Before I read Galatians in depth, the only part I was familiar with was the portion on the fruits of the Spirit. And even then, I have problems listing all 9 fruits.
What did Paul want to tell the Galatians? The key message could be summarised by the following:
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." - Gal 5:1
In his letter, Paul made it clear. Jesus represents liberty for us. Liberty from what? The law. No longer do we have to observe the law, because we can never justify ourselves fully by law. Christ came, so that through faith in Him we are justified, and no longer need to observe the law which is the yoke of slavery. (Every time I read the first few books in the Bible, I nod in agreement. I am always very thankful that the commandments and observation of laws were in the OT haha...)
Are we then free to do what we wish?
Not exactly, as in we are not free to do as the flesh pleases. What kind of freedom is that then? By faith in Jesus Christ, we are free from trying to justify ourselves and make ourselves "clean" with sacrifices. Instead, we have a new guide and counsellor - the Holy Spirit - who will lead us to the righteousness. Paul wanted to tell the Gentiles that by following Jesus, there is no need for circumcision, for that is the old way. But the choice not to undergo circumcision means nothing as well. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Gal 5:6) Paul warned the Galatians not to use the freedom to indulge the sinful nature, but serve one another in love. (Gal 5:13)
How do we do that? By living by the easy yoke of the Spirit instead of the burden of the law. Be led by the Spirit and we will reap the good fruits - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22)
Paul also instructed the Galatians to do good to all. Do not be confused though - this doing good is not for justification and buying our ways to heaven. When we are led by the Spirit, we will end up doing good. [The] one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal 6:8-9)
We are merely fulfilling Christ's commandments to love one another as we love ourselves. For, what counts is a new creation. (Gal 6:15)