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Third Quarter 2017 (June 24–September 29)


Week 11: September 2–8
COMMENTARY ON "Freedom in Christ"


Following is a combined commentary on the material included in the Bible Study Guide with references as necessary to the supplemental passages included in the E. G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons.

Note: Unless otherwise stated, all biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV).



Sabbath Afternoon, Sept. 2: Introduction



With reference to title for this week the lesson asks:

"What does this freedom include? How far does this freedom go? Does it have any limits? And what connection does freedom in Christ have to the law?"



A person who has matured spiritually in their understanding of Scripture through the indwelling leading of the Holy Spirit would have no reason to be asking such questions as posed in this lesson because they would know that there can be no combining the freedom we have in Christ with Old Covenant law keeping. Why so? Because they would have studied Galatians contextually verse by verse starting at the beginning without imposing things upon the text that Paul does not say. Galatians 5:1 means exactly what it seems to mean:

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)

In Galatians chapter four the Apostle Paul makes it clear that placing your faith upon obedience to the Old Covenant law cannot produce salvation. Instead salvation has always been to have the same faith as that of Abraham. Without placing your faith solely upon the promises of God any attempted obedience to the law simply exposes your slavery to sin. Without faith in the promises of God there is no escape.

Since Paul addresses the issue of circumcision, you should understand and not ignore that physical circumcision was required for entry into the Mosaic old covenant that is now obsolete. Paul's point is that circumcision is obsolete for entry into the Old Covenant because it is this covenant that is obsolete. Therefore Paul says; "You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace." (Gal. 5:4)

As an Adventist you need to have a biblical answer for this:

Is the 'ten commandments' of the Mosaic Old Covenant really some kind of 'eternal moral law' that must be obeyed, as claimed by Ellen G. White? The Apostle Paul teaches something much different here in the Epistle of Galatians...that the old law is now obsolete and has been replaced by another kind of law because it is the whole of the covenant it was contained within that has been replaced.

Remember what the Prophet Jeremiah prophesied and recorded this in Jer. 31:31-34. We see from this that the Old Covenant and the law of this covenant had both beginning and ending points in time. Therefore the law contained within it could not possible have been the so called 'eternally existing moral law of God', Matt. 26:26-29 & Luke 22:14-23.

The Siniac (Mosaic) Old Covenant was a conditional covenant. The Hebrew people would be blessed if they obeyed the conditions (the law, the whole law, of the first five books of the Bible) otherwise there would be curses. The Hebrew people failed to keep these conditions therefore it became a broken covenant. Furthermore as is true with any other covenant, it ends when one party to the covenant dies. Jesus perfectly fulfilled the whole law of the Old Covenant when he shed his blood at Calvary, died and arose three days later from the grave, Romans 7:1-6.

Therefore there is no biblical justification for 'cherry picking' certain parts of the an obsolete covenant as eternally existing while ignoring the remainder.

The purpose of the Old Covenant law was to show what sin is and demonstrates that sinners are unable to perfectly keep this law, Rom. 7:7-20. Freedom in Jesus Christ has no limits because salvation is founded solely upon faith in the work and promises of God.

As for salvation consider what Jesus promised the thief who was nailed to a cross for his crimes without any good works of his own doing:

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke. 23:43)



  1. Freedom in Christ has no limits because our faith is founded solely upon the finished work of Jesus. Galatians 5:1 means exactly what it seems to mean. Entry into the kingdom of God is founded solely upon the blood Jesus shed at Calvary.
  2. For a born again spiritually alive Christian freedom means to be free to not fulfill the old "desires of the flesh".



Sunday, Sept. 3: Christ Has Set Us Free



Today's lesson focuses on this verse which should have been introduced yesterday before asking what freedom in Christ means:

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)



Except for one "suggestion" diverting our attention to what may or may not be a metaphor today's lesson is for the most part pretty good. For "freedom Christ has set us free" is a literal statement. This is not the metaphor in Gal.5:1. What is the the metaphor is..."a yoke of slavery". In the previous chapter of Galatians Paul has already gone into detail about how 'Hagar and Sara' is a metaphor were Hagar the slave woman represented the Hebrew's failed obedience to the requirements of the law. In contrast Sara represented her husband's faith along with her own faith, founded solely upon faith in God's promise, without any possible works or help of their own. Isaac was born through a work (miracle) of God without Abraham or Sara's help. Our own true faith is very much the same, founded totally upon the work and promise of God which was completed at Calvary.

