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Apr 8, 2017

Real Talk with Roderick
Fulfill the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:1-5)

Galatians has a readily discernible approach to arguing against legalism and for faith-based living. Paul goes from simple truths about Christianity to the consequences of those truths in the conduct of Jesus followers. He goes from orthodoxy to orthopraxis, from principles of the Way to the practice of wayfaring, from learning about the Lord to living life in His service. He is not trying to merely refute false teachers he is also working with each word of the epistle to promote Christ-centered, Spirit-led living.

The point of Paul's preaching and penning of letters was always to move his reader into an attitude and understanding that would help in the day-to-day of actual Jesus following.

With this in mind our reading of Galatians must culminate in a practice of Christianity that honors God. There can be no half-hearted attempt to understand the truth in this book. Though it may take a while we should always be searching the Scriptures and seeking in earnest to understand the basis of our faith (Acts 17:11). Yes, in these Scriptures are some things hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16). But the Spirit of Truth will lead us into a right doctrine. Second, it must never be the case that we are content to camp around the doctrines of Galatians. If we just collect understandings and don't use them in following Jesus we are spiritual truth hoarders. Ultimately, having sat at the feet of the Lord (Luke 10:38-42), we must get up and follow Him in the truths we have been graciously given.

Let us get into this word daily. As individuals and in our gatherings let us study, meditate, and memorize Galatians. As individuals and in fellowship let us dialogue, discuss, debate, and even disagree about what it looks like to live the truth of Galatians. But then, in the power of the Holy Spirit, let us get off our duffs to do Galatians! May there be a parting of ways between our pants and our pews to practice what has been preached. Otherwise, brethren, we become hearers only (James 1:22). We are called to so much more.

(Galatians 6:1)
It is best to regard the trespass in which a person may be overtaken as one of the works of the flesh enumerated earlier (Galatians 5:19-21). Why? That list is not orthogonal to the surrounding work and is certainly helpful to Paul's readership. They are equipped by the lineup of lusts of the flesh to identify the overtaken brother in their midst. Further assisting the saints to whom the missive was sent in recognizing regression into carnality is the second inventory. Whether or not they find someone in a sin specifically mentioned, if it is a trespass, it will certainly be inconsistent with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

The general teaching of 5:13–26 is now given life application. Going beyond the renouncing of mutual envy and provocation (negative) there must be a move into the restoration of our fellow man (positive). We cannot be satisfied with seeing sin, saying it is sin, and endeavoring to cease from sinning. We are called to serve the Savior by helping the fallen brother, by helping the failing daughter to find their footing, by helping the overtaken to become the overcomers they have been called to be.

(Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:2; James 1:22)
The offender cannot be simply regarded as reprobate and rejected from the body. There must be an earnest and gentle attempt to see the one overtaken in a trespass come out of the sin: rehabilitated. Where it is so much easier to cast out the criminal we are then contrary to God's heart of saving flawed people (Luke 5:32; 15:10). Where it is so much easier to forsake the felon and stand against their return to fellowship it is inconsistent with the example and exhortation of Jesus. Peter was not put out because he was found failing in His faith. He was pushed to reaffirm his commitment (John 21:15-19) and given the larger purpose of using his own restoration for the strengthening of his brethren (Luke 22:32) and serving the Shepherd's sheep (John 21:17).

Habitual or Just Happened
A παράπτωμα is not a settled course of action but an isolated action which may make the person who does it feel guilty. The rehabilitation must be undertaken by those who are truly πνευματικοί, whose life and conduct alike are controlled by the Spirit of Christ. Paul uses the same verb (καταρτίζω) in an ethical sense when he begs the Corinthian Christians to be joined (κατηρτισμένοι) in unity of mind (1 Cor. 1:10) and, more generally, to mend their ways (καταρτίζεσθε, 2 Cor. 13:11).
Bruce, F. F. (1982). The Epistle to the Galatians: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 260). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.

Paul calls upon those that consider themselves spiritual to prove it out. "If you are spiritual, if you are walking in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, if you are letting the fruit of love and gentleness be produced in you through His Spirit, then do what Christ did and gently restore the fallen." This small verse matters much because with it we can examine ourselves. Using it as a plumb line we are able to assess the quality of our spiritual in relation to the people who need us most.

  • Stick and Move Spirituality - I show up to call you out and then get as far away from you as I can to protect my own sanctification.
  • Star Trek Spirituality - When I realize that there is sin in your life I just label your life as primitive and invoke the prime directive. "Enterprise, one to beam up."
  • Star Wars Spirituality - It is just you and Jesus that are going to take on this fallen brother and train him to do the right thing against the admonition of the whole Jedi Council. People like this usually get mauled.
  • Holy Spirit Based Spirituality (1 Corinthians 10:12; Matthew 26:41; Ephesians 6:18) - A cavalier handling toward sin issues when helping others is an indicator of eminent moral failure and an index to an attitude of spiritual arrogance. A right regard for my own weakness makes me wary and wiser when working to help my fallen brother; his giving in to temptation must be treated as my own course of action if I become self-confident.

One way of validating of spirituality is a willingness to work with someone who has fallen by the wayside to see them regain their gait on the straight and narrow path. This is the mind of Christ and in doing this we are following Jesus.

(Galatians 6:2)

While the “spiritual” do the work of restoring, all believers are to become involved by prayer and encouragement. This, wrote Paul, will fulfill (anaplērōsete) the law of Christ, that is, the principle of love (cf. 5:14; John 13:34).

Campbell, D. K. (1985). Galatians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 609). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books. 

Ephesians 4:2 (NKJV) — 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,

(Galatians 6:5)

The Christian does in fact test himself by carrying his own load. This does not contradict verse 2 because the reference there is to heavy, crushing, loads (barē)—more than a man could carry without help. In this verse a different Greek word (phortion) is used to designate the pack usually carried by a marching soldier. It is the “burden” Jesus assigns to His followers (cf. Matt. 11:30). There are certain Christian responsibilities or burdens each believer must bear which cannot be shared with others. Jesus assured His disciples that such burdens were light.
Campbell, D. K. (1985). Galatians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 609–610). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.