Galatians 6 Commentary
Verse by Verse Exposition
Dr. Wayne Barber
Click for a more in depth VERSE BY VERSE commentary on Galatians 5 on site
Related Messages from Wayne Barber
- Galatians 1 Commentary
- Galatians 2 Commentary
- Galatians 3 Commentary
- Galatians 4 Commentary
- Galatians 5 Commentary
- Galatians 6 Commentary
How do you deal with a brother who has fallen into the trap of sin, whether it be religious sin, whether it be religion, or rebellious sin? It doesn’t matter. How do you deal with a brother? How does the Holy Spirit of God look like in you towards others that have been found out to be in sin? How does that happen? How does a believer walking by the Spirit deal with another’s sin?
Turn with me to Galatians 6:1. Now, let me get you into the flow. Why do I do that? Because we’re in a river, a current, of a book. They didn’t have chapters and verses. It’s not chapter 6 when Paul wrote it. That’s the way it’s put down for us to better understand it. It was just a flow. And if you don’t get in the current then you don’t understand what he’s saying. All of this hooks together.
Let me do that for you. Having seen the contrasts between the relationships that are ruined by the flesh—all of us have been there; whenever you choose your way instead of God’s way it’s going to ruin some relationship, it is not in any way going to enhance it—but when we see that contrasted to the relationships that are affected by the Holy Spirit of God living His life in us; now that’s Galatians 5:22-23, and the love of God’s Spirit that flows out of us, then it becomes very easy to understand why it’s so important for each of us, everyone of us to walk by the Spirit, 5:16, and to be led by the Spirit, Gal 5:18. Because that’s the only time our relationships are going to be what God wants them to be. That’s the only time there’s any joy and there’s any peace and there’s any patience and there’s any kindness and there’s any goodness. That’s the only time these things happen is when we walk by the Spirit.
When we walk by the Spirit, Christ produces His love in and through us and that’s what touches other people, in the restaurant, in the store, wherever we are. People don’t see us; they’re not touched by us; they’re touched by Christ who lives in us. Everywhere we go Jesus is passing their way and it’s an awesome thing. That’s what Christianity is all about.
Now in this agape love that we’re looking at, or have looked at in 5:22-23, it’s Christ’s love in us. This is the first time, when He produces that love in us for other people, that’s the first time and the only time that we can even discern what a person’s need really is. We’re living in a day when people think they know what they need, but they do not. Only the Spirit of God knows what we truly need. There’s a difference between felt needs and true needs and only the Spirit of God can give us that discernment. But with that discernment also comes the resolve, which is what agape love is, to meet that need, whatever God has revealed no matter what it cost any of us. And He immediately fills us with His joy, His peace, His patience, His kindness, His goodness, His faith, His gentleness, and His self-control as we experience God’s love working in us. That’s a powerful thought.
This is Christianity. This is what separates Christianity from religion, God living in us producing His character through us. We can live in this love only if we’re believers. Now, if you’re here this morning and you’ve never received Jesus Christ into your life, you’ve never experienced His love, then you cannot understand what we’re talking about until you come to know Him. My prayer always is that somebody could understand the difference of religion and realize he doesn’t have Christ living in his heart and receive Jesus into his heart. Only believers can experience this. It’s Christ living in them. But only the believers who are walking by the Spirit can experience this.
Oh yes, if you don’t walk by the Spirit you will experience His love, but it’ll be that love that chastens and disciplines and scourges that Hebrews says He scourges those whom He loves. You’ll experience His love, but not in the way we’re talking about. What we’re talking about is letting Jesus just be Jesus in you. Our choice to say yes to Christ—and this is the most beautiful thing that Galatians, I think, brings out—immediately crucifies the flesh. In other words, by saying yes to God we have just said no to our flesh. We have made it lie dormant. It cannot hurt us in any way. It cannot divide our relationships. It cannot do a thing. It can only enhance them when the Holy Spirit of God lives in our life. The flesh is left in its position of deadness.
The problem is the flesh, if it cannot get us to sin outright, will deceive us back into a performance mentality. This is where the Christians falter. The sincere Christians falter right here. When they think they can do something other than saying yes to Christ and letting Jesus do something through them, that’s that performance mentality. That’s what happened to the Galatians, and all of us have fallen in this trap from time to time. And it’s then that we realize that the signal of that fact that we’re not living and walking correctly as believers is in the broken relationships that we have with other people. When all that animosity builds up within us, when all that anger and wrath and all that other kind of garbage that we looked at in Gal 5:19-21 begin to well up inside of us that’s when we know that we’re not walking by the Spirit of God. Now listen, if believers fight, whether it’s in your family, whether it’s in the church, or wherever, if believers fight, nobody wins. Everybody loses.
On Wednesday nights we’ve been studying the book of Judges. And we’ve been looking at the characters there. And it’s like, almost like a topical study because it’s rather different than it is in the New Testament in the epistles. It’s more narrative. And this past Wednesday night we studied about a particular tribe within the 12 tribes of Israel by the name of the Ephraimites. Ephraim and Manasseh were brothers. Ephraim was the youngest, but here’s old granddaddy Jacob who, the same thing happened to him. He gave the blessing to that younger one instead of the older one, who was Manasseh. And Ephraim became very arrogant and very contentious in the 12 tribes of Israel. So the Ephraimites were always causing problems in the people of God. Gideon had to deal with them. But Gideon had enough sense to know that you don’t fight each other, and so therefore he was willing to deal with it with sensitivity and humility and he calmed their anger down and it was no bloodshed.
But Jephthah, the one we studied this past week, was different. Jephthah was an illegitimate child. He was a man of valor. He was a mighty warrior. He was no sissy. And the Ephraimites did to him what they did to Gideon, and when they did it to him he didn’t handle it correctly. In fact, he killed 42,000 of the Ephraimites, which was Israel. I mean, if it’d been the Ammonites or the Amorites or somebody else, that would have been one thing, but he didn’t. This was not the enemy. This was his own people. All of Israel lost when he blew it and handled it the wrong way. That’s what the flesh does. It always wounds, it shoots the very wounded in the body of Christ. But the Spirit of God produces a love that draws people together, even those that are intolerable, and people that are unlovable. But if we ever fight it’s a foolish thing.
And so Paul is telling the Galatians this truth. You don’t want to go that route that you’ve been going. You want to go this route. You want to let Jesus be Jesus in your life. And it’s with this thought that we enter chapter 6. See, that’s the current of the river that’s carrying us right into where we are today. Paul is going to show us what Christ’s love looks like when we’re allowing Him to be who He is within us. He wants us to see the sensitivity that God’s going to give us to other people.
Paul begins with the problem that his whole epistle has been addressing. There’s sin in the camp. All the southern churches had bought into false doctrine, which is sin when you err and you depart from truth. The Galatians had fallen into the trap of sin. But here’s what Paul wants them to see. How do you deal with a brother who has fallen into the trap of sin, whether it be religious sin, whether it be religion, or rebellious sin? It doesn’t matter. How do you deal with a brother? How does the Holy Spirit of God look like in you towards others that have been found out to be in sin? How does that happen? How does a believer walking by the Spirit deal with another’s sin?
Now, this is so important to me that I’m going to do one message on this first verse. I mean, I’m not going to go any further than verse 1. I’m not going to do that with every verse, but I think this is so key. It’s so amazing to me that Paul starts here. He could have started in many places, but he didn’t. He started when a brother is in sin and he wants them to understand the beauty of how God’s sensitizes you towards a brother that’s fallen and erred in sin.
Gal 6:1. There are three things that I want you to see in this passage. First of all, Paul illustrates the problem. He illustrates the problem. He says, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass.” Now, the “even if,” the word “if” there is the word ean. It means it’s a situation that could happen and probably will. The Galatians have already fallen into sin, and I think what Paul is saying here is, this is probably not going to be the first time. Now, when they do, and when you do, how do you handle somebody who has fallen into sin? Even if a man is caught, “is caught.” Now the word “caught” is the word prolambano. It comes from two Greek words, pro, before, lambano, to take or to overtake, to overtake with surprise. Now there are really two thoughts here, and the translations bring out both thoughts and you have to look at both of them. They’re very valid. They do not contradict in any way.
The first thought is seen in the King James Version, the New King James Version, the Young’s Translation and others. It’s the thought that a person has been surprised by the fact that sin has overtaken him. In these translations that word prolambano is translated as “overtaken.” If a man is overtaken, and they translate it “by a fault.” Now, these translations view the verbprolambano as a sin that has snuck up on somebody, and overtaken them is the idea. And you can see their point. You see, before we became a believer we chased after sin. Do you remember those days? How many of you, before you became a believer, chased after sin? What’s the middle letter of the word “sin?” “I.” I rest my case. You see, before we became believers we lived for ourselves. We chased after what ourselves, what pleased ourselves. We chased after sin. But once you become a believer you don’t chase after sin any more. You pursue Christ; however, sin chases after you and sometimes overtakes you.
And that’s the thought that comes out in some of these translations. The verb is in the aorist passive voice; aorist tense meaning at an occurrence, at an event, and passive voice indicating that something happened to the person. At a certain time he was overtaken by the sin. Now, Paul has already warned the Galatians of sin before they became a believer. And then he had to warn them again after they become a believer. So we see how sin is still a problem to a believer, but it’s a little different focus. A believer doesn’t focus, doesn’t chase after it; it chases after him.
But the other truth, now that’s one truth that’s absolute here, but the other truth is found in the New American Standard translation, and I love it. And that is that, not only has he been overtaken by a sin and he’s fallen into its trap, but the other truth is that he’s been caught in his sin by somebody. And that’s what the New American Standard translation says, “even if a man is caught in any trespass.” You see, the little phrase “even if” introduces what they call an exceptional clause. And that exception to this clause is, and why they translate “even if,” is that this man has been caught. Not only has he been overtaken, but this man has been caught in a sin, rather, “if a man is caught in any trespass.” Now that’s a person who’s caught, then there’d be no reason to go and restore him, which is the last part of the verse. I mean, that supports itself. You have to know about his sin if you’re ever going to restore him. That’s what he says in the last part of the verse. He says, “You who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” So both truths are in play here. First of all, a man’s been overtaken into a sin. He’s fallen into its trap. But secondly, somebody has caught him in that sin.
Now, this act of sin that a believer had been caught in would no doubt enrage believers who are not living surrendered to Christ. This is a hard fact of life. You can just hear them now. “How could he do that?” “I can’t believe that happened.” “Why, I would never do that myself.” Now, this is how ridiculous we get sometimes. We forget that the flesh, my flesh, is just as wicked as anybody else’s. And we better be real careful when we say we wouldn’t do anything. But, you see, people that don’t walk by the Spirit, they’re repulsed by that sin to the point that they will not love that individual. They want to get him out rather than love him in. Only the Holy Spirit can produce the kind of love that would actually be sensitive to the needs of one who has been caught in sin. It is supernatural to be sensitive to someone when you know that he has sinned. It’s supernatural; this is not a natural tendency. This is that love of Christ being manifests in our lives. Flesh condemns and wants to carry out the sentence, but the Spirit seeks to restore.
Now, it appears to me that Paul is anticipating the wrong reaction by many of these people. And this would explain what he says in the last part of the verse. He says, “You who are spiritual.” He automatically draws a line right there. “You who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” You see, the sin of a brother in Christ can only be responded to in the sensitivity that Christ’s love produces in our life. If that love is not there, then we’ll be insensitive. We will be calloused. We will be hard when a brother has fallen into sin.
“Brethren, even if a man is caught,” then he says, “in any trespass.” Now, what is a trespass? The word “trespass” is the word paraptoma. It means to fall alongside. Para, alongside, pipto, to stumble or to fall, to fall alongside. In fact, it’s a very general word for sin. It carries more the idea, yes, of sin; it is sin, but it’s not so much the premeditated kind. It’s something that a person was deceived into, or he didn’t set out to do this. The Galatians didn’t set out to have these things happen that Gal 5:19-21 told us about. They didn’t set out that way. They simply erred from the truth, they strayed from the truth and now they’re living in this sin.
This is not the harsh word for sin that is used in other places, harmatia. It’s not that same word. In Galatians it makes perfect sense for that reason. You really have to understand that they didn’t set out to be bad people. They just simply chose something rather than letting Jesus be Jesus in them. The origin of sin in a believer’s life always will be when he errs in judgment and when he departs from truth. This causes us to be overtaken by sin and sometimes we get caught in it. And the apostle Paul is that brother dealing with them in their sin, and now he’s telling them how to deal with one another.
You know, when I was growing up I always got caught in everything I did. I’m serious. I could do anything I did, I don’t know how in the world I caught every single time. And this is the whole idea Paul’s bringing out. I went fishing one time with two young fellows in my youth group when I was in college. I had my fishing license; and one of them didn’t need it; he was 15 years old. One of them needed it, but just refused to buy it. He was 16. Sixteen years old you had to have a license. Well, I had warned this one fellow. I said, “Bill, you have to have a license. Let’s stop and get it.” “Oh, they’ll never check me. We’ve never been checked.” You know how that goes. All of a sudden I look up, and I see the guy with the green shirt on and the green trousers and I know exactly who it is. It’s the game warden. He comes over, he says, “Let me check your license.” Well, I showed him my license and he looked at Bill and said, “Sir, can I see yours?” And Bill said, “I’m only 15 years old.” And the ranger said, “Well you know what? You look a lot older than that.” He said, “How old will you be your next birthday?” And Bill says, “17.” I tell that story because that’s exactly the way I was growing up. I couldn’t lie. I couldn’t do it. I’d always hang myself in the midst of it.
Well, what Paul’s talking about is these Galatians, they sinned, but I guess they weren’t good enough at covering it up, and now they’re caught. That’s the problem. He illustrates the problem. Now what do you do? Now what? Now that you’ve caught your brother in a sin, now what do you do? What, the second thing he does here, he describes the procedure. What procedure do we follow when a fellow believer has been caught in a sin, not just overtaken, but caught? What’s the responsibility of one who has caught his brother? Well, “Brethren,” he says in verse 1, “even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.”
Now, he says, “You who are spiritual.” Now he’s talking to a particular group in that people that he’s writing to. It’s not one church, it’s several churches, but he’s singling out several ones that walk side by side with those who are not walking in the Spirit. And the word for “spiritual” there is pneumatikos. According to Dr. Spiros Zodhiates’ Word Study Dictionary, he says about this word, it’s a believer who is enjoying the influences, the graces and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In other words, in our context of Galatians 5 and 6, it’s somebody walking by the Spirit. It’s somebody that the Spirit of God is producing His love within them. That’s who he’s talking to.
He’s not talking to the people that care less. He says, no sir. I’m only talking to one certain group of people here, those people who are walking by the Spirit, those people who are like that glass that we’ve talked about how many times, that has had the bottom knocked out, and the glass has been put into the river and the river is flowing through them, which is what being filled with the Spirit is all about. Jesus is the river. He’s the life that flows through us. Only a believer who has been filled by the Spirit has the sensitivity to another believer who has sinned, because it’s Christ in him that needs to respond, not the individual, but Christ in him.
And I want to say this, and just to caution you in your walk with Christ, remember that there are two groups of people in every body of believers, no matter where you are. They were in Galatia; they are in your church. You have people that don’t give God the time of day. They do not walk by the Spirit, yet they’ll show up. But then you have the people that are walking by the Spirit of God. Oh, when a person is ever caught in a sin by an individual who refuses to walk by the Spirit of God! I want to tell you something, they will ruin your reputation and they will ruin your life. You know why? Because they are devoid of the sensitivity of the Lord Jesus Christ and how He treats others, you see. So Paul’s not talking to the people that are fleshly-minded. He’s only talking to the spiritual ones, those who are walking by the Spirit, those who are being led by the Spirit of God.
Now look what he says. “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual.” You others, don’t you touch it; you have no business in this matter. Get your own life right first. I’m talking to the spiritual ones. He says, “Restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” Now that word “restore” is a beautiful word katartizo. It means to put it back in its proper position. I love that. Kata means with, and then artios, to adjust or to finish. It’s a word used in the secular world of a doctor who’s resetting a bone. A bone’s been broken and he takes it and puts that bone back to where it can mend and where it can heal and where it can be usable again.
The word “restore” is in the present imperative tense. Present tense means it’s an ongoing process. You know, it doesn’t mean to walk up to somebody—I hear this all the time—“I’m going to tell you the truth in love.” You know, really what they mean is “I’m going to drop a grenade in your lap and I’ll see you later.” You know, they justify themselves. Those people who walk after the flesh. That’s how they justified themselves. But by the present tense he’s talking about the fact you restore and continue to restore. It’s a process here. Restoring a brother who’s fallen into the trap of sin is not just going to tell him about it. It’s more to it than that. It involves a responsibility to stay with him until he gets back on his feet.
It’s like that elk hunter and he’s out there on a rock and he’s got his sights and all that, crosshairs are right on that big herd bull. He’ll score, oh, he might be in the record books. And he’s just about to pull the trigger, and the guide that’s with him taps him on the shoulder. He looks at him and he says what? He said, “Now remember before you pull that trigger, it’s five miles back to camp. Now, some of you don’t understand what I’m talking about. You kill a 1200-pound animal, guess who’s going to carry it back five miles to camp. If you’re going to pull the trigger, understand it’s a responsibility that goes with pulling that trigger.
