by Mike Ratliff
17 Now while seeking to be justified in Christ, we were found also to be sinners ourselves, then is Christ a minister of sin? May it never be! 18 For if I rebuild what I destroyed, I demonstrate myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the Law I died to the Law that I may live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but Christ living in me, and that which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself up on behalf of me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law then Christ died for nothing. (Galatians 2:17-21 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)
We have come to Galatians 6 the last chapter of this foundational epistle that defines what the Gospel is and what it is not. Judiazers had infiltrated the Galatian churches, which Paul had planted. These Judiazers claimed that the doctrine of Justification by grace alone through faith alone as God’s gift alone was not enough. These false teachers added “works righteousness” to what Paul taught. Their flavor of “works righteousness” was that these gentile Christians must become circumcised and keep the Mosaic Covenant in order to be truly justified before God. This epistle was written by Paul to counter this evil. Why is this important for us to study this in our day? The false teaching that “works righteousness” is necessary for our justification before God is still poisoning the Church. It comes in many forms. Some are quite obvious while others are very subtle. Some are taught directly while the subtle variety, though meaning well, put Christians into bondage to the Law from which, in fact, the Gospel frees those justified by grace through faith by God himself.
1 Brothers, If indeed a man is overtaken in some transgression, you, the spiritual ones, restore such a one in a spirit of meekness, watching out for yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thus you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, being nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each man examine his own works within himself alone, and then he will not have reason to boast in regard to another. 5 For each man will bear his own load. 6 Let the one being instructed in the Word share with the one instructing in all good things. 7 Do not be led astray; God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this also he will reap. 8 Because the one sowing to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one sowing to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap life eternal. 9 Now, let us not become weary in doing good, for in its own time we will reap if we do not faint. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, we should do good towards all and especially towards the household of faith. 11 See with what large letters I wrote to you with my own hand. 12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these compel you to be circumcised so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For the ones being circumcised themselves do not even keep the Law, but they desire you to be circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But may it never be that I would boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as many as will keep in line with this rule, peace upon them, and mercy, even upon the Israel of God. 17 For the rest, let no one give troubles to me for I bear the marks of Jesus in my body. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen. (Galatians 6:1-18 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)
In v1 Paul makes a contrast between believers who are “spiritual” from others who have been “overtaken in some transgression…” Those who are spiritual are those who are walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) as we saw in yesterday’s post Only One Gospel Part 13. These people walk by the Spirit and so they will not carry out the desires of the flesh. On the other hand, those who are led by their flesh, that is, dominated by their flesh, then they are not walking in the Spirit and if their sin is such that their life is marked by it as their lifestyle then they are not genuine Christians as per Galatians 5:21. However, Christians still sin and as we see in Romans 7, we can have monumental struggles with sin that seems to dominate us. However, the genuine Christian is never at peace with this. He or she wants the victory. Their sin is seen by Paul as one who has been ensnared or caught in a trap or overtaken. The reason is that they have neglected what it takes to deny self, take up their own cross and follow Jesus daily, to be a living sacrifice whose mind is being renewed through their transformation unto Christlikeness. Therefore, their flesh dominates them and that means they are not meek or humble, but exhibit the primary characteristic of one who is fleshly, pride.
What is the command in v1? Those who are spiritual are to restore the one who has been “overtaken in some transgression” in the spirit of meekness, watching out for themselves lest they also be tempted. In other words, we should look out for each other, holding each other accountable, but humbly with meekness bearing one another’s burdens and thus we will fulfill the law of Christ. What does that mean? This is the law of love, which fulfills the entire law. Do you see any finger pointing here? No, I don’t either. I see loving one another and prayerfully working very hard to bring those who have fallen or stumbled into sin, to repent and be restored. Notice Paul’s admonition in vv3-4. This reminds me of our Lord’s command to take out the beam from one’s own eye before trying to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:1-5). This is denying self for the good of our brothers and sisters in Christ. No boasting, but forgiving and working for restoration of those who have sinned because we have all sinned.
What does Paul mean in v5, “For each man will bear his own load. ” This refers to life’s routine obligations and each believer’s ministry calling (Matthew 11:30; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10). God requires our faithfulness in meeting those responsibilities even when our enemy’s seed do everything they can to discourage us or try to stop us from doing so.
In v6 we have the command, “Let the one being instructed in the Word share with the one instructing in all good things.” This is referring to the spiritually and morally excellent things learned from the Word. This is describing their fellowship in this process. Paul uses this same term to describe the gospel (Romans 10:15).
Here are vv7-8, “Do not be led astray; God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this also he will reap. Because the one sowing to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one sowing to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap life eternal.” This is not a politically correct statement. This is a restatement of much of Romans 1. This “law” is a form of God’s wrath (Romans 1:18). What does it mean to sow to ones own flesh? This is what people do who pander to the flesh’s evil desires. The word “corruption” in the Greek is the word for “degeneration” as in decaying food. Sin always corrupts and, when left unchecked, always makes a person progressively worse in character. What does it mean to sow to the Spirit? This is to walk by the Holy Spirit. The principle is clear and, of course, only those who do this will reap life eternal not only in eternity, but also the highest quality of living that one can experience in this life (Psalm 51:12; John 10:10; Ephesians 1:3, 18).
Here are vv9-10, “Now, let us not become weary in doing good, for in its own time we will reap if we do not faint. So then, as we have opportunity, we should do good towards all and especially towards the household of faith.” In these two verses we have the comfort for continuing to sowing to the Spirit in this life while not becoming wearing in doing so. What would cause us to become weary in this? The only thing that would do that would be distraction from the flesh. Therefore, we are told to not only sow to the Spirit as a way of life, but in so doing, to do good, especially to the household of faith. We are to server others in Jesus name and our love for our fellow Christians is the primary test of our love for God.
Here are vv11-16, “See with what large letters I wrote to you with my own hand. As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these compel you to be circumcised so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For the ones being circumcised themselves do not even keep the Law, but they desire you to be circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But may it never be that I would boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as many as will keep in line with this rule, peace upon them, and mercy, even upon the Israel of God” Here is Paul’s summary of what is going on in with the false teachers who have corrupted the gospel he preached to the Galatians. He gives their motive. What is it? They are attempting to make the gospel and Christianity acceptable to the Jews so that persecution would cease. However, Paul refuses compromise in anything and so should we. Forget compromise. Simply preach the gospel and boast in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ because, if we are sowing to the Spirit, the world has be crucified to us and the us to the world. How can we do this? We are new creations. Who has peace with God? It is only those who are these new creations.
Here is Paul’s conclusion, “For the rest, let no one give troubles to me for I bear the marks of Jesus in my body. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.” Paul bore the marks of one who had suffered for the Lord. Finally, in v18 Paul implicitly extols the superiority of the gospel of grace over any man-made system of works righteousness. Let us examine ourselves my brethren.
Soli Deo Gloria!