Galatians 6: Gently Restoring People Who Sin

Gently Restoring People Who Sin; Carrying Others’ Burdens; Don’t Compare Yourself To Others; Sowing To The Spirit, Not The Flesh; Boasting Only In The Cross; A Final Prayer

God has made it possible for us to live by the Spirit – to get close to God and stay close to God and live a God-honoring, fruitful life. One of the results of the Spirit living in us and working through our new nature is self-control. Messiah said: The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. That’s so true. The old nature is weak. Often it lacks self-control. It’s all too easily overcome by temptation. It frequently yields to wrong desires, often not realizing a desire is wrong. And if a person is aware that some desire is wrong, he often will not care enough to resist yielding to that wrong desire.

The Spirit working through our new nature produces the ability to know what is right and the ability to control ourselves: to control our language; our anger, our habits and behaviors; our eating, drinking, smoking and spending habits; to control our sexual desires. But, that doesn’t always happen. Christians and Messianic Jews may not continually live by the Spirit. There may be times when we don’t stay close to God. We may wander from Him. And we may lose self-control. And we might give into temptation. And we might sin. What do we do to the Christian or Messianic Jew who gives into sin and we become aware of it? The Lord’s divinely inspired Representative tells us: Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

We might be angry with a fellow believer who is caught in a sin, and want nothing more to do with him. But, we are not to respond to a brother who has been caught in a sin with anger or rejection. We respond with grace, mercy and gentleness, and with thoughts of redemption, trying to restore that person, trying to bring him back to where he needs to be. Why? Because that’s the right way to respond. That’s how God responds to us when we sin, and so we imitate our Heavenly Father’s gracious and redemptive example. And, if we don’t respond in a redemptive way, and with grace, mercy and gentleness, trying to restore that person, then something is wrong with us. We are thinking too highly of ourselves. We think we will never yield to temptation. That’s arrogance.

And since pride comes before a fall, and since pride means we aren’t as close to God as we should be, we might find ourselves tempted and give into temptation. And, if we did sin and our sin was discovered, wouldn’t we want others to treat us with gentleness, not harshness and rejection, and try to restore us? Of course we would – so we are to do to others as we would have them do to us.

Paul has made it clear that Christians and Messianic Jews are not living under the authority of the Sinai Covenant. We are not living under the law of Moses. We are living under Messiah’s New Covenant. We are living under the law of Messiah. Just as Moses has a law, so Messiah has a law, a torah, an authoritative teaching for His followers. And Messiah’s law is simple. Love God and love human beings. How do we fulfill the law of the Messiah? Celebrating Jewish holidays? Keeping kosher? Circumcision? Keeping the Sabbath? Not according to the Rabbi:

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Messiah. Carry each other’s burdens is another way of saying: love one another. Love is the desire to help, to bless, to do for others, to care for others – not based on what you will get out of it, but how it will help them. If we love others; if we know that someone is feeling overwhelmed, we go to them help carry their burden. We lighten their load. By doing that, we are fulfilling the Messiah’s Torah, His teaching, His law. We are fulfilling His two greatest commandments – loving God and loving our neighbors. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Messiah.

Human beings are part of a fallen race. We have a fallen nature. One of the results of having a fallen nature is that we are insecure about ourselves – our value, our worth, our importance. We compensate for that insecurity by trying to dominate others or trying to show that we are better than others. We constantly are comparing ourselves to others: who is smarter, stronger, faster, richer, prettier, more handsome, more productive, more valuable. But that’s the wrong way to determine our value. Here is the right way: If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. We are not to compare ourselves to others to determine our value. We are to do what God gives us to do with the abilities and opportunities He gives us. This eliminates pride and the desire to control others or be seen as better than others.

Consider this: If you are stronger, smarter, prettier or have the opportunities to become rich or more successful – it’s because God gave you those gifts and abilities and opportunities. If God gives you more ability, but you squander your ability, or only operate at 20 percent of your ability; and if God gives someone less ability, but he is operating at 100 perfect of his ability – whose life is more successful? Who will God reward more? That’s why we can’t compare ourselves to anyone else.

You want to be truly successful? You want to have genuine reason for feeling good about yourself and your accomplishments? Here’s how you do it: If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else. There is a good kind of pride. It comes from knowing that you are working hard with the abilities and opportunities God gives you. You are carrying your own load. You can look back over your day, your week, your month, a year, a season of life, or even your whole life, and feel a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, a good kind of pride in fulfilling the will of God, living up to the gifts and opportunities the sovereign God has given you.

