Luther wrote in the introduction to his commentary on Galatians, “The Epistle to the Galatians is my epistle, to which I am betrothed. It is my Katie von Bora.” Galatians was an eye-opener and rallying cry for Luther, as it addressed the issue legalism in the Galatian church. A sect, which Paul calls “Judaizers” were teaching that Gentile converts had to come under Mosaic law. No says Paul. You are saved by grace through faith in Christ. This became Luther’s (and later reformers) raison d’etre if you will. To lift the burden of religious obligation, do this, pay this, donate to this, say this prayer, bow, etc.
Jesus addressed the same problem, speaking against what the Pharisee had done in the Second Temple period; “And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger” Matt 23:4. Peter when addressing the leaders of the church said of this group of Judaizers: “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” (Acts 15)
In Galatians 6, Paul switches gears. He begins his paraenesis- a series of teaching points which follows the argument of the letter which addresses a specific issue in the church to which he is writing. “Brothers”, “therefore”, “But”, “Now” mark these transitions in Paul’s letters (See Romans 12, Col 3). Also notice a change in verb tenses. No longer Greek aorist or perfects. Suddenly we see imperatives and participles. Paul is shifting gears from what is true, to how it should be lived out.
In the case of Galatians, if Salvation is by grace, how then do we live together as sinners saved by grace? Galatians 5 tells us of what things we can expect when the Holy Spirit is in control of our lives. Galatians 6 then flows out of that, to tell us how we relate to one another when we walk “in step with the Holy Spirit”
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression
“Caught” in this case does not mean an “a-ha, I caught you!” moment. We are not responsible for going looking for others’ sins, hoping to catch them doing something wrong. Jesus addresses this repeatedly (see Mt. 7:1ff, John 8:1-12). It is not our duty to police the sinners, to probe the church members lives looking for skeletons.
What Paul means here, what the Greek actually says is “trapped” or “entangled”. Sin does that. Think of Hebrews 12:1-2 where Christians are called drop our chains, remove anything that hinders, and “sin which so easily entangles us.” We get stuck in sin. It’s like quicksand. The harder we fight, the worse it gets. The people around us will likely get “stuck” in something they shouldn’t. Galatians 5:1 says “It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Sin is something that you get “yoked” to. You become enslaved to it. That guy who you look down your nose at say I can’t believe he would keep on doing that, he needs to clean up his act- guess what, on his own, chances are, he can’t. He needs the freedom which comes through the power of Christ. Show him Jesus.
The word used for sin here is one of several words translated as sin. paraptoma is different from the more generic amartia. paraptoma carries more of a “fall away” or “step to the side”. This isn’t just a one off moral failure or not being as good as I should be. Paul is specifically talking about habitual sin; patterns which are enslaving, addictions even.
you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.
Spiritual and spirit of gentleness. Catch that. Twice in the same thought. This is a spiritual thing. Sin requires a spiritual solution.
Dealing with sin should always have restoration in mind. In this instance “restore” refers to repair or “put in order”, but can also mean “perfect” or “make complete”. Dealing with sin is not about punishing the guilty. The priority is reconciliation. Moving toward making things right again- getting that person back to where they should be. Helping the one who has fallen to the side get back where they belong.
Gentleness. How often is our reaction to sin something which could be described as gentleness. Gentleness doesn’t mean saying it’s ok. Gentleness doesn’t mean being dismissive to spare the person’s feelings. Gentleness mean you are clear in your intent not to harm the person but help. It means communicating in humility and tenderness. Respecting the fact that this person probably feels guilt and shame already. Gentleness is how Jesus responds to those trapped in sin. Think of the woman caught in adultery in John 8, or the Samaritan woman in John 4. Jesus says hey, what you’ve been up to is wrong. But let me help you. I am not interested in seeing you punished, but in seeing you made whole. When do we see Jesus get harsh? It isn’t with the “dirty sinners”. Prostitutes, tax collectors, adulterers, pagans, the drunks, the drug dealers, the homosexuals and all those folks the Pharisees glared at found Jesus to be tender, kind, humble. The only folks who get an earful of hellfire from Jesus are the religious folks; the self-righteous, arrogant, condescending, those with the “habit of censorious and carping criticism” (Tasker, Matthew, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975); the folks who are certain they are right, and the “other” is a sinner.
“Where are those that condemn you? Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8)
Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
When you go digging through someone’s skeletons, it rarely ends well. Be careful. Watch yourself… don’t watch them. They’re already stuck. If you end up stuck too, you can’t be of any help.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
All to often the temptation is to say “hey everyone look at so and so’s sins!” Or to say to the person, “you are evil.” “You’re a sinner.” “God hates you.” How on earth will that help anyone. Calling attention to it won’t benefit or restore. You simply heap shame on top of shame. Bear one another’s burden. “How can I help you out of this?” “How can I help you be set free from this?” “How can I incarnate the love and grace of God for you?”