That’s what I’m saying. If you’re going to go to somebody and tell them about their sin, make sure you’ve already resolved with God you’re going to stay with them until you get that person back on his feet, because that is the sensitivity and the resolve that God’s love produces in an individual who’s walking by the Spirit. There’s a responsibility that goes with it.
Well, the word doesn’t mean to kick the person out of the church. It doesn’t mean to destroy the person by telling everybody else. There’s another Scripture that says that love covers. And Dr Zodhiates and I were studying that one day and he said it means it builds a house over, a roof over. In other words, when you find out about a brother’s sin you tell nobody. You go to God, and you go to him, and you keep it underneath that roof. You see, we’re going to have church discipline somewhere down the road, and I want you to understand it’s restoration, not discipline. That word “discipline” has too many bad connotations to it in our culture. We think about it as kicking the guy out. That is not it at all. If you ever see church discipline practiced here, it’s going to be to restore somebody. It’s going to be to help somebody. It’s going to be to try to get somebody’s attention that he’s making a mockery of what we call and understand Christianity to be. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful thing.
But the word “restore” refers to that which may be painful at first. It’s not only a process, but it’s painful at first. Sometimes it’s painful for a while. Let’s just meditate on that for a second. You’ve just broken your arm and you go to the doctor. Guess what he’s going to have to do? He’s going to have to hurt you in order for you to heal. And so the pain is automatically implied. I know when my son had surgery on his ankle, I remember he just thought that was going to be a piece of cake. Of course, he didn’t understand the pain that was going to go with that. And he was in a lot of pain for quite a while before the injured place in his body began to heal. So the very term restoring a brother, restoration, has implied within it there’s pain. There’s going to be some pain to it. The act of restoring someone is very painful.
Years ago I had ulcers. Can you imagine me with ulcers? But I had them. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, I just knew that I felt like someone had driven a knife through my back at night and I couldn’t understand what was going on. Well, I went in and talked to the doctor and he said, “You’ve got ulcers, Wayne.” And I said, “Well, what causes that?” He said, “It’s not what you’ve been eating.” He said, “Evidently, Wayne, it’s what eating you.” Oh! And he says, “You know, Wayne, I’m a Christian, and I hear you speak about the victory we have in Jesus from week to week.” And he said, “Wayne, I just want to say something to you as your brother, as a Christian brother. I’m going to hurt you.” And I thought, well, here we go. He said, “In a spiritual way,” he said “Wayne, why don’t you start living what you’ve been preaching?”
You think that hurt? Oh yeah, that hurt. But you see, what that did, it lanced the boil and then the healing could start taking place in my life. And he became a friend that became accountable to me for quite a while to make sure we got back where we’re living what we’re preaching. That’s what I’m talking about. He loved me enough not just to tell me, oh no, but to stay with me all the way through the process.
You see, when we’re filled with the Spirit of Christ we have a sensitivity to others. Nobody can explain this, because most of the time they’re the very people that are unloving. They’re intolerant. They’re difficult people to start with. But God gives us that sensitivity to love them beyond them, in spite of them. The Christ in us gives us also the resiliency to endure the pain with them because they’re going to go through some painful times and then the joy one day of watching them come back and be able to stand on their feet once again. But it’s all about restoration, restoration.
I remember the first time I ever mentioned we were going to discipline somebody, we never mentioned the name and we never called their sin ever in public. The four steps in Matthew 18, only two of them are public. But I remember when I first mentioned it the young people were sitting off to my right. My son was in the youth group at that time, and he was sitting back there, about 175 of them sitting over there. And he told me when I said somebody’s going to be disciplined this next week, everyone of the young people turned to each other and said, “Oh no, they found out, they found out, they found out.” We weren’t even talking about. It did a beautiful thing, raised the standard real quick.
But we would send a registered letter to the person. They had to sign for it before he ever got it. I mean, before he ever went to church discipline he had to get it and read it. And what that letter said was, we do not want to do this third step. Will you please, we beg of you, meet with us. We erred on the side of grace every single time, and usually that was what got their attention when they realized the seriousness of what they had done, that it affected the whole body of Christ that come and claim to be Christians. I remember one time this one man got that letter and it just wiped him out. He’d been having an affair with another woman and had even moved away from his wife and he was just absolutely adamant that he was not doing anything sinful in God’s sight. Well, that letter came and he said, “Wayne, it hit me like a ton of bricks.” He said, “For the first time I saw the seriousness of my sin. Before I thought I could get away with it and never bother anybody.” But he said, “I saw the seriousness of my sin,” and he said, “I went and asked my wife to forgive me. I broke it off with this other person. I’ve gone to everybody I’ve known to go to,” and he said, “I just need, I need so much now to share this with the body of Christ.”
He came one Sunday night and told me this on the platform. And, you know, when people come and say I want to give a witness or share a testimony I check them out. I’ve learned. I’ve been around and done that, because a lot of times what they’re about to share you don’t want everybody to hear. And I asked him, I said, “What is it you want to share?” And he said, “I want to ask the people just to forgive me, because I’m so ashamed.” And I said “Yes sir, you can share that.” And it came the appropriate time and I let him come up to the pulpit, and he tried, he opened his mouth and just immediately began to falter and he just began to weep and sob and he said, “I’m so sorry. I am so sorry.” And he asked the people to forgive him. And his precious wife was sitting right down here to the left and she has to go through the heaviest load of all this. And, boy, it was awesome. I said, “Folks listen, he’s as clean right now as any of the rest of us in here. He’s already been washed by the blood and the blood has just cleansed him. Now we need to encourage him as a brother because we’re going to have to help him get back on his feet.”
Well, I said, “All you men come down and get around him and bring a verse with you. Every one of you get down here. And if you can’t get to him, lean on the guy in front of you.” Man, they just came down and hovered over him and began to pray with him and share Scripture with him. And I said to his precious little wife, and I looked at her and I said, “I know what you’re going to have to go through now rebuilding that trust bond,” and I said, “Ladies, come down and get around her and share the Word with her and encourage her.” And asked the choir to just sing something appropriate, and it was awesome what they did. They began to sing that song, “O the blood of Jesus, O the blood of Jesus,” and the last line of that is, “that washes white as snow.”
And that’s the closest thing that I’ve experienced to real revival since I’ve been in the ministry, and I’m 60 years old. When I saw people, nobody was judging anybody. Everybody was rejoicing that a brother had been restored, and everybody was praying for one another. And the love that was in that church, it was so thick you could have cut it with a knife that night. That’s what we’re talking about. That’s the sensitivity God puts within believers when they see a brother who’s been overtaken and yet been caught in the act of sin. This is how they treat them. They don’t kick them out. They love them. They seek to restore them. It’s all about restoration.
“You that are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” The word “spirit” there is the word for attitude. It’s a little “s,” spirit of gentleness; however, it indirectly speaks right back to the Holy Spirit that produces that very gentleness. Because the word used there for “gentleness” in verse 1 is the same word used in 5:23 as the fruit of God’s Spirit. And so it’s the word prautes. It’s the word that refers to the brokenness that you approach a person with. Brokenness, it’s used in a secular sense of a horse that’s full of power that has now surrendered his power to his master. And here’s a person that comes in that meek spirit understanding what they’re not apart from God. It’s a humble word. It’s a beautiful word. It speaks of the character of Christ.
Now get the picture. My son’s a Georgia football fan. I’ve been praying for him for years. For some reason I just can’t get him to repent. But the guy that announces all the Georgia football games, he gets on the air and he’s on radio so you can’t see it, so he’s trying to draw a picture. He says, “Now let’s get the picture, let’s get the picture.” And he’ll go back and rehearse everything for you. Well, let’s get the picture of what Paul’s doing right here. Unless you’re allowing Christ to live through your life, which is the same thing as being filled with the Spirit, which is the same thing as a glass having that bottom knocked out, stuck in the river letting the river flow through it—now listen to me—then you have no business dealing with a brother that you’ve found out is in sin. You have no business touching it. Don’t get near him. Because you see, number 1, you’re already living after the flesh so you’re no better off than your brother. So he’s not talking to the people that won’t get right with God. Don’t say a word. Don’t say a word, because if you point a finger, there’s three more pointing right back at you.
But to those that are spiritual, if you’re allowing the Spirit to produce His love in your life, and He’s given you the discernment to the need and the resolve to meet that need, then He’s talking to you. And what He says is, Christ will empower you to come alongside and to help a brother be restored to where he can be effective again. For those who are living surrendered lives when we’re caught in our sin, I tell you, that’s wonderful. I pray that if I ever do something stupid, I pray that there’ll be people that love the Lord that’ll come around me. I’m telling you, you don’t want the ones that aren’t walking that way. We need Christ’s gentleness towards us.
Okay, so Paul illustrates the problem; secondly he describes a procedure; but then finally he warns of a possibility. There’s a warning that comes in here. He warns of a possibility. “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” Now, here comes the warning: “Each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Now here we go. The “each one” there refers to the “each one” that are spiritual, because that’s who he’s talking to, to those who are allowing Christ to live in and through him, to those that are sensing that they need to spend some time with a brother. And how long it takes nobody knows, but they’re willing to get him back on his feet.
He says, “looking to yourself.” And that word “looking” there is the word is skopeo. Keep one’s eye upon. You know I’m a bass fisherman. And I’m trying to learn to be a trout fisherman. For those of you that fish for trout, I have more respect for you now than I’ve ever had in my life. Now, when you bass fish and that thing hits, you jerk with a jerk that’s going to just take his teeth out, because they’re tough fish. Buddy, when they hit you’d better be on the strike, and you bring him in. I’ve discovered something. That’s not exactly the way you do a trout.
When you’re fishing for trout, you don’t jerk. If you jerk, the fish is either going to be 30 feet up in a tree or you’re just broken that little two-pound test leader that you’ve got on there. You don’t do it that way. You use your wrist. That’s all you use is your wrist. And I’m trying to learn that.
But dry fly fishing is something, I don’t know if I’ll ever learn. First of all, they’re so little. Have you ever seen the flies that they use out here? I mean, only people 20 years old and younger can even see the holes in the thing there. No wonder they have these huge magnifying glasses you pull down in front of your glasses to see them. I mean, it’s like where is it? Where’s the thing? Tying it on is bad enough, but that’s not the hard part. The hard part is when you throw it out in that stuff out on the foam out on the stream when you want to make sure you throw it to because that’s where all the goodie stuff is floating down the river. How do you see it? And trying to keep your eye upon, skopeo. That’s the word he’s using here. Don’t take your eye off of it. Do what? Uh oh, you missed it. You’ve got to stay right with that fly that whole time.
Well that’s the word that he uses here. And so what he says is, you keep your eye on something. If you’re going to go restore this brother you better keep your eye right on something. And what is it? He says, “Looking to yourself.” You better watch out, because your flesh is just as susceptible to sin as this brother’s is that you’re trying to restore. That word skopeo is used in Philippians 3:14 and it’s translated as goal. And it says, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” And a runner never runs looking back. If you’re looking back you just lost the race. You have to run keeping your eyes on the goal that you’re trying to attain. And that’s that word that he uses. He says guys, you’re vulnerable, even you that are spiritual. You’re vulnerable. And it’s that quick that you can fall in the same temptation that this man has fallen into.
So he says keep your eye upon yourself, “lest you too be tempted.” And that’s passive voice. Not that you go into it thinking that’s going to happen, but that temptation doesn’t come upon you. And the word for “tempted” is the word peirazo. To be put into a situation that’s so delicate that you have to make a choice. And he says you better be careful when you put yourself into that situation, because most of the time if you’re not looking to yourself you might get your eye on that sin and as a result of it, end up falling to that very sin. Be very very careful.
You know, I don’t know whether it’s my imagination or not, this is why I love to preach, by the way, book by book and verse by verse. You know why? Because it’s not topical. Topical to me forces you so many times to take the text and make it say what you’re trying to say rather than let the text say what it says. But I don’t know how many people I have noticed that’s been preaching against immorality and preaching against this, and that’s all they ever preach against, are the very ones falling to that sin. What Paul says is, “Man, if you see a brother caught in a sin, first of all thank God that’s not you, because only by the grace of God you’d be right in his shoes. Now, secondly, if you’re going to go meet that person’s need, you that are spiritual, the rest of you sit over here and be quiet.” He says, “If you’re going to meet that need, you be careful. You’re vulnerable.” It’s like that sign that says approach with caution. Approach with caution because there’s fire in here and you may end up getting burned yourself.
We do have responsibility to one another, but only when we’re living filled with God’s Spirit can we ever see that responsibility carried out. So Paul illustrates the problem. He describes the procedure. He warns of a possibility. And there are two truths I’d like to leave you with today. They’re side by side. One of them is if you’re not walking by the Spirit then I would encourage you to get your life to where you actually can be usable to God, to reach out and touch another brother who’s not walking that way. But if you are walking by the Spirit, may I just simply say, you are so desperately needed in the body of Christ because only you that are walking by the Spirit can cause the unity of the body to come back together. And so Paul speaks to a dysfunctional church, several churches, the whole Southern Galatia and he says to them, “You’re walking this way. This is the way you’re supposed to walk. Now those of you who are truly walking this way I have something to say to you about a brother who has fallen into sin.”
Today we look to see more of what God’s love looks like when it’s manifest in the family of God. When individuals begin to choose to walk by the Spirit, willingly led by the Word and by the Spirit of God, what does this look like in the body of Christ?
Turn with me to Galatians 6, and we’re going to be looking today at Gal 6:2-5. I love this season of the year. One of the things I love about it is not just the theme of it; of course, Jesus being born and we celebrate His birth. But I also love the family emphasis that starts somewhere around Thanksgiving and carries us all the way through Christmas. Just a beautiful time of the year.
Speaking of family, I love the way the apostle Paul begins chapter 6, first word, “Brethren.” And I love the way he ends Gal 6, “brethren.” You say, “No, Wayne, I see “amen.” No, that’s just sealing it all. “Amen” simply means let it always be so; don’t you ever change it. But he starts with “Brethren” and he ends with “brethren.” You know what that is, don’t you? That’s a family term. And you think about it for a second. Just as Paul has argued in chapters 3 and 4 that we walk by faith—Why? Because we’re sons of God, not slaves—the same way in Gal 6:2 he shows that we should “Bear one another’s burdens.” Why? Because we’re brothers and sisters; because we’re in the family of God.
The word “brethren” is such a beautiful term for the way we think about each other and how we treat one another. It’s a beautiful term. Now, I know we’re from the South. I know that. There’s something we picked up in the South, and that is we call each other brother or sister when we’re talking to believers. Why? It comes right out of this. We’re family. That was just a way of expressing familiarity because we’re in the family of God. It’s so awesome that we as believers in every church that’s meeting together today, we’re members of God’s family. And the beautiful thing about it is we’re going to spend eternity together. Have you thought about that? I mean, eternity together.
But it’s also interesting as you think of family, the brethren terms that Paul uses. Think about it. It’s in the family that the love God is needed the most, and it’s where it’s felt the strongest. And that’s what Paul is talking about in Galatians 6, because this is a church that’s been very much factioned by the fact that they bought some wrong doctrine. God’s love is felt in us for each other especially when a brother sins. We don’t treat each other like the world would treat others. What we are to do, we respond to a brother who has sinned with sensitivity in our hearts and gentleness in wanting to restore him. That’s a beautiful quality of God’s love manifests in His people.
Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” As we studied last time, the phrase “caught in any trespass” simply means two things. First of all, the sin caught up with him and he was lured into its trap. Before you become a believer you chase after sin, but after you become a believer sin chases after you and sometimes catches you. But he not only says that, he says not only have you been overtaken by the sin, but you have been caught in the sin.
You see, that’s the two things that Paul’s trying to bring out here. That’s where the love of God is extremely needed at this time. Paul is clear that unless we’re experiencing Christ, we have no business dealing with a brother who’s been caught in a sin, even if you caught him. Paul says no, you keep your seat, because he says “you who are spiritual, restore such a one;” only those that are walking by the Spirit, only those who are filled with the Spirit of God. Why? Because only Christ in us has the sensitivity to reach out and touch a brother who’s deeply wounded by sin in his life.
But even then the spiritual ones that deal with this brother must be careful. He says, “each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” We must remember that no man is tempted beyond what we’re all tempted. It’s common to every man. The devil loves to isolate us and make us think we’re the only ones. Oh no, no. Every man, every woman, we have all the same temptations. First Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has taken you, but as such is common to man.” And so it’s just common to everyone. Any of us can fall at any time.
Well, today we look to see more of what God’s love looks like when it’s manifest in the family of God. When individuals begin to choose to walk by the Spirit, willingly led by the Word and by the Spirit of God, what does this look like in the body of Christ? And there are four things that I want you to see in Galatians 6:2-5. First of all is this: God’s love in us initiates divine action. Now, not humanistic action, but divine action; there’s a difference here. Gal 6:2, Paul is going to give another command. I know I say this over and over again, but it’s so helpful to remember that even though it is a command, it’s also the response of someone who’s walking by the Spirit. See, God’s commandments are not burdensome. You don’t struggle with them when you’re walking by the Spirit because God lives in us to will and to work. Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will,” God in us gives us the desire to say yes to Him, and then “to work for His good pleasure.”
So Paul says in Gal 6:2, as he gives this command, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” Now that’s present imperative. Imperative simply means it’s a command. In other words, there’s no option here. This is what happens when you walk by the Spirit. This is the response. Bear and keep on bearing one another’s burdens. Now why would Paul say that under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God? Well, he’s already told us, because we’re family. And that’s the way family treats one another.