Because you are doing well, and carrying your own load doesn’t mean that you don’t need to support the spiritual leaders in your Community who are teaching you about the Word of God. Don’t think: “I’m carrying my load and no one is paying me for that. And I’m helping others bear their burdens. The rabbi is doing the same. He’s carrying his load and helping others so why should he be paid?” If God gifts someone in Messiah’s Community to be a teacher of the Word of God, and he sacrifices his time to be able to do that more effectively, it’s right for those in the Community who are benefitting from his godly teaching to support him with their resources. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

Previously, the Rabbi had taught them about their old nature and its corrupt desires, and the need to live by the Spirit working through their new nature; and that there is a battle going on within us. The flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. Each one of us, on a daily basis, even on a moment by moment basis, has a choice: to feed, nurture, cultivate, sow into the old nature, or feed, nurture, cultivate sow into the new nature which can be further empowered by the Holy Spirit. God wants us to do one, and not the other. And there are eternal consequences that follow either choice. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Paul warns the Galatians: Do not be deceived – because we are easily deceived – by others telling us and even by ourselves trying to convince ourselves that the priorities we choose don’t really matter. It’s not a big deal if we choose to live for God or live for the world; serve God or serve the world; strive to be holy or choose to live like the godless majority. But our priorities do matter – a lot. God has designed the universe so that choosing spiritual living matters – a lot; and choosing to live according to the old nature matters – a lot.

Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. We make fun of human beings for saying something will happen and it doesn’t happen. But God is not like that. The Creator will not be mocked because what He has said will happen, will happen. No one will ever make fun of Him for not following through on what He has said. And He has made it abundantly clear that He is the Judge of the World. He has made it very clear that there will be a Day of Judgment, and on that day He will reward people for making the choice to live according to the new nature and punish people for choosing to live according the desires of the old nature.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Anyone who chooses a life of pleasing the old nature with its perverse desires – inappropriate physical and sexual pleasures; wrong thinking about God, truth and religion; and bad attitudes toward others – will come to ruination. God will judge them and they will be rejected and destroyed.

On the other hand, those who choose a life of coming to God on His terms; transferring their loyalties to God the Father, Messiah Yeshua the Son and the Holy Spirit; and then staying close to God and living a God-honoring life, will be accepted by God and live forever. So, if God has made these things clear and they will happen, so that God will not be mocked, it only makes sense, in this battle within us between the old corrupt nature and the new nature empowered by the Spirit, to choose to nurture, feed and sow to the Spirit; to make that our priority; to give that kind of godly, spiritual living our time, energy, focus and resources. Amen?

I can imagine some of the Galatians thinking: “Paul, some of us have doing that for years and life isn’t getting any better. In some ways it’s getting worse. Because we are focusing on spiritual things, we’re not making as much money. We’re being persecuted. We’re getting tired of the whole thing. This sowing to the Spirit doesn’t seem worth it.” The Lord’s divinely inspired Representative had used an analogy from farming – sowing and reaping, to encourage them to make the right spiritual choices. Here he builds on that analogy: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

It takes work and time and faith and patience to sow and reap a harvest. It takes time, after you prepare the soil, and plant your seeds, for them to produce crops. When you sow those tiny little seeds, you don’t see the final results. That takes faith. You work hard at planting seeds, weeding, fertilizing, and you don’t enjoy the harvest until the end of the process. That takes patience. Sowing and reaping takes work and time and faith and patience. The same is true with sowing to and reaping from the Spirit. You work at loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. You work at loving others. You work at being holy. Instead of living to get wealthy, you focus your time and energy on serving God and loving people and being pure. And then you get persecuted for your efforts! It takes work and faith and patience and time before you enjoy all the benefits that come from doing good. But eventually you will reap an abundant harvest. The eternal God will reward you. All the good that you do will be worth it. So, have faith! Be patient. Don’t grow weary! Don’t give up! Don’t get discouraged.

Serve God and do good to human beings. Let us do good to all people. God is our example of doing good to all people. He is good to everybody. He gives all of us life. He cares for everyone. He makes the sun shine and the rain fall to benefit everyone. We are to be the same way – bringing good things into the lives of others; giving them material and non-material things that will benefit them, bless them, help them.

Do good to all people, but with this priority: especially to those who belong to the family of believers. There is a God-ordained priority to our expressions of goodness. The family of believers, our Messianic Jewish and Christian brothers and sisters, come first. Just as a God designed the family so that family members have a special obligation to care for each other, those who are members of the family of faith have special obligations to care for each other. We take care of family first. So, we prioritize our acts of goodness to the family of believers.

Are you looking for opportunities to do good to others? Say something that will benefit them? Do something beneficial for them? Start with someone who is a member of Messiah’s Community. How about praying: “Lord, lead me to opportunities to do good to others, especially those who are members of Your family. Show me who to do something good to.” This letter itself is an example of doing good.

In case anyone may doubt this letter is coming from Paul, he assures them that this letter is really his. See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Since it is really coming from the Apostle to the nations, they should take this letter to heart. Professional scribes could be hired to write a letter, but in this case is seems to me that the Lord’s Divinely Inspired Representative wrote this entire letter himself. Writing a letter this long takes a lot of time and effort. Paul wants the Galatians to know he is working hard for them. He is committed to them. He is fully invested in their well-being because he cares for them.

