In chapter 5 of Galatians, Paul examined where the Galatians veered from the path they walked with the Lord, and how doubt had allowed false teaching and legalism to slip into their midst. As we conclude the Galatians study in Part 6, Paul has some parting words for the believers in the region of Galatia:
"Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load. (Galatians 6:1-5, NASB, emphasis mine)
The first thing Paul addresses is how to respond to those who sin and fall; we are not to hold it over them in bitterness or with a grudge, but to recognize that any one of us can fall prey to sin. In that manner, we restore them gently and paying attention that we do not become haughty and overbearing. We are to bear with our fellow believers' faults and not to think of ourselves as "beyond that". Moses walked with the Lord for 80 of his 120 years on earth, and one slip at the rock of Meribah was all it took to keep him out of the Promised Land.
If Moses could slip after all that time, so can we...
We are not to compare ourselves to others, but only to the progress made in our own walks with the Lord. To put it another way: the only one any one of us has to "get better than" is ourselves, and we can only do that with the Lord's help.
"The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." (Galatians 6:6-10, NASB, emphasis mine)
Paul points out something that often gets overlooked: whatever we spend our time feeding will end up producing a crop that like it or not, we will "harvest". If we spend time giving our flesh what it wants, the "crop" it will produce we will wish had never been planted. But if we spend time nourishing the spirit by being in the word, seeking and heeding the voice of the Lord and doing His will, it will be a crop we will cherish. We won't see all the produce of what we plant in this life, but we will see its' yield nonetheless.
Paul finally sums up his letter:
"See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God." (Galatians 6:11-16, NASB, emphasis mine)
In his last paragraph, Paul says plainly that those who came from Jerusalem tried to convince the Galatians to adopt the laws of Judaism so that the legalists could avoid being persecuted! Not only were they angry with Paul for not following the "rules", but they wanted the Galatians' as a trophy! To make matters worse, they didn't even try to keep the rules they set for others!!! Meantime, all Paul wanted to do was the will of the Lord, and boasted about nothing save the Cross of Christ. To Paul, the world was dead to him and vice versa, and the things of the flesh and this world held no meaning to him any longer...
...what mattered was the spirit.
"From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus." (Galatians 6:17, NASB)
At this point, I don't think we can blame Paul for this comment; the beatings mandated under Jewish law that he had taken would leave a horrific-looking mass of scars and welts, along with everything else he endured in his life. He wasn't saying that he was afraid of being beaten, but that as someone who has suffered for the sake of the Gospel, he had the marks to prove it. And in having done so, his message was authentic, and that the "trouble" the Galatians needed to spare him from was any more word of their faith wavering. They needed to stop entertaining the wants of the flesh and giving doubt a place to take root.
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen." (Galatians 6:18, NASB)
With that verse, we close the book of Galatians.
In the 6 chapters of Galatians, Paul answered the concerns of the Galatian churches over the Law and Grace. The legalists from Jerusalem had been convincing indeed, but Paul presented the Galatians with the truth: that by allowing their flesh to have its' way, it created a gap in their spiritual armor that allowed doubt to creep in and take root. It became another version of "Yea, hath God said?" from Satan, who masterminded this attack on the churches in that region to block the progress the Lord was making in the area.
By explaining the purpose of the Law, Paul exposed the truth to the Galatians and showed them that the Law no longer applied to them. By pointing out their wavering, he brought before them the reason why the words of the legalists were so convincing. And in demonstrating the motives of those who came from Jerusalem, Paul revealed to the Galatians that these lies were done only for personal gain, and not the will of the Lord. In the future, they would hopefully heed the word of the Lord and be better equipped to stand when called to do so.
This book speaks very much to us today as well: a whole plethora of ideas, new "theories" and whatnot come along, and many of them via the internet, as well as books, videos and other media. But the message they all give is basically "Yea, hath God said?" And our answer needs to be "Yes, HE DID!!" And not because we think its' the right answer to give, but because we believe it!!!
In this day and age, it is all too important.
"What does this have to do with rules keeping?" one would ask. That is simple: we don't keep a list of rules to be accepted by the Lord. That is legalism, which pertains to the Law. Instead, it is because we love God that we obey Him; it is a result of loving Him and not a means to be loved and saved by Him. In other words, if we love Him, our natural reaction will be to walk with Him and to love Him and our neighbor. And those two things are what the entire Law was about. The written version just spelled out what the results should be for those that loved the Lord, but were a comparison that pointed out sin. With Christ as out Saviour, the Law is satisfied and is no longer our tutor nor our accuser, but we are now free in Christ to serve the Lord.
Thank you to everyone who followed this study, and praise and thanks to Lord for the Spirit leading us in this study.
Lord, we bless and praise your precious and holy name. Thank you for these words of yours in scripture, and for feeding us the bread of life. In your name we pray, Amen.