The word for bear is the word bastazo. Bastazo comes from the word meaning to support, to hold up. Here it means to get up under a heavy load that your brother has and help him bear up under that load. Help support him. Matter of fact, the apostle John uses this particular word to describe Jesus bearing up under His cross in John 19:17. It says, “They took Jesus therefore and He went out bearing His own cross to the place called the place of the skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha.” So the idea of bearing up under something that’s heavy.
Several thoughts went through my mind. I’m a hunter and I’m a fisherman, and I enjoy that type of thing. We have a kind of stand that you sit in. It has a swivel chair on it and camouflage around it. It’s called a tripod stand. They’re made for people under 150 pounds and only are 5 feet 6 inches tall. Every time I would draw a tripod stand it bothered me, because I knew that it was very shaky. And the little ladder that goes up to them, I mean for little bitty feet. But you start walking up into that stand, as you get into the tripod stand, one of the things that overwhelmed me every time is, is it going to support me? There is a weight that’s going to come down on it. Will it support me? That’s the word bear one another’s burdens. Do what you have to do, Paul says, to help support your brother when he’s under a load that he cannot handle himself.
Now the word for burden is a very key word, because it’s going to come back into play when we get to Gal 6:5. The word “burden” is the word baros. Baros means the felt weight of a heavy load on someone. Now there’s another word that means to bear something, but this one always is used to describe not just the bearing, but the heaviness that’s on top of you, and you’re trying to support the weight of something. Paul doesn’t tell us what that heavy load is and I’m really grateful for that. Because really, if you look back in Gal 6:1, it could be the consequences of sin. And he doesn’t say it’s not. And so therefore it could be carrying that thought right into Gal 6:2, help him bear up under now the consequences of a foolish choice that that brother has made. But it could be anything. He leaves it open-ended. It could be any circumstance, not necessarily caused by sin in which a brother cannot bear up under the load that’s upon him. It may be a financial burden. It may be anything that he’s up under. But you sense it and remember the Holy Spirit gives you discernment as to what the need truly is.
Well, for whatever reason he cannot bear up under the load that he’s under. So Paul says instead of ridiculing him, instead of ignoring him, help him recover by helping him bear his burden. It’s a beautiful thing when you see this happen in the body of Christ. Years ago my momma went on to be with the Lord. Mom and I were very close. The last couple years of her life were tough. Out of 24 months, 18 of those months she spent in the hospital with chronic lymphatic leukemia and finally succumbed to that. Momma had gone on to be with the Lord, and it just sort of put a dagger in my heart because I always wanted to be with her. At least 12 different times we had flown home because they said she wouldn’t make it through night, and bless her heart, buddy she did and she would just keep right on plugging. But finally that time came. We didn’t really know what we were going to do. I had an old 73 Buick. They were 1,200 miles from home and I had a 73 Buick that would overheat 35 miles from town, and I wondered, how in the world are we going to get home. We don’t have the money to fly.
And we just got there and prayed. We said, “Lord, we don’t know what to do. I need to be there; I preached my mother’s funeral. And we were off of our knees just a little bit of time and the phone rang. Calvin Moore, who was the Sherriff, a dear friend of mine, called me and says, “Wayne,” he said, “I want you to use my car to go home for your momma’s funeral.” Now he said, “Doris and I have prayed and we believe you need to take it.” It was a brand new car. I don’t remember what kind it was. It was something big and powerful and it had everything on it, brand new. And I said, “Calvin, you can’t do that.” He said, “Well certainly I can.” And so I went over to pick up the car and when I got over there, he just lived not far from me, he said, “Wayne, here’s a credit card.” And I said, “What’s the credit card for?” He said, “You’re going to need gasoline. You’re going to need food, and you’re going to need a place to stay while you’re there if your whole family comes in. From what you’ve told me the house is not very big.” He said, “Listen, listen, God told me to do just that.”
That’s what Paul’s talking about. There was a burden I couldn’t bear up under, and here’s a man that saw it. This happens to all of us when we begin to walk by the Spirit. We see each other’s need when the first time. We don’t see it when we’re walking after the flesh, but when we’re walking by the Spirit, begin to see the need of the individual and God begins to put that burden on us to help them bear up under a load that otherwise they could not bear. This is Christ in us making us sensitive.
Now this act of love fulfills the law of Christ. He says in Gal 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” What law is he talking about? Well, remember this all connects. Back in 5:14 he told us what that law was, the law of love. It says “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” That’s the law he refers to. That law is being fulfilled when it’s manifest in an individual who’s walking by the Spirit of God and reaches out to help a brother bear up under a load that otherwise that brother could not bear.
At Christmas season all of us are reminded that the greatest example of this truth, it’s a command given by the One who fulfilled it Himself, is the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to us when we were under the load and the weight of sin. We could not help ourselves. He paid a debt He didn’t owe; we owed a debt we couldn’t pay. And that’s the whole picture. He says, He even told His disciples, “Greater love hath no man but to lay down his life for his brother.” What He did was to manifest what He now wants to manifests through us. He is the source of that love. He now lives in us. It’s Him in us reaching out to others. He expects nothing less than what He did. He expects nothing less; therefore, He lives in us to enable us to do just that.
In fact, He said in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you,” listen very carefully, “that you love one another.” “Well, I’ve heard that before, Wayne.” Wait a minute, maybe you haven’t heard it. Listen to the standard: “even as I have loved you.” That’s the standard, “that you also love one another.” So Christ’s love in us initiates a divine action. This is what fulfills the law of Christ.
I want to suggest something to you during Christmas season. I know sometimes it can be a defeating time in the year, because especially when family’s away or when you’ve had a loss of a loved one, it’s difficult to go through these holidays that way. Let me just encourage you, ask God to make you sensitive to someone else in their need. Ask God to show you the needs He wants you to meet and just get up under that with some brother and help him bear a load that he could not otherwise bear himself. Now I want to tell you, you’ll have the greatest Christmas you’ve ever had in your life, because that is Christ in you manifesting His love through you.
Well, it initiates divine action, not humanistic. Humans do a lot of things and call it love. This is divine action. But then secondly, Christ’s love in us motivates divine attitude. There’s a tremendous attitude here of the person who’s walking by the Spirit of God. Remember that when we say yes to Christ and to His Word—I love this truth—we crucify the flesh. It’s kind of like, “okay, flesh, bother me now!” And you say yes to Jesus. It can do nothing. It is dormant. It is disengaged when we say yes to Christ. Now it is only then that this attitude that we’re going to talk about comes forth. Otherwise you may be doing something to help somebody, but it’s not with the right attitude. It may look the same on the outside as you’ll see in a minute. But what Paul is going to refer to here is a divine attitude which you have when you reach out to somebody to help them out. There’s no way a believer can think of himself as somebody when he does this. There’s no possible way when he’s living a surrendered life. It is only when we get our eyes off of Christ that we begin to think of ourselves as somebody and especially when we do something nice and reach out to help a brother who is in need.
The divine attitude is the one only God can produce, but what flesh produces sometimes is mistaken for that. Gal 6:3: “For if anyone thinks he is something when he’s nothing, he deceives himself.” Now the word “for” connects the thought. I’d never seen this. I’d studied some in Galatians before, but this is the first time I saw the connection here. It almost looks like disjointed verses if you’re not careful. That little word “for” connects everything he’s about to say. It all has to do with bearing a brother’s need. It all has to do with the love that God’s Spirit produces in our life. And I believe what he’s doing, he’s weaving a divine tapestry together. You see the results of what the Galatians had fallen into, which was a performing mentality. Do we understand what I’m saying here? I mean, a lot of people can go out and do a lot of things, but only Christ in us can do through us what He demands. We can try to imitate it and religion imitates. Christianity’s the real thing. That’s Christ in us, living His life through us.
Well, these results that sometime are produced by religious effort, by flesh being in control; sometimes the results look the same on the outside to the untrained eye and to the untrained mind. You see, when the flesh does something—by the way, this is one way to know the difference—when somebody helps you, but it’s done out of the means of the flesh, then you owe him from that point on. And there’s a string attached to what he does. And that’s the difference of what happens when God does it; the person who’s being helped never feels that he’s in bondage to the person helping him. He knows it comes from God. That’s your difference. The flesh will do good things, but you’ll be obligated. But when the Spirit produces that very same thing it’ll be with an attitude that is divine and it’s an unconditional act of love towards that person.
Now he says, “If anyone thinks he is something.” The word for “thinks” there is dokeo. Dokeo means to imagine or consider. The interesting thing is, it’s in the present tense. Paul’s describing an attitude. This is not a fleeting thought that goes through someone’s mind when they try to help somebody. No, this is a man that has become very proud of himself and of his situation. He’s describing an attitude. Thinking we are something can happen to any of us when we’re not walking by the Spirit. As a matter of fact, that is the essence of not walking by the Spirit. “I don’t need You, God. I’m somebody. I can do it myself.” And so we think we’re somebody.
When we’re up and others are down, a fleshly mindset thinks, well, we must be doing it right and they must be doing it wrong. And therefore there’s more of a judgmental attitude towards people who cannot bear up under certain things in their life. And when we think this way, our motivation in helping them out becomes one that edifies what we’ve done rather than them being helped in the dilemma that they’re facing. Pride and self will rule our life instead of Christ, and therefore there is no tenderness and gentleness and sensitivity with which this act is done. Paul told the Romans the very same thing in Romans 12:3. He says not to think more highly of themselves than they ought to. You see, in all of our lives when this high-mindedness is there, then regardless of the act, like I said, there is no love, there is no sensitivity, there is no Christ-likeness. It’s a hard brutal thing, and the people are left really more damaged, even though they’re helped in one way, than they could have been if Christ had of done it.
“If anyone thinks he is something when he’s nothing.” Now, that word means “when he’s nothing,” it means he’s of no account at all when it comes to spiritual matters and things of God. He’s a zero with the lid kicked off, a kind of a term I picked up early on in my life: A zero with a lid. I like what A.T. Robertson said—every Greek class I ever took at seminary in college had a chair there empty in memory of A.T. Robertson—and A.T. Robertson said if anyone thinks himself to be a big number when he’s really a zero, that’s kind of clear. You see, a lot of people are that way because they’re successful, or maybe they’re healthy, or whatever’s going on in their life. They tend to think that they’re somebody. Now they do good things. Don’t hear me wrong. Religion will do good things, but here’s the downside. Even the people watching them do it, they think they’re somebody because of what they’ve done.
But I want you to know, God’s the one who has the last word on this. God’s the one who determines whether or not the love was there when it was done; not man, God is. If the love of Christ is not being manifested as he walks by the Spirit, then he’s really nothing. He thinks he’s somebody, but he’s really nothing. “Well, look at all that I did,” and God says it’s going to burn at the judgment seat of Christ. Now we understand the judgment seat of Christ, don’t we? When we stand before Him one day, our works are going to be tested. We’re not going to be tested—we were tested at the cross—but our works are going to be tested, 1 Corinthians 3:10 ff says that. And it says they’ll be tested by fire. Wood, hay and stubble which are, is flammable, that which the flesh produced. Or it’s precious stone, that which only God’s Spirit can manifest in a person’s life.
Well, Paul says “He deceives himself.” If he thinks he’s somebody when he’s really nothing, he deceives himself. The word “deceives” is phrenapatao. Phren means mind, and apatao means to seduce into error. And listen, it’s in the present tense. And he says, by his very thinking that he’s somebody, because he’s not down and out as his brother might be, he is seducing himself into further error. That’s interesting to me. It’s one thing for you to deceive me; it’s another thing for me to deceive myself. It just goes back to walking after the flesh. How deceived we become, but it’s self-deception. When we walk by faith, surrendered to Christ and His Word, we cannot think of ourselves as being anything because that’s the prerequisite of walking by faith. We’re nothing apart from Him. He’s everything in us. That’s the root attitude. And then Christ does something through us that will be eternal and is divine. It comes out of a divine attitude.
So His love in us initiates divine action, but it also motivates divine attitude. But then thirdly, Christ’s love in us instigates divine activity. Now, I’m not talking about meeting the need of the brother. There’s something else that goes on here. Think what Paul is doing. If the flesh is motivating our actions, rather than the Spirit of God producing them in our life, towards a hurting brother, then we’re thinking we’re somebody and we’re priding ourselves as to what we’ve done. But here’s the downside: if this is so, then in helping them, look what we do—we do this all the time—we tend to measure what we have done in comparison with what somebody else has or has not done. And therefore there’s a competitiveness that gets into this. “I did more than you did.” “I’m going to have more rewards than you have.” “I gave more money last year than you gave.” And it’s just that fleshly mindset. “What do you mean? I’m spiritual, look what I did last year.” And it becomes competitive. We begin to compare ourselves.
The idea of this came in an email. Four brothers left home for college and they became successful doctors and lawyers and they prospered. Some years later they chatted after having dinner together. They discussed the gifts that they were able to give to their elderly mother who lived far away in another city, comparing who gave the most. The first one said, “I gave a big house. I had a big house built for momma, a big house.” The second one said, “Well, I had a $100,000 theater built in that house.” And the other one said, “Huh! I had my Mercedes dealer deliver her an SL600 to drive.” The fourth one said, “Listen to this. You know how momma loved reading the Bible, and you know she can’t read it anymore because she can’t see very well. I met this preacher who told me about a parrot that can recite the entire Bible. It took 20 preachers 12 years to teach him. Now in order to get this parrot I had to pledge a contribution of $100,000 a year for the 12 years they spent training it, which was 1.2 million dollars. But it was worth it. I had to pledge that to the church. Momma just has to name the chapter and verse and the parrot will recite it for her.” The other brothers were really impressed. Man, they have been outdone.
Well, after the holidays mom sent out her thank you notes. She wrote Milton, “the house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house. Thanks anyway.” “Marvin, I’m too old to travel. I stay home. I have my groceries delivered. So I never used the Mercedes. The thought was good however. Thanks.” “Michael, you give me an expensive theater with Dolby sound. It could hold 50 people, but all my friends are dead. I’ve lost my hearing and I’m nearly blind. I’ll never use it. Thank you just the same.” Dearest Melvin, you were the only son to have the good sense to give a little thought to your gift. The chicken was delicious. Thank you!”
Oh, me! I just love stuff like that, especially when it fits a point. Paul shows us that we need to examine our own work. But now listen, not in regard to somebody else’s. Melvin thought he had really done it. Galatians 6:4, listen to what he says, and this is all tied together. That word “for” connects all these verses: “But let each one examine his own work [his own work!], and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone and not in regard to another.”
Now, that word “examine” is that divine activity I have been talking about. It’s the word dokimazo. Dokimazo means to put something to the test to make sure it’s genuine; it’s approved. And there are two words for tests. I don’t want to bore you with it, but there’s that word peirazo, which means to put something to the test to prove that it’s unworthy. But dokimazo means, as it’s used here, it’s always used as God tests us. It’s always a good thing, to prove us, to prove Himself, to prove us genuine. That’s the word used here. So we must make certain. Paul says that we test everything that we do to make certain that it’s approved, that it’s genuine. We are to make certain that our works pass, not man’s test, because man will look upon it and think it’s one thing; that it passes God’s test. What test? Whether or not they’re produced by the Spirit, wrapped with the love of God, or whether or not they’re produced by the flesh, which leaves the person deeper in bondage than he was to begin with. Each of us are to test our own works.
Gal 6:4, “But let each one examine his own work and then he’ll have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone and not in regard to another.” The word for boast, kauchema, normally is used in a sinful sense, etc., but here it’s used in a special way. It gives him a reason to pay attention, to speak only of that which he has done after it has been examined to make certain that it’s of God. There’s such a needed thing. Paul is simply saying that we should be examining our works, especially those that help others, because flesh can imitate that. Many times you hear about people being good. Have you ever heard the phrase, “if anybody deserved to go to heaven she did,” or he did? Excuse me. Is there anybody who ever deserves to go to heaven? No, it’s only because of Jesus Christ. But what we’ve done, men look upon works differently than God looks upon works. And therefore he said it causes and instigates a divine activity. That activity daily is to make certain, “Oh God, let this be of You, not of me. I want no credit for it. I don’t want anything back from it. I want You to be glorified by what’s done.” That’s the love of God moving and manifesting itself in our life.
Christ’s love in us, initiates divine action, motivated divine attitude. But it instigates divine activity as we test our works according to God’s standard, not man’s. Is the love there? Was it brought up by God Himself? But finally, Christ’s love in us originates divine accountability. This is interesting here. This is very individual. It’s funny that, through life, it took me a long time to learn this, and I’m still learning it. God only gives Wayne grace for what is Wayne’s responsibility. It’s the same way it is in your life. He’s not going to give you grace for what is somebody else’s responsibility. He’s going to give you grace for that which He purposes within your own heart, just like it is with me. Each of us must realize that we have a responsibility for the burdens, yes, that God—now listen—individually puts upon our hearts. Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m talking about. When we have corporative missions and things like that, that’s not at all what Paul’s talking about. Paul’s talking about something much more practical in the sense of everyday living.
