do as a weak person are opposite to the things that God's Spirit wants. The things that God's Spirit wants are the opposite of what we want as weak people. Our own thoughts fight against what God's Spirit wants us to do. As a result, you are not free to do the things that you really want to do. 18 But if God's Spirit leads you, then the rules of God's Law have no authority over you.
19 Everyone knows the kinds of bad things that weak people want to do. They have sex with people that they are not married to. They do things that are bad and dirty. 20 They worship idols. They do magic to hurt people. They become enemies and they fight one another. They are jealous of other people. They become very angry. They want to please themselves and to be important. They cause trouble. They make people belong to different groups. 21 They want things that belong to other people. They are drunks. They have wild parties. And they like to do many other bad things like those. So I warn you again, as I have already warned you before. People who continue to do any of those bad things will not receive good things from God. God has prepared those good things for the people who belong to his kingdom.
22 But God's Spirit causes us to live in a different way. We love other people. We are happy and we have peace in our minds. We are patient, kind and good. People can trust us to do what is right. 23 We respect other people and we rule ourselves properly. God's Spirit helps us to live in that way. There is no law that says these things are wrong.
24 We belong to Christ. As a result, we no longer obey our wrong human thoughts. We stop doing the bad things that our thoughts want us to do. It is like we have killed those thoughts on the cross. 25 Now it is God's Spirit that gives us life. So we must let God's Spirit lead us in how we live. 26 We must not become proud. We must not be jealous of each other, so that we cause trouble to one another.