Basic Facts from Galatians (Part 5)

Basic Facts from Galatians (Part 5)

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any fault, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself, lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). Here, Paul is writing about a Christian who is “surprised” by sin – caught off-guard – rather than a person who deliberately chose to sin. From the beginning of the bible, we are warned to “be on guard,” “be alert,” “watch,” etc., against the evil one’s temptations. There are times in every Christian’s life, however, when we stumble in temptation (and thus sin), simply because we relaxed our vigilance against it for “just a moment.” Perhaps it’s the “choice word” one is tempted to utter after introducing a thumb to a hammer; maybe it’s exceeding the legal speed limit when late for an appointment. In the pain or stress of the moment, we may act without consciously considering whether our actions are pure and righteous. In that moment, the “spiritual” brother (or sister) is instructed to “restore” or repair the one who has sinned. Pay attention, however, to the obligations to act meekly (gently, or kindly) in order to bring a sinner back from his sin, and to consider or “measure, evaluate” oneself in that process (to avoid sinning ourselves), as we try to help another out of it!

In Galatians 6:6-10, Paul next warns of the danger of thinking we can “sow” (plant) things that satisfy fleshly desires while “reaping” (harvesting) spiritual rewards. The late genius Albert Einstein is credited with describing insanity as repeating an act while expecting a different result. In a sense, the key statement here (vs. 7) makes the same point; supposing that one can “live like the devil” and then inherit eternal life is not just illogical, it mocks (derides, pokes fun at) God by suggesting that we can ignore the “rules” or principles that govern our world without consequence. Christian living is living with the ultimate “goal” always in our sights, so we need to train ourselves to look beyond the frustrations, desires, and disappointments of the present moment so as to reach that goal (vs. 9). On a practical level, we should express this “persistence in doing good” in our relations with all other people (vs. 10). There are times when we want to help someone, but lack opportunity; when we DO have an opportunity we also have an obligation, and our responsibility here is not restricted only to brethren or friends, but includes “all” people generally (note the instruction Paul gave in Romans 12:20).

One final point to consider in the book of Galatians comes from chapter 6:16, in Paul’s reference to the “Israel of God.” In the context of his benediction (vv. 12-16), he is referring to the church; to Christians – NOT to the physical nation of Israel (cf. Romans 2:28-29). In ancient times the “Israel of God” meant the literal, fleshly descendants of Abraham through Jacob; but because of the redeeming work of Jesus, these words now apply to those who are spiritual heirs of Abraham (chapter 3:29), through Christ.

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