Therefore the 'yoke of slavery' is a direct reference to being bound by the Mosaic laws of the Old Covenant. According to Paul in Romans chapter seven, these laws exposed what sin is along with the inability of a sinner to do anything other than to continue in sin. Outside of having the 'faith of Abraham' there is no escape from being a slave to sin because the problem is that we are dead in our sin. Even if a sinner could practice perfectly these conditions (laws) a dead person cannot bring life where there is no life.

In Galatians 5:13-24 Paul anticipates the false conclusion that our freedom from the laws of the Old Covenant means we are free to sin because what a Christian is free of is slavery to sin which he calls "desires of the flesh:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Gal. 5:16)

Since you, a sinner, cannot bring life where there is no life you cannot "walk by the Spirit" until your dead human spirit has been reborn of the Holy Spirit and that you have been ushered eternally into the kingdom of God. Unless you have been reborn of the Holy Spirit you can do nothing other than gratify the desires of your flesh. Here Jesus' refers to 'the flesh' in the very same way as does the Apostle Paul:

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:5-6)

The Apostle Paul's theme in the Epistle of Galatians that is only as you respond with "the faith of Abraham" to the biblical gospel of Jesus death, burial and resurrection for the full atonement of your sins have you been transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and eternally into the kingdom of God.



  1. With direct reference to the failed "keeping of the law" (Old Covenant law) the "yoke of slavery" is a metaphor.
  2. Whereas "Christ has set us free" is literal and absolute without any limits.
  3. To "walk by the Spirit" means you have responded in faith to the biblical gospel of Jesus shed blood at Calvary and have been ushered eternally into the kingdom of God. Only then will you grow in sanctification and not "gratify the desires of the flesh".
  4. Therefore it is heresy to add Old Covenant 'law keeping' in with the gospel of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection which is the obvious one and only atonement for the sins of the world. Nothing and nobody can add to what only Jesus perfectly completed, finished and accomplished at Calvary.



Monday, Sept. 4: The Nature of Christian Freedom



With reference to this verse the lesson author attempts to limit our freedom in Christ and thereby slip in the keeping of old covenant law via the 'back door':

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Gal. 5:13)



The word 'love' in Gal. 5:13, in the original Greek text, is 'agape'. Within the Christian world this form of love can only come from God. Paul graphically defines this agape (love) as 'to be a slave to one another' when he says; "but through love serve one another".

While it is certainly worth understanding the things we were once enslaved to without any hope of escape this does not compare to learning and knowing that you are a forgiven sinner whose sins have been covered by Jesus' shed blood. This foundational reality is totally a work of Jesus Christ. Our faith, the very same faith as Abraham's, is simply to believe God.

The lesson for today culminates with this:

"What things do you feel enslaved to in life? Memorize Galatians 5:1 and ask God to make the freedom you have in Christ a reality in your life."

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)

For starters 'our freedom in Christ' is a work of Jesus Christ. It is not something we can generate within our own self because only God can bring life where there is no life. This is why Jesus said in John 3:1-21 that your dead human spirit must be born again of the Holy Spirit before you can enter into the kingdom of God:

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit..." (John 3:5-6)

This commentary theme will be expanded upon throughout the remainder of the week.



For now know that when you place your faith solely upon the work and promises of God, the shed blood of Jesus for the full eternal atonement for your sin, is that instant in time when you are transferred out of the kingdom of death and eternally into the kingdom of God, Col. 1:11-14. Furthermore those who are in the kingdom of God are promised by God that they can never be separated from the love of God, Rom. 8:31-39.



Tuesday, Sept. 5: The Dangerous Consequences of Legalism (Gal. 5:2-12)



The lesson speaks of the dangers of legalism by outlining four reasons (according to the opinion of the lesson author) why Paul teaches that this is contrary to the gospel and the Christian faith by focusing on issue of circumcision.

However the lesson avoids delving into the biblical meaning of circumcision for an orthodox Jew.