Gal 6:5: “For each one shall bear his own load.” Each one shall bear his own load. The word “bear” is the same word we saw back in Gal 6:2, bastazo, to get up under, support it. “But now wait a minute; it sounds contradictory. It says back in Gal 6:2, we’re supposed to help a brother bear up. Now it says you have to bear your own load.” Well, the key is the word “load” in Gal 6:5. There’s two different words altogether. The word “bear” is the same word; the word “load” is the word phortion. Oh, it’s a beautiful word. It’s used of a ship that’s carrying what’s been assigned to it, carrying a cargo. It’s used of a soldier carrying their assigned pack that he needs to carry, his backpack. What it means simply is that the responsibility, each one must bear his own responsibility, that which God has assigned individually to him. In Gal 6:2, believer, like I said, are told to help. But Gal 6:5 does something different: You have an individual responsibility.
“Must bear his own load.” The word “his own,” idios. Idios means that which is individually peculiar to him. It’s something that no one else can help him carry. This is his responsibility. Now, in the context, if you keep it all tied together and it all flows out of the same well. Contextually it would be that person that Christ puts in front of us, that need that Christ identifies in us that that person has. And He didn’t identify it to the person sitting next to us. And He didn’t identify it to the person sitting behind us. He only identified it to us, and we now are responsible to bear our own responsibility.
Each of us will minister to different people. Did you ever notice that? The people God put in front of me won’t be the people God puts in front of you. The people God puts in front of you won’t be the people God puts in front of me. I mean, it works that way. It’s individual, very individual. What happens so often when we choose not to obey that command and take up our own responsibility, we take our burden God has put upon our hearts and we put it upon somebody else.
I had the dearest staff member in the church I served for many years. And we came into a staff meeting one day and he made this overwhelming blanket statement. He said, “This is the most unspiritual church I’ve ever been around.” And I said, “Well, David, how did you come to that wonderful conclusion?” He said, “Well, I saw a person in need and I identified that need and I put it in the bulletin that the church ought to help them.” He said, “It was during Thanksgiving and only three families obeyed that bulletin notice that I put.” He said, “People are just insensitive around here.” I said, “Make sure I’ve got everything correct in my mind. God burdened you with that individual, that family. You took your burden and dumped it on the church and only three of them bought back into it. Is that what you’re telling me, David?” He looked at me with the sweetest smile and he said, “Oh, I’ve done it again, haven’t I.”
We all do it, don’t we? It’s much easier for me to tell somebody else who I think has the money to do what God’s burdened me with, because then it doesn’t cost me anything and the person gets helped. God didn’t say that. We have our own backpack to wear.
What responsibility does God put in front of you? It may be a family member, maybe a neighbor, maybe somebody that’s at the store. You were overwhelmed with the burden and just the fact that that person was under a load that they couldn’t bear. I don’t know how that works. But God assigns us peculiarly and individually. We can’t say as Moses, “Here am I, send Aaron.” It doesn’t work that way. God says, “I’m going to hold you responsible. Not only did I give you the burden, I’m going to give you the grace to carry out that responsibility which is yours, not somebody else’s.” God’s Spirit in us gives us a discernment as to what He wants us to meet.
Boy, just think about it. In a perfect world—we’re not there—but in a perfect world, wouldn’t it be awesome if every believer walked by the Spirit? How many needs would you think would be left hanging out there? You see, God would have individuals meeting needs that nobody else even knows about. You know why they don’t know about it? Because the people meeting those needs don’t think of themselves more highly than they ought to think. They don’t want credit for it. They want God to get the glory for it. Wouldn’t that be incredible? God’s the only One then can be glorified because nobody’s doing it for any other reason but because God burdened their heart.
Again, the greatest example we have at this season of the year certainly is the Lord Jesus and what He did for us. He was the only One that could carry out that assignment. In the 12 disciples, He’s the one who went to the cross, not the 12 disciples. He saw us in our sin, unable to help ourselves. He saw our burden that sin had put us under, and though He was God, Philippians tells us, He didn’t even flinch leaving heaven and stooping down making Himself of no reputation whatsoever, masking Himself in the very flesh of that which He created, but it was sinless. He became the sinless Son of man. He was the sinless Son of God for eternity, but He became born of a virgin, the sinless Son of man. He lived a perfect life. And then took our sin upon Himself and went to the cross and died, resurrecting the third day, ascended, glorified. Now He lives in us.
That same Christ of Christmas lives in us and He wants to manifest that exact love through us to others, even when we have to make ourselves of no reputation to reach out and touch somebody who has a load they cannot bear. No wonder the angels sang. No wonder heaven opened up. No wonder! Look who’s come. Look what He came for. He now lives in us to love others through us.
His love in us initiates divine action. It motivates divine attitude; it’s an attitude that only God could give to you. Instigates divine activity’ we test our own works. But originates divine accountability; I’m not accountable for what God burdens your heart with. I’m accountable for what God’s burdened my heart with. And I walk before Him and will stand before Him one day as we see Him.
You say, how in the world do I apply a message like this in my life? Well, let me see if I can help you. When you see a brother in need, are you moved immediately to do whatever you can to help that brother? Are you motivated with the correct burden for them? In other words, in doing this do you have a tendency to look down on them and say, well, you know if you just get your life right everything will be okay? Do you have that? Or if that’s not there, it’s just a broken heart and a sensitive heart towards that brother? Okay, that’s a good sign. Do you desire that your actions are only of God? Do you even understand that there are two kinds of works that are good works? One will burn, one will last. Are you concerned about that? Do you seek attention for the things you have done for others? Do you want people to know what you’ve done? Do you always have to tell people “I gave this last year? I did that. I helped him or I helped her.” Do you have to do that?
Do you realize that a need does not necessarily justify a call? If God’s burdened somebody and they’re trying to dump it on you, you see the need, but maybe that’s not the burden God has for you to meet. Do you understand the difference there? Do you force your burden upon other people rather than accepting it yourself? Do you realize that God will direct you to the people you should be ministering to?
Just some good questions to think about, because if God’s love is working in us, it’s not drawing attention to us, it’s drawing attention to Him. It’s so divine and so supernatural. There’s not a man living that can say “I came up with that myself,” no sir. God beautifully identifies that and that’s how He works into our life. This is a great season of the year to be in this chapter, isn’t it, because that’s what Christ wants to do through us. The Christ of Christmas still lives.
The Lord Jesus has titles or names; over 593 of them in the New Testament alone. One of the most profound titles of the Lord Jesus is “the gift of God.”
Turn with me to Galatians 6. You know, names are very important in Scripture. They’re important because they give understanding of the essence or character of somebody. Different than today; we name something this or that and we don’t think about it, but in Scripture when you see a name it has something behind it. It describes the person. The Lord Jesus has titles or names; over 593 of them in the New Testament alone. One of the most profound titles of the Lord Jesus is “the gift of God.” John 4:10 He’s talking with the woman at the well and He says to her, “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God’”—in other words, you’re talking to Him—“‘and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you could have asked Him and He would have given you living water.’”
We’ve just passed through the Christmas season and gifts and giving have been on our hearts. And we celebrated the greatest gift ever given to any of us, and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ. He emptied Himself, and that’s an incredible truth. Emptied Himself, made Himself unrecognizable of His divine glory and He came down to earth to be born of a virgin, a helpless little baby in a manger, the God-man, and to one day go to the cross for our sins. He lived a perfect life. He was the perfect God-man. He took our sin debt upon Himself, went to a cross, paid a debt He didn’t owe when we owed a debt we could not pay, resurrected the third day, ascended 50 days later and is now is glorified and seated at the right hand of the Father. Why? He wants to give something to us, freedom, but also eternal life.
He is the perfect example of what giving is all about. And the beautiful thing the book of Galatians tells us is this One who is the perfect example of giving, the great gift that God has given to us, He now lives in us. And He wants to perfect in and through us that giving heart, that loving heart, not ours, nothing that we could come up with, but He wants to live His life through you and me. A key verse to Galatians, it’s been the hinge of the whole book, has been Gal 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ, and it’s no longer I who live, but Christ lives [where?] in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself up for me,” Paul says.
And how do we know that we’re experiencing Him? Well, the fifth chapter told us in Gal 5:22-23. We saw that when we experience Him, when we say yes to Him, when we’re walking by the Spirit, when we’re led by the Spirit, the first thing that happens in our life is He gives us a love for people that is not natural. It’s supernatural. It’s His love being manifest in our life with all of its different characteristics that we saw in Gal 5:22-23. And it’s His love that is the root of all giving. A person never gives unless there’s love at the root of it. And He has to produce that love which becomes that giving love. And this love is expressed in the body of Christ like nowhere else.
He told us in Gal 6:1 we become sensitive to one another’s needs. And something that’s not natural, something that doesn’t happen unless Christ is moving and working in our lives, in Gal 6:1 we become sensitive to a brother who has sinned. We don’t talk him down. We don’t kick him out. We come around him and we try to restore him. It says in Gal 6:1, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
Then in Gal 6:2 we become aware and sensitive to our brother’s needs.” When we see a brother who’s bearing a burden that he cannot bear, and he’s under a load that he can’t handle, we begin to move to help him. It says in Gal 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” Christ’s love in us keeps self out of the picture. He keeps us from deceiving ourselves as to who we think we are because of what we did for somebody else. That’s what religion does.
Gal 6:3 says, “For if anyone thinks he’s something when he’s nothing, he deceives himself. “ It is self that will do good things. Oh, religious people do good things, but it’s always for their own credit and for their own glory.
Galatians 6:4 says, “But let each man examine his own work and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone and not in regard to another.” You see, Christ in us keeps us from trying to measure what we do compared to what somebody else has or has not done. No, the good that we do is what He produces in us and the glory can only go to Him. It cannot come from us because He lives in us and He is the greatest giver that ever lived, and whatever we do doesn’t come from us. It comes from Him. Christ loving us causes us to recognize that we have our own responsibility, each one individually.
It says in Galatians 6:5, “For each one shall bear his own load.” And what that means is God doesn’t put the same burden on your heart that He might put on my heart to help people out that are in the body of Christ. Now, I’m not talking about missions and things like that. That’s something we do corporately. But I’m talking about on the individual day by day basis, God will put somebody on my heart, and I’m responsible for the burden He places upon my heart. I’m not responsible for a burden He placed upon your heart. Nor are you responsible for a burden He placed upon my heart. We each have our own responsibility.
Christ’s love is a selfless giving love that never speaks of us, it points only to the One who lives within us. Now in this love that Christ produces in our lives, since the greatest giver and the greatest lover that ever lived, He lives in us, then what we have within this love is a discernment. We already know we have a discernment to know what somebody’s need is. But not only that, He gives us another discernment we’re going to look at today. He gives a discernment that is so needed in the church today when it comes to who we support in Christian ministry.
And by the way, there’s no question in Scripture; that’s what we are to be about. That’s why we have a missions program. That’s why we take care of the people that teach the Word of God. When it comes to supporting people, who is it that we’re supposed to support? Only the love of Christ and the discernment of Christ comes at this point in time, and especially at a time when we’re thinking about giving, it’s appropriate that we approach these verses in Galatians 6. Gal 6:6-8 is what we’re going to focus on in our message today, a unique passage about giving to people that teach the word. And it’s interesting, it’s just like a little nugget that’s placed very carefully right into the context of Galatians 6.
There are three things that I want you to see that Paul speaks to the Galatian church about. First of all, the command of every believer. Now, let me explain that “every believer;” every believer that hungers for the word of God. Now the next two times I’m going to use “every” in the next two points, it means everybody. But on this particular point it simply means those who love the word of God and love to be taught the word of God. Interestingly, there are a lot of people in the body of Christ that don’t want the word of God. They want other things. They want to be entertained or whatever. But for the people that love God’s word, he has a word for them in this first point. He has a command for every believer who loves the word of God.
Galatians 6:6, “And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.” By using the term “one,” “let the one who is taught,” he makes this very individual, so it’s never something you can put on somebody else. Everybody that loves the word has this responsibility. First of all, let’s address those who suggest, and there are those who do this, that during the time that Paul wrote the book of Galatians that there were no such things as full time preachers or ministers who were paid by the people that were taught. That’s not true. As a matter of fact, the people who say that don’t understand at all.
Our text will show today they did have full time preachers and teachers and ministers of the word, and they were supported by the people that they taught. The apostle Paul himself backed that up. He said “I’m not going to do it because I don’t want somebody to think I’m doing this for gain.” But he says it’s certainly alright in his writings. To help set the stage, at the time the book of Galatians was written there were many false teachers. They were a dime a dozen. Not much different in the 21st century. And an interesting thing about these false teachers, even though they taught something that would help nobody, they charged for people to come and hear them.
That was so interesting. Here’s the Christian body meeting together, and it’s free, and somebody stands up and teaches them the word. These people who taught nothing and only humanism, they charged for people to come. And so the people that came had to pay a price. They were obligated to pay or they couldn’t hear. Those teachers insisted that their students, their disciples, should share everything in common with them. They even resorted in some cases to communal, living with the teacher and his disciples living together and them taking care of that teacher. There was a cultist type of bondage that they had to their teacher. They were under a tremendous obligation there that they should not have been under.
Well, now that was what was going on. And, by the way, the teachers that had come in and so infected the churches in Galatia were those kind of teachers. And what Paul is trying to do here is to contrast that. He says, oh no, you should never feel obligated. You should feel divinely motivated: if you love the word of God, you want to take care of the people who teach the word of God. He wants to show that walking by the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, God motivates the heart to take care of the people who give the word of God.
Paul identifies that true teacher, in case you’re wondering where I got the teacher of the word of God. He says, “Let the one who is taught the word.” And the definite article is used before the word “word,” which identifies that as the word of God. “Let the one who is taught the word.” Now, the word of God sets the criteria. Believers have no obligation to financially support anyone who claims to be a teacher or a preacher and does not honor “thus sayeth” the Word of God, the Lord, the God of the Word. If a person’s not teaching the word of God, there is never any motivation nor obligation to have to support them.
You know, one of the things that troubles me from time to time; I don’t know how many of you do the same thing I do. Do you ever take the remote, and just start flipping through and you get on one of these channels where somebody’s preaching? Anybody besides me do this? My wife has gotten to the point that she just walks over and gets the remote out of my hand, because it doesn’t do me any good at all. And I’m listening to somebody and he says, “now here’s what it says,” and let’s just say Galatians 6 and such and such a verse. And I have taught that and studied hundreds of hours in it, and I’m thinking, wait a minute, that’s not what it says in Galatians. And then it suddenly dawns on me, he’s using the Scripture to support what he wants to say. And the people who don’t know any better all of a sudden they think that’s the greatest thing in the world and they send millions and millions and millions of dollars to somebody who is not honoring the Word of God.
And it troubles me. It troubles me to hear somebody take a book, verse out of Philippians or a verse out of 1 John or any of the text that I’ve studied and then say something wrong about it. It makes me so angry and my wife is so sweet. She’ll just walk over and say “give me the remote,” and she’ll turn it to someplace else. I want to take a chair and just throw it right through the television set. But listen, they didn’t have televisions in the time of Galatians. But they had the very same thing that was going on.
And what Paul is trying to do here is to say, listen, if you love God and love His Word then you’re only going to feel motivated to take care of those who teach it and who honor it as they speak. The Word of God sets the criteria: “Let the one who is taught the word.” The word “taught” is the word katecheo. Katechoe is the word that especially refers to oral teaching. It was used to describe the apostles and the teachers and the preachers in the church. It is translated “instruct” when it’s used of the apostle Paul.
It says in 1 Corinthians 14:19, “However, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind that I may instruct [that’s the word] others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.” It’s a direct reference to people who stood with a pulpit or whatever and they taught the people the Word of God. But it speaks of those people who did this on a consistent basis. The verb is in the present tense. This would refer to the ongoing teaching of the word of God, those who are being taught the word of God.
“And let the one who is being taught the word.” And I love the Greek word for the word “word.” It’s the word logos. You’ve heard the word logos before. It’s the word that refers to the divine intelligence of God. You can never use this word for somebody who speaks randomly or off the cuff. No, this has to be thought through and intelligent. It’s the divine intelligence of God. Do you realize inside the covers of this Bible we have the divine intelligence of God? That thrills me. I don’t know if it thrills you or not. This is why it’s so important to have this at home with you, not just to come to church to it.
Listen, it’s so important when you see it for yourself. If I have a trouble in my family, I come to the divine intelligence of God. If I’ve got trouble in the church, we come to the divine intelligence of God. If I’ve got trouble with my finances, I come to the divine intelligence of God. Oh, God, this world’s falling apart, and I come to the Word of God. It says, “No it’s not, it’s coming together.” It’s only in this Book that I discover how I’m supposed to think and how God thinks. God’s mind is given to us in the Word. That’s why Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”
Galatians 6:6 again, “And let the one who is taught the word,” the divine intelligence of God, “share all good things with him who teaches.” Now, the word “share” there is a good translation. It’s the word koinoneo. You’ve heard of it, koinonia, same type of word, same word basically. It means to impart, to give to, to participate in the needs of this individual. It’s a present imperative verb. It’s a command, which means it’s not an option. It means to share and keep on sharing with him. When combined with the phrase “good things,” it obviously refers primarily to the financial way you take care of him. This is back in the book of Galatians. Understand where we are now. And he says, “Listen, if you’re going to be taught the word, financially and other ways take care of the person who’s teaching the word.” And I’ll explain why in a moment. We know this, that it has to do with financial resources.
