March 11, 2007 Series: Galatians
Topic: Gospel Passage: Galatians 6:1–6:10
I READ another story about a pastor who had fallen last night.
- o You would think that if anyone was producing "fruit", and not focused on the flesh, it would be a pastor. These are the guys who are supposed to have it all together.
- o I'll tell you a little secret...pastors are broken people too-who fail and fall.
I REACT to these guys is what scares me sometimes...
- o disdain for them-not enough grace for them.
- o pride that it's not me-not enough grace for them
WHAT KIND OF PERSON AM I?
- o Like a Pharisee Separate from culture/Law is guide to righteous
- o Like a Sadducee: Adopt to culture and compromise/freedom to sin
- o Like Jesus: Truthfully loving
WHAT KIND OF CHURCH IS THIS?
Last week we explained what happens to someone who is transformed. We don't begin with moral reformation THAT is the result of heart transformation. I wish moral reformation was a guarantee...that change was permanent, that I never saw anyone fall. But this life is tough, temptation is brutal, and we still pretend we don't need Jesus time and time again..
Paul gives some final instructions to this young church he planted years before he had to write this letter. He tells them to help each other. All of us believers are in this together. Unfortunately, Paul has to warn us about something we know too much about-spiritual pride. We must lend a hand to the fallen, and never forget from the places we were picked up from.
OVERTAKEN BY SIN
Brothers,ï»¿ ï»¿if anyone is caught in any transgression, ï»¿
Are we overtaken by Sin or do we choose to sin...or both?
Paul doesn't talk here about someone "caught in the act", rather, about someone who is caught by sin. The word overtaken carries the idea of being surprised, so it is not a case of deliberate disobedience.
Isn't that how sin works? I really don't think that we wake up in the morning and say, hey I feel like lying today. Or, I hope to see someone at work that I can lust after today. It starts much more subtly...baby steps. We may not commit the sin with premeditation, but we fail to be on his guard or perhaps we knowingly flirt with a temptation because we think we can withstand it. I believe the latter is probably the most common. Our four favorite words are "I can handle it." We may not speak them, but we think them then, when temptation comes, we fall.
Temptation is tough. For those who don't think so...those who think they, well, I am never tempted. That's because you always give in. You don't know what its like to stand strong. CS Lewis wrote...A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is... A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.
Satan is described in scripture as a hungry roaring lion looking for someone to eat. Personally, I don't think we give Satan or sin enough respect; not in terms of worship, but in terms of recognizing two things OUR WEAKNESS and SATAN'S OBJECTIVE. We have to be discerning because Satan will give you what you want if it in fact leads you away from Jesus. Most, but certainly not all, times he is not walking around with a "flashing sign" declaring here is temptation.
BEATEN DOWN BY "BROTHERS"
How to identify a legalist in one step or less...
Then, after we lose a battle we Satan, we have to fight another with the legalist. Nothing reveals the wickedness of legalism better than the way the legalists treat those who have sinned. Check out John 8.3-11:
3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now dï»¿ in the Law Moses commanded us eï»¿to stone such women. So what do you say?" 6 This they said fï»¿to test him, gï»¿that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, hï»¿ "Let him who is without sin among you iï»¿be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, jï»¿ "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on kï»¿sin no more."[i]
The legalists did not really care for her. Jesus was not interested in destroying the woman but in helping her repent, and that should be the attitude of His followers toward other people, especially toward other believers.
Why don't sinners like the church the way the liked Jesus?
Our first thought is to think that they don't like it because they're convicted. I wish that were true most of time. It is my guess that they don't appreciate the church because the first thing they feel is some sort of righteous condemnation versus love. For some reason, we have a tendency to assume the position of the Holy Spirit in people's lives and try to condemn people to repentance. Is that our responsibility? I know that I can "guilt" people into doing or feeling certain things, but do I really possess the power to "convict" people to repentance?
John MacArthur writes of a pastor who said, "I have often thought that if I ever fall into sin, I will pray that I don't fall into the hands of those censorious, critical judges of the church. Let me fall into the hands of barkeepers, streetwalkers, or dope peddlers, because such church people would tear me apart with their long, wagging, gossipy tongues, cutting me to shreds."
I think people don't like how we treat each other. People often feel like their under a magnifying class from the "sin-blood hounds" in the church. Our natural response then is to put up some inauthentic façade and fake our way into the community. We never achieve any level of intimacy because we're so scared of being destroyed by the righteous. That's not a fear of the righteous, but of the self-righteous.
MAYBE WE SHOULD JUST BE MORE TOLERANT...how about more loving?
Is the church just too judgmental?
Before someone listening to this sermon thinks, yeah, finally a TOLERANT church. A church that doesn't condemn, or judge, or dictate what is right or what is wrong "behavior". We don't, but we serve one who does.
