"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
Paul was addressing the Galatians. He wrote them to address the deception that had entered into their teachings. The Galatians were being taught by these false teachers that in order for them to really be saved, they needed to become circumcised and to do the works of the law rather than receiving their salvation through faith. Paul admonished them for turning away from the faith of what he taught them.
Paul was defining the exact nature of that faith in Galatians 5:6. He was showing them that it is a saving faith, that is a living faith in the living Savior. A faith so vital that it cannot avoid expressing itself in love-motivated deeds. Those who are in faith expressing itself through love will obey Christ and will show a real concern for God's kingdom. The works of God will naturally be birthed out of it. It is also where we actively resist sin and the world's way and seek Christ and the cross, which is God's way.
The Galatians were deceived and had fallen away from grace. They allowed these false teachers to come in and teach them that they need to enter salvation through works rather than by what Jesus Christ did for them. They were trying to get them to enter from another gate, deception. The Galatians rather than relying on faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins began to turn and seek their salvation by obeying the laws and following traditions. They were trying to perfect themselves without the allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to lead them and to circumcise their hearts. Paul was telling them they were no longer under the supervision of the law, because they received the promise which was the Holy Spirit which is Christ in us.
Freedom comes to us where we see that it is Christ who set us free. We have to always be in remembrance of this and need to stand firm in the faith in what God has done for us and not what we can do for God. If we choose not to do this, we too can end up like the Galatians and be burdened again by the yoke of slavery. We can become those who are under the curse of the law even though Jesus became a curse for us. We choose daily if we want to walk by the flesh or submit to the spirit of God and his lordship. It is a daily choice to be like Paul said "to live is Christ and to die is gain."
My hope is that we will not be found deceived and bewitched but be found in faith expressing itself through love. May we be found operating in that saving and living faith expressing itself in love motivated deeds.