Lesson 6 - The Life of Christian Liberty / The Challenge - Galatians 6

Lesson Six: The Life of Christian Liberty / The Challenge

(Galatians 6:1-17)

Those justified by faith have been called to a life of liberty.  The Holy Spirit sets believers free, and produces fruit in the lives of those who walk in the Spirit.  In this lesson we will look at the challenges of the practical outworking of that life.

 

The Challenge to Bear Burdens.  (6:1-5)

Christians have been charged by some with shooting their wounded, abandoning the downtrodden, and stepping on the weak.  Rightly or wrongly this should not be.  Paul writes, "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted."

Christians do have a battle with sin.  Galatians 5:17.  For some there is a specific sin to which they easily and often fall victim.  No matter how hard they try they cannot outrun it, but are "overtaken" in that trespass.  The writer to the Hebrews describes it as "the sin which so easily ensnares us."  Hebrews 12:1. 

Those "who are spiritual" are to "restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness."  Not all brethren are spiritual, even though they have been born again of the Spirit.  For example, in his letter to the Christians at the Corinthian church, where it appears that all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit were operative and manifest, Paul wrote, "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ."  1 Corinthians 3:1.  Some believers are spiritually immature and never grow up.  Only spiritual believers are qualified to restore those caught up in sin.

Restoration must be gentle.  A church had a fiery preacher, who vehemently preached against sin to the extent that the members of the congregation were afraid to share their shortcomings and weaknesses with him.  He did little personal counseling.  People stayed away from him.  Later he received a call from another church and was replaced by a more gentle shepherd.  The people opened their hearts to him.  He was a spiritual man, who understood how to restore the fallen in the spirit of