Isn’t it interesting how treasures are always so important? The Lord Jesus spoke more about treasures than He did hell. And the word koinonia is used by the apostle Paul to refer to finances when it comes to sharing with others so many times in Scripture. He uses the verb form in Romans 12:13, in Romans 15:27, Philippians 4:14. He uses the noun form in Romans 15:26, 2 Corinthians 8:4 and in 2 Corinthians 9:13. So the phrase “all good things” is certainly not limited to money, but it certainly includes it because of Scripture and how it backs itself up.
The word for “good” there “good things” is the word agathos. Now agathos is the word that means benevolent good. In other words, you sense a need and you want to minister to that need. That’s agathos; that’s the name for “God is good.” That’s the name there. It’s a benefit to this individual. It helps that person do what he’s called to do.
Now, be careful to understand the need the teacher has that Paul is implicating here. It’s not as specific as we’d like, but the man who is chosen to teach God’s word has obviously chosen to study it. Now, he understand this, the apostle understands this. And he says, “Listen, it’s going to take so much time for that man to study what he shares with you when he teaches the word that you need to take care of him; he can’t make a living on one side and share the word on the other.
I was with Kay Arthur at Precept for 15 years. They used to say, “Now, listen, on your homework this week, it’ll only take you 5 hours.” Now, those of you that have been in Precept, how many of you argue with that, besides me? I’ve never done it with less than eight hours and most of the time it was 10-12 hours. That’s one lesson, one little lesson, five days of homework, day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5. That’s all it is. And it takes that much time just to get into the Word and dig out what you want. Now, think for a second. If you take that much time to study it and then you have to take what you have studied and put it into a form that can communicate to somebody else, how much time do you think that takes? And you do that three times a week. We’re already up to about 15 hours. That’s 45 hours in a week that it’s going to take just to study in order to teach the Word of God. It is a full time occupation.
Paul knows that and respects that. And so he says to the people who are taught the word—he doesn’t say this to the people who bail out because of the word—no, he says to the people that are hungry and come for the word. They, above everybody understand this because God puts that discernment in their heart and that’s why they’re motivated to give to make certain that it takes place. If we’re a church that stands for the Word of God, then it should be supported, and that’s what Paul is trying to get across. And the Holy Spirit of God is the One who gives that discernment. It’s labor to study the Word of God.
Paul is very clear about this in other epistles. He wrote in 1 Timothy 5:17 “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” And that word “work hard” means exactly that. Dr. Stephen Olford who has been here and spoken for us, they did a test at his institute, his preaching institute. They wired a guy up when he preached, and they wanted to find out how much emotion and energy was expended while he was doing this. Their findings was this: a man who puts any kind of energy into his message at all for 30 minutes has just equaled an executive who sets at his desk for 8 hours. And he’s also just equaled the labor of a man who digs a ditch for 14 hours. That’s one 30-minute time.
The apostle Paul didn’t have all the instruments to take the test. The apostle Paul didn’t have all of that, but what he’s saying is, when you love the Word of God you know that whoever teaches that Word, it doesn’t just come to him. It’s something that’s labor; it’s something that’s work. Double honor, he says. Paul makes his point to Timothy when he says in 1 Timothy 5:18, “For the Scripture says you shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing and the laborer is worthy of his wages.” Now, let’s make sure, certain that we have the picture here. It’s very difficult for me to preach this when I’m the one standing up here, but this is the next verse, and what am I going to do?
Alright, first of all you have choice made by a preacher, not to spend his time doing other things, but to spend his time to study the Word of God because he’s going to teach it. Now, that’s a discipline he’s got to accept as part of his calling, as part of his life. But secondly, you have people who have chosen to be taught the Word of God. At one church where I went as pastor, we had 130 and lost 30 of those the first few months. I had somebody tell me, “You’ll never build this church preaching verse by verse like you do.” I was criticized. One guy told me, “You’re like a soap opera. I leave for four weeks and come back and you’re on the second word. Come on, Wayne. You can’t build a church on this.”
Here was my reply to him. My reply was God never told me to build anything. If you ever seen me with a hammer in my hand you would definitely not want me to help you build anything. But what God told me to do was to feed the sheep and He said “I will build My church. You don’t build anything; you just do what I tell you to do. I’ll take care of the rest.” You see, that’s the whole mindset of a lot of people. But thank God you’re here today. And, listen, I’m grateful; because people that want to be taught, you see, and you have somebody who wants to teach and discipline themselves to teach and God takes the rest of it, and the rest will be history. There’ll be no problem in a preacher ever being taken care of if he’s teaching the Word of God to people who want to be taught. Christ’s love will motivate us to take care of the one who’s teaching us. So it’s a command, yes, but remember, His commands are not burdensome. So the person that’s walking in the Spirit, it’s just simple. It’s a divine motivation within their heart. They’re going to take care of the people who teach the Word of God.
But the second thing he does here, interesting, and I’ve never seen it quite as tied together as I see it now, the challenge he gives to every believer. He ties a thought, a verse to this very thing, to who you support. Are you supporting the people who teach the word of God? And he says in Gal 6:7, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows this he will also reap.” “Do not be deceived” is the word planao. We get the word “planet” from it; planet that just wanders around in space. And the idea is to get off track and to wander away from what truth really is. The present passive is the verb tense. And what he’s saying is, is don’t continue to be deceived. Remember, he’s writing to a group of people that are already deceived. He says, don’t continue to let yourself be deceived by their buying into false teaching of those who had deceived them.
Here is the implication of this verse: evidently now they were supporting these false teachers with their money, and this is why he puts this verse where he puts it. Supporting those who preached error. Isn’t it interesting that false teachers would not even exist in our world today, now listen, if believers would stop supporting them? You see, the world doesn’t support false teachers. It’s believers who have been so deceived that they don’t want the Word of God and they’ve been lured off. They’ve been deceived like the Galatians, and now they’re supporting these very people. He says, “Do not continue to be deceived.” Don’t continue to let yourself be deceived.
“God is not mocked.” The word “mocked” is the word mukterizo. It means to turn your nose up and to sneer. Now, if you have ever had small children in your family you know exactly what this word means. Like that little girl that was in the closet, and her mother got so mad at her she shut her in the closet and she forgot about her. And she finally remembered, and she went back to get her and the little girl was just standing there with that little nose turned up and that sneer. And she said, “What are you doing?” She said, “I’ve spit on your clothes. I’ve spit on your coats. I spit on your shoes.” “Well what are you doing now?” She said, “I’m standing here waiting on more spit.” That’s the word “mocked.” That’s exactly the word.
Now, “God is not mocked.” Now, listen, this is present passive. You say, what does this all mean? Let me explain it to you. God is not allowing Himself to be sneered at by somebody who chooses not to love the Word and support those who teach it. In other words, the joke’s on you, Paul says to the people of Galatia. He says, you’re not affecting Him in one bit by what you’re doing. But, oh, how you’re affecting your own life by the choices that you’re making. Turning your nose up and sneering at God by refusing to support people that teach God’s Word, he says, that’s something that’s bringing a consequence in your life, and you don’t even see it.
You see, when a person loves to hear the Word and loves to take care of those who teach it, those who support the Christian ministries and those who support missionaries, people that honor the Word of God, they’re doing a good thing. They’re sowing good seed and it’s going to come back into their life. He’ll show you that in the next verse. But those who choose not to do that, they’re also reaping. They’re sowing bad seed and it’s already showing up in their lifestyle. “For whatever a man sows,” he says, “this he will also reap.”
The interesting thing about sowing that I’ve learned over the years, and certainly you have too, and it’s this, I call it the law of the harvest. First of all, when you sow something, you’re going to reap later than you’ve sown. In other words, if these people are going to hear false teachers and they’re “oh, this is wonderful,” they don’t see the results right then of what they’ve bought into that’s false. They don’t see it then. But there’s a sudden process that begins to start in their lives. It’s going to come up later on. But then secondly, you reap more than you’ve sown. That’s the law of harvest. Whatever you’ve sown, whatever choice you’ve made, you’re going to get a whole lot more back than what you bargained for. And then thirdly, you will reap exactly what you’ve sown. You sow corn, you’re going to reap corn. You sow tomato seeds, you’re going to get tomatoes.
That’s just the way it is. You’re going to sow bad seed by supporting people that don’t honor the Word of God. You’re going to reap as a result of that. It’s the specific and narrow context he’s talking about. Giving to a false teacher who is teaching error is a bad choice. God will not allow us to turn our nose up at Him by turning away from the Word; He will not allow that to happen. He’s not being affected at all. He’s going to make sure that there’s a consequence brought back into our life.
The truth of sowing and reaping does not just apply to this specific context. But the interesting thing about it is, this is a truth in every area of our life no matter what choice we make. Why did God tie that to finances? Why did He tie it to financially supporting the people who teach the Word of God? And I think I know why, because the Lord Jesus did the very same thing. And He said if you want to get down to it whether you’re walking by the Spirit or not, check the pocketbook, because that’s always the measure. It’s got a nerve running from the pocketbook to the heart, and when people won’t give, there’s something wrong in their walk with God, because people that give know it’s not theirs to begin with. But it’s a truth that can govern any part of life. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap.”
But specifically and narrowly to the context, it has to do with supporting people who teach the truth of the Word of God. “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows this he will also reap.” Boy, that’s a sobering truth, a sobering truth. You know there’s not a whole lot of good things about getting older, are there? People told me, “Wayne, life really begins at 40.”They lied. “Well, Wayne, things are wonderful after 50.” They, listen, they didn’t even come close. And now I’m at 60. You know one of the good things I’ve discovered about being 60? You know what it is? I have made so many stupid choices in my life, sown so much stupid seed and had to reap as a result of it, it’s finally getting through my thick head it’s just not worth it. Failure is a great tool to teach. That’s one of the good things God’s done or is doing in my life.
Well, our choices reap a harvest. So there’s a challenge. And what he says to them, hey listen, I know you’re taking care of these false teachers you’ve bought into. I understand that. I understand what you’re doing, but I want you to know it’s costing you and you don’t even realize it. If you’re not hungry for the Word, that’s the only thing that can renew your mind. Therefore, then God takes that and transforms your life. If you want something else, then you’re going to pay having pursued it. Not only will you support it, but you’ll turn right around and you’ll pay for having pursued it.
So the command is to those people who love God and love His Word. He said to them, there’s no option. You take care of the people who teach the Word of God. But then the challenge comes to everybody, not only those who love the word, but those who don’t love the word. So many of them were supporting the wrong people. But then thirdly, the choices of every believer. Every believer only has one of two choices. There are only two, Gal 6:8: “For the one who sows to his own flesh”—now remember the context, but remember it’s broader than that; it can go anywhere—“shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
There are only two fields in which one can sow in Gal 6:8, the field of the flesh—think about a farmer going out, the field of the flesh—and the field of the Spirit. “For the one who sows,” that’s in the present tense so he’s talking about a lifestyle; the one who continually sows, a practice that he has. The word “sow” is the word meaning to scatter seed with the expectation of getting a result. Now, in the Gospels the term sowing had to do with the word of God and taking it and sharing it with others, but not here. In this passage sowing is a choice that you make. You either choose to obey the Spirit or you choose to obey the flesh, one or the other, and you are going to get a harvest from each he says.
The first field is the field of his own flesh. And what does he say? “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption.” Because of the present tense the Greek would be “he who continually sows to the flesh of himself.” There’s so many false teachers in this world that appeal to our flesh. And I think that’s the scary thing to me at my age and this time in the life of our country, of where Christianity has gone to. People would rather be entertained than they would be confronted with the truth of God’s word. The flesh wants something and it’s so appealing to the flesh some of the things that are going on.
If we choose to sow to the flesh, field of the flesh then Paul says “we shall from the flesh reap corruption.” Now the word “corruption” is interesting. It’s not from God. It’s from the flesh, out of the flesh. The word “from the flesh” is ek, out of. In other words, out of the very thing you’ve chosen, it comes right back to bite you. It’s causing the corruption in your life. Plant corn, in other words, you’ll reap corn. The word “corruption” is a word that means it describes a process.
Boy, I love Wise potato chips. But, you know, it’s a funny thing that happens with that food that’s on that plate when you leave it there for several weeks. It’s a process, isn’t it. I mean, the second day you leave it there it’s not so bad. It’s just gotten a little hard. The third day it’s changing, and the fourth day, and the fifth week it’s green and there’s an odd odor that’s coming from it. There has been a process going on.
But I want you to think about corruption as a process. Some of you had fruit for Christmas and you didn’t eat it all. You left it sitting out. What’s happening to it now? There’s a process that sets in and it begins to rot. And, by the way, you take a rotten apple or a tomato and put it into a bunch of healthy ones what happens to the rest of them? And see, there’s a process that goes on here. A person buys into false doctrine; he doesn’t understand it, but immediately he has no desire for the Spirit of God to rule his life. He has no desire to be in the Word of God. He’d rather have this or he’d rather have that, and he doesn’t realize he’s in a stage of corruption, spiritual corruption. And that’s what Paul says. If a person sows to the flesh he shall of the flesh reap corruption.
The Galatians had sowed in the field of religious flesh and we’ve already seen in five chapters the negative part of that. And, by the way, many people think sometimes that I’m negative when I preach. Please don’t hear me that way. We’ve been in the most negative book in the whole New Testament. Do we understand that? For five whole chapters that’s all it’s been. But in chapter 6 we’ve turned the corner, so let’s get on the other side of that fence. I’m not trying to be negative, but I’m talking about people that are living negatively and that’s what we’re trying to see.
“But the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.” There’s your good choice. God says, “Why do you choose this? You’re going to reap corruption.” You have a choice. Choose to sow to the Spirit and specifically, financially, in your finances take care of those who are honoring the Word of God. Take care of the church budget. Take care of the people that are taking care of you biblically. If you’ll just do that, sow in the field of the Spirit, “you shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
I love that phrase, “the one who sows to the Spirit shall reap eternal life.” Eternal life is a powerful term. The word “life,” zoe, means the essence of life. What he’s saying is your whole life is going to change. And eternal has the idea it’ll never stop. It’ll just get better every day of your life. You can start living in the life that God says is yours if you’ll just say yes to Him in all areas of your life; but contextually and specifically in the financial area of your life. You begin to walk in the newness of life. What did Jesus say in John 10:10? “I’ve come that you might have life,” same word, “and have it,” how? “more abundantly.” How many Christians are living in it? But if you’ll look where you’re sowing, it tells you everything about where you’re living. If I’m sowing in the Spirit I’m going to understand that life and it’s eternal. It talks about the quality and the essence of that life, His life in us.
There was an old man, considered to be wise. He was a wise man, always right. Two young boys one day said, “We’re going to confuse and confound him.” They found a baby bird and they put it in their hand and here was their plot. We’re going to ask that old man, is this bird alive or is it dead? And if he says it’s alive we’ll crush it and say, huh, you’re wrong. If he says it’s dead, we’ll turn it loose and let it fly and say, huh, you’re wrong. You’re not as smart as you thought you were.
They went up to the old man and said, “Old man, first of all, what do we have in our hands?” Well, they’d forgotten to cover some of the feathers. He said, “It looks to me like you’ve got a baby bird.” They were surprised. Then they said, “Well, old man, is this bird alive or is it dead?” And the old man thought for a long time. They were chuckling. They had him. He says, “You know what? It’s really your choice, isn’t it?” And they looked at him, and he said, “In your hand you have death or you have life. Choose whichever one you will.”
And it’s almost exactly what Paul is saying to the Galatians. Make your choice. You want death, sow to the flesh; you want life, sow to the Spirit. And specifically—and I still can’t get away from it—but the fact that he ties it to finances. I didn’t tie it to finances, he did. And what he’s saying is, if you’re going to sow and walk by the Spirit, you’re going to love the Word of God and you’re not going to hesitate taking care of those who honor and teach the Word of God. Giving is a no-brainer. It’s a divine consequence, not a cause, a consequence of people who walk by the Spirit of God.
Galatians 6, we’re going to look at verses 9-10. I said it a while ago and I want to say it again, what a wonderful thought to realize that we are in 2004. It’s hard to believe. Isn’t it interesting how fast time flies? It’s incredible to me. It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the beginning of 2003. Here we are in 2004. I guess we could say it like the two frogs. One frog looked at the other one and said, “You know what? Life sure is fun when you’re having flies.” And the other one looked at him and said, “Yeah, they’d laugh too if they could eat what’s bugging them.”
The beauty of being in 2004 to me is that nobody has ever lived this year before. Have you ever thought of that? I mean, history’s being made as I stand right here and as you’re sitting out there. History’s being made. Nobody’s ever lived in 2004. It’s kind of like in school when you have a brand new semester. Oh, I remember those days. No class cuts, no late for class, no flunking the tests, awesome; brand new pad of paper, brand new pencils, and a teacher that doesn’t know you yet. I mean, it’s wonderful! Just a brand new beginning. Every choice that we make today and tomorrow and whenever is a choice that is affecting history; it’s making history.
And the newness of a brand new year to me has to be refreshing in every one of our minds. We can choose in 2004 to yield to the Spirit of God as we’ve learned in Galatians, or we can choose to yield to our flesh. And all of us have perhaps made some bad choices, I have, in 2003. But the good thing is, I have got a brand new opportunity in 2004. As a matter fact, Paul puts this whole thing in a different context. He said it’s like sowing seed. And so here we are as sowers beginning 2004, and we can sow seed into the field of the flesh or we can sow seed into the field of the Spirit; and understanding that when you sow, it’s always with the realization you want to reap something back. Either choice will reap a consequence, will bear a consequence, because that’s what sowing is all about.
