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A Winnable War We Must Not Ignore.

by Larry Cory


(My commentary on these verses)

PAUL URGES THEM [the Galatian Christians] TO JOIN HIM IN A GENTLE AND SPIRITUAL MINISTRY. (rather than devouring each other) (6:1-18)
It is not helpful to be right in a contentious issue if we are unspiritual in the way that we go to battle for what is right.  There is a wrong way to correct those who are wrong.  The Judaizers were wrong, but the Galatian Christians could be wrong in their way of responding to the wrong of the Judaizers.  In this chapter, Paul describes the Spiritual way to carry on ministry.

1. Gently correct those who are caught sinning. (6:1-5)
"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load."

a. Watching that in the process that you do not sin also (6:1)
"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted."

"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin,"  The Judaizers' response to someone they caught in a sin was certainly not gentle.  Their attitude toward someone caught in a sin was like the Pharisees' attitude toward the woman caught in adultery in John chapter eight.  They were eager to stone her.  Jesus responds to them:  ". . . 'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.'" (John 8:7)

"caught in a sin,"  If someone always walks in step with the Spirit, he or she will never sin.  But, we know that this type of perfection is not true of anyone.  We all are "caught in a sin."  "The word in the papyri means 'a slip or a lapse rather than a 'willful sin.'" "Taken from Word Studies in The New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1944 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  "The thought behind the word 'overtaken' ["caught"] is that the believer was running from sin, but the sin outran him and caused him to blunder or take a false step. . . Failure is in view; when one fails to take each step in accord with the Holy Spirit (5:25), it is a false or wrong step." "Taken from a message on Galatians by John Lawrence"  Legalism is quick to pounce on the false steps of others; grace is quick to restore.

"you who are spiritual"  In the context, the "spiritual" one is a person who characteristically lives by the Spirit and exhibits in his life "the fruit of the Spirit" and not the "acts of the flesh." (5:19-23)  There, for example, will not be "selfish ambition" (5:20), but there will be "patience, kindness, goodness" exhibited by his or her life. (5:22)  "It demands that those who deal with the problem do so 'led by the Spirit' and as the Spirit would deal with them in tenderness, love, compassion, etc.  If the flesh operates, there will be harshness, vindictiveness and so forth which are all manifestations of the flesh.  This would only make the matter worse." "Taken from Galatians by John Lawrence"

"you who are spiritual"  The "you" here is plural, so that Paul is not speaking to one individual, but he is speaking to all who "are spiritual" in the church.

Warren Wiersbe makes the following contrasts between how the legalist treats someone who sins and how the spiritual one treats that person.  "The legalist is not interested in bearing burdens.  Instead, he adds to the burdens of others (Acts 15:10). . . The legalist is always harder on other people than he is on himself, but the Spirit-led Christian demands more of himself than he does of others that he might be able to help others. . . nothing reveals the wickedness of legalism better than how the legalists treat those who have sinned." "Taken from Be Free by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1975 by SP Publications Inc."

"should restore him"  In Matthew 4:21 the Greek word for "restore" that is used here is also used, referring to fishermen mending their nets—their seeking to restore their nets to usefulness.  It is the idea of helping the one who has sinned to be able to get back on his or her feet so that he or she will be restored to full usefulness as a Christian.  All correction should have this goal.  If it does not have this goal, it is vindictive rather than restorative.  The Greek word for "restore" is also used with reference to the resetting of broken bones so that they will be mended and become fully useful again. See John 21:15-19 where Jesus gently restores Peter after He denied Him.

"gently"  It is essentially the same word as the fruit of the Spirit—"The fruit of the Spirit is . . . gentleness."  "A 'gentle' spirit is the opposite of a harsh and judgmental spirit." (my notes on Galatians 5:23)  One with a "gentle" spirit is one who is very careful that nothing is said or done that tears down rather than builds up a brother or sister.  "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29) See II Timothy 2:24-26; Ephesians 4:1-3; Matthew 11:28-30  He or she is very careful that nothing is said or done that is unnecessarily hurtful to the one being corrected.

"But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted."  This is a warning for the one doing the correcting.  The world loves to point out when a Christian who has been very strong in his words about sin and sinners has fallen into sin.  The saying "There but for the grace of God go I" applies here.  We need to remember that we also are very susceptible to fall into sin ourselves.  It is not easy to tell what type of temptation to sin that Paul is speaking about here.  It could be that our exposure to the other person's sin may tempt us to fall into the same sin.  It could be that in correcting someone we might be tempted to become harsh, judgmental, and impatient with the one who has sinned.  And that, of course, would be sin.  At any rate, when we are correcting someone, we need to realize that we are at that time more susceptible to sinning ourselves than under normal circumstances.  "The spiritual Christian can avoid a spirit of self-righteousness in dealing with those who stumble by remembering his or her own personal vulnerability to temptation." "From Dr. Constable's Bible Study notes on Galatians"  When we correct someone, we need to "watch" ourselves.  We need to be very careful that we also do not fall into sin, just as the person who is being corrected fell into sin, so that we will remain the "spiritual" one and not also end up being the fleshly one.

b. Carry the needs of others (6:2)
"Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

The way of the flesh is self-focused; the way of the Spirit is focused on others and their needs.  "The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Galatians 5:14)

Such "fruit of the Spirit," as patience and kindness is that way because it is what love does; when we love someone, we are patient and kind to them.  "The word bear ["carry"] is bastazo which means 'to bear what is burdensome.' . . . the assuming of those burdens in a willing, helpful, sympathetic way, despite the fact that the bearing of them may involve unpleasantness and heartache." "Taken from Word Studies in The New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1944 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  The Greek word for "burdens" also means a heavy burden that is difficult to bear.  So, there is little question that we Christians are to live a life of carrying the concerns of others on our shoulders.

