In our walk through the NT, Part 24. Part 17 in our discussion of Galatians.
As Paul approaches the end of this first letter, he gives further instruction in how the church is to love one another. All of these instruction still apply to us today.
“To bear one another’s burdens is the supreme imitation of Jesus, the ultimate burden-bearer (Romans 15:1-3). He has even gone to the length of taking mankind’s sins (Galatians 1:4) and the curse of the law (3:13) upon himself.”1.
“Brothers [and sisters]2. if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load” (Galatians 6:1-5 ESV).
These instructions still apply in the church today. In red, I have marked the transgressions that illustrate ways any believer might be caught in wrongdoing. We are called upon as fellow believers to restore these with gentleness.
What does gentle restoration look like?
Strong’s #2675. restore, katartízō; The fundamental meaning is to put a thing in its appropriate condition, to establish, set up, equip, arrange, prepare, mend. (I) To refit, repair that which is broken, such as the nets (Matt. 4:21; Mark 1:19). Metaphorically, of a person in error, to restore, set right (Gal. 6:1).3.
What kind of restoration is needed for one caught in any transgression?
Strong’s #3900, Transgression, paráptōma;”To transgress is to have a fault, a lapse, an error, a mistake, some wrongdoing. . . Although it represents errors or faults of weakness, it does not necessarily fail to imply culpability.“
All of us have committed transgressions through faults, lapses, errors, mistakes, and wrongdoings. Some may have been heinous, and some may have been faults of weakness. All of us sin.
The situation here involves one who is “caught” in a transgression. This is more than just an act that is immediately recognized and dealt with. This is a problem where one cannot escape. In our culture today, an entrapment that many are caught in is the secret viewing of pornography, for instance.
To be caught: (II) Of persons: Gal. 6:1, “Brothers, even if [or although] one has been overtaken“…One of two interpretations are possible.
- 1) catches the individual by surprise, suddenly, without notice, i.e., before he/she is aware of what has happened. The exhortation to restore a person in such a condition might be necessitated by the possible reluctance of spiritual leaders to do so, being annoyed at the irresponsibility of the offender and believing he/she should have known better or taken greater care.
- 2) However, the concessive phrase “even if,” seems to introduce an exceptional case, implying a scandalous or flagrant sin. It could therefore be taken as having reference to someone being caught in the act of a particular sin. The exhortation to restore the offender would then arise from the possible outrage which spiritual leaders might feel toward such a person because he was so brazen as to sin openly.
The response of the leaders and other believers within the Galatian church is addressed immediately here. For if one is to be restored after being entrapped in a transgression, that person needs clear-eyed mature believers to address the issue, rather than ones who are 1) annoyed or 2) outraged.
Either response to the one sinning is sinful itself. Neither response would result in gentle restoration of one who is caught in sin.
- 1) To be met with annoyance would cause a person to feel ashamed, as if they and their need for assistance to overcome this sin are unimportant to the church.
- 2) To be addressed with outrage would cause someone to hide the details, because they have disappointed and angered others, and so, they therefore lose the possibility of gaining any kind of assistance that actually helps.
And so, the sinners Paul first addresses are the leaders and mature believers who could actually help the one who was entrapped, if only they responded correctly. Ones who are entrapped cannot be approached with the pride of annoyance or outrage by leaders who aren’t equipped to restore them gently.In the church, ones who are entrapped in sin cannot be approached with the pride of annoyance or outrage by "leaders" who aren't equipped to restore them gently. Galatians 6:1-5. #grace #mercy #kindness Click To Tweet
- 6:1a, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.
- 6:1b, Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
- 6:2, Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
- 6:3, One who wants to help must not assume that he/she is a big shot, above everyone else in maturity, as if he/she would never have committed this sin, when he/she is actually a sinner just like the one is need of restoration.
- 6:3b, to respond with this type of arrogance is a deception about oneself.
- 6:4, But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor, rejoicing that he’s better than the other.
- 6:5, For each will have to bear his own load.
Ones who are spiritual are given the responsibility of restoration.
“It is crucial for those who are mature in Christ to help all others in the church to attain that stature (cf. Eph. 4:13) and restore those who have fallen (cf. 2 Cor. 13:11). This is an ongoing command from Paul. Forgiveness and non-judgmentalism are biblical signs of a mature Christian (cf. Matt. 5:7; 6:14–15; 18:35; Luke 6:36–37; James 2:13; 5:9).” 4.