To me it illustrates it in such a beautiful picturesque way of making choices. You’re sowing, you’re sowing, and there’s something going to be returned as a result of that sowing. Sowing in the field of the Spirit is what we’ve been looking at in chapter 6, and it’s so beautiful. This is our opportunity in 2004, mine, yours, all of ours as believers, that we can sow. And what happens is when we sow in the field of the Spirit, it reaps such a beautiful consequence in the body of Christ.
Chapter 6 verse tells us that we become sensitive to a brother who has sinned. Isn’t that incredible? Our eyes are not on ourselves anymore. We begin to see others for the first time. And we see that they make some wrong choices, and so we’re willing to come alongside and help them understand how to sow in the right field. Verse 2 told us that we will be moved to bear one another’s burdens. Only God can do that. That’s supernatural. That’s not natural. And then verse 3 shows us that Christ in us won’t allow us to help other people for any kind of personal recognition. God won’t do that, won’t allow that. God says His Spirit will not allow that.
Verse 4 shows us that we won’t compare what we do with what others do. We won’t do that. We don’t get in this idea of competitiveness because that’s just not the Spirit of God. That’s not what is harvested out of the field of the Spirit. And verse 5 teaches us that when we’re walking by the Spirit we’ll understand that we have our own responsibility. God will put a different individual on your heart as He’ll put different individuals on my heart and we have to follow that. And individually, as well as corporately, we come together to do the things God’s asked us to do.
But the true signal of the fact that we’re sowing in the right field is interesting to me that Paul brings out in verse 6, and that’s what we do with our finances. And that’s so strange to me. It’s always fascinated me how treasures are such an indicator of a person’s love relationship with God. Jesus used more verses to share about treasures than He did hell. I mean, He told His disciples, look out, look out, that’s going to be a litmus test. That’s going to be a trap that you might fall into. What he talks about in verse 6, he says, the one is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. And what he basically does, he just shows us that there’s a criteria for who you support. You support the people that honor the word of God because the power is in the word. And it’s God’s Word; it’s our authority. He says you support those people, not only those pastors that work with you, you support missionaries, others that honor the Word of God.
Well, sowing will bring a harvest, no matter what we choose; no matter what, there’s a consequence that comes back. And Paul makes certain that we understand this at all context of life when he says in Gal 6:7-8, “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked.” As we saw the last time, that meant God’s not allowing Himself to be sneered at. God won’t do that. It’s not affecting Him at all. What Paul is saying is when we make our choices to sow in other fields, when we choose not to sow in the field of the Spirit, but we choose to sow in the field of the flesh, it’s going to reap a consequence. And it’s not going to affect God, it’s going to affect us. He says, “For whatever a man sows” whatever choice that man makes, he says that, “this will he also reap.” And then he gives the two choices in Gal 6:8, “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.”
Well, this is where we are today. We’ve seen now what it means to sow in the right field. And now what Paul is going to do in the next two verses, he’s got a caution, a warning. And you’ll be surprised perhaps to hear this, but to those who are sowing in the right field. He’s got a caution for those who are doing it right, who are living and walking by the Spirit and being led by the Spirit of God. It shouldn’t surprise any of us that the flesh lurks around us at all times. When we’re doing wrong it’s got us in its grip. But when we’re doing it right it’s there to try to get us back off track. It’s always there. We have to be conscious of it. The victory of yesterday does not necessarily carry me to the victory of tomorrow or today. I’ve got to make the same choices today that I made yesterday to walk in the victory that is mine in Christ Jesus and so with all of us.
So there are three things that I want to share, and hopefully it’ll encourage you as we enter into 2004, as we begin to think of the beautiful field out there that we can sow in, the field of the Spirit, to make our choices to say yes to Christ and to His Word, and the beautiful results of the harvest that will come from those choices. Three things; first of all, Paul shares the trap in doing good. Now, there is a trap. He says in Galatians 6:9 and he jumps right to the point, “And let us not lose heart in doing good.” What is the trap? Losing heart. Paul’s warning here is to those who are doing good, those who are walking by the Spirit, those who have been led by the Spirit, or being led by the Spirit. This is who he’s talking to. And it’s a caution that he’s giving. There’s a trap that lurks near us.
The word for “doing” is the word poieo. Poieo is the word that refers to a deed that somebody does. Here it’s referring to the individual deeds, we’ve seen many of them outlined in chapter 6, that’s taking place by those who are walking in the Spirit of God, making the right choices. It’s in the present tense, so it’s their lifestyle; it’s not a one-time thing. This is a pattern that you can pretty well predict in these people’s lives. The believer is allowing the Spirit of God to work through his life.
The word “good” is the word kalos. Kalos is an interesting word. We have one word in English, but they have two words in the Greek for the word “good.” It’s inherent good. It’s constitutional good. It’s that which is inwardly pure. It talks of the very essence of what’s being done. And this is very key. In Gal 6:6 and in Gal 6:10 he uses another word for good. All this is in the same context. In Gal 6:6 he says “And let the one who is taught share all good things.” And then in Gal 6:10 he says, “So then while we have opportunity let us do good to all men.” Now in Gal 6:6 and in Gal 6:10 the word is agathos, and agathos is the word that means benevolent good, that which benefits somebody. Basically that word in Gal 6:6 and in Gal 6:10 stresses the “what” that is being done. In other words it’s that which benefits. It talks about how it helps another individual.
But the word kalos is different. The word kalos has more the idea of the inward nature of what’s being done. And when you use the word kalos, it means it’s inherently good. It’s constitutionally good. There’s no deceit in it. There’s nothing in it whatsoever that’s impure. That’s a pure deed that’s being done for somebody. There’s nothing with self in it at all. It’s done with a pure motive. Now, in the context of Galatians, especially in Galatians, that word would be used to point to the Lord Jesus Christ, the “who” that is behind the doing. He’s the only one that is totally pure. He’s the only one that is totally good. And so therefore it’s speaking here of Christ who lives in us which is our theme of the whole book, of letting Jesus be Jesus in us.
And what Paul is saying is this person that is doing good deeds is not just some religious man that claims that what he’s doing is good, but this is a believer letting Jesus be Jesus in him. And the good that’s being done is inherently good. It is in its purest form because it’s not coming from him; it’s coming from Christ that lives within him. These two words for “good” don’t contradict each other. But the reason they have two words is each one brings out a different aspect of the good that is being done. It’s just Jesus being Jesus in us.
Now he says there’s a trap here. There’s a trap when we’re letting Jesus be Jesus in us. Can you imagine? And the trap is, and here it comes, that we want to see the results of what is being done. Anybody who’s a human being wants to see the result of letting Jesus be Jesus in him. But in that is a trap, a temptation. We want to measure what’s being done. And certainly we’ve all come up in our day and time and the world’s way is to measure everything: If it’s not big then it’s not right; if it’s not this, if it’s not that. But this is the trap. This is a trap.
And Paul’s warning them, he says, “and let us not lose heart in doing good.” Now, the word “lose heart” is the word is ekkakeo. The word means to revert back to the flesh. It could be used in a battle scene of somebody who turns coward and runs. He runs back to what he shouldn’t. They had to stay on the front lines. It’s the idea of walking in the Spirit and letting Jesus be Jesus in you, but suddenly dawning on you that, “Hey, wait a minute, I can do this better. God, excuse me, don’t call me, I’ll call You.” And we try it our own way. And so the word then “losing heart” has to do with that idea of reverting back to fleshly ways and fleshly means of what we do. That’s an interesting thought. Here’s a believer, “I mean, come on, Wayne, you’ve been encouraging us to walk in the Spirit and to be led by the Spirit. Here’s a believer that’s seeking to do it right and the things that are flowing out of his life is, speaks of God and brings glory to Him. What in the world could cause him to lose heart?”
Well, this trap that we speak of he may not see. It’s a very deceitful trap. He continues in Gal 6:9 and explains, “For in due time.” In other words, when it’s time to reap; every harvest comes when it’s ready, only when it’s ready. A farmer can’t predict that all the time. It’s going to be when God says it’s ready. “For in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.” And so he takes the word “lose heart” and “grow weary” and he ties it to the reaping of what has been sown. And we must remember that we don’t reap overnight. That’s part of the law of the harvest. It is when we want immediate results. We want to try to measure what’s been done that the temptation to turn back to the flesh, which, by the way, will always produce results. It will produce results, but it will not be of God. And that’s the trap that Paul warns them of: flesh can produce results, but they’re not of God. The trap is to revert back to that old do mentality, that religious idea that if I can just do more God will do more and we do things in our own efforts. And as a result of that we lose heart.
The Galatians knew this trap very well. This is exactly the context of why we studied this book; of a group of people that had been walking in the Spirit. Paul even says one time “you have been running well. Who has hindered you?” In other words, you were doing it right. What’s happened? And what had happened was they had chosen to go back to doing it their own way, which is that flesh trap that’s always there. If it’s not happening quick enough, if it’s not happening big enough, we have that tendency, all of us do, to go back and doing it again, our way. Paul says, “Don’t grow weary in doing good.” Don’t revert back to the flesh. It’s a trap. Reverting back to the flesh is the temptation we all have when we can’t see immediately the results of what God’s doing in our life.
Evelyn Christenson wrote a book—this is kind of interesting to me—it’s called, “Lord, Change Me.” Some of you probably have read that. Evelyn Christenson said that she prayed that her husband would change. And I know many wives out there are not going to admit it, but you’ve been praying the same thing for a long time. My wife and I have been married 34 ½ years, and I think she’s not stopped yet. Hopefully before she dies she’ll see the change. And she just, she prayed and prayed and prayed, but she never saw any results. Has that happened in your life? You come before God and your heart is as pure as gold and you just simply say, “Lord God, would You change my husband? Would You change my wife? Will You change my children?” Well, nothing happened. For years this went on. And finally she just got to the point she said, “God, evidently I’ve missed it. You’re not going to do anything with my husband, so therefore, God, will You just simply use my husband to change me?” And she wrote the book, “Lord, Change Me.” And it’s a funny thing, God began to change her. Didn’t change her husband at first, began to change her. And you know what? When He changed her, her husband changed.
And that’s the beautiful thing about this. When you come before God you’re coming before Him; and only He knows the end, and only He knows the time, and only He knows what He’s doing. So therefore you come before Him and you just simply trust Him when nothing’s going on, there’s no visible results. We just continue to trust Him, because we know that if we’re sowing in the right field, at some point that harvest is going to come up, and it’s a beautiful thing. But the trap is when we revert back to the flesh. You can get immediate results by doing things of the flesh and that’s the problem. That’s the downside. And that’s what Paul warns these precious believers about.
Secondly, I want to share with you the temptations in doing good. We’ve seen one of them, and that is to measure everything that we’re doing. But there are many temptations that will bring us back to reverting to the flesh. And this is sort of a caution that came in my study that maybe will encourage you and it encouraged me. It’s so interesting how losing heart or growing weary is a theme many times by Paul in the New Testament. We see again here in chapter 6 it has to do with wanting to see the result. “Lord, I’m doing everything You’ve told me to do. I’m saying yes to You. I’m letting You be who You are in me. But, Lord, I’m not seeing any results.” And so the temptation is, okay, I’ll get results; and you turn back to your own way. But there’s some other traps there. There are some other temptations. The trap is the same; the trap is reverting back to the flesh.
But we find another one in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13. Interesting how Paul brings this same idea up in a different context. This context is not trying to measure what’s going on in your life. This one is interesting. This one comes, the temptation comes to go back to the flesh when living right, doing good, surrendering to Christ, sowing in the right field, just gets a little boring and it’s not as exciting as it used to be. It’s just not enough going on in your life. And so therefore Paul says be careful, because the good things he talks about in Thessalonians that they’re doing has to do with their personal responsibilities in life. Personal responsibilities like taking care of the family, going to work every day, paying bills. As a matter of fact, we could throw in taking out the trash. That’s got to be in there somewhere. But just doing the natural, everyday responsible things of life.
And the apostle Paul says you have to be careful because this might not be appealing to your flesh. This might not be emotional and exciting. And sometimes when that happens you’ll turn back to the flesh. You’ll find something that appeals to your flesh. It may be emotional. It probably is, because emotions are only of the flesh and so therefore you appeal to you. He says don’t do that, don’t go that way. Second Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you we used to give you this order: If anyone will not work neither let him eat. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busy bodies.” In other words, you’re minding everybody else’s business and not taking care of your own.
And in 2Thes 3:12, “Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and to eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren.” “As for you,” and I love that; he turns it. In other words, some of you are doing it right. He says, “As for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.” When the mundane things of life get boring; I mean, when the responsibilities of just being a father and husband and taking care of the family and going to work and getting a paycheck and paying taxes and doing what is responsible down here. When somehow that is not any longer exciting, Paul says look out, there’s going to be a temptation for you to reach over and try to grab something from the flesh that’s more emotional, that’s more exciting, that’s a little bit of a difference in your life. He said that is a temptation. Just because you don’t feel spiritual when you’re walking surrendered to Him does not mean you’re not doing it right. And don’t look for the big splash. And don’t look for the big emotion. Just continue on and be steady.
There’s a word in Greek that has to do with power, dunamis, but you can get two words out of it: one is “dynamite,” and the other is “dynamo.” A dynamite makes a loud noise and surely is emotional and it stirs up a lot of dust, but you ever noticed how quickly it settles. But a dynamo is something that is consistent; every single day it continues to do what’s necessary, whether the emotion is there or not. And Paul says look out, look out; when life begins to be not exciting in your fleshly understanding of it, be careful; there’s a temptation to reach over and try to find an experience, to try to find something that’ll make your life a little more exciting.
You know, some people in life just have that personality. We had a guy in one church, he was the most bland human being I’ve ever seen. I don’t play poker, but I guarantee you in a poker game he would be the winner. I mean, you’d never know where he was. You never knew. And it looked like his whole life was just blah. And that’s the way he lived. But you know what? He was one of the most consistent Christians I’ve ever known, because he was just who he was; filled with God and doing the things that God has told him to do. Be careful, be careful when somehow your life is not exciting. Be careful when you can’t measure the results of what God’s doing through your life. There’s a temptation to go back to that trap, to revert to the flesh. We don’t want to do that.
Well, we see those two temptations. But the third one that I want to show you is in 2 Corinthians 4:1. A different area, but a different temptation. When you’re doing good, the temptations are always there to go back to the flesh. In 2 Corinthians 4:1, the apostle Paul is talking about ministry and he’s talking about ministry that is received from God, not achieved for God. Have you caught that yet? That ministry’s not something we’ve set at a table and plan to do. Ministry is something that flows out of our walk with God. When we’re sowing in the right field, when we’re letting His Word renew our mind and His Spirit can transform our life, ministry just flows out of that because it’s not us doing for Him, it’s Him doing through us. And the apostle Paul says be careful: when you forget that ministry is something you receive instead of something you achieve, you’re going to lose heart.
He says, “Therefore, since we have this ministry,” and when did he get it? “as we received mercy.” He points back to his salvation experience. The day he was saved God already had a plan and purpose for his life. He says, “we do not lose heart,” because our ministry didn’t come from us. Our ministry came from Him, and anything He initiates He sustains. We don’t have to bear the pressure of results. We don’t have to bear the pressure of anything other than saying yes to Him, allowing Him to do through us what He wants to do. But when we forget this—and how many times in my life have I forgotten it? —we revert back to doing it in our strength, in our own power, according to the flesh. And as the result of it we immediately lose heart. There’s no joy when you choose to achieve ministry. There’s no joy at all. The flesh always produces a weariness in one’s life.
In Galatians 6:9 it says, “And let us not lose heart in doing good,” and then he says, “for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.” And that “grow weary” is a different word than what he uses with “lose heart.” It’s the word ekluo. It means to faint. A little different than reverting back to the flesh. When you revert back to the flesh, you will faint dead away, because there’s no power, there’s no energy, there’s a weariness that comes into your bones. It’s like you can’t do it anymore because of the flesh. God never said we could, but He always said He would.
When somebody faints there’s no energy. Have you ever fainted? It’s just like you just get light-headed and you just pass out. That’s exactly the word here. You know, I come to a conclusion. I want you to weigh on it and pray on it to see if I’m right. I believe when a person’s walking by the Spirit, walking in the energy of the Spirit of God, there is no such thing as burnout in his life. He can be tired physically, but he’ll never be spiritually drained of God’s power. And there’s a difference. When you’re drained of God’s power and when you just simply can’t do it anymore, it’s a pretty good test that you’ve been working in the flesh. You have fallen into that trap. That ministry you’re trying to achieve rather than receive it from the Lord Jesus Christ.
So the temptations are three that we’ve given. The first trap is to revert back to the flesh. And the first temptation to that comes when you have to see immediate results, when the reaping is not coming quick enough and you want to make something happen. The second one is when the responsible life that God leads us to is not as exciting anymore. We’ve got to create some emotion to make everybody feel like that something’s happening. And the third one is when we get to the point we forget that ministry’s received and it’s not achieved. So we see the trap and we see some temptations. And by the way, they’re more times that those words are used and it’d be a great Bible study for you to do on your own, to look up the times that “lose heart” or “growing weary” is used in Scripture and realize the things that God’s trying to say to all of us.
