Galatian 5:7-12

Running Unhindered


In the Classic movie Chariots of Fire – Eric Liddel is having a conversation with his sister

A)She didn’t understand his love of running and his interest in competing in the Olympic games - ….. Calling – Missionary


B) Liddel – Answered his sister in this way: All I know is that God has made me fast & I feel his pleasure when I run!!!


C) Well in reality every Christian has been called to Run – not in a Physical sense – but in a Spiritual one – The bible likens the Christian life to a race



Paul was fond of athletic illustrations and used them often in his letters.

A)His readers were familiar with the Olympic games as well as other Greek athletic contests that almost always included foot races.


B) But it is important to note that Paul never uses the image of the race to tell people how to be saved-

1)     but he is talking to Christians about how to live the Christian life.


C) Here Paul is comparing the Christian life to that of running in a race

When he says v.7 You guys were running so well – who hindered you ?

1)hindered: “interesting word – that signifies ‘to break up a road’ . . . so as to render it impassable.


D)The Galatians were doing well until someone broke up the road they were running on !!!!


E) It was as if someone thru a huge obstacle in the way – making it impossible to pass – Hindered them from Progressing

1) The had been shackled by the weight of Legalism / tripped up by the pressures of a Performance based acceptance relationship with God.


Running is a sport where light weight unrestrictive equipment is essential – Light shorts / shirts / shoes

A)Guys don’t run cross country in Ski bibs & ski boots – Ladies don’t run marathons in High heels & evening gowns


B) Joggers don’t jog – carrying a sack of Potatoes – the whole goal is to avoid anything that is not going to allow you to run unhindered


C) Now prisoners on the other hand are often transported in shackles because they don’t want them to run very fast – goal is to keep them in Check

1) Well legalism is like a set of Shackles that is designed to keep Christians from moving in the freedom that is theirs in Jesus Christ


D) For the Christian who is trying to run bound by the Shackles of Legalism the Christian life becomes a Chore / Drudgery instead of a Joy !!!



When I was a Senior in High school – I was picked in the preseason reports to be one of the top pictures in our League there in SA

A)I had a decent Junior season & had played on a scout time for the NYMets


B) I went into my senior year with great expectations – But that yr our coach brought on a Pitching coach – guy who played for the Angels

1) Now I had 3 good pitches – Good Fastball Low 90’s / Decent Curve ball – But my best pitch was side arm fast ball –hard & moved up or down


C) Well in comes this new Coach – This guy was old school – Hated my side arm – not Proper / Fastball / Curve / Change up

1) Problem was I had a hard time with the Change up –

2) Coaches called our Pitches –- No side arm always Change up No budging So frustrating – I just thru what I wanted { I was messed up/ his system


D) Sucked the life out of me - By the middle of the season I wasn’t even in the rotation  - I was banished to left field –

1) What was supposed to be my break out yr- became a frustrating one

Now that is what was happening to the Christians in Galatia -They came to Christ / free / they were running – enjoying the Lord 

A) And then the legalist showed up said – if you really want to be saved you need to follow this SYSTEM………… left them all messed up & confused


B) They were running but it was like someone thru a load of weights upon them – When that happens the Christian life becomes a Burden



C) Where we become consumed by external measures of righteousness rather than the Internal issues of the heart


D) We become cynical & Judgmental in our attitudes toward others and it not only affects us – but everyone around us

1) Which is why in Paul changes the metaphor from running to cooking in v.9 When he says a Little leaven leavens the whole lump!!!



Paul likens this legalistic teaching that had infiltrated the Church to leaven or Yeast that made the doe rise

A)Leaven in scripture is often likened to sin  a little goes a long way It grows & spreads -A little sin / a little compromise can infect the whole body !!!


B)Here Paul is using the same analogy to illustrate the affects of legalism

1) The Spirit of legalism does not suddenly over power a Church- It is introduced Subtlety – starts in small doses 


C)But Like leaven it grows, if left alone it will take over and before long poison or stifle the whole assembly.

1) The false doctrine of the Judaizers was introduced to the Galatian church in a small way, but before long, the "yeast' 'grew & eventually took over.


C) See legalism is never quenched it is an UNQUENCHABLE BEAST that is always thirsting for more performance & Stricter regulations

1) Why it is important to recognize it right away before it gets out of hand

Suppose you’re sitting on a 757 Maui-bound jumbo jet. Just before take-off you hear the voice of the captain over the loudspeaker, saying, ‘We have a small problem here today. Our navigational instrument is one degree off. But what’s one degree? Sit back and relax, and we’ll be taking off shortly.’


If I were on that plane, I would say, ‘Open the door. I’m out of here’ — because, while one degree might not make a very big difference from here to OCSD but one degree would cause the plane to miss Maui by 350 miles. We’d all be shark bait!


D)That’s why Paul said, ‘Don’t even start with legalism. It might not make any noticeable difference at first, but over the long haul it will be disastrous.’



Legalism is DANGEROUS – but not only for those who fall under it’s burdernsome influences – but also for those who teach it

V. 10 I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.


NIV 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.


A)Let every Sunday School worker, every Bible study teacher, every family devotion leader hear Paul’s heart as he says to the Galatians,

1)   Those who are causing you to get entangled in legalism will bear the responsibility for what they’re doing.’


B)James would echo the same warning, writing: ‘Let not many of you desire to be teachers, knowing that you shall receive the greater condemnation,’ (James 3:1). Gulp.


C) All of us involved in teaching need to approach our calling soberly and prayerfully. Like Timothy, 2 Tim 2:15

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth

D) We who are teachers have a huge responsibility to make sure that what we are teaching is Biblical – not opinions or own personal convictions

1)Notice how far Paul goes in v.12 12 I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!


E)Listen to Eugene Peterson's paraphrase, "Why don't these agitators, obsessive as they are about circumcision, go all the way and castrate themselves!"


Now Paul was not expressing a crude or cruel desire for the Judaizers' punishment.{ However it Does express how Passionate he was about this

A)But He is probably referring to the pagan cult of Cybele, she was a popular pagan nature goddess in Asia Minor during Paul's day.


B)Many devout male worshipers in this cult castrated themselves, and all its priests were self-made eunuchs.


C)Paul’s point was "If the Judaizers are so insistent on circumcision as a means of pleasing God, why don't they go all the way and castrate themselves as the supreme act of religious devotion?


D) If, like the pagans, they believe human achievement can earn divine favor, why don't they go to the pagan extremes of self-mutilation, like the Cybelene priests?"


Now With such a dramatic conclusion to this point, Paul has made one thing clear: legalism is no little thing.

A)It takes away our liberty and puts us into bondage. It makes Jesus

and His work of no profit to us. It puts us under obligation to the whole law.


B) It makes us focus on things that are irrelevant. It keeps us from running the race Jesus set before us.

1) In light of how serious all this is, it’s no wonder that Paul says he wishes they would even cut themselves off!   Champion for FREEDOM


Where do you stand on this issue of legalism ? I want you to think for a moment-

A)Have you allowed yourself to come under a set of legalistic ideas – External standards for righteousness that are not necessarily Biblical?


B) Listen it is not wrong to have personal convictions – the Lord has clearly showed me certain things that are wrong for me – not necessarily others

1) Lord knows our weaknesses


C) But if a person starts making their personal convictions the standard for everyone else – that is a PROBLEM


What is your out look on others Judgmental ? Cynical?

A)When reading the Bible – important to put yourself in the story – ask what would I do


B) Nicedemous at night ? – Chicken or Busy

1) Woman caught in adultery – stone her or compassion ?


C) Prostitute who anoints Jesus feet – wipes w/ hair – Reaction – Does that story make you feel uncomfortable about Jesus

1) Simon if really a prophet – Know …….


D) Two teen age girls dressed not modestly – Reaction – Glad here or fluzzies




LISTEN GRACE IS NOT  a free for all – V.13 –


Grace lives by a higher law – Love v.13b -14


Absence of grace – Strife & Division – v.15



Now lets go back to v.11 and rap up with something I skipped over

A)One of the tactics of the false teachers who came into the churches of Galatia preaching the need of circumcision was to say Paul agrees w/ us


B)Well Paul says here in v.11 – If I was advocating circumcision I wouldn’t be encountering the persecution  I am facing

1) But Because I preach Christ – I am being Persecuted – The Cross is offensive to people – Why is that


C)The cross is an offense because it tells you that God will not accept your works no matter how good they are.  Well, I’m a good person!

1) All of your effort is not going to avail for your salvation.  People are offended by that. 


D) God is not Santa Claus – Naughty or nice – good out way the bad 

1) If you are going to make it to heaven by good works – must be perfect


All have sinned & fallen short of the Glory of God - You can be good but not make it to heaven. 

A)In fact, an interesting thing is that many good people go to hell. 


B) And many bad people go to heaven because they realize that I’ll never make it apart from the grace of God and the work of Jesus Christ.


C) So the Cross is offensive to people because it says that my good works will never be enough



The cross is ALSO offensive to people because the cross says that there is only one way to be saved.  That offends people. 

A)Those who say that all roads lead to heaven, No, they don’t!  In fact Most roads lead to hell. 




B) The Bible declares in Matt 7:13-14 that straight is the gate, narrow is the way, that leads to eternal life.  Few, there be, that find it.  Broad is the way, broad is the gate, that leads to destruction.  There are many who go in therein. 


C) The Scripture says that there is one way that leads to heaven. 

Jesus said (John 14:6), I am the way, the truth and the life.  And no man comes to the Father, but by Me. 


D) And in the Garden of Gethsemane as He was praying and sweating as it were, great drops of blood, falling to the ground, what was His prayer?  Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. 


E)If what is possible?  The redemption of man, the entry into heaven by man. 

1) If  it’s possible to come any way, if it can come by the law or whatever, Lord, let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless, not what I will, Thy will be done. 


F)God would not have sent His Son to the cross if we could be saved by the law, by the keeping of rules and regulations. 

1) But redemption came through the death of Jesus Christ for us.  And there is no other way to be saved. 


Paul writes 1 Tim 2:5 there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man, Christ Jesus.  And the cross declares that! 

A)Because if salvation were possible by the works of the law, then Jesus didn’t need to die on the cross. 


B)So the cross is an offense to people because it does say all of your religious systems in the world cannot save you,

1) only by Jesus Christ can you be saved from your sins! 


C) Religion will never get you to heaven.  Only Jesus Christ can bring you unto the Father.  No one comes to the Father, except by Him!