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Galatians 6:1-6: The Law of Christ

Chapter 5 dealt with the “sins of the flesh” as contrasted with the “fruit of the Spirit.” Paul told us that if we “live in the Spirit,” as every believer does, we are to “walk in the Spirit!” A true believer cannot live a life in the Spirit without being subject to certain Christian character traits (“fruit of the Spirit”) as found in the previous chapter. So Paul has tried to help us to understand the historical and theological background for the crisis in their churches and given them general principles about life in the Spirit. Now he spells out specific responsibilities for those who are led by the Spirit so that they can rebuild their broken relationships.

This Chapter concludes this Epistle. Paul exhorts the Church to brotherly affection, and challenges them to rest in Hope, assuring, them, that in due Season, they will “reap if they do not give up” (verse 10). The apostle here gives some of the details of the life that is lived as one who is “walking in the Spirit.”

Verse 1: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

1a: He uses the word “brethren,” so we know he is speaking to believers.

1b: “Overtaken” in Greek is katalambano meaning to grasp something in a forceful (firm) manner.

“Christians are not perfect; and it is possible that some who are true Christians might be “overtaken” and fall into sin…The situation Paul envisioned here is that of sin overtaking a Christian as a runner overtakes a walker. It is not that God has caught him in the act of sinning as much as that sin has gotten the better of him in a particular instance. He has been surprised by sin rather than detected in it…it is not habitual action but an isolated act. Neither is it intentional sin but inadvertent wrongdoing.” –Thomas Constable (slightly edited)

1 Thessalonians 5:14, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”

1c: “Trespass” (“fault” KJV) in Greek is paraptoma, meaning a falling away, lapse, slip, false step, a blunder, and sin. In the context it “refers to ‘the works of the flesh’ (Galatians 5:19), and the thought is that of the believer’s being found off his guard, the ‘trespass’ taking advantage of him.” –Vine

When we started our church here in Moreno Valley, first we merged with Sunrise Baptist Church. Then we chose the name “Grace Bible Church.” (It is now Higher Ground Calvary Chapel, Riverside, California). Well, the brethren in the Fellowship of churches with whomwe had been associated, were very upset because we did not include the word “Baptist” in our name. So I sent them our church’s statement of faith, asking them to advise if there were any errors in our doctrine. No response! So I phoned one of the leaders asking him what doctrine we were violating. He had no answer. So I quoted Galatians 6:1, especially where it says, “…you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness…” He responded in anger, certainly not the response of one who is “spiritual.” By the way, we were still called “heretics” at the next meeting of their association. Two things come to mind when considering his response: 1) He does not consider me to a brother in Christ, or 2) he is lacking in spirituality!

1d: “…you who are spiritual…” Those who have received the Spirit and, “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16), who are “led by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:18), and those who “live in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). It is someone in whom the Spirit is producing God’s love for others.

Romans 15:1-2, “We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.”

1e: “Restore” in Greek is apokathisemi, meaning, to set up again, return to its original position or condition, turn back, mend, and to furnish completely.

The word “restore” is in the present imperative tense, meaning it is an ongoing process. That’s what I’m saying. If you’re going to go to somebody and tell them about their sin, make sure you’ve already resolved with God you’re going to stay with them until you get them back on their feet, because that is the sensitivity and resolve that God’s love produces in an individual who’s walking by the Spirit. There’s a responsibility that goes with it.

“You know, it doesn’t mean to walk up to somebody—I hear this all the time—‘I’m going to tell you the truth in love.’ You know, really what they mean is ‘I’m going to drop a grenade in your lap and I’ll see you later.’ You know, they justify themselves. Those people who walk after the flesh.” –Dr. Wayne Barber

A word of caution, be sure your life in in tune with the Holy spirit before you attempt a restoration ministry. Those less spiritual in the church must not try to counsel this person, only those who are spiritual. Be sure to get your own life right first!

“No Christian should ever think that he or she is totally independent and doesn't need help from others, and no one should feel excused from the task of helping others. The body of Christ - the church - functions only when the members work together for the common good. Do you know someone who needs help? Is there a Christian brother or sister who needs correction or encouragement? Humbly and gently reach out to that person, God’s word says, ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another’” (John 13:34,35).–

1f: “Gentleness” the same word Paul used in 5:23 as the “fruit of the Spirit.” It’s a humble word. It’s a beautiful word. It speaks of the character of Christ. It is used in a secular sense to describe a wild horse, that is powerful, but he has been broken, and has surrendered his power to a master. It is power under control!

We can only respond to the sin of a fellow church member with the sensitivity that Christ’s love produces in our life. If that love is not there, you may very well be insensitive. We will be calloused. We will be hard on the person who has fallen into sin.

In other words, the person restoring a brother who sins is not to treat him as if he were a master over him, but gently as one who is willing to help shoulder the burden so that the one who has stumbled can get to his feet again.

1g: “…considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

“Awareness of my own vulnerability to moral failure not only puts me on guard against temptation but also enables me to respond with a spirit of gentleness to someone trapped in sin. The specific temptation in view here seems to be the temptation to react with arrogance and anger to the sin of the offender.” –

Verse 2a: “Bear one another’s burdens…”

“Bear” in Greek is anecho meaning, endure, persist. bear with, have patience with, carry, and suffer.

The Greek word for “burdens” is baros. It means heaviness, weight, burden, or trouble.

When believers are living by the Spirit's power, they will desire to be a spiritual help to others. They will not be critical when they see other believers fall into sin, but will feel compassion as if it were their own. The first responsibility of “bearing one another’s burdens” involves the burden of their sin.

