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Galatians Lesson 7: 6.1-10, 14-15

SSL 7 - Galatians 6:1-10, 14-15

Last week:  In Gal. 5:13-26, we heard Paul talk about how (1) Christians are called to freedom but not  sinful living; (2) the Law can be summarized as "You shall love your neighbor as yourself"; (3) the works of the flesh explain the nature of the war within us, while the fruit of the Spirit will shape our lives when we "walk in the Spirit"; and (4) we are called to live and "keep in step with the Spirit" and not to provoke or envy one another.  The three main points of application were:  1.  The greatest conflict in the life any Christian is his or her struggle in the spiritual walk.  In order to "Live by the Spirit," we must strive daily to "keep in step" with it.  It doesn't happen automatically.  2.  While OT Law has no place in salvation and sanctification, it does give us a relevant standard of righteous-ness.  Faith saves, the Spirit guides, and the Law paints a beautiful picture of Gods' standards.  3.  The results of walking in the Spirit are more evident than the reasons for it.  For any of us, it's easier to look at the results-the "fruit"-of our spiritual walk rather than trying to understand the reasons-the "head knowledge"-for it.  Our spiritual fruit is our measuring stick-the things it produces will not only be evident to us, but also noticed by others.      

This Week:  In this final chapter, Paul reveals that liberty in Christ involves responsibilities.  Those who are "spiritual" (we'll define this in the lesson) are to restore those who are overtaken by sin , and all Christians are called to "bear one another's burdens," thereby fulfilling the "law of Christ" (vv. 1-2).  At the same time, every Christian ought to examine him/herself and seek to bear his/her own load (vv. 3-5).  Further responsibilities involve sharing with those who teach, and not growing worn-out in doing good to all, especially those in the "household of faith."  As motivation to do good, Paul reminds them of the principles of "sowing and reaping," particularly as it relates to the flesh and the Spirit (vv. 6-10).  Summarizing this whole epistle in one verse, Paul reasserts that circumcision (Law-keeping) is of no importance, while becoming a "new creation" is what really matters (v. 15).   

Read Gal. 6:1-5 - BEAR ONE ANOTHER'S BURDENS  

1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.5 For each will have to bear his own load.

v. 1:  "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted" - We Christians aren't "lawless" (habitually sinful) but led by the Spirit that fulfills the Law in us.  But what happens when one of us stumbles, gets overtaken by a fleshy mindset?  According to Paul, when we see a brother or sister headed in that direction, we shouldn't be finger-wagging or accusing but seek to rehabilitate them in a spirit of gentleness.  The Greek word use for "gentleness," prautes, literally means power under control-the ability to shed light on the problem with an appropriate response that fits the circumstance.  "Spiritual" refers to a believer who is living and walking in the Spirit-a person committed to healing and unity in the church.  When Paul speaks of being "tempted," he doesn't mean the person confronting the sinner will be inclined to join him or her in the sin but might be tempted to be overly harsh or judgmental.   

TRUTH 1:  When we see a Christian brother or sister who is threatened by sin in his or her life, we should seek to rehabilitate them in a spirit of gentleness.  Sin is a breakdown in the machinery of a Christian's life.  It has to be repaired. So if you find someone with a breakdown, do what you need to do, with care and tact, in order to restore the person to good, godly running condition. 

v. 2:  "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" - A familiar verse to us.  Very simply, it means to provide help where help is needed, whether spiritual or physical-a shoulder to cry on, a loaf of bread, help with a house payment-whatever is needed.  While this certainly includes fellow church members, it should also extend to people in need outside the church.  The Law of Christ is basically "you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mt. 22:39).  When Christians band together to obey this commandment, the possibilities are endless.  There are countless needy people right outside the doors of this church, and their biggest need is to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. 

v. 3:  "For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself" - People with big egos typically aren't inclined to bear another person's burden.  They tend to be judgmental and uncaring.  But in truth they are deceiving themselves; they are suppressing the fruit of the Spirit-virtues-that would make them great in the eyes of God.  Because of pride, they miss the joy.

vv. 4:  "But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor" - The Greek word for "test," dokimaz┼Ź, means making a critical examination of something to see if it's genuine.  So, Paul is calling us to examine our works-whatever they are-to determine what has value and what doesn't.  When we examine our works critically, discarding those that have little usefulness, while building up those that have value, we will have good cause to boast in ourselves (inwardly)-be proud of it.  Likewise, we should focus on improving ourselves rather than paying attention to what our neighbor is doing, i.e., mind our own business.  Can we all agree that our church and other churches would run a lot more smoothly if people would mind their own business? 

v. 5:  "For each will have to bear his own load" - This isn't contrary to bearing one another's burdens (v. 2), but is just a shift in emphasis.  The key here word is "load" (Gk. phortizó), which is something we should be able to carry by ourselves, as contrasted to a "burden" (Gk. baros) which something that is too heavy to be carried by a single person-they need help.  So, we are accountable for what we are able to carry, but we should be willing to help others whose burdens are too heavy. 

