In this chapter we find Paul among the Greeks. In every place, he first went to the synagogue, to present the Gospel to the Jews first, and the devout Gentiles who had forsaken idolatry and were learning Moses in order to become circumcised and convert to Judaism.
Why were the unbelieving Jews not content, not only to drive Paul out of their own city, but they had to go to the next city also to drive him out? I believe it is a religious spirit, a legalistic spirit, that drives men to that. They are not content to just believe what they choose for themselves, they have to make sure that everyone around them agrees with them. If by chance someone does not agree, then they turn to any and all methods of coercion to enforce compliance.
It is a form of rebellion, really, as all wickedness is: because the man who trusts God, is able to be patient; he exhibits the fruit of the Spirit because he is led by the Spirit in accord with submission to God’s ways, which can only be walked in by the Spirit. He is able to leave others in the hands of God. But the man who trusts in himself, in the strength of his flesh – that is rebellion, because he has set up a god other than the Lord God – for who you trust in, that is your god – must control outcomes for others, he must force others to be as he is. The Spirit is a gentleman and He does not force. He invites us to join Him, He woos us ardently even because of His great love for us, but it is ever and always an invitation which may be accepted or declined with free will. 🙂
Now the Spirit and the Law agree: because the Law is a part of the Word, and not only a part, but the foundation upon which the rest of the Word stands. Who is the author of the Word? The Father, through the inspiration of the Spirit. The Father, the Son, who is the Word (Joh 1:1), and the Spirit are One. Of course the Spirit and the Word must agree, therefore the Spirit and the Law must agree. The Law is after all, holy, and just, and good (Rom 7:12). Even Jesus alludes to this, because the two commands to love God and to love our neighbor are the two upon which all the Law hangs (Mat 22:37-40). So the Spirit of the Law is love. 🙂
Knowing that, we can see that a religious or legalistic spirit is the fruit borne by an incorrect view of the Law. When the Law is viewed as a burden, a set of religious obligations, a punishment, judgment, chains, a means of salvation through works of the flesh, which is pride, or a curse – the Spirit is none of those things, so we know that it is an incorrect view of the Law that produces that fruit. A correct view of the Law produces the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, which is patience, which is meekness (Gal 5:22-23) – the ability to let others decide things for themselves and follow their own hearts. 🙂