Peace and mercy to you Beloved in the name of Christ. Well, God has given us another day to worship Him together in His word. What a glorious privilege and gift. May we enjoy it to the fullest. My prayer for all of us today is that we would grow in the grace and the knowledge of God.
The rule for faith and practice.
To that end, please open up the Word of God, which is our only rule for faith and practice to Galatians chapter six. This is the final chapter. Our passage for today is Galatians 6:1-5. I will begin to read from verse one, hear the blessed word of our blessed God, read.
Galatians 6:1. Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one will bear his own load.
The throne of grace.
Please join me in prayer to God as we seek His assistance to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, pray.
The content of instruction.
Here the apostle Paul leaves off his main subject of defending the gospel of justification by faith alone against the legalists that corrupt the gospel with their merit-works. (Rom.9:30-33, 10:1-6, 11:6)
Now in this final chapter of this brief letter he concludes with a series of moral admonitions.
Christians are called to be in communion.
This first set of exhortations in our passage has to do with Christians getting along with one another, or rules to serve well. Meaning to serve Christ and others well, which how we get along.
If we were all actual hermits, this passage would not really be needed. But God has not made man to be a hermit, to live in isolation. God has made human beings as social creatures. We are divinely created to be in fellowship with other people. This is an aspect of man’s being that is reflective of the image of God in the life of man.
What I mean is this, there is a communion of divine Person’s within the Holy Trinity. It is a great mystery, but it is the truth of Scripture. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit commune with themselves and love one another. Jesus alludes to this in His high priestly prayer of John 17.
So too God has created us to commune with and love Him and other human beings, other creatures that are also image bearers of God.
I say this because sometimes people are tempted to say, well I get my fellowship with my dog. He loves me. And I love him. Well, that may be. But God has designed us to commune with people that are designed to also worship God. No criticism of loving your dog intended! 😊
There are three main societies or communities in which we all live. They are the family, the church, and the state-society. Of course, we can subdivide and refine all sorts of various human relationships. But the main truth is that God has governed things so that we are dependent on other people for all sorts of things.
Christian people have what I would call natural relationships. The first being our family. We are born into union and communion with our mother and our father. And then of course with our siblings and more extended family. We have relationships with our own spouse and children.
The Bible is teaching that we need God’s counsel how to get along in our homes, with our family members.
How the Fall of Adam has so sadly affected even the closest of human relations. Husbands and wives no longer perfectly mutually love one another as unto the Lord. Instead, even in the best marriages there is rancor and strife and sin. Of course, we could say the same thing for parents to children and children to parents. Such a sweet relationship but it too suffers from the bitterness of sin. God’s word is meant to help us in these relationships.
The other natural relationship that we are born into is that we live in some country, some place, some society. Here too, how we need the word of God to teach us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. And to keep ourselves unspotted by the world. (James 1:26-27)
And we also have gracious relationships or graced relationships, meaning the union and communion we have with others of the same faith in Christ, with others in the church of Christ, which is what Paul is speaking about here in our passage.
Christ showed us by His own example and by His own express teaching that He has saved us to live together with other Believers. Think of Jesus. He gathered a little band of Believers, twelve apostles. And from this little band the gospel call went out – to come out of the world and to come to Christ and to join with Christ’s church. (2 Cor.6:14-18, Mt.28:18-20)
The moment we are born again in Christ we are then spiritually joined to the Triune God, but also at that time we are likewise spiritually joined to the Body of Christ or to His church. God has made us a particular member of Christ Body and He has sovereignly placed us in that Body. By His wisdom, some are hands, some are fingers, some are backs and some are feet and so on. (I Cor.12:1-31, WCF 26.1)
God has given each one of us a position in Christ’s body to fulfill. And may I say that we are serving Christ as we serve each other. I commend to your reading First Corinthians chapter twelve.
No member exists for himself or herself in the church. We all exist for each other as we serve Christ together. This is why God distributes various gifts to each of the various members of Christ’s church. No one member has all the gifts. We need one another to function as God intends.
Listen to how Paul puts this in Romans.
