Series: Maintaining this hope
Paul to the Galatians…You who are Spiritual
So last week we were encouraged to walk in the Spirit and not after the flesh and we concluded that we do this by abiding in God’s word and acknowledging the inner promptings the Holy Spirit gives us in our day to day life.
Every time we choose to side with our flesh over the word of God and the voice of the Holy Spirit, the harder our hearts get and the harder it becomes to walk in the Spirit to the point where you rarely (if ever) hear His prompting at all.
THAT is a dangerous place and is mere inches away from the awful state of being cast out as a branch.
You cannot cast out a branch, that was never a branch to begin with…such has no connection with the vine and therefore nothing to be cast away from. So this serves as a sobering warning for those who believe they can live a cavalier life, showing little concern over their relationship with God their vine and still be safe.
So let’s begin this week by going a little deeper in our understanding of the last few verses of Galatians 5 before working through the last of what Paul has to say in this letter.
Gal. 5:24-26, “(24) Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (25) If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit. (26) Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another.”
I want to single out the phrase,
“If we live BY the Spirit, let us also walk BY the Spirit.”
Without the prior instructions Paul has covered in this letter, understanding these words would be difficult.
The word LIVE here is key, but cannot be fully understood without its counterpart which is Works. The word live in the context of verse 25 means – to be devoted to God, to live conforming yourself to the will, purpose, precepts, and example of God.
But Paul does not end there. This is an “if/then” statement. “IF you live BY the Spirit, let us WALK by the Spirit.”
In other words, if due to the work of the Holy Spirit within your heart, you are devoted to God and attempt to conform yourself to His will, purpose, precepts and example – then don’t launch out in attempts to do it alone, but rather follow and walk by the power the Spirit offers which enables you to live a new life unto God – like being alive from the dead.
We all know that in our right standing with God, which we have due to knowing and trusting in Jesus as our sacrifice for sin, we are to consider ourselves or see ourselves in very practical ways as dead to sin. As if it were a relationship we are now divorced from and in which we will no longer live. We do this by faith.
What does it mean to see ourselves dead to sin…by Faith?
Well you know that once we are born again, according to 1Cor. 5, we are now in Christ Jesus… we are IN our Vine. We have been reconciled to God.
Let’s read it, 1 Cor. 5:17-18,
“(17)Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. (18) Now everything is from God, Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation”
Now if we back up a few verses we learn something more. Let’s back up and read verses 14-18…
“(14) For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: if One died for all, then all died.
(15) And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.”
So here we see power & the purpose. The power is love which drives and empowers trust. We see and consider ourselves dead to sin due to the loan we have for Christ Jesus and that love it’s not based on nothing It is based upon a knowing of him and therefore a trusting and relinquishing of all control to him and his Lordship. The purpose is Phase II, if you will, of our salvation.
Phase I – simply dealt with sin. We become right with God when we stop attempting to save ourselves and place the whole of our faith…our reliance upon His provision for our sins in Jesus.
Romans 10 tells us that at that point we have “believed into right standing with God”.
Remember that passage in Isaiah which I have brought up several times lately, found in Isa. 55:7. I told you it is a KEY to understanding God and the scriptures. It says,
“Let the wicked one abandon his way, and the unrighteous one his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, so He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will freely forgive.” ~ Isa 55:7
Other than being spiritually dead… What was the condition which made us “not right with God”? The way we thought!
The invitation in Jesus, is to change the way you think about God, about sin, about salvation and about your ability to do anything about your condition.
The invitation is to come to God humbly, in trust that He has met your need for acceptance with Him.
Rom 10:10, “With the heart one believes, resulting in right standing with God, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation.”
That is Phase I.
Phase II is how we live after that!
Back in 2Cor. 5:16-18
“(16) From now on, …Therefore if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. (18) Now everything is from God, Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
So back in Galatians, when it says,
“If we live BY the Spirit, let us also walk BY the Spirit.”
This is essentially saying, if because you have been made new by the Spirit and therefore have changed and have an inner conviction and desire to live godly,… If that is true… then don’t attempt to live for God on your own – the same Spirit Who brought you new life will also guide and empower you to LIVE that new life WITH Him!
We read a verse last week in closing which stated that very clearly. In Rom. 8:9-13…
“(9) You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. (10) Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
(11) And if the Spirit of Him Who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He Who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit Who lives in you.
(12) So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, (13) for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
Your faith for this is in a person not a fact. It is in the person of the Holy Spirit.
It is imperative, especially in the days in which we live, to be careful to understand these truths which have been faithfully handed down to us over the centuries. It is easy to misunderstand the words themselves as well as, to what end they are pointing.
God is NOT overoccuppied with our natural happiness nor is He preoccupied merely with our conduct.
What He desires is intimacy which requires true and lasting change – NOT just inner change, and certainly not “hypothetical theological change” – but REAL change which affects how we live…BY FAITH.