The lesson focuses on circumcision but is 'straddling both sides of the fence'. For an orthodox Jew, which Paul certainly once was, is to understood that circumcision was required for entry into the old Mosaic Covenant. Paradoxically, without circumcision you were not allowed into nor bound by the conditions of the Mosaic Covenant. What Paul points out is that if this were really applicable to your life you must keep all the law and not just certain parts of the law because the law is all one law. There is no separating the whole law into parts and retaining certain parts on the supposed reasoning that it is 'the eternal moral law of God'.

In Galatians 5:2-12 the enemies of the gospel of Jesus Christ were advocating circumcision. Paul clearly understood that what they were really advocating was 'keep of the law'. Paul points out that neither "circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything" for those covered by the shed blood of Jesus, meaning we are not bound by this "yoke of slavery". What these enemies were really advocating was the keeping of the law. If this were really true you must keep all the law. It is important to understand that the question of circumcision is secondary to what Paul is warning Christians to avoid.

Actually Paul first refers to circumcision in Galatians 2:11-14 where Peter stood condemned because of his hypocrisy in fear of 'the circumcision party' when eating with Gentiles. The truth of the gospel is that Peter knew he was free to be in a Gentile home and eat whatever a Gentile ate, Acts chapters 10 & 11. Peter stayed with Cornelius for several days, Acts 10:48, so unless you think Peter starved while visiting in a Gentile home he also ate the food of a Gentile. In the Old Covenant it was just as much a sin being in a Gentile home as eating their food. Even though Peter knew better he stood condemned by Paul.



  1. No circumcision means no Old Covenant and therefore no keeping of the required conditions (laws) of this obsolete covenant.
  2. Contrary to the teachings of Adventism there is no such thing as certain supposed laws of the old covenant still binding upon Christians, Jew nor Gentile. The old covenant law cannot be separated into parts without first being defined as such from within Scripture. Retaining any part of the old covenant is to retain the whole of it which Paul defines as "a yoke of slavery".
  3. The seriousness of this issue is such that the Apostle Paul places a curse upon those who would dare to teach this heresy with the recommendation that they might as well go ahead and "emasculate themselves" for all the failed good it is going to do to themselves or anyone else.



Wednesday, Sept. 6: Liberty Not Licentiousness (Gal. 5:13)



As we study verse thirteen we should keep in mind that Paul's 'complete thought' includes the underline portion of this passage:

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (Gal. 5:13-15)



The lesson author is correct in that Paul now shifts direction from the theological to that of (in Adventist code talk) "Christian behavior". For someone not alert to what Scripture really teaches the phrase "Christian behavior" almost sounds biblically correct. For an orthodox born-again Christian the literal contextual understanding is that Paul is simply shifting from the theological to practical application.

Behavior, regardless of how good it may appear to be, is not what Paul is teaching. Verse fourteen includes Paul's phrase "for the whole law is fulfilled in one word". This 'one word' is in verse thirteen. That one word is 'love' which in the Greek language is 'agape'. Without the need to delve into the literal Greek definition, biblical agape (godly love) can to only come from a personal relationship with God. Paul defines (biblical) agape as "you shall love your neighbor as yourself". When Paul says "you shall..." he is talking about a relationship where because of this relationship you now have with the Lord Jesus Christ the natural result of this relationship is that you will agape your neighbor as yourself.

One of the great lies of Adventist theology is that a sinner can somehow through 'Christian behavior' fully obey the Old Covenant law and therefore somehow perfectly fulfill this law. The Apostle Paul calls this the lie of "being perfected by the flesh":

Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Gal. 3:3)



  1. What Paul is teaching us in the Epistle of Galatians is all that the obsolete Old Covenant law has been fulfilled and replaced with the New Covenant command to “love your neighbor as yourself” made possible only by having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. The importance of understanding the unaltered biblical gospel message is that without having responded in faith to this one and only gospel you do not have this personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and therefore be able display true agape love that totally replaces the obsolete old covenant law. (Gal. 1:9 & 1 Cor. 15:1-5)



Thursday, Sept. 7: Fulfilling the Whole Law (Gal. 5:13-15)



If the day by day and week upon week quarterly lessons for the epistle of Galatians would have been built progressively and contextually beginning with the opening verses of this epistle we wouldn't be seeing in print what has been said in today's quarterly lesson. It contains so many non-biblical convoluted statements concerning the Apostle Paul's words it becomes clear that this most certainly has not been founded upon Holy Spirit led understanding of biblical truth.