Of course, that is not necessarily indicative of everyone in the church. There are those who are empathetic towards the weaknesses or mistakes of people. Unfortunately, in our world today, when God declares something WRONG, and we, in as gentlest of terms as possible, declare what GOD has already declared, we often are declared "judgmental". They may even quote verses like:
Matthew 7.1 rï»¿ "Judge not, that you be not judged." People like to use passages like this to argue against judging which really amounts to a way for them to justify their sin. If they read any of the passages that Jesus or Paul talk about "not judging" he does not say DO NOT JUDGE, but he speaks out against the SELF-RIGHTEOUS type of judging. In fact, if you read the rest of the passage in Matthew 7...you will see that Jesus did in fact teach that judging is in fact right.
"Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 sï»¿For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and tï»¿with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but uï»¿do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. [ii]
THOSE WHO ARE STRONG NEED TO HELP THE WEAK...but not just feel better
What should I do? The "spiritual" should restore...and bear one another's burdens
When you say those who are "spiritual", it sounds so self-righteous. Immediately people are thinking...yeah...that is me. Who do I need to help? But Paul here is contrasting the two types of people here, those who are fleshly and those who are spiritual; those who love Jesus and those who love the world.
We who are strong...we have a responsibility to help, AND NOT JUST MAKE FEEL GOOD. Suspicious inquisitive behavior is in no way what is meant by "help" nor is it reflective of true or mature spirituality. This does not mean that we only "play nice" and never actually tell truths that in fact may be received as condemning. Do not mistake gentleness for weakness or lack of authority.
The most loving thing to do isn't always the easiest thing to do. WE LOVE, we don't just BE NICE or TOLERANT. We do bear one another's burdens out of love which is a fulfillment of the Law of Christ. 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.[iii]
WE CAN ONLY DO SO MUCH
What can I fix?
And do not mistake restoring for the power to heal. Of course, we do not take responsibility to FIX THEM. The word for restore is used to describe the setting of broken bones and in the NT for mending fishing nets. I like the image of setting a bone because, ultimately, we are not capable of healing the bone-in fact, we're not even capable of making it LESS PAINFUL. I don't think we should put on the savior cape and try to repel all the "consequence bullets" they have brought upon themselves. Sometimes, those consequences are the best ways to heal.
Ultimately, we can help point the person in the right direction, we can encourage them, we can pray for them, but we cannot change them. We do encourage, and pray, and often times walk through a tough time with them. So, stop trying.
YOU'RE NOT ALL THAT....
For ï»¿if anyone thinks he is something, ï»¿when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Have you forgotten who you are? The most common mistake we can make when lovingly correcting someone is to become prideful. We must always keep the GOSPEL in front of our eyes as a filter for our behavior. The GOSPEL tells us we are loved, but before that, it tells us that reason Jesus had to die at all is because we are depraved, broken, and helpless. We are all just as likely to fall.
Only you and God will know if you are looking at the weaknesses of another person for the purpose of COMPASSION or COMPARISON. We must learn to MAKE MUCH of GOD and make LITTLE of Ourselves. I like the John 3.30...a very simple verse that speaks a huge truth. John the Baptist speaks of Jesus...
"He must increase. I must decrease."
DON'T FORGET YOUR OWN BURDEN
4 But let each one ï»¿test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For ï»¿each will have to bear his own load.
It is so easy for us to let the failing of others make our "successes" look that much better. Whenever some Christian pastor falls, do we recognize our own vulnerabilities or do our minds first go to a, "I'll never, or I haven't done that." Just because, at the moment, your "work" looks better than Johnny whose life is in the gutter, doesn't mean that you are in fact any more righteous. Ours is a life of repentance.
How do you test yourself...make a comparison worth making. Stop comparing yourself to fallen people and compare yourself to Jesus.
As for the burden here and earlier, there is no contradiction between Galatians 6:2 and 5, because two different Greek words for burden are used. In Galatians 6:2 it is a word meaning "a heavy burden," while in Galatians 6:5 it describes "a soldier's pack." We should help each other bear the heavy burdens of life, but there are personal responsibilities that each man must bear for himself. "Each soldier must bear his own pack." [iv]
We all need some help, but we all have our own responsibilities before God. If my car breaks down, my neighbor can help drive my children to school, but he cannot assume the responsibilities that only belong to me as their father. That is the difference. It is wrong for me to expect somebody else to be the father in our family; that is a burden (and a privilege) that I alone can bear.
You will have no one to point to but yourself when you stand before the almighty. No more excuses like Adam. It will just be you. You cannot go to heaven on Mom's faith, Dad's faith, boyfriend's faith...just you.
TEST YOURSELF, NOT OTHERS...TAKE A BITE OF YOUR FRUIT
We get SO worried about what other people are doing sometimes that we fail to ever focus on what we are doing. We are more worried about other people's sins, other people's spiritual growth, other people's giving, that our own faith is sadly ignored.
Here Paul is going to say, in essence, you can't fake it. You either are a son of the flesh or a son of the Spirit and the proof is in the pudding. While we don't work for God, what we do do will in fact give evidence to the nature of our faith. James says it quite clearly
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith oï»¿but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 pï»¿If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 qï»¿and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what goodï»¿2 is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
GOD DOESN"T WANT OUR MONEY, but MONEY WANTS US
Does God care about my money?