We have believed into a state of union with Christ in His death on the Cross which was a death to sin once for all.
THAT is the part of our salvation I called PHASE I earlier.
All of that led to what God was truly aiming at in sending His son into the world – and that is a life LIVED WITH Him.
So we do not just see ourselves as “theologically” or “hypothetically” dead to sin due to Jesus dying FOR us, but we, LIKE PAUL, see ourselves as having died with Him by faith.
What does it mean to live BY faith and how do we do that?
We actively exercise our trust in God, that He is able to cause us to be united with Jesus in His death even while we live.
Once that has happened we press on in our faith to believe that the same power of God and person of the Holy Spirit Who physically raised Jesus back to natural life again, is ALSO actively and Mightily at work within us to cause us to raise with Him – to live with Him, in unbroken Union with Him. Branches united to their Vine. What naturally happens when branches are connected to a healthy vine? They bear fruit!
We do this by getting God’s word into our hearts in abundance and by following after the Spirit we have been made alive to – instead of following after our flesh which we have died to!
It is an absolute truth that if you have placed all of our relational trust – all of your reliance upon Jesus and Jesus alone for your right standing before the Father, then the next step or PHASE II of your salvation is to LIVE like you are right with God.
We do this the EXACT same way Noah and Enoch did, the way Job, Abraham & Sara did, the way Moses, Caleb and Joshua did, the way David and the prophets did…the way Jesus Himself did and that is BY THE SPIRIT.
Now this was the point Paul was making at the end of chapter 5 as a preamble into chapter 6.
When we begin to read chapter 6 you will likely think at first it is about siblings in Christ who get caught up in sin, but in reality it is about the responsibility of those who are Spiritual…and those who are spiritual are those who have matured for some time in Phase II of their salvation. They LIVE by the Spirit…but we will look more into that in a moment.
Let’s look at Galatians 6:1…
“(1) Brothers, if someone is caught [discovered, found out] in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted also.”
“(2) Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
“(3) For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he is deceiving himself. (4) But each person should examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in respect to someone else.
(5) For each person will have to carry his own load.”
So Paul starts off here by…
- Telling those who are Spiritual, that it is their responsibility in Christ to uplift the weak.
- It is everyone’s responsibility to carry one another’s burdens – because it fulfills the Law of Christ (which is the law of the spirit of Life in Christ mentioned in Romans 8).
- It is everyone’s responsibility to FIRST take care of the beam in their own eye before aiding their sibling in Christ with the splinter in their eye.
- It is everyone’s responsibility to hold themselves in no higher regard than anyone else – regardless of how “spiritual” your walk is – you are NOT to live, comparing yourself to your one another, but only to Jesus Who is the ONLY example for us all…because in the end, we will not stand before our siblings in Christ, we will stand before Christ Himself.
Who are those overtaken in a fault?
Well first off the word fault means sin, but it is often translated with this softer word because out of the two ways in which it could be translated it may mean – to fall by the wayside either by weakness, a lapse in good judgement or simply by being caught off guard. Even still it IS sin and therefore needs forgiveness.
Morris says this, “Paul’s wording here speaks of not a determined, hardened, sinner. Instead, the idea is of someone who has fallen into sin, finding themselves trapped in a place they never thought they would be. Overtaken “contains the idea of falling. It is not the deliberate, the planned, aspect of sin that is stressed here, but rather the unwitting element. Mistake rather than misdeed is the force of the word, though without absolution of responsibility.”
The second way of interpreting this is the idea of discovering an exceptional case of sin – implying a scandalous or flagrant sin and being caught in it.
In either case the injunction would be the same – let those who understand how to live in victory by the Spirit restore them with a gentle spirit.
The word restore simply means to set them back on the right course.
Who are the Spiritual?
Well as I said earlier – the one who is spiritual is the one who is spiritually mature.
Who is that? Well according to Romans 8:14 which is usually translated so poorly that it is not only embarrassing – it is absolutely misleading.
In most translations it says, “all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s children” and while that is A truth it is not THE truth Paul was conveying in that verse. When what Paul was truly saying is restored to the passage, all that he said prior and following make a TON more sense!
Now this word for children or son we have already run into here in Galatians though I did not point it out at the time.
In Gal. 4:5 when it said that God sent His SON, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive the adoption as SONS. Those words “son” were Huios.
Huios is a gender specific word. It does NOT mean daughter. Not in order to exclude our sisters in Christ, but rather to make a point. There are some things in the flesh which God designed to be for men alone and some things were intended for women alone.
When we go back to the social life God designed and defined for men and women, we see that God designed for sons to reap the family inheritance not daughters.
This was for several reasons, but the one which primarily affects this teaching is women had a covering and were under the protection and provision of their fathers until they married and then they were under their husbands. ALL husband’s inherited SOMETHING from their fathers. As a result, all daughters who married, reaped the benefits and provision of the inheritance of their husband’s. If the daughters as well as the sons receive the inheritance from their own natural father then each husband would have brought less to the marriage because it would have been divided with there sisters. As stood everyone received and inheritance with the directly or indirectly.