“‘You who are spiritual’ does not refer to an elite class of Christians but rather to those who have more maturity and experience in the Christian life and who are therefore in a position to help their beleaguered brother or sister. The adjective spiritual means ‘living and walking according to the Holy Spirit’ (see …1 Cor. 2:15; 3:1; 14:37) and includes, but is not limited to, the qualities listed in Gal. 5:22-23.” 5. These qualities were detailed last week — click here.
These mature and experienced believers have learned that humility is required both to avoid sin and to help another out of sin’s entrapment.
The ones “who are spiritual” know how to walk humbly in obedience to the Lord, and what is required to keep watch. This requires discipline and maturity and an honest awareness of their own weaknesses.Ones "who are spiritual" know how to walk humbly in obedience to the Lord and what is required to keep watch. This requires discipline, maturity, and an honest awareness of their own weaknesses. These restore others. Click To Tweet
These will restore the one entrapped by conveying truth with gentleness, because they already know how easily it is to be entrapped in sin, and they have built a hedge around themselves to protect them from being ensnared by sin.
First, these keep watch over themselves, “spying out what might entrap them, contemplating how to avoid this sin, and giving their full attention to avoiding the sin and continuing to rely on Christ.” (Luke 11:35; Rom. 16:17; 2 Cor. 4:18; Gal. 6:1; Phil. 2:4; 3:17).6.
They know that they must be alert, lest they too are tempted. Satan tempts us with the intent of harming us by causing us to sin. However, the Lord intends any temptation that comes our way to be used for our good, so that we can learn to resist temptation by crying out to the Lord for help, for we live in a fallen world and we must learn to rely on his strength.
Secondly, those who would help another out of wrongdoing must patiently bear one another’s burdens, for an annoyed or outraged “encourager” is of no value to one who is entrapped in sin.Those who would help another out of wrongdoing must patiently bear one another's burdens, for an annoyed or outraged "encourager" is of no value to one who is entrapped. Click To Tweet
Helping another to bear a burden may be accomplished by encouragement, by sacrifice, by generosity with your time and resources. To do this requires humility, gentleness, and a recognition that anyone can become entrapped in wrongdoing given the right circumstances and lack of vigilance.To help another defeat a sinful habit requires humility, gentleness, and a recognition that anyone can become entrapped in wrongdoing given the right circumstances and lack of vigilance. Click To Tweet
This cannot be accomplished by one who thinks he/she is Something, when in reality he/she, like the majority of us, is a born again sinner in need of Christ.
To arrogantly assume that we are Something, a better person than others, more prominent than others in God’s eyes, is to deceive ourselves.To arrogantly assume that we are Something, a better person than others, more prominent than others in God's eyes, is to deceive ourselves. Click To Tweet
The Letter to the Galatians was written around A.D. 48. Jesus’ brother James wrote his letter at around the same time. He addressed similar issues.
James 5:16, is often used where pardon is spoken of (Gal. 6:1), and it is used of sin in general (Gal. 6:1).
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working [Or The effective prayer of a righteous person has great power]” 7. (James 5:16 ESV)."Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working" (James 5:16 ESV). Click To Tweet
Confession of sin and the love of one another to lift burdens, approaching one another with gentleness when another is caught in any sin, sharing our goods as others have need, and genuinely caring for other believers — these are the hallmarks of Spirit-filled Christians, of ones who are attuned to the voice of the Lord. This is our goal. These qualities are our aim as we journey toward Jesus.
- ESV Study Bible, note on Galatians 6:2, Crossway Bibles, Wheaton, IL, 2008.
- ESV Study Bible, translation footnote is in parentheses within the text, Crossway Bibles, Wheaton, IL, 2008.
- All word meanings are derived from Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
- Utley, R. J. (1997). Paul’s First Letters: Galatians and I & II Thessalonians (Vol. Volume 11, p. 64). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.
- ESV Study Bible, note, Galatians 6:1, Crossway Bibles, Wheaton, IL, 2008.
- This sentence includes part of the definition of “keep watch,” Strong’s #4648, skopéō.
- ESV Study Bible, translation footnote is in parentheses within the text, Crossway Bible, Wheaton, IL, 2008.