The verb for "carry" is a command and it is in the present tense, meaning that we must continually carry the burdens of others as a way of life.  Our regular prayer times tell us the degree to which we do that.

This is one of the "one anothers" in the Bible. See Hebrews 10:24-25; I Thessalonians 4:18; James 5:16; Ephesians 6:18; Romans 14:19.  The individuals in a church are connected together to the degree that we bear one another's burdens.  Without this being true, the church is just a group of people who meet in the same building.

"And in this way you fulfill the law of Christ."  What is the "law of Christ"?  The following verses answer that question: "'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'" (Matthew 22:36-40)  "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)  "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12-13)  We fulfill the "law of Christ" when we genuinely "carry each others burdens." See also Mark 12:30-31; Ephesians 5:1-2;
I John 2:7-11, 3;16, 4:7-12

What does love look like?  It happens when we "carry each others burdens."  Jesus carried our burdens to the cross.  "Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle." (John 19:17-18)  We should respond to that great act of love by being willing to love others as He loved us; we are to bear each others' burdens as He bore our burdens.

c. Correct others in a spirit of humility. (6:3)
"If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself."

Thinking we are "something" is the spirit of the Judaizers, the Pharisee, and the legalist: they are those who believe that they are elevated above the rest of humanity.  "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”'" (Luke 18:9-12)  It is also the opposite of carrying the burdens of others: "They think it is beneath them.  They don't have time for that; they get caught in a trap of thinking themselves just a bit superior to people with problems." "Taken from Liberated for Life by John MacArthur.  Copyright 1976 by G/L Publications." 

We should never correct another person's faults if we think that we are superior to him or her.  "'Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.'" (Matthew 7:3-5)  Jesus was harshest with those who had an arrogant view of themselves than He was with any other group of people. See Matthew 23

How do we begin to think we are "something'?  Even though we can only be saved by the grace of God, we can after a while begin to think that we have become better than the lowly sinners who are not Christians.  Also, the most zealous Christians can begin to think that they have become superior to Christians who are not as zealous as they (and a few others) are.  We can become proud of our knowledge of the Bible.  " . . . Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."
(I Corinthians 8:1) 

It is a very human trait to think that we are somehow better than others.  The Jews thought this way.  "Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—" (Romans 2:17-20)  We American have been called "ugly Americans" because we can feel that we are superior to people in other countries.  We believe that we are somehow superior to them because we are Americans.  I was confronted on having this attitude by some Japanese nationals while I was in Japan in the armed services.  They did not like my feelings of superiority to them at all.  I had not recognized it in myself until they very strongly pointed it out to me.  People in our country are not the only ones who can have this false feeling of superiority to people in another country.  It is undoubtedly characteristic of people in every country that they feel that they are superior to people in other countries. 

Feeling superior to other Christians is the most inappropriate attitude to have, for it is only by the grace of God that we are not heading toward hell, and only by the grace of God that we have risen at all above being totally selfish people.  Paul uses sarcasm to point out the self-righteousness that was present in the church at Corinth.  "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world."
(I Corinthians 4:7-13)

Whenever we correct someone, we must be extremely careful that we have taken the "plank" out of our own eye before we take the "speck" out of that person's eye.  For in God's eyes, the arrogant corrector needs correcting much more than the one he is correcting.  "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."
(Matthew 7:5)

The Silent War In The Church

Table of Contents and Brief Intro Table of Contents
Introduction Introduction
The Silent War Inside our Churches - Part 1 Part 1a
The Silent War Inside our Churches - Part 2 Part 1b
The Silent War between Churches Part 2
The Silent War with Satan and his Demons Part 3
The Silent War can be Won by God's Love in us Part 4
The Silent War can be like the Wars in the World Part 5
The Silent War between a False and Coerced Unity and a True Unity Part 6
An Essential Requirement Needed for Ending the Silent War Between Christians Part 7
The Silent War Caused by Turning the Church into the Kingdom of Man and not the Kingdom of God Part 8
The Silent War inside of Each Christian Part 9
The Silent War in the Church with the World Part 10
The Silent War Over Divisive Issues Part 11
The Silent War caused by a Mysterious Invading Army Part 12
The Silent War Caused by Seeking Worldly Success Part 13
The Silent War Always Results in Persecution Part 14
The Silent War Caused when Godly People Divide Part 15
The Silent War Caused when Godly People Cause Divisions Part 16
The Silent War Caused by the Church or a Church Dividing over an Important Issue Part 17
When the Church is Winning - Part 1 Part 18a
When the Church is Winning - Part 2 Part 18a
The Bible's Description of Victorious Soldiers in the Silent War Part 19
How Victory in the Silent War can Lead to Revival in the Church Part 20
Conclusion Conclusion
Addendum: The Silent War caused by "the onlys" "The Onlys"
Addendum: A Pastor's Authority by Ray Stedman A Pastor's Authority
Addendum: Galatians 6:1-3 (my commentary on these verses) Galatians 6:1-3
Addendum: John Wesley's sermon at George Whitefield's funeral George Whitefield