TRUTH 2:  Bearing one another's burdens simply means we should be ready to provide help where help is needed, whether spiritual or physical.  If you notice a Christian brother or sister who is weighed down by some burden or threat they can't handle all by themselves, you should be attentive to it and quickly do something to help. Don't let them be crushed or destroyed by it. 

Gal. 6:6 - SHARING ALL GOOD THINGS

6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.

v. 6:   Well, I certainly like this one.  "All good things" such as pies, cakes, baked bread, lasagna-just kidding!  Although Paul is speaking in the context of his times, he isn't referring to himself because he earned his livelihood by making tents-his mission teams always supported themselves.  However, in those days teachers were more like preachers-a vocation-than the Sunday school teachers of today.  In modern times this principle extends to pastors, worship leaders, and other church staff.  

Gal. 6:7-10 - SOWING AND REAPING  

7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

v. 7:  "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap" - First off, Paul sets the record straight:  We cannot fool God.  People might ignore God, or ridicule faith, or even claim there is no God, but God knows everyone's heart and will have the final word.  The Bible is filled with simple sayings like "whatever one sows, that he will reap," and we are richer for it because they are easy to remember and tend to stick in our minds.  Every gardener knows the truth of this statement:  If we are generous with the seeds we plant, we will gain a more bountiful harvest; but if we are miserly, our potential crop will be much reduced.  As we will see in the next verse, the same principle can be analogized to the spiritual realm.

v. 8:  "For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life" - Last week, in Chap. 5, Paul contrasted the works of the flesh (5:19-21) with the fruit of the Spirit (5:22-24). Here, he connects the same parallel to sowing and reaping.  Sowing to the flesh (Gk. sarx) means we're allowing ourselves to be indulged by our bodily desires and appetites rather than service to God-a sure recipe for addiction and self-destruction, the consequence of sin.  But the Spirit can tame the flesh.  Sowing to the Spirit will bear fruit-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5: 22-23), along with eternal life.  If our decision-making is Spirit-centered and directed, we will experience a fruitful life that we will enjoy-forever!  It follows us into eternity.  But it isn't auto-matic; it involves making purposeful decisions about how we live.      

TRUTH 3:  If our decision-making is Spirit-centered and directed, we will experience a fruitful life that we will enjoy-forever With the Spirit of God in us, we have the power to tame our flesh.  Sowing to the Spirit will bear fruit-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5: 22-23), along with eternal life  

v. 9:  "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up" - Sowing to the Spirit doesn't always result in immediate rewards; it can be a long-term experience.  Paul says we will reap "in due season," which means that God's timetable frequently doesn't match our expectations, so we need to have patience.  One of the greatest dangers in Christian ministry today, for lay people like us as well as pastors and church staff, is burnout.  The rewards of faithful service may come slowly, but we are assured by God that they will come!  The harvest never comes immediately.  Remember Paul's words in 2 Cor. 4:16:  "...[We] we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." 

TRUTH 4:  One of the greatest dangers facing Christian ministry today is becoming weary of it, something we call burnout.  But we need to remind ourselves that sowing to the Spirit doesn't always result in immediate rewards; it can be a long-term experience.  Paul says we will reap "in due season," which means that God's timetable frequently doesn't match our expectations, so we need to have patience and endurance to finish the race, keep our eyes on the goal. 

v. 10:  "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" - Bible scholars call this verse the "true rule" about doing good.  Paul intentionally uses the imperative "do" very broadly, which implies that we're not just to "do good" if we feel like it or when it's convenient; no, he very literally means we should do good when ever an opportunity presents itself, so that the opportunity itself becomes an obligation to act.  The word for "good" (Gk. kalos) is defined as an outward sign of inward good, which is something that people typically notice and appreciate.  And notice that we are to be especially sensitive when these an  opportunity to do good benefits a brother or sister in Christ.  Doing good is right in line with the command of v. 2 to "bear one another's burdens" by providing help where help is needed. 

TRUTH 5:  The "true rule" expressed in v. 10, tells us that we should "do good" every time we see an opportunity.  Paul intentionally uses the imperative "do" very broadly, which implies that we're not just to "do good" if we feel like it or when it's convenient; no, he very literally means we should do good when ever an opportunity presents itself, so that the opportunity itself becomes an obligation to act.  While we are expected to do good to all people, we should be especially sensitive for opportunities that will benefit a brother or sister in Christ. 

Read Gal. 6:14-15 - POSTSCRIPT

14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

v. 14:  "But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" - In contrast to the Judaizers, Paul is not seeking bragging rights about anything except the significance of the cross of Christ.  As a minister of the Gospel, Paul never took pride in himself and cared nothing about fame, wealth, and status.  He took pride in the glory of Jesus Christ. When Paul says the world "has been crucified to me, and I to the world," he means the entire world system-one that is opposed to god-now holds no attraction or influence over him. 

v. 15:  "For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation" -Very simply, Christ doesn't use circumcision or un-circumcision as a basis for either inclusion or exclusion.  Both are meaningless categories to him.  When we have faith alone in Christ alone we become a "new creation."  It's important to remember that we don't make ourselves a new creation;  it's something God does in us, and represents the fundamental difference between grace and law.