Also, this word Sons represents one who carries the family name and therefore represents the family. This is still done largely today by the man retaining his last name and his bride coming under the name of her husband’s family and their offspring bearing the name of that family.
So when Paul uses this word it has something to do with the father being represented in his sons and as such it also implies maturity has been reached. It is in this way only in which it is gender specific – it is set forth as an example obtainable by all of God’s children completely independent of natural gender. This is about being those Paul by the Holy Spirit identifies as the Spiritual.
So, in Romans 8:14, we are being told that those children of God (in reality regardless of physical gender) who are constantly being led by the Holy Spirit have reached maturity in Christ. This is the same idea of being led that we read earlier in Gal. 5:25 “If we live BY the Spirit, let us also walk BY the Spirit.”
Also to illustrate this from the negative let’s look at what Paul said to the Corinthians in 1Cor. 3:1-3,
“(1) Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ.”
So in Galatians 6:1 – “you who are spiritual” are those who are mature- who are not babies – because babies still live by the flesh which is contrary to the spirit and therefore it is babies who have to be picked back up and placed back on the right road when they fall…and who is qualified to help them in this way, but one who has learned to walk without falling – the spiritual.
Paul further describes the spiritual person as one who does not easily fall into strife and envy for such are solid proofs of infancy in Christ.
“(2) I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were not yet able to receive it. In fact, you are still not able, (3) because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like ordinary people?”
Now, these Spiritually mature Christians are to set the erring brother back on the right course with a gentle spirit.
They are not to come down on them harshly, but to encourage them towards reconciliation and redeemed living.
THERE ARE TIMES when harshness is necessary, but this is not one of those times.
Let’s continue, picking back up in Galatians 6:7,
“(7) Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, (8) because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.”
Now, you may think I missed verse 6 but I read verses 7&8 first on purpose, in order to shock your thinking.
We all know these verses and while they have many authentic applications, the one in which Paul actually uses this admonition you might find quite surprising.
It is, in fact, in regard to giving to the support of your spiritual leaders.
So let’s go back and read verses 7 & 8 AFTER reading verse 6 first!
“(6) The one who is taught the message must share his goods with the teacher. (7) Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, (8) because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.”
Then Paul encourages them regarding giving…
“(9) So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. (10) Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.”
Reap? Reap what?
I’m glad you asked! We are told what we will reek in our giving in 2Cor. 9. It tells us we reap the following:
- Sparingly if we sow that way
- Generously if we sow that way
- God’s grace will overflow so that in every way, you will always have everything you need to excel in every good work
- Your righteousness will stand forever
- He will multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your right standing with God
- You will be enriched in every way TOWARDS all generosity which will result in thanksgiving being shouted out to God.
- It will be paid forward in many acts of thanksgiving to God.
- Other will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of Jesus as Lord by your giving
- Those benefited will lift you up before God in prayer with deep affection
- And according to THIS verse in Galatians 6:6 – you reap further intimacy with God.
By anyone’s account that is an amazing return for your giving.
However, God is NOT mocked. If instead of giving to the support of those spiritual leaders who (by the way) are the very ones who pick you up and aid in the stabilization of your walk when you are overtaken in a fault – if instead of giving into their lives, you spend what you have on yourself – on your own fleshly appetites and desires – you will from your flesh reap a harvest of corruption.
Corruption has a general meaning of spoiling, ruin, decay, destruction, generally a fraying or wasting away to the point of death. The word is phthora it is number 5356 in your Greek concordance if you wish to look it up for yourself.
It isn’t a pretty or appealing prospect.
Now Paul ends his letter of admonition, correction and instruction towards righteousness with these words…
“(11) Look at what large letters I have written to you in my own handwriting.
(12) Those who want to make a good showing in the flesh are the ones who would compel you to be circumcised–but only to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. (13) For even the circumcised don’t keep the law themselves; however, they want you to be circumcised in order to boast about your flesh.
(14) But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
(15) For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation.
(16) May peace be on all those who follow this standard, and mercy also be on the Israel of God!
(17) From now on, let no one cause me trouble, because I carry the marks of Jesus on my body. (18) Brothers, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”
I think the greatest portion of what Paul was saying in this letter is that what we have in Christ Jesus is in truth a relationship and relationships go both ways.
It is NOT just God’s investments into us, but our committed responses to His investment.
We must remember that in the end, we are told that Jesus does not ask us what we believed, He will ask us what we did and it is THIS that determines if we are mere infants, young adults or mature – Spiritual.
Were our actions born out of our union with Him – did we conduct our lives in compliance and in step with the Spirit He gave us, or did we live as mere unchanged people?
If we have the Spirit of God, we are to conduct our lives by His inner guidance, influence and leading. If we do – we will be God’s mature children who represent the family well and receive our inheritance!