6 ï»¿One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.
Paul first talks about all of our resources because, well, let's be honest these are the easiest things to not give up. WHAT or HOW MUCH you give is not some indicator of your spiritual health. We must remember that what we do with material things is an evidence of how we value spiritual things. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:21). This doesn't mean we seek to live in poverty, walk around in rags, and never do anything "fun" because that's just not spiritual enough. No. It probably looks different for everyone.
Giving can be glorifying to God. But God is not glorified simply by the act of giving. For the Jews and for the gentiles, giving voluntarily was a revolutionary concept. Jews were taxed for their support and Gentiles usually paid some sort of fees or vows for their religions. Just as Paul wrote all throughout this letter, don't make giving a legalism.
- God is not interested in your money and neither are we...
- God is not interested in your "I'm sorry for sinning money" and neither are we... Psalm 49.7
- God will not love you more if you give to the church
- You have been freed of Men's approval and God is not interested in "well, I'm supposed to give"
The bottom line is that God is not interested in your "things", but what you do with your "things" shows how interested in God you are. Stinginess in our giving, financial or otherwise, is like mocking God. It certainly is a misunderstanding of the gospel to believe that to gain anything you must keep everything. That shows us our Savior GIVING UP EVERYTHING to die for sins he was not responsible for.
6 The point is this: vï»¿whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has made up his mind, wï»¿not reluctantly or under compulsion, for xï»¿God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And yï»¿God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiencyï»¿7 in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.[vi]
YOU GET WHAT YOU PLANT...
God knows your heart and he sees what you do?
7 ï»¿Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for ï»¿ whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For ï»¿the one who sows to his own flesh ï»¿will from the flesh reap corruption, but ï»¿the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Although Paul is taking here about financial support to Christian works, there is really a larger issue that extends beyond money. God will not be mocked.
Those who are knowingly living in sin, those who have wasted all of their resources and time investing in the flesh...you will produce a harvest that will ultimately CORRUPT you AND the ONES YOU LOVE--if it hasn't already. God punishes sin AND sin has destructive consequences. Perhaps you've avoided pain up until now. Just know that although God may defer his punishment for a season, he is not deceived, tricked, or unaware. He sees the heart. He sees you drink. He sees you lust. He sees you gossip. He sees your pride. He sees your anger. He sees your greed. He sees it all. .
I am blown away by people who pour their lives into the flesh then expect to harvest spiritual fruit.
- Men love themselves more than the love their wives then wonder why she doesn't want to be with him
- Men lazily ignore spiritual leadership then sit dumbfounded their sons and daughters wander through the world like unprotected children in the middle of a battlefield
- Women disrespect their husbands and can't figure out why their men don't lead
- Women don't give of themselves to their husbands fully and they wonder why they struggle so much with lust and pornography
- Men and Women don't give a penny to anyone else and wonder why we struggle financially
- Men and women spend more time thinking about work then about playing legos or barbies and they wonder why their kids
- Kids see it all and we wonder why they turn out.
The words apply to anything and everything.
THAT IS THE HARVEST...what will yours look like?
DO GOOD EVEN IF GOOD DOESN'T COME NOW
DO GOOD TO EVEYRONE, EVEN THOSE WHO DON"T DESERVE IT
9 And ï»¿let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, ï»¿if we do not give up.
10 So then, ï»¿as we have opportunity, let us ï»¿do good to everyone, and especially to those who are ï»¿of the household of faith.
DO NOT TIRE OF DOING THE RIGHT THING...because it is tiring. It is easy to give way to the flesh, it is tempting to believe that "you've arrived" after a week of reading your Bible and few temptations.
6 Now there is great gain in bï»¿godliness cï»¿with contentment, 7 for dï»¿we brought nothing into the world, andï»¿3 we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But eï»¿if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But fï»¿those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, gï»¿into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that hï»¿plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of iï»¿all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
11 But as for you, jï»¿O man of God, kï»¿flee these things. lï»¿Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 mï»¿Fight the good fight of the faith. nï»¿Take hold of the eternal life oï»¿to which you were called and about which you made pï»¿the good confession in the presence of many witnesses...17 As for the rich in aï»¿this present age, charge them bï»¿not to be haughty, nor cï»¿to set their hopes on dï»¿the uncertainty of riches, but on God, eï»¿who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, fï»¿to be rich in good works, to be generous and gï»¿ready to share, 19 thus hï»¿storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may iï»¿take hold of jï»¿that which is truly life.
Lastly, Paul reminds us to "do good to all men." This is how we let our light shine and glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16). It is not only by words that we witness to the lost, but also by our works. In fact, our works pave the way for our verbal witness; they win us the right to be heard.
It is not a question of asking, "Does this person deserve my good works?" Did we deserve what God did for us in Christ?