Your job is not to let them know how serious their sin is. Your job is not to prooftext all the ways that so-and-so has angered God. Jesus didn’t quote the commandments at the woman caught in adultery. He didn’t tell her to be ashamed of herself. He said, go and sin no more. He is saying, you can be free of all this. You don’t have to carry this baggage.
Fulfill the law of Christ. Law of Christ? Wait, I thought we had grace not law. That’s the point. Live out grace. Love the Lord and Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no law against love.
For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Sorry to be the one to break this to you, but you’re not as holy you think you are. You are not in a position to tell others how to live. “First get the plank out of your own eye,” Jesus says, then you can deal with the speck in your neighbour’s eye. Just remember when you point out your neighbour’s sin, chances are your neighbour can point out yours.
Does this mean we ignore the others’ sin? No. Just don’t pretend to do it from a place of moral superiority. Get rid of your plank so you can help with their speck. Mutual moral accountability can be a powerful thing in the Christian journey. Correction is helpful if it’s give and take and done with the purpose of genuine desire to assist one another to grow in love and obedience. Humility is key.
But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbour.
Test your own work. Evaluate your own obedience. Measure your work against God’s standard, not against the moral failure of someone else. Remember the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee (Lk. 18:9-14). You aren’t righteous because your neighbour isn’t. Not committing the sins your neighbour does is not the way to impress God.
Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.
It’s weird for a pastor to comment on this verse, because, basically Paul is saying pay your pastors.
But also more than that. Share all good things. Not just money. Encouragement, hospitality, respect, testimony.
This lends back to accountability. What are you learning? What is the word of God teaching you? Who are you telling about what you learn? “Hey I didn’t realize that until you taught it to me… Hey, thanks for that lesson… Hey, that verse really convicted me… I didn’t understand what that verse meant until you explained it to me.”
Your leaders should feel appreciated and respected, not taken advantage of.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
“Do not be deceived…” but the Galatians have been deceived recently. Galatians 3:1, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?”
You guys can’t fool God. You can’t create a diversion with someone else’s sin. It won’t work. “God, look at his sin.” God says, “hey, look at yours, you are responsible for your actions, and there are consequences.”
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.
If your faith is self serving, you’re in trouble. If you live life for your own benefit and your expressions of faith have selfish desire behind them, it’s all going to go sour, in a real hurry. The Christian walk is not about you. Yes, God loves you, and pours himself out for you, to redeem you and reconcile you to himself. But the life you live now is not your own (Gal. 2:20). Really it never was.
When you live for yourself you are in grave danger. James 1:14-15, “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. ” The root of sin is inside you already. If you live in your own selfishness, sin is imminent. Jesus said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mk. 7 & Mt. 15)
Sin entered the world in Genesis 3 when mankind wanted more. Adam and Eve wanted what wasn’t theirs. They wanted to be like God- not in the sense of reflecting godly character, but they were after God’s status, equality with God.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Sow in the Spirit and good things will happen. Remember this passage comes right after the Fruits of the Spirit discussion. In 5:25 Paul says “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Quit living for yourself. It is not you who live, but Jesus Christ lives in you. Let him do it. Let him live through you. Let the goodness of God which is in Christ flow through you to bless others. You are blessed to be a blessing. The fruit of the Spirit is not simply for your own benefit.
Abraham was promised that he would be blessed. The Pharisees clung to that; And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abrahamas our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham (Mt. 3:9). What they forgot was that the promise came with an imperative. I will make you into a great nation. “Be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2, see L. Turner, Genesis, London: T&T Clark, 2000, 64) Do good. Bless others. Is your presence a blessing to the folks you encounter? If not, you’re doing it wrong (See Mt.5:14-16, 1 Pet. 2:12).
Keep in step with the Spirit. Let the Spirit lead, and follow through. Our promise is that if we do it, if we let him live in us, he will produce Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. He will produce it, in you and through you to others.
Are you missing love, joy, peace… etc.? Chances are you’re missing this essential piece of the gospel- that when you stop living for your own selfishness and let Christ live in you, he will produce the good things in you and through you. The people around you will be blessed. Ever wonder why certain people always seem to draw others to them? The Holy Spirit is contagious. If people see God at work in you, and they see love, joy, peace… etc. They’ll take notice. They’ll know that thy have been blessed.
It’s not about you.