When someone feels that way about you, it causes you to want to reciprocate in some way. In this case, Paul wants the Galatians to listen to him, not the judaizers/legalists who had bad motivations. Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Messiah. Why are the false teachers demanding Sinai Covenant Torah observance, including circumcision, from the Gentile Christians? Paul analyzes their motives and comes up with two: They want to impress people and they want to avoid the persecution that comes from proclaiming the way of the cross.

Regarding the first motive: converting Gentiles into Jews would impress the party of the circumcision – other so-called Messianic Jews who insisted that Gentile followers of Messiah needed full “Torah-Observance” which included circumcision. So, to stay in the good graces of the circumcision party, the legalists were compelling the Galatians to be circumcised.

Regarding the second motive, to avoid the persecution that comes from proclaiming the way of the cross: Paul had been proclaiming that all that is necessary for salvation and right living is faith in a carpenter-turned rabbi who was rejected and crucified; and that Sinai covenant law-keeping wasn’t necessary for Gentile Christians. This was offensive to the non-Messianic Jewish community. The non-Messianic Jewish community had been persecuting the Messianic Jewish remnant for a number of reasons. They objected to Messianic Jews like Paul going to the Gentiles and telling them that Yeshua is the Messiah and Gentiles didn’t need to be circumcised or live like the Jewish people or didn’t need to convert to Judaism in the traditional way. If the judaizers insisted that the Gentiles be circumcised, that would lessen the persecution coming from the non-Messianic Jewish community.

Not only were the motives of the judaizers bad, but the lives of the legalists were inconsistent. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. Paul analyzed their lives, their actions and their message and concluded that the judaizers were not truly keeping the law. The reality is they were law-breakers, not Torah-keepers. How hypocritical of them to demand the Gentile Christians do what they themselves are not doing – fulfilling the law. The legalists were hypocrites with bad motives who were unworthy of being followed.

The judaizers/legalists wanted to boast about being in the good graces of the right people and about the numbers of Gentiles they converted. Those worldly values didn’t interest the Rabbi. There’s only one thing he consider worth boasting about – Yeshua and His death: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Paul understood it’s not about who we know; how much money we have; how many people we impress. It’s about what God thinks, not what man thinks. It’s about what God values, not what man values. God does not value this fallen world that is satanically controlled and is in rebellion against God and is under a curse and its corrupt values. What He values is the cross of Messiah.

Yeshua’s death on the cross is so amazing; so powerful; so beneficial, so redemptive, so full of saving power, so able to recreate fallen human beings that every other human accomplishment fades into insignificance compared to it. That is what the Rabbi valued, and that is what he wants the Galatians to value.

Yeshua’s death on the cross is so powerful and so meaningful that it makes the world and its allures fade into insignificance for us. The world becomes dead to us. And, we become dead to the world. The world of fallen human beings with their corrupt values no longer values us – and that’s OK.

Being Jewish or living like a Jewish person under the Sinai Covenant is not of ultimate importance. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. You can be Jewish and go to Hell. You can be Asian, Black, Hispanic and go to Hell. What counts is getting that new nature and being part of the new and eternal creation that God will make after the destruction of this universe.

Those who understand this and live for God will be blessed by God. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule – and to the Israel of God. The Lord will make sure that peace, well-being and mercy go to all who follow this rule – getting that new nature, living by the new nature empowered by the Spirit, sowing to that new nature, dying to self and selfish living; dying to the world. This applies to the peoples of the nations, the “all who follow this rule,” and it applies to Messianic Jews – the Israel of God, God’s Israel, the true Israel, the real Jews who are right with God – not the heretical judaizers.

Paul has started some of these Galatian communities, taught these communities, established these communities, suffered for these communities, worked hard for these communities, wrote this great letter clarifying the truth to these communities. He has done everything he could have for them. He is the great apostle to the Gentiles. He wields great spiritual authority. He is a battle-hardened veteran. He has suffered for the Lord. He is as tough as they come. He warns them that no one should contradict him or oppose him any more. From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Yeshua. If I was receiving this letter, I would think twice before I opposed Paul or sided with those who opposed Paul.

Paul wrote some hard things. This great man of God ends this great letter on a very positive note – another prayer that summarizes Paul’s concerns for them expressed in this letter. The grace of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Grace, not works. Grace – God’s unmerited, unearned, undeserved help is sufficient for salvation and for right living. Grace comes from the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Works comes from mere human effort of fallen human beings and is inadequate for salvation and for right living.

Salvation and successful living flows, not from external observances, but from the spirit, the non-material part of who we are, from the new nature, from the Holy Spirit empowering our born again nature. To be saved and live properly, we need the grace that flows so abundantly from the Lord Yeshua the Messiah to be with our spirit, the non-physical part of who we are.

May the good Lord bless all of us so we implement these great truths found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians into our lives, and enable us to teach them to others. Amen? Amen.