Galatians 5:22,23; Those Under Law Cannot Understand Love
A good way to lend more understanding to the New Testament is to study present-day Calvinism. All in all, Calvinism, especially Neo-Calvinism, is identical to the Gnosticism that wreaked havoc on the first-century assemblies.
If you are a Protestant and a Calvinist in particular, your love is anemic at best because there is a law against your love. What is that law? Perfection. See, since your love is imperfect because you are mortal; your love is illegitimate. So, why bother when it gets right down to it?
The love you practice in this material world is a mere shadow of the perfect form of love in the spiritual realm; this is/was the Neo-Platonism of the first century known as Gnosticism. Like in our day regarding evangelicalism, this philosophy had completely taken over the Jewish religious culture during the time that Christ and His apostles ministered. In fact, Gnosticism is really the root ideology of evangelicalism.
This is behind Paul’s statement in Galatians, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
I was reminded of this during a discourse I had recently with a Calvinist on Facebook. I brought up a few of many Bible passages that completely dismantle the foundations of Protestant soteriology; specifically, those that state the following: love fulfills the whole law. Calvinists are quick to bring up passages stating that one violation of law violates the whole law as Calvin does in 3.14.10 of his Institutes, but then disregard passages that state the contrast. And that’s what the Bible does deliberately; it states two contrasts to make a point about being under law versus being under grace.
Since Calvinism’s view of man is fundamentally Gnostic, and man is of the material realm, there can be no good in man or of man, and certainly no man can do a good work. So, supposedly, according to Calvinism, God uses the “righteous demands of the law for perfect law-keeping” to make this point. Therefore, there is a law against OUR love because our love is imperfect; only Jesus’ love fulfills the law because His love is perfect.
So, in regard to where the Bible states that “OUR” love fulfills the law; the following argument is waged: that’s really talking about Jesus’s substitutionary law-keeping applied to sanctification by faith alone in the same gospel that saved us, or “living by the gospel.” We can’t really love; the law is against our love because we can’t keep it perfectly. But in contrast, Paul states that there is NO law against love or any other fruit of the Spirit. And another point needs to be made here; in the Bible, “perfection” usually refers to “maturity” and not perfect law-keeping to begin with. This is just another example of the Reformed plenary redefinition of biblical words, terms, and concepts.
It’s interesting; when I cited the Bible to make my case for the law being fulfilled by us through love, the following discourse ensued:
Now, if you read all of Galatians 5, this Facebook discourse fits the context of the argument to a “T.” In context, “circumcision” may represent the law. The Judaizes relaxed applicable law-keeping as love because their rituals fulfilled the “righteous demands of the law” not love. Paul not only mentions circumcision, but the recognition of days etc. elsewhere. This is why Paul states,
“Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.”
This is absolutely no different than Protestantism which forgoes obedient love through some ritual that fulfills the law instead of the “believer.” Paul says, NO, the individual is culpable for obeying the whole law IF one is justified by it. For the Judaizes, it was circumcision and the recognition of days etc.; for Protestants it is returning to the same gospel that saved you perpetually in order for the obedience of Jesus to fulfill the law, but that is still…“you who would be justified by the law.” Who keeps it is not the point. And whatever the system, it ALWAYS leads to the same results:
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.”
Look, if the standard for love is perfect law-keeping, how obvious is it that the prescribed ritual is going to replace the work of obedient love leading to a living by the flesh, viz, obeying the desires of sin which resides in mortality? This is Paul’s entire point in Galatians 5. This issue effectively explains every foul testimony taking place in the Protestant institutional church; it has merely replaced justification by the law via Judaism with “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day” so Jesus’ love will stand in for us and keep us saved via the law. It’s absolutely NO different. But who is to do the loving? Who is to do the obeying? Answer:
“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?”
What must take place instead of the fulfillment of the law through ritual? Paul explains:
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
That’s the baptism of the Spirit. That’s the death of the old you that is no longer under the law. You may coincide that with this…
As Protestants, former Protestants, and recovering Protestants, this is difficult to get our minds around because of what has been drilled into our heads for almost 600 years, but it is really just another form of good old fashioned justification by the law. This is why the Protestant is confused by Hebrews 11 which explains obedient love versus justification by perfect law-keeping.