Romans 12:4. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
In addition, God requires that we all gather corporately at least once a week on the Christian Sabbath in order to worship Him together. (WSC 57-59)
God says through the writer to the Hebrews that we are not to forsake the gathering together (for worship) as some are in the habit of doing. Instead, we are to gather together in order to mutually build each other up and encourage each other in the Faith of Christ. And He says, especially as you see the Day of Christ’s dawning approaching. (Heb.10:25)
We need to be told by God why, and when and how to live with other Christians in the church in a Christ pleasing way. Again, as we have been saying all along, we need the counsel of God on this because even as true Christians we still suffer the very sad affects of the Fall.
There are disturbances in the church for two reasons.
One there are goats among the lambs. There are unbelievers among the Believers. Mostly, only God truly knows who these people are. Jesus chose Judas to teach us that even the minister may be a tare among the wheat. But Jesus says, you will know the true from the false by their fruits. Do they love the brothers? Do they produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit? Or does their life bring forth the deeds of the flesh? (Gal.5:14-26)
The second reason is that all true Christians, as I just said, we all still wrestle with the flesh. The fallen flesh needs the correction of God’s word.
Christians are called to be helpful.
So, the reason for many of these exhortations is that there is some problem among these Galatian Christians. Paul summarizes it here in V.1 as caught in some trespass. The idea is that these Christians are struggling with sin.
I will speak in just a moment on a stronger brother or sister in the faith helping the struggling Believer. But before I do I want to spend a little time speaking to the idea that all Christians are in some area or another weak and struggling with sin. Now I am talking about the true Believer here. Let’s leave the false Christian, the hypocrite play-actor for another sermon.
But every true lover of Jesus still has the flesh nature. And we have that flesh nature until the day we die. (Rom.7:14-25, I Pt.2:11-12, James 4:1, Gal.5:17)
And the desires of the flesh nature, as Paul said earlier, are opposed to the Holy Spirit and the new spiritual nature. I think he said, so that we now can no longer do the things that we please. (Gal.5:17)
Meaning, having the new nature, makes it impossible for us to live in sin and be happy with sin. The new spiritual nature fights against the fleshly fallen nature from sowing to the flesh. This is where part of our inward spiritual war comes from. (Eph.6:10-18)
There is a tug of war match between wanting sin and wanting God in Christ and holiness.
Paul uses a different Greek word for sin, here it is literally a “false step”, a misstep. This is not the person living in habitual sin day in and day out and year in and year out. No. That kind of sin is not a misstep, but it is their ordinary habit coming from an unconverted nature.
Every Christian walks to heaven along the narrow road of Christ crucified. God the Holy Spirit has placed us on the highway of heavenly holy Zion. (Ps.84:5) But we struggle daily by turning here and there to sin along the way.
And each Christian has those areas that we are especially prone to whatever they might be. Mostly each of us knows our struggles all too well.
Now the weakness that we have been talking about is a spiritual or religious or moral weakness of struggle.
But want to also say, our physical and mental and emotion circumstances also are vitally connected with the kinds of sins we wrestle with. If you are broken down in mind or in body, you will be subject to various kinds of sins. If you are healthy and wealthy, you will be subject to a different set of sins.
As an example of this, remember what Agur wrote.
Proverbs 30:7. Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, 9 That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.
Every season of our life, every circumstance of our life brings with it unique sin challenges. Oh, how we need Jesus. Oh, how thankful for the word of God as a lamp and light unto our path.
Beloved, the longer I live the more convinced I am that everyone, in one way or another, is a hurting, suffering, and struggling human being. We are all still so weak, so frail. We all still have so much sin and we are all so prone to fall into sin. Oh, if we could only truly empathize with others, how we would adorn the gospel of our Savior who entered into our suffering.
Christians are called to be spiritual.
That brings us to God’s exhortation to His children through His servant Paul. God says, those that are spiritual seek to restore in a spirit of gentleness the fellow Believer caught a trespass-sin.
Who – mature.
Let’s address who is this “spiritual” Christian. First every true Christian is a spiritual person. God the Holy Spirit has given us this new spiritually renewed nature. True Believers in Jesus are believers because we are spiritually born again. (Jn.3:1-9)
I Corinthians 2:12. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.
