Galatians 5:13-15 (NIV)
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature;rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
What's so inmportant about Love?
A. Love (agape) is necessary because “love” is the ultimate law of God.
Every written law contained in the Old Testament are governed by the "ultimate intrinsic law of love". The Bible tells us in 1 John $:8: "He that loves not knows not God for God is love." This means when we show love toward God and real love toward ewach other and express this love in all of our actions, we are then able to keep the “principles” of the laws (Mosaic) of God. Galatians 5:14 says: "The entrire law is summed up in a single command: Love your enemies as yourself."That is," love" expresses the "substance of the whole law". That is to say that God's love embraces all and comprises all. Paul alluded to this Law in regard to our duty to our fellow-men, since that was the point which he particularly enforces in this passage. He is saying that this law (the Law of Love) would counteract all the evil workings of the flesh, and if this were fulfilled, all our duty to others would be discharged.
B. Love is also essential to godliness.
It was through this "Agape" love and a loving sacrifice that Jesus Christ gave his life on our behalf by hanging on the cross at Calvary in order to redeem us from the curse of the Law (Mosaic), while at the same time obligating us to live the law (Mosaic) out in the principle of love. These principles are “standards” that God himself set forth for all believers that through Christ living in the individual, he or she can truly show love (agape) toward their fellow man through all of their loving actions done in the body. It is also through the salvation that resulted from the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we were “liberated” from bondage. With this new liberty comes the greater responsibility to bring our bodies under subjection and to refrain from using our new liberation to justify satisfying the flesh (old nature) instead of walking in the Spirit of God. Paul warns us in this passage (verse 13) that the Christians have been freed (liberated) from the bondage placed upon those who sought to keep the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic Law.
When we talk about the “flesh”, we are talking about the un-renewed mind (old nature) and those things that permiates from this mindset that is not controlled by the Holy Ghost. Our “liberty” is in reality freedom from those things (words, attitudes, deeds, and thoughts) that grieves the Holy Ghost, but does not at the same time lay restraints on the flesh (old nature) itself. Paul wanted the false teachers removed from the fewllowship because "true Christians" had been called unto liberty, and these false teachers were rebutting and destroying that liberty. It was Paul's contention that the church was not in subjection to the Law of Moses, or to anything else that savored of bondage. Because of Christ, they were free; free from the servitude of sin, and free from subjection to expensive and burdensome rites and customs that came along with keeping the Law without living in the love of Christ.. They were to remember this as a great and settled principle; and something so vital and so important that it should be maintained, to the extent that it would be considered "a great evil" to neglect or even forget. Paul says he earnestly wishes that all who would dare to reduce the church to "law keeping" were cut off from the Christian church.
Barnes' Notes make the following observation concerning Galatians 5:13
The idea is, "You are called to liberty, but it is not liberty for an occasion to the flesh. It is not freedom from virtuous restraints, and from the laws of God. It is liberty from the servitude of sin, and religious rites and ceremonies, not freedom from the necessary restraints of virtue." It was necessary to give this caution, because:
(1) There was a strong tendency in all converts from paganism to relapse again into their former habits.
Licentiousness abounded in Galatia, and where the new converts had been once addicted to it before their conversion, and surrounded by it on every hand, they were in constant danger of falling into it again. A bare and naked declaration, therefore, that they had been called to liberty, to freedom from restraint, might have been misunderstood, and some might have supposed that they were free from all restraints.
(2) It is needful to guard the doctrine from abuse at all times.
There has been a strong tendency, as the history of the church has shown, to abuse the doctrine of grace. The doctrine that Christians are "free;" that there is liberty to them from restraint, has been perverted always by Antinomians of yesteryear and some false teachers in the modern church today, and because of this, it been made the occasion of their justifying their tendency to indulging freely in sin. And the result has shown that nothing was more important than to guard the false doctrines that have been added to the truth of Christian liberty. This ihas made it so important for every minister abnd teacher of the Word of God to teach and illustrate exactly what Christians are freed from, and to alert them to what laws are still binding on them.
Paulhas gone to great pains to show that none of the doctrines he had maintained did not lead to licentiousness, or allowed for the indulgence of sinful and corrupt passions. Paul teaches that by the proper manifestation of "Agape" love towards one to another, each member was to strive to promote each other's welfare. Doing this will not be inconsistent with living out the freedom of the gospel. Several quotes have been made: "When there is love, there is no servitude. Duty is pleasant, and offices of kindness agreeable". Paul does not consider them freed from all law and all restraint; but simnply "governed" by the law of love. The Galatian church was not to get the feeingl they were so freethat they would lawfully give indulgence to the desires of the flesh, but they were to regard themselves as under the law to love one another; and thus they would fulfil the law of Christian freedom. The gospel frees us from the ceremonial law, but it does not free us from morality inferred within the laws themselves, rather, it actually holds us to it (the morality of the law) with a greater fervor.
The strife that was “seething” within the Galatian Church came in part because the Judaisers sought to push this church backwards toward keeping the ceremonial law again. Paul rebuked them responding that this was futile and though they were indeed free from the ceremony (letter), but they were not free from living out the spirit or principles of the Mosaic Law. Paul’s rebuttal to the Judaisers was this: that the best “countermeasure” for the “keeping of the law” (ceremony) was to show love (agape) to your fellow man and become willing servants for the “cause” of Jesus Christ (evangelism and salvation) as well as walk in the service (stewardship, and fellowship) of God by being a help to others. Paul also offered as a rebuttal to keeping the law that if we “mortify” the flesh (bring our minds into submission) by walking in the spirit of God, we would not find ourselves back in bondage to a law (letter and ceremonial) that we could not keep anyway.
In walking in the love of Christ, we must exemplify the principles of love in 1 Corinthians 13. When we do so, we exemplify the “fruits of the Spirit of God (Galatians 5: 22) and these “fruits” will flow forth since we yield more to the Holy Spirit now and have mortified our flesh. This enables us to live lawfully in principle and not as a ritual or a ceremonial act. The other thing we need to remember is when we show real love toward our fellow man, we also show real love toward God himself and Jesus Christ. In Matthew 25, concerning the future judgment of the Gentiles (nations), Jesus told the people at that time that whatever they did or fail to do in the way of helping others who needed help the time of great tribulation, they were in reality treating him the same way in their expressions of the love they professed to have for him. In the final analogy, love is and will be what’s needed to win souls for Christ and by showing “real” love (agape), we eliminate the “legalism” that constantly hinders the work of the church.