1 Christ set us free [from condemnation under the law of Moses], so we could stay free! Remain where you are then, and do not get tangled up again in the enslaving harness [of the law of Moses]. 2 Look, I Paul am telling you that, if you revert to [the practice of] circumcision [i.e., the Jewish rite of identity, signifying the responsibility to observe the law of Moses], then Christ's [sacrifice] will be of no value to you. 3 Yes, I declare to every person who attempts to require circumcision [as a means of gaining acceptance with God], that he must also obey everything else required by the law of Moses. 4 Those of you who seek to be right with God by observing the requirements of the law of Moses have severed yourselves from [your relationship with] Christ; you have fallen away from God's unearned favor. 5 For we are waiting for the hope [to be fulfilled] of being made right with God by [the power of] the Holy Spirit. 6 For in [our relationship with] Christ neither the practice of circumcision nor refraining from its practice matters in any way; but [all that really matters is having a genuine] faith [in Christ] that causes us to work [for Him] out of a genuine love [for Him and others].
7 You [Christians] were running [the race of life] well; who hindered you [from making further progress] so that [now] you are no longer obeying the truth? 8 [Your] being persuaded [to do this] was not motivated by God, who called you [into His fellowship]. 9 A little bit of yeast permeates the whole batch of dough [i.e., a few people can influence everyone else to do the wrong thing in this matter]. 10 [However], I have confidence in you, since we both have a relationship with the Lord, that you will not think differently [than I do] about this matter. But whoever is causing you trouble will be rightfully judged [and punished] for it. 11 But, brothers, if I were still preaching [that a person had] to be circumcised, why am I being persecuted? [Note: Paul's argument seems to be "I must not be preaching circumcision since I am being persecuted by those who believe in it"]. [If I preached that a person had to be circumcised] then my preaching that Christ died on the cross would not be such an offense [to those who believe in it]. 12 I wish that those who are causing such a problem over wanting people to be circumcised would just mutilate themselves [while they are at it!].
13 For you brothers were called [by God] to enjoy your freedom; but do not use this freedom as an excuse for living a sinful life; instead, use it to render loving service to each other. 14 For the whole law of Moses can be fulfilled by [obeying this] one requirement [Lev. 19:18]: "You should love your neighbor the way you love yourself." 15 But if you [unlovingly] bite and eat one another [i.e., figuratively], be careful that you do not totally consume one another.
16 But, I am saying to you, live in harmony with the Holy Spirit's [desire for you] and [then] you will not [always] be giving in to the wrong desires of your body. 17 For what your body wants is in conflict with what the Holy Spirit wants [for you], and what the Holy Spirit wants conflicts with what your body wants, for these [two desires] are contrary to one another, so that you do not [always] do what you [really] want to. 18 But, if you are led by [what] the Holy Spirit [wants you to do], you are not under [obligation to meet the requirements of] the law of Moses.
19 Now those things done by the sinful, physical nature [of a person] are evident; they are these: sexual immorality, moral impurity, indecent conduct, 20 idol worship, occultic practices, hatefulness, dissension, jealousy, angry outbursts, factious spirits, divisiveness, party spirits, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you again, as I have done before, that those people who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. There can be no law against [practicing] these things. 24 And those persons who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified [i.e., put out of their lives, Col. 3:4ff] the sinful cravings of the body, along with their passionate desires. 25 If we live by the [guidance of the] Holy Spirit, we should also walk in [the ways of] the Holy Spirit. 26 We should avoid foolish pride as well as provoking or envying one another.