So, even the still-sinning and still-struggling Christian (which is all of us) is a new spiritual creature in Christ. (2 Cor.5:17-21)
The context shows us what Paul means. He means that the Christian that is spiritually stronger or more mature in the faith. The Believer that is walking closer with Christ. Or walking more obediently to the Spirit-wrought Word of God.
Remember we have already said that there are different members, and we have different gifts and graces. We even have different measures of faith. (Rom.12:3, Eph.4:7) Some Believers are infants, some are toddlers, some are young persons, and some are fathers and mothers in Christ. (I Jn.2:13-14)
I Corinthians 3:1. And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.
The idea is that the stronger Believer is (to try) to help the weaker Believer with their sin struggle.
I have added the “try” to help, because sometimes the sinning Christian will not take our help. And that may be for many reasons. Perhaps we are not the best person to help them. Perhaps there is something about us wherein they have a hard time receiving counsel or help from us. Perhaps another Believer will be more readily received?
Or perhaps the person just does not want to let go of their sin at that moment.
Or perhaps we are not as spiritually mature as we thought. And so, we may be doing more harm than good to them. Have you ever had a fellow Christian come to “help” you and afterwards you were more hurting than before?
What – restore.
Now God tells the stronger one to help restore the weaker sinning one. Restore here is like setting a broken bone.
The idea is obviously to help them see their sin, the error of their ways. And then in turn to guide them back to paths of righteousness. To help them walk more faithfully or closely with Christ. So, this could be restoring them to more correct doctrine from say some doctrinal error they may have stumbled into. Or also restoring in religious or moral practice.
Remember this thing is for good, to really help. Beware of the evil counterfeit twin of this, that is to say, to spy out the faults of others. This often says more about the eagle eye fault finder than the supposed person in the wrong.
How – gently.
God also tells us how to do this. He gets at the “how” right away with the word “brothers”. Once you really think of your fellow Christian as your real family you are on your way to really helping the sufferers in the Body of Christ.
Perhaps an additional word is needed here. Even our natural families suffer so much from the affects of sin. Not all natural families are loving, helpful, and holy. And merely calling a fellow Christian “brother” or “sister” is not the same thing as have a family-love for them, a serving, self-sacrificial love for them.
Now a word about the stronger Believer helping the weaker Believer on some sin issue.
Paul does speak about the weaker and the stronger brother in First Corinthians. (I Cor.8-10) The issue that he speaks about there is that one Christian is converted out of paganism and his conscience is hurt by eating the meats that he knows were offered to the false gods he once worshiped. Well, Paul says if eating meats will hurt my fellow Believer then I will refrain from eating meat in his presence.
As an aside this does not mean that the weaker brother can sneak into our home at supper time and demand that we throw our hamburgers away! 😊 Deferential love for the weaker brother does not give him or her a license to be a spiritual tyrant or bully over our religious liberties. (WCF 20.1-2)
The weaker Christian in this instance is wrong to be offended. His conscience is not being properly informed by the Bible. He or she is letting their old wrong beliefs dictate what they can and cannot do as a Christian. But Paul forgoes his liberty in a specific venue in order to help this infant Christian.
Like this we are called to help those struggling with sin. We are called to do it spiritually or with a spirit of gentleness. I would say like a tender loving mother or father or brother or sister. But the idea is tenderness, with a gentle spirit, a contrite heart.
Severity may be needed in rare instances. But in my view, it should be rare. Hard correction is often not corrective. In fact, sometimes hard correction has nothing to do with restoring or correcting the offender.
Many times, it is really for the sinful punitive pleasure of the one doing the confronting. It is like the father after getting yelled at by the boss, gives his offending son an extra hard spanking. The correction was sin against the son. The correction is just the sinful angry frustration of the father. Beloved let’s beware of this snare in all of us, when we are seeking to “correct” others. Do we really want to hurt them because we are hurt in some way? Or do we really want to help?
Remember, a gentle answer turns away wrath. Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. The anger of man never produces the righteousness of God. (Prov.15:1, Prov.16:21, James 1:19-20)
How would this work in practice? Do you see some fellow Believer in the church fall into sin? Go and speak to him or her. Before you go, pray. As you go pray. While you speak, pray. And share your loving concern for their spiritual welfare. Love is the best motive for religious correction. (I Tim.1:5-7) Has some Christian helped you in the past with some similar sin? Well share that. Loving sympathy is what struggling Christians need most.
