Reposted from 2011:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. Gal 5:1-6
These verses are the heart of why it is said that it is wrong to obey any Law of God. Because, they say, by entangling ourselves again with the Law, then Christ profits us nothing. His death on the cross profits us nothing.
The key to understanding the passage aright is found in verse 4:
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by Law; you have fallen from grace. Gal 5:4
Paul, just as he has done throughout the letter, is addressing those who have fallen for a different gospel, taught by the circumcision party, which says:
In order to be justified, to receive salvation through Jesus Christ, first Gentiles must be circumcised and obey the Law of Moses; i.e., be converted to Judaism, and then they may receive the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ by faith.
Jesus and Paul himself in other places commanded us to obey God and obey His commands. So we know that the interpretation cannot be, that if we obey the Law, or if we keep God’s commands, then Christ profits us nothing. Only if we seek to be justified before God by our obedience to the Law, does Christ profit us nothing.
What is the liberty by which Christ has made us free? We were born in the flesh, and subject to the the Law written on tablets of stone outside of us, which, since we could not obey it, condemned us to death and put us in bondage, in chains, while we awaited our execution sentence to be passed. But then Messiah set us free from chains and bondage, because He lifted our death sentence from us.
We are no longer under the indictment of the Law, which says, if we sin, we die, so we have been set free. Moreover, He liberated us from that into which we were born, by making us born again with a new nature and a new heart, and now we obey the LORD from our hearts within us, because we desire to do so. This is our freedom in Christ. Our right actions flow out of our right hearts, and living our lives in a way that pleases the LORD flows out of us like second nature, because we have been made over again in His image.
But if we seek again to be justified through circumcision and works of obedience to the Law, then we have exchanged the righteousness of Yeshua which is a free gift, for self- righteousness which can only be earned.
Paul says, if we become circumcised in order to earn justification before God by works, then we have indebted ourselves to keep the whole Law (not only the Law concerning circumcision) in order to remain justified before God. For if someone was to earn righteousness before God, and not have it as a free gift, then they could not ever transgress one point of it.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. Gal 5:6
In other words, if you are in Christ, and have received justification by grace as a free gift, then how does circumcision avail you? It can’t, because we have been completely transferred out of the brownie point works- based system in Christ. Neither can uncircumcision detract from our account, because we have left the brownie point account system behind. We are on a completely different system, which is faith in Jesus Christ for righteousness!
Now the working that we do, the acts, the obedience that come out of our lives, is through the Spirit, because we love Him and seek to please Him and walk in His ways out of gratitude. The works are not out of a need or a desire to justify ourselves.
Continued in: Galatians 5:7-26, called to liberty