But thirdly, the twofold test of doing good. Now, what is the test? How do I know that I’m living and walking by the Spirit? How do I know that I’m doing it right? Well, he gives us another test. One of them is when the love is there. But here comes another one. It says in Gal 6:10, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” That word “opportunity” here is a good translation. It means a season. You know how seasons will come and seasons will go. In fact, our whole lifetime from the time that we are saved till the time that we die could be translated into this word. A season, it’s an opportunity. Although you can break it down into smaller fragments. We have an opportunity when we go out to eat or whatever and we see somebody in need and God moves upon us to meet that need. I mean it can come in increments or you can look at it as a huge thing. But it’s an opportunity. It’s a season of the year.
And Paul seizes this thought of a season, of an opportunity. He says, “While we have this opportunity.” And the present indicative is used there, which he’s telling them we’re in the midst of it right now, so he wants to make sure he’s got their attention. “So then while we have opportunity,” look what he says, “let us do good.” That’s important, but that’s not as important as what he says next. “Let us do good to,” how many men? What does it say? “To all men.” Now, there’s a twofold test in that little phrase right there, “all men.” Let me show you the verb. The verb’s in the present tense, which means this is a lifestyle. This is predictable in your life. Subjunctive mood, some people will and some people won’t; it’s kind of iffy. And then he uses a middle passive verb, which is a deponent verb.
Let me explain that to you. Don’t be confused by that. Middle voice simply means make this choice, be making this choice all the time to do good to all men. Passive voice is another part of that which means as a result of God’s love working in your own heart. Passive voice means it’s because of something, something’s happening to you which causes you to make a choice. We don’t have that tense or that verb in the English language, so it’s hard to explain. But when you use a deponent verb it means yes, we should be choosing this, but there’s a reason we should be choosing this; and that’s because God lives in us and His love is having an effect upon our life. As a matter of fact, we will never make this choice unless God moves us and motivates us to do it.
But here’s the test; “Let us do good,” be continuing to do good because of that which He’s done for you and to you and is doing in you. He said “Let us do good to all men.” The word “all,” pas, means all, to each and every person. Now understand what he’s saying here. He says regardless of color; it doesn’t matter if they’re black, it doesn’t matter if they’re Indian, it doesn’t matter if they’re oriental, it doesn’t matter if they’re Caucasian, it doesn’t matter. You do good to all men, regardless of any prejudice, regardless of whether or not—here comes the test—that they’re believers or they’re unbelievers. It doesn’t matter; you do good to all men. This is the first part of the test is “to all men,” to the lost, basically the lost people. We do good to them just like we do to each other, lost people.
You keep reading in Gal 6:10, we’ll see that people both inside and outside the church are included. So he’s not just talking about the body of Christ, within the walls of the church. That’s his particular point. He says, “So then while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially,” and that’s important, “to those who are of the household of the faith.” The word for household there is the word oikeios, a beautiful word for the family. It refers to all the participants of a particular family. Isn’t it neat that you’re my brother, I’m your brother and you’re my sister in the Lord Jesus Christ? We’re going to be together forever. Isn’t that incredible? And we’re part of the household of the faith. And so he says you do good, especially in the household of the faith. If you’re going to have it all, it ought to be in here.
But he says to do good to all men. In other words you don’t just come to church and be kind to everybody that you like and loves Jesus, but you also go out to the restaurant and you’re not cruel when you order beans and the little waitress brings you peas and they’re cold. You’re not cruel to them. That little waitress doesn’t want to work there anyway. And her husband probably left her and she’s got children at home and she doesn’t have any child support and she’s trying to do the very best she can possibly do. You don’t treat her cruelly, but come to church and treat the people a different way. When you’re in a business deal or something like that and it goes array, you always remember, do good to all men, do good to all men, not just in the household of God, but in the whole world. And that’s the twofold test. It is easy to love people in the family of God. It’s difficult sometimes to love people out there in the world the way they treat us.
But at the same time we do good to all men, and that good is that which benefits them. And of course kalos has to be factored in, that which is purely good, that which comes from God Himself. In other words, we say yes, Lord. I have a little sign that I’ve had for years and it says “Yes, Lord!” I love that. People have asked me before, “Well, what’s the question, Wayne? I see the answer.” I said, “It doesn’t matter what the question is. ‘Yes, Lord.’ I’ve already solved the issue. I want to say yes to Him no matter what He puts into my life.”
And that’s the way we’re supposed to live. That is what Paul said. Do I do it all the time? No! But that’s my heart and that’s your heart. We want to be doing good to all men at all times. And then we begin to experience His life in us, Galatians 2:20, for it’s not me but it’s who living in me? It’s Christ living in me.” And remember He said to that man one day who asked Him a question, He said, “Why do you call Me good? Only God is good.” In other words, that purity of that work, that beauty of what’s being done, has got to come from Him. He’s the one who produces it into our life. And we begin to experience that, not just within the body, but even out there in the world. He makes us sensitive to another brother and we can go right down through the list of chapter 6.
I guess my heart this morning is, as we continue in Galatians, is that we’re just now in 2004. But I think it’s not by coincidence we’re in Galatians when he says now, remember, remember sow in the right field. And if you’ll sow in the right field remember, the temptation’s to go back and do it your way. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. You just keep trusting God in the midst of it all. The trap, the temptation, and the test. I just want to encourage you as to the main point he brings out in chapter 6. Don’t be discouraged when you don’t see results right away. Just remember you sow the good seed, it will come up at a certain time. But we don’t know when that’s going to be.
I’ve shared with you many times about my dear friend Dorie Van Stone. Dorie worked with the Indians in Irian Jaya. I mean, it was an area where cannibals and she was there eight years. Her children got so sick she had to come off of the mission field. And as a result of it she told me, she said, “Wayne, I saw no one come to know Christ.” She said one time they brought a pig, these pagans, they lived up in the middle of the jungles and they brought a pig to her and cut it open that night and took the blood and smeared it all over and said, “Dorie, we are one because of the blood of the pig.” And she said she wept and wept and wept. She said, “God, when will they understand it’s not by the blood of a pig? It’s by the blood of the precious Lamb of God that makes us one.” But she never saw a convert, never saw a convert.
Her husband Lloyd—they came off the field because of the sickness of their children—he was out jogging one day and died of a heart attack. He never got to hear what I’m about to tell you. One day Dorie saw me and she said, “Wayne, look at this letter. Look at this letter.” And the letter was from the chief of the Dani tribe. The Dani tribe was who they worked with. And they said, “We would like to invite you to come, to this area where you worked for eight years, and we have made a statue dedicated to Lloyd, your husband and to the chief at that time, and it had both of them holding their Bibles up.” And in the letter it said, “Dorie, there are over 250,000 believers now in the Dani tribe. They have become the leading evangelists in all of this area of the world.” And Dorie stood there with just tears streaming down her face and she said, “I just thought it would never happen.”
And Paul says don’t lose heart, don’t grow weary, because you will reap in what? In due season. Don’t back off. You trust God. Sow the good. You don’t see a result, that’s fine. You’ll experience the joy of Jesus just knowing Him. But the good will come. Keep sowing good seed.
Today we are going to say goodbye to an old friend. We’re going to just close out the book today. Galatians 6.
Turn with me if you would to Galatians 6, and we’re going to say goodbye to an old friend. We’re going to just close out the book today. Galatians 6. You know, the thoughts of the apostle Paul as he closes out the book of Galatians have just been so important to my life in these days. The things he brings out to the Galatians that we’ve just looked at the past couple of weeks, when he talks about sow good seed. I just love that. That’s been over and over and over in my mind. Make choices that say yes to Christ and His will. Walk by faith, and by the way, that is walking by faith. He just calls it sowing good seed. It’s the same thing. Paul calls the choices we make as sowing seed. And I love that, because any time a sower sows seed, he expects a harvest. And Paul wants to make certain that the Galatians understand that every choice they make bears a consequence. There will be a harvest. What a clear picture.
He says in Gal 6:9 to those sowing good seed. And I think we all need to hear this every day of our life. He says, “Don’t lose heart, don’t grow weary in doing good, don’t turn back the flesh.” That word “lose heart” means to go back to fleshly ways, and fleshly means of making something happen. In other words, in the midst of sowing, the harvest is going to come. But if it’s not there and you don’t see any results, don’t resort back to the flesh to try to make something happen. He says, “We will reap in due season if we will not grow weary.” And that “grow weary” there means if we don’t faint. I can testify, and I’m sure you can, that this truth is sometimes a very difficult truth to remember when you’re sowing good seed and there’s no harvest.
I remember those days, and in the South farmers would plant and it would just be barren for so many months. It’s like, is that seed doing anything? And then finally the rains come and the sun comes out and that harvest begins to come up. And that’s what he’s saying to them. You keep sowing the good seed, sow the good seed. We must encourage one another. I believe in this great truth. When there seems to be no visible result, let’s encourage each other that if we’re sowing the right seed it will come up in due season.
Well, today we see that Paul is finishing his letter. And what he’s going to do is kind of like the wrapping on a present. He’s just going to take them to four basic themes that he’s been talking about in the whole book and put it together and leave them with this letter, this beautiful letter that he’s written. Now remember, this has not been a friendly letter until at least we’ve got down to the last part of chapter 5 and chapter 6. At times I’ve probably sounded negative from preaching from this book, but I apologize if that’s the way I’ve sounded. I just want you to know that this is the most negative book that you can find, probably in all of the New Testament. It’s hard to make something positive when you’re dealing with something negative. It’s awfully difficult. But he does this in such a beautiful way so as now to turn it and bring us up on a higher plane of living, a more positive way of living.
And this last chapter is just phenomenal to me of what it could be like and what it can be like if we’ll sow the right seed. Let me read the verses to you that we’re going to cover today, beginning in Gal 6:11. He says “See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so 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 which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”
In these last verses he really puts an emphasis on some very important things that sum up what he’s been saying in the whole epistle. He takes the pen from the writer who’s been transcribing his letter. And, as was his custom, he finishes it out himself, but he does it in a very emphatic way. He says in Gal 6:11, “See with what large letters I’m writing to you with my own hand.” And there are at least three different interpretations of that. One is that he had such bad eyesight that he had to write in large letters. Two, is he couldn’t write very well and therefore his handwriting was large and messy. Or three, that he wrote in large letters to catch their attention, kind of like a person who’s using a computer or typewriter that puts them in the caps. He wants to make sure they are paying attention to what he’s got to say.
I personally think it’s the last one. Now we may disagree on that, and certainly we don’t want to argue about it. I don’t think it makes much sense to me that he couldn’t write very well. I mean, he was one of the most intelligent men in the New Testament. I don’t think it was because of his eyesight, because as a pattern, he doesn’t say that each time. I think what he’s saying is “I’m going to finish letter in my own hand and I want to make certain you’ve heard what I’ve tried to tell you.” And so he puts it in large letters. I think what he’s saying is pay attention. Pay attention, I’ve got something to say.
And there are four things that are going to close out the letter, that sort of just nail everything he’s talked about all the way through. First of all, he puts in large letters, he describes one more time the evil of a counterfeit. Now what he’s going to do here is describe, and very succinctly, the false teachers that they have fallen prey to their doctrine. He’s going to describe them for us. Now we don’t have to go back and re-preach it because we did that when we were coming through. But let’s just see what he has to say in Gal 6:12. The first thing he tells is that they’re all arrogant. He said those teachers you’ve fallen prey to they’re arrogant. They’re very boastful. They’re braggarts.
Look at Gal 6:12: “Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh.” Now Paul’s exposing them and he says your teachers only want to impress you; these false teachers that gave them nothing. And here’s Paul that risked his life to teach them the word of grace; they don’t even listen to him. They’re going to people that don’t even care about them. He says your teachers only want to impress you. They simply want numbers and a following. The word “desire” there is the word thelo. Thelo is not a simple wish, that’s another word. The word thelo means they are committed to this. They’re committed to getting you as a crowd and to getting your numbers and to make an impression on you. That’s their whole heartbeat.
Behind this word is an emotional determination, a commitment to make sure something happens. Making an impression and attracting a crowd was really all these false teachers lived for. He said “those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh.” The words “good showing” is really one Greek word. It’s euprosopeo. It’s a compound word. Eu means well or good and prosopeo or prosopon means an appearance. And so what he says it’s all surface. It’s all shallow. It’s all just them making an appearance to you.
And then Paul adds “in the flesh,” and it kind of gives us an idea how they made that appearance. This is in reference to the fact that they were good at what they did. They didn’t need the power of God to do this. They were created, they’d been trained, they’d been equipped to this very thing. And they knew how to come in and make something sound good to the flesh of those Galatians. These religionists not only were good using their own flesh, but they preached a message that said flesh could actually accomplish anything for God. These teachers desired to make flesh look good and appealing by their good works and by what religion can do for you.
They simply wanted to boast, however, in causing the Galatians to leave the message of grace which is the true message and come over to theirs. They loved it when they got a convert, a proselyte to bring him back over to their side. It was like a game to them. That’s the feeling I get. As a matter of fact, if you look at Gal 6:13 you can see why I would say that. He says in Gal 6:13, “For those who are circumcised,” talking about these false teachers, “do not even keep the law themselves.” Now isn’t that interesting? The very law that they wanted to put other people under, particularly the Gentiles, they didn’t even keep. “But they desire to have you circumcised,” why? “that they may boast in your flesh.” I’m telling you, it was like a game. Who could get more? And Paul says that’s all they care about.
Well, but secondly, not only are they arrogant and they just want a crowd, they just want a following, they don’t even live what they teach other people to live. But the second thing he says they’re adamant, they’re very adamant. Now that means they just don’t give up. Have you ever been around people that, in false doctrine, they just don’t give up? They won’t go away. I wish we as believers would have the same zeal as we walk with the Lord and never give up on reaching people for Christ. But in Gal 6:12 it says, “Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh,” look it, watch this, “try to compel you to be circumcised.”
Now, you see, why circumcision? And I want to make sure very quickly. I’m not going to go back and preach on it. But circumcision was the initiation into the law of Moses. Now they taught that this was the road to righteousness—not by faith, by the law. It was first given as a physical mark to Abraham to denote the physical children of God. You see, we’re circumcised of the heart, not of the body. And therefore we are the spiritual children of God. But it was given to Abraham as a physical mark and it was identifying him and all that were born after him as being part of God’s people. So these false teachers, these Judaizers, compelled the people in Galatia to be circumcised; now either to get saved, and that’s part of the book, or to be righteous once you are saved. If they were going to be a part of God’s family they taught the message that you had to have the physical mark of God’s family upon you, of God’s elect upon you.
The word “compelled” is the word anagkazo. It means to put pressure on. It’s in the present tense, which means they just kept on putting pressure on them. I mean, they just kept on and kept on and kept and kept on and kept on and kept on pressuring the Galatians to be circumcised. “You’ve got to do something physical. There has to be work involved somewhere” was their message. Jesus gave a scathing rebuke to this very practice in the Gospels. Of course, Paul knew the gospel. And look what Jesus said about that very practice of going and finding a Gentile and having him circumcised and making him a proselyte and bringing him into the family of Israel. He gave a scathing rebuke about that. In Matthew 23:15 He says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees,” and then He denoted what they were, He said “hypocrites.” He says, “Because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte,” just one. You’ll go at great distances and spend great money to make one. And when he becomes one, Jesus says, you make him twice as much as son of hell as yourselves; pretty strong words, pretty strong words. Well, they still haven’t given up, and they’re doing that right in Galatia.
But thirdly, oddly enough; yes, they’re arrogant, yes, they’re adamant; oddly enough, they’re afraid. That’s interesting to me. They’ve gotten in it so deep they’re afraid of the message of the gospel of grace. He says in Gal 6:12, “Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised simply,” now watch, “that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.” Those rascals, they were afraid of persecution. They knew that the Jews back in Jerusalem would come down on them if they ever preached the message of the cross, and so they had to stay with the message of the law.
Now this made me think, and I don’t know if it’s true or not, but in chapter 2 Peter bowed down to what was called the party of the circumcision. And I’ve got to do more study on that, because evidently these guys carried some clout and they could hurt your reputation and they could severely persecute you if they ever found out you weren’t a part of the system. And I’m just wondering if these false teachers were not afraid of the same people. I don’t know. Maybe they were the same people. But whatever it was, there was a fear of being persecuted for the message of the cross.
They didn’t understand that the message of the cross answers everything they’re trying to tell other people. They’re putting them under the law. But Jesus, when He came, He’s the God-man and He lived according to the Law. He dotted every “i,” He crossed every “t.” He just said “I didn’t come to destroy the law. I came to fulfill it as a man. You men that are trying, you can’t do it, but I can, I’m God.” And then He took our sin debt, which is the wages of sin having transgressed the law, He took our sin debt upon Himself, went to the cross, paid the price. He resurrected the third day, ascended 50 days later, glorified. Now when a person trusts Him for their salvation, He that gave the law, He that fulfilled the law, comes to live in us. All we have to do is say yes to Him and the law is taken care of. But they didn’t get it. They didn’t get it. Or, if they did get it they didn’t buy into it. These Judaizers were afraid to provoke the Jews who persecuted those who preached the cross. Paul said if I preach circumcision, then why am I being persecuted? That’s one of his other verses in the epistle.
So they were arrogant. They didn’t care about anybody but themselves. They just wanted a number. They just wanted people. They just wanted to brag on the flesh of others. They were adamant. They hardly ever gave up. They tried to compel the people to be circumcised and they were afraid. Quite interesting, and that’s one of his points as he closes. He says, now, if you want to go listen to them, that’s your choice, but I’m just telling you what they are.