It will help if you already have a relationship of love or friendship with them before this sin. I say this, because if this is the first instance that we have ever spoken to them, they might suspect our profession of “concern” for the welfare of their soul.
Christians are called to be introspective.
Part of being a mature “spiritual” Believer in Jesus is to also follow the next admonition that God gives to His children. He says to us, to keep watch on yourself lest you too be tempted – in the same sin as the fellow you are tying to help.
We have to exercise great care in trying to help other Christians with their sin struggles. Remember Beloved even strong Believers still have a flesh nature that desires sin. We ourselves should fear the sin of those we are trying to help, believing that we ourselves could also fall into this very same sin. (I Cor.10:12-13) Oh beloved, there is great wisdom here.
The wise Believer knows that he or she has “not arrived” at perfection or anything near perfection. (Phil.3:1-14) The wise Believer is painfully aware of their own sin struggles. Let’s first take out the log-sin in our own life and then we will be fit to help another brother or sister with their splinter-sin. (Mt.7:1-5, Lk.6:31)
This in turn makes us a better helper. Better in what we say. Better in what we do not say. Better in how and in when we say it. (Mt.18:15-17)
Being aware of our own sins helps us towards humility before Christ and before others.
Paul was a mighty man of God. Perhaps the greatest servant of Jesus Christ ever. But what did he say about himself? I am the least of the apostles. I am the chief of sinners. I hated Christ. I hated Christians. I tried to destroy the church. (I Cor.15:9, I Tim.1:15) But God in Christ has such mercy on me, this wretched sinner, I now exist to testify of His saving mercy and goodness.
This is some of the benefit of our own weaknesses and even our own sins or sin-struggles. They teach us that we are weak, and that Jesus (and not ourselves) is strong. (2 Cor.12:1-11) We point the erring to the Christ they need. The same Christ we need.
You see the opposite of this is the proud “Christian” and I put the word Christian in quotes.
Galatians 6:3. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Proud and Christian are two words that do not belong with one another. But I do know that pride is also one of the sins that even true Believers struggle with. The proud Christian thinks they are the spiritual mature Christian, but they are anything but. In fact, the proud “Christian” may be far from the kingdom of God.
Pride of self makes us harsh with others. Remember one very learned man said, the Pharisee is hard on others and easy on self, but the Christian is hard on himself but easy on others. (Tozer)
Paul by telling us to consider ourselves in relationship to (our) sin before and as we help others, this is meant to humble our pride. Pride is that hydra-headed monster that I am sure is the last sin to die in us.
Once we truly acknowledge, I have done this or that, perhaps even worse than this sinning brother here, well that changes how we interact with them and with others in the church. (I Cor.6:9-11)
Christians are called to be Christlike.
Beloved, bear one another’s burdens. Bear the weakness and the faults of your brothers and sisters. Cover over them with a cloak of love. Pray for others. Be kind to them. They need it. This imitates our Christ. It pleases Him. It glorifies Him.
Remember part of bearing one another’s burden is just to be a (real) friend to them. Listen to them. Sit with them. (Don’t always seek to correct or to teach them). Be quick to listen. Slow to speak. Mourn with those that mourn. Rejoice with those that rejoice. Serve them. (Jn.13:34-35)
V.4-5. Beloved, let’s look to our own walk with Jesus Christ. Remember what the fly attendant says? Make sure you have your air mask on first, before you try to help others. 😊
Resist the temptation to compare yourself with others. We only end up sinfully judging them as falling short as a way of sinfully making ourselves look better. Oh, may we be content with our own place in the Body of Christ. May we be so content with Christ’s love and forgiveness that we would not feel the desire to judge others harshly.
Let’s chase holiness in Christ for ourselves first and then perhaps we may be really helpful to others. (2 Cor.13:5)
Let’s resolve to be the most loving and kind and Christlike servants of Jesus we can be. Let’s resolve for ourselves daily with faith and vigor to resist the world, the flesh, and the devil. And then perhaps we may be really helpful to others. (Rev.22:12, I Pt.1:15-17, I Cor.3:13) Let’s imitate Christ. Live to serve. And not to be served.
May God be glorified.