“When someone staggers, we help steady the load. If he is straining, we help bear the burden. And if he stumbles, we lift him up. Helping fellow believers carry the weight of their worldly troubles is one of the chief practical duties that ought to consume every Christian.” –MacArthur

“Wherever our Lord met a burdened one He was ready to lend a helping hand. We read of Him, ‘Who went about doing good’ (Acts 10:38). He fed the poor, healed the sick, and raised the dead. Of course, being God the Son, He had powers we do not have. We cannot feed 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes, but when we know of one in need perhaps we can be of help. We cannot heal the sick, but we can visit them, read the Scriptures to them, and pray with them. We cannot raise the dead, but we can visit and comfort the bereaved, and perhaps assist them.” –

Verse 2b: “…and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

1 Corinthians 9:21, “To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.”

Paul's reference to the “law of Christ” here emphasizes the contrast between fulfilling the “law of Christ” and keeping the law of Moses.

Most commentator’s teach that “the law of Christ” is when Christ taught about the greatest commandment, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:28-31).

The Law of Christ is the Law of love. Christ gave us no other law than this law of mutual love: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). And then Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep[a] My commandments” (John 14:15). “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:13 NLT).

1 Corinthians 9:21 NLT, “When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.”

Verse 3: “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

The word for “thinks” is dokeo, which means to imagine or consider, and it is in the present tense. Paul is describing an attitude. This is not a fleeting thought that goes through someone’s mind when they try to help somebody. No, this is a man

“Paul has their number when he calls them zeros.” –Martin Luther

Those who lack humility are constantly overdrawing their mental, moral and spiritual checking accounts. They are given to overestimating their balance. Christians should realistically judge themselves so that their overdraft protection is adequate for their spending. Then they can relate to each other and can avoid overestimating themselves “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise (1 Corinthians 3:18).

Romans 12:3 MSG, “Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.”

Remember the story of the mouse and the elephant crossing a rickety bridge? As they stepped onto the bridge, the bridge swayed and shook, and continued to rattle until they finally passed over. Then the mouse said to the elephant, “we really shook that bridge, didn’t we?”

Verse 4: “But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”

Paul is telling the Galatians that each person is to examine his own work (not his brother’s work) and then he will have a reason to rejoice about his own work, not another’s.

Paul tells the Galatians to keep their eyes on themselves for each one of us will have to give an account of our own life and work, “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this” Romans 14:12,13).

No one wants a novice counsel or give advise about that which they have not experienced themselves.

Dr. G.B. Vick who was the president of Baptist Bible College when I was student there, said quite often, “I don’t want some two-by-squirt who has never built a chicken coupe for God, try to tell me how to do build a church.” One must take a long hard look at his own success in dealing with problems before he begins to try to help others.

Verse 5: “For each one shall bear his own load.”

Every believer has a load to bear, but it is a comparatively light load (Matthew 11:30). The burden in verse 2 is an excessive burden. The “load” in verse 5 is the normal weight of our responsibility. Paul used two different Greek words to describe these two burdens, baros in verse 2, means a heavy weight. In verse 5 the Greek word is phortion which describes a soldier’s pack, something that you can and must carry yourself, it is your own responsibility, “For every man must shoulder his own pack” (Phillips). We should help others to bear the heavy burdens of life, but there are burdens that each believer must carry for themselves. I cannot take someone else’s responsibility. If I interfere with somebody else’s responsibility I cause the other person to walk out of step, and that was what the Judaizers did.

A good way to forget your own burdens is to help others in theirs.

Galatians 6:2 MSG, “Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.”

Romans 15:1,2 MSG, “Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”

What should the church be doing? Helping hurting people. The church is a fellowship of believers. The Greek word, “Koininia,” literally means, “common ground, or a commonness that results in a true spirit of togetherness.” It is, simple put, “All in the family.” Leprosy is a disease that destroys the pain censors. Those who have it cannot feel, that’s why they must constantly do body checks to see if they have been injured. Too many churches are suffering from leprosy, unable to feel the hurt of others.

There are fifty-nine “One Another’s” in Scripture. Here are just a few:

•“Greet one another” (Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20).

•“Comfort one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

•“Forgive one another” Colossians 3:13). (Col. 3:13)

•“Build one another up” (Romans 15:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:11).

•“Serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

•“Bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).

•“Encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25).

•“Meet with one another” (Hebrews 10:25).

•“Be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving toward one another” (Ephesians 4:32).

•“Receive (welcome) one another as Christ received us” (Romans 15:7).

•“Care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:25).

•“Minister one to another” (1 Peter 4:10).

•“Show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9).

•“Pray for one another (James 5:16).

1 Corinthians 12:12,26, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ… And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”

Verse 6: “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.”

This verse is very individualized, “let him.” so it’s not something you can put off on someone else. Everybody that loves the word has the responsibility to support the people by whom they are taught.

God tells us in the Bible without any doubt, that individuals working in full-time ministry should be compensated. Pastors should be honored, and this honor includes wages. Those elders who serve the church well—especially teachers and preachers—should receive double honor. They have earned it.

1 Corinthians 9:14 NLT, “The Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.”

1 Timothy 5:17 NLT, “Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching.”

1 Thessalonians 5:12,13, “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.”

I was asked to candidate for a church in a very influential city many years ago. When the question of salary came up I asked the pulpit committee, “How much do you men earn?” The chairman responded with, “you don’t expect to earn the same as we do, do you?” I said, “I have to live in your community, provide housing for my family and shop in the same stores you do, should I make and less?” Now I understand that if God calls He provides! By the way, I never heard from that church again.

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

Marlena and I support this ministry with our Social Security plus donations from a few of our friends. We need more friends! Will you be a friend to us and God’s word For You? Your financial support of this ministry is much appreciated. You may send your support to God’s Word For You, 25413 Alpha Street, Moreno Valley, CA 92557

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