Then the second thing he puts in capital letters to get their attention is the event of the cross. In Gal 6:14 he says, “But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to Me.” Now listen to this, “and I to the world.” You see, the event of the cross changes everything. The event of the cross eradicates religion in any form, puts it aside, because He wouldn’t have had to go to the cross if religion could work in any way to produce what a person desires in his relationship with God. The apostle Paul says that “I’m not going to boast in anything except in the message of the cross.”
Now, it’s this message of our dying with Christ and being raised to walk in newness of life that Paul preached everywhere he went, everywhere he would go. That’s why he was persecuted. Galatians 2:20, what did he say? That’s our key verse for the whole book. It says, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it’s no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me,” as a result of the cross. “And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.” And so Paul says, “May it never be!” That’s one of his favorite phrases. He uses that at least 11 times in Romans. That’s kind of like driving up to a parking place and there’s a sign there that says, “don’t even think about it!” That’s not going to happen again. May it never be! It’s absurd. Don’t even think about it. Paul says, “May it never be that I should boast in anything except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
You see, boasting identifies something. Boasting calls attention to something. These Judaizers boasted in the people they could get to buy into a false message. But Paul says, “I’m not going to boast in anything. I’m only going to call attention to the cross of Jesus and what He came to do for you and I.” Paul says, “I want to be identified with the message of the cross.” Paul was no longer the same person because of the event of the cross. Since he’s met Christ he died with Christ on the cross, the law has no claim on him ever again. Gal 6:14 again, “But may it never be that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now watch this. This is the change. This is what that event and the event of his salvation caused. Paul says, “through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”
Now, what are you talking about here, Wayne? Because of the cross Paul, stands dead to the influence of the world. That’s perfect passive. Perfect tense means something happened back here that causes a result over here. Paul says, “I’m over here because of that event of the cross. Because when I received Jesus I was immediately crucified with Him and there’s something different about me now.” The word for “world” there does not have a definite article behind it, which means that the context is pretty much going to have to help us understand what it means. Specifically in Paul’s life, now not in ours, but in Paul’s life, it was the world of Judaism, the world of law in religious flesh.
I still get this, something that runs up on me; I guess it’s my sense of humor: How these people were trying to buy into something that Paul was so grateful having been set free from that very thing. He’s the greatest religionist that ever lived. He was a Hebrew amongst the Hebrews. He says in Philippians 3, he said “according to the law I was found blameless.” But he said, “man, I count all that as loss.” Paul says, “that world has been crucified to me;” passive voice, “the moment I received Jesus is the very moment it went away. Because of the cross I’m in a severed state;” now listen carefully, “to the world that used to control me.” The Judaizers could not in the least tempt Paul to return to the religious world. No way! There was no way. There was not a single one of them that could in any way get his attention because that’s gone. He’s severed from that world. That world has no claim on him because of the cross. That attachment is gone. It’s severed.
And then he turns it around and he says, “And I to the world.” Not only is that world taken away from me when I received Christ, and he became a man with no country there for a while. The Jews didn’t trust him. The Christians couldn’t. Nobody knew what to do with him for a while. But something else happened inside of Paul, and that is that he was crucified to the world. The world was crucified to him, but it’s reversed around. He says, “and I to the world.” God took the delight out of religion for Paul. He just took it away from him. He found nothing in it anymore. And so there that delight was taken away. He says in Philippians 3, “I just want one thing in my life. I want to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, and to be there at the resurrection of the dead. I want to be the living among the dead. I’m not a religious person anymore. I’m saved. I’m a believer, the cross, the event of the cross has severed me from a life that can never control me again and the Lord Jesus now has taken away that desire to even be a part of it.”
You say, well Wayne, why do we talk about the flesh? Now listen, the flesh only has power when we choose not to sow the right seed. Then we begin to go back to that principle, like a magnet pulling us back. But truly in our hearts there’s no desire for it. Who we really are in Christ is only seen when we’re saying yes to Him. And Paul says, “I want no part of it. Of these false teachers message, I want no part of it.”
What claim, by the way, this morning have you mistakenly believed that the world you came out of when you got saved still has on you? There are so many people who still haven’t understood this, that when you say yes to Christ you are released from all that old bondage and garbage and everything else that’s in your life and you come into the joy and the newness of knowing Him. And it has no claim on you. If the flesh lies to you and says, “oh yes it does,” no, no! “Brother Wayne, I was an alcoholic.” Listen, God took that away from you. You say, “well, I still have to fight it from time to time.” Mark it down, it’s when you’re not saying yes to Christ. That’s the only time the flesh has any kind of desire to go back. You and the world, me and the world, Paul and the world that we came out of have parted company when you put your faith into Jesus Christ.
Church won’t do it. Christ does it! And that’s what Paul’s been trying to say in the book of Galatians. You didn’t get saved by some religious teaching. Maybe they used PowerPoint. Maybe they passed out things. Maybe they were good at what they did. That doesn’t take away from the fact that Jesus saved you. And the event of the cross separated you from the world that used to control you. So he talks about the evil of a counterfeit. They’re all counterfeit. They don’t even live what they tell you when they get into the flesh works.
But the second thing is the effect of the cross. Religion can’t touch it. I tell you what; when you can have people that’ll argue with you and they’re good; some people can tie me around a tree because I just don’t particularly like to argue; or they can debate you; but I’ll tell you what they can’t touch is a transformed life. A transformed life says more than anything we can ever come up with to say cleverly. A transformed life. When God touches your heart and changes you from the inside out you will never want a religious anything again. You just want Jesus in your life. And he puts it in capital letters. He said now are you hearing me? Did you hear what I said?
And then thirdly, the effect of a new creation. As a matter of fact, the effect is the new creation. Look what he says in Gal 6:15: “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but,” here’s what matters, “a new creation.” No work of the flesh is impressive to God. God is in the business not of building great standards, God is in the business of making new creations. This is what Paul has been trying to get across throughout the whole book. The word “new” is the word kainos. I’ve told you before and perhaps to remind you a little bit, there are two words for “new.” There’s the word neos. You go out and buy a new car, but it’s really not new. You had one before. And as soon as this one gets dirty you’re going to want another one. So it could almost have the idea of another. New, yes to you, but not new. Cars have been around for a long time.
But then there’s the word kainos, which is used here. Kainos is also used in the New Testament, new covenant. Every time you see that word “new” when it comes to our relationship with Christ, this is the word that’s used and it means qualitatively, totally brand new, never seen before. We’ve become, because of God’s grace and faith alone in Christ alone, we have become new creations. Second Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he’s a brand new creature,” same word. The process of making a new creation in Christ will never be changed or replaced. Religion cannot make a new creation. Oh, they can bring some innovations; they can even dress it up a little bit; but they cannot change the heart. Only Christ can make a new creation. We are products of the cross and therefore the effect now is that we are new creations.
Circumcision or uncircumcision, Paul says it doesn’t matter. It hasn’t got a thing to do with you being who you are. When it comes to producing new creations, it’s faith alone in Christ alone. It’s only through faith in Christ that we’re made new creatures. You say, “Wayne, he didn’t say that right there.” Oh, he’s summing up the book. And I just picked one verse. My goodness, we talked about this for six weeks, from Gal 3:26, “For you are all sons of God,” how? “through faith in Christ Jesus.” There is no other way. This will never change. The making of a new creation is only through faith in Christ, never change.
And so Paul is building here, but he’s really summing the book up. He talks about the evil of the counterfeit. They’re arrogant, adamant, they’re afraid and they’re a joke because they don’t even live what they tell you to live. But not only that, the event of the cross; the event of the cross is what severed us from the world that used to control us. And the result is the effect of that, is the new creation that we now have become. And then he finishes the book, and I’ll be honest with you, I’m a little sad. I hate to leave in Galatians. You get in a book this long, to me, it becomes part of you. And it’s not like saying goodbye to an old friend because I’m going to stay with it. I mean, there will be times when we’ll come back to it. But in verses 16-18 he finishes it out. He gives the evidences of this new creation that has become one because of the event of the cross. Certainly not the evil of a counterfeit.
Gal 6:16: “And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them and upon the Israel of God.” The word for “walk” there is the word stoicheo. It’s not the normal word for walk. You know the other word for “walk” means wherever you are just circumspectly just make sure that this is that. But this is different; this has the idea of marching. You know, you march in a row, in a rank. It has almost the idea of follow. You know when you are marching, even though you’re in a row, you’re following a guide. Somebody is calling that cadence, and you’re following that leader. But this is the idea. You’re walking to a standard. It’s got nothing to do with legalism or anything like that. But it’s just an evidence that you’re following a rule.
“Those who walk by this rule.” The word for “rule” is the word kanon. Kanon refers to a standard, a plumb line. There’s been a plumb line that’s been dropped and this is governing the way you walk. It’s a truth that is agreed to and evidenced by the way one lives. Now don’t lose the context. Gal 6:15 tells you the context. He’s in a finishing mode here. He’s not going to elaborate. He says, “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” And how do new creations walk? What is the rule? What is it that’s evidenced in their life? By faith, by faith, by faith, by faith, by faith. The truth of being new creations is only by faith in Christ. And once you are a new creation, as he said in Gal 6:20, “The life I now live I live by faith.” And so he’s helping us to understand now the evidence of being a Christian.
How do you know Christians? Well, a person can be a Christian and not be walking by faith. That’s not what Paul’s saying. But Paul’s saying it’s obvious when they’re walking by faith. You know you’ve got a new creation and it’s because of the event of the cross, not by some evil counterfeit trying to tell them that religion is the way. And those who live only by faith, those who walk by this rule. This is the same thought we had back in Gal 5:25 and he says “if we live by the Spirit,” since we can, “then let us also walk by the Spirit.” How do you walk by the Spirit? By faith.
To those specific believers who so followed or modeled this standard, were living by faith, he says, “Peace and mercy be upon them.” Now, that’s another evidence here. “Peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” I tell you, that term “the Israel of God” is an ouch term, because what he’s saying is the spiritual Israel of God are those who have placed their faith into Christ, turned their back upon the Law being the way of righteousness, and because of the event of the cross, been severed from that world and become new creations. This is the true Israel of Christ. Now, don’t jump ahead of me. This has nothing to do with the nation of Israel. God has made promises to them and one day they will be the spiritual Israel of God in the sense that there’ll be a day of their redemption. He’s not talking about that. He’s talking about every man’s born a sinner whether Jew or Greek or whatever. There are only two—Jew or Gentile. And everybody’s born with the sin of Adam. It doesn’t matter who they are. And they have to come in the same way, and that’s through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, he just simply sums up what he said in 3:7 in other places, all of chapter 4. He said, “Therefore be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham;” believers who have trusted Christ and Him alone, whether Jew or Gentile make up what he calls the true Israel of God.
Paul wishes upon them two things, these people who exemplify faith. He wishes peace and mercy. When you walk by faith you’re going to have the peace of God all over you. It’s something that’s inward. Your life may be caving in on the outside, but you’re going to be so inwardly strengthened with peace on the inside. But not only that, when you make those mistakes, the mercy of God be upon your life. Whenever; God never talks about perfection in Scripture ever, but always predictability. And when we make those wrong choices as we saw in 6:1, if you see a brother caught by a sin, when we make those wrong choices and sow in the wrong field, the mercy will always be there because our heart is to walk with God and to say yes to Him. So the evidence is peace and mercy. It’s people who walk by faith.
But he adds one more as he concludes, and that is that there’s a price to pay. Second Timothy 3:12 says “Indeed all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” I so often wish it would say “might be persecuted.” I kind of like that better. It didn’t say that: “will be persecuted.” And some, for whatever reason and I don’t understand this, seem to be asked to pay more than others. I have never fully grasped that. I know that Tozer wrote a book and he said that only the people that God trusts does He allow to suffer greatly. That statement has stuck with me for many years. Maybe that’s part of it. I don’t know.
Gal 6:17 he says, “From now on,” here it comes, “let no one cause trouble for me; for I bear on my body the brand marks of Jesus.” Boy, I’ll tell you what, my heart just softens when I hear that and think about the apostle Paul. I think about the casual Christianity that has invaded America today, and people know nothing about persecution. But then again, maybe we don’t know anything about walking by faith. And when I say “we,” I’m not talking about us, I’m talking about the church as a whole in our day.
Paul has been severely persecuted for his faith in Christ. His statement, “From now on let no one cause trouble for me,” tells us everything we need to know. The Judaizers had caused a lot of grief in Paul. They had assaulted his integrity; as we saw in chapter 1, he had to defend his apostleship. They had assaulted his message which is the obvious reason he had to write Galatians. And then they sought to kill him on several occasions. One’s listed in Acts 20:21 and that context there when they tried to assassinate him just because he preached the message of the cross, the message of Christ. The false teachers intentionally went after Paul and the message of grace. You can preach law, I’ve discovered, and pretty well get away with it. People like you because the flesh is being pampered and it can do things and measure it. But you start preaching the message of living grace, you start preaching the message of flesh is rotten and only Jesus can be Jesus in us and that He didn’t come to make our flesh better, He came to replace it, that’s when the persecution comes, that’s when you become the target of others because they’ve got to get rid of you. If they don’t, they’ve got to deal with their own flesh. And that’s been true in church history, much less in our day.
The word for “trouble” is the word kopos. It refers to laborious toil. It is mostly used in a bad sense. It’s something that causes one to be extremely bothered. And because of this, perhaps he’s hurt or whatever, but because of this it requires a lot of mental and emotional time and labor to deal with whatever it is somebody’s done to him. Now that’s the inward side of this persecution. But Paul goes on to reflect on the outward side of that. He says, “Let no one cause trouble for me; for I bear on my body the brand marks of Jesus.” Now this is the actual physical torture that he went through. The word “brand marks” is the word stigma. It comes from the word stizo, which means to puncture, make a mark in the body to puncture it or to brand the body.
Pain is automatic, and in understanding the essence of the word, the evidences of Paul being a bondslave that he calls himself in Romans 1:1 and a prisoner of Jesus over in Ephesians 4:1. Those evidences were outward on his body. You know Paul talks about himself being a weakling kind of in appearance. He says over in 2 Corinthians 10, and I get the picture he’s a little bowlegged, hook-nosed bald-headed little Jewish boy that doesn’t look like much. He says “When I am with you my boldness is not from me it’s from the Lord.” But my heart breaks when I think of the marks on his body. A man who for once understood what Christianity really is and he had paid a price because of it.
The marks of persecution, what I believe Paul’s talking about, is found in 2 Corinthians 11:13-30: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers [speaking of these same types of people he’s dealing with in Galatia], disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it’s not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their deeds.
“Again, I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, that I may boast a little [he’s going to have to defend himself]. That which I am speaking, I am not speaking as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting. Since many boast according to their flesh I will boast also [but in a way they don’t think about]. For you, being so wise, bear with the foolish gladly. For you bear with anyone if he enslaves you, if he devours you, if he takes advantage of you, if he exalts himself, if he hits you in the face. To my shame I must say that we have been weak by comparison.
“But in whatever respect anyone else is bold—I speak in foolishness—I am just as bold myself. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as I’m insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren. I have been in labor and hardship through many sleepless nights and hunger and thirst, often without food and cold and exposure. Apart from such external things there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all of the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? If I have to boast I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.”
Oh, for the 21st century to produce a believer who lives what he says and bears the marks of the Lord Jesus on his body. What marks do you bear? What marks do you bear today?
The evil of a counterfeit: they’re fakes; they’re arrogant, adamant, they’re afraid; they don’t even believe what they teach you. The event of the cross: the event of the cross severs us from the world that used to control us. And the effect is a new creation and the law and the religion cannot produce a new creation. It’s only by faith alone in Christ alone. The evidences of a Christian; he walks by faith. He lives by faith. He doesn’t live under some kind of rule and regulation. He lives up under the Master who made them all and he says yes to Him. What evidences are in your life today that bear witness that you’re a Christian?
I found a song I want to close with, and I think this song says what Paul’s been trying to say.
Free from the law—O happy condition. Jesus has bled and there is remission; Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Christ has redeemed us once for all.
Once for all—O sinner receive it; Once for all—O brother believe it. Cling to the cross, the burden will fall. Christ has redeemed us once for all.
Now we are free—there’s no condemnation; Jesus provides a perfect salvation; “Come unto Me,” oh hear His sweet call, Come, and He saves us once for all.
Children of man—oh glorious calling, surely His grace will keep us from falling; Passing from death to life at His call, Blessed salvation once for all.
“Once for all—O sinner receive it; Once for all—O brother believe it.” Both groups right there.
You say, “Wayne, I’m going to put you up against a wall and hold a gun to your head and tell me now give me one succinct sentence that tells me what it means to walk by faith.” Let me do that. First of all let me tell you this. Get into this Book for yourself. Get in the Book. Why? Because faith comes from hearing and hearing from the what? How can you walk by faith if you’re not going to walk in the Book? That’s got to absorb and saturate your mind. Well, when you get into it understand that the One who wrote it is the One who saved you and He has delivered you and so therefore your confidence is not so much in this. It’s in Him, therefore, it can be in what He says. Trust it. Stand on it. Make choices, sow the right seeds from it and allow Jesus to be Jesus in you. That’s Galatians. Don’t go back to religion. It’s not worth it.