Christ Has Set Us Free
Christ has set us free, do not submit again to slavery.
That seems like good advice.
If you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. In fact, if you accept circumcision then you will be obligated to keep the whole law as you are being severed from Christ. Through the spirit and by faith we wait for righteousness, and in Jesus Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision count for anything, but only faith matters.
What the hell. So the message here is if you are circumcised you have to keep the law because you are cut off from Christ, also, through Christ circumcision doesn't matter. Paul is declaring A and not A to both be true, right in the same paragraph. Not exactly the most important contradiction ever, but the fact that it is a few sentences apart really baffles me.
Who has kept you from obeying the truth? A little leaven leavens the whole lump, I'm trust that you will believe me along with Christ rather than others. "if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed."
What? It seems that he is saying that the truth will prevail and if they listen to him and others they will surely wind up following him, I think that is what the leaven business is all about. Apparently there are rival groups preaching to these people as well. It also appears that he is getting some heat from the other preachers, he says that he should not be persecuted anymore because he is preaching circumcision, but is he? Is this why the upfront message is so confusing?
Use your freedom as an opportunity to serve one another, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself" encompasses the whole law. If you don't do this beware of the fallout.
Finally something decent in here.
Walk by the Spirit
The spirit and the flesh are opposite from one another. The spirit is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." the flesh is "sexual immortality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these." You should walk with the spirit and ignore the flesh.
First, the spirit and the flesh being opposite and the flesh being against the spirit really doesn't point to a perfect creator to me. Second, lists like this are always very telling of the person who is making it. The flesh list must be all of the things that deep down Paul wants to do while the spirit list is what he feels he should aspire to. Maybe I'm reading too much into that, but it is my take on it.
For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)
5:14 Love your neighbor as yourself
5:22-26 Focus on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control [thanks JKerber in comments]
5:2,3,6,11 ridiculous doublespeak (about circumcision)