One of the cardinal rules of good bible study is to determine who is the one speaking and who is being addresses in any given portion of Scripture. A significant example of this concept is illustrated in this passage where "the Lord your God" is speaking and the ones being addressed are the "you" who were brought out of "Egypt...the house of slavery":

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Ex. 20:1-2)

The verse quoted above shows that God is the one speaking and the Hebrew people are those being addressed. A careful study of this opening passage of Scripture reveals that the preamble to the Ten Commandments begins by God addressing only the Hebrew people, those who he had just delivered from out of slavery. Therefore unless you are a Jew or a descendant of these Jews present at the giving of this covenant you are not and never were a party to this covenant.

Now, focusing on the meaning of 'fulfill' or 'fulfillment', in the book of Romans the Apostle Paul points out the obvious, that when one party to a covenant dies the covenant becomes obsolete. Therefore it is to be understood that Jesus both fulfilled and replaced the old covenant with the New Covenant by his death at Calvary:

Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. (Rom. 7:1-3)

Therefore the word 'fulfill' includes the understanding that those who were once part of the old covenant are now released from it and free to become a part of another covenant. The conditions (laws) of the Old Covenant do not apply to someone in the New Covenant.

The lesson speaks of 'not abandoning the law' with the apparent Adventist assumption that certain assumed parts of the old covenant are 'eternal moral law' that have always existed and always will exist. Whereas the Apostle Paul teaches that it is the whole Old Covenant which is obsolete, fulfilled and gone, not just certain laws found recorded within it.

The lesson author arbitrarily objects to "reduction of the law only to love" whereas both Jesus' own words when addressing the Pharisees (Matt. 22:36-40) suggest what Paul teaches concerning godly agape love Christians have for one another. As for understanding real love from God's perspective we need only to consider God's love for sinners in this classic passage that points us to the gospel of Jesus Christ:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:14-18)



Contrary to the assertion of the lesson author Old Covenant law keeping and New Covenant agape love are totally apposed to each other. The former fails because it is the work of spiritually dead sinners whereas agape love is the work of God in the life of redeemed sinners.



Friday, Sept. 8: Further Thought



As is the normal practice today's lesson is centered upon Ellen G. White comments.



This is one of her comments cited in the lesson:

“The labor of love springs from the work of faith. Bible religion means constant work....."

Our faith is not work. Instead our faith, which Scripture compares to the 'faith of Abraham', is to understand that our salvation is totally a work of God. Faith is to understand that we can do no work to help and add to what God has already completed. When God reckons you justified, from God's perspective, it is complete and finished.

Religion is the misguided failed attempt to please God by our own works instead of understanding that good works and the desire to please God is the result of being eternally secure in the kingdom of God. Whereas Ellen White's phrase; "our busy activities will not in themselves ensure salvation" introduces the false idea that we have a role in 'securing' our eternal security. The Adventist unbiblical Investigative Judgment/Sanctuary doctrine includes the heresy that we have a role in securing our own destiny in the kingdom of God.

This is not to underplay the importance of having and doing good works because when we enter into the kingdom of God we have been 'created' for exactly that:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:8-10)

In Galatians chapter five Paul directs our attention to how sin is avoided on the one hand and the ability do good works on the other come from:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Gal. 5:16-18)



  1. The desires of the flesh are sin but as you walk by the Holy Spirit you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
  2. Responding to the leading of the Holy Spirit via the law of God that he places in our heart replaces obedience to the laws of the obsolete old covenant fulfilled by Jesus Christ at Calvary.
  3. It is vitally important to understand that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit only happens through through the application of the atoning blood Jesus Christ shed at Calvary.
  4. Since entry into the kingdom of God is through faith in nothing but the gospel message, Jesus' finished work at Calvary, the Apostle Paul warns us all who would seek entry into the kingdom of God that nothing can be added to the gospel that is not the biblical gospel message, Gal. 1:9. When you accept by faith alone in the work of Jesus' shed blood at Calvary; his death, burial and resurrection you are transferred instantly and eternally out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of God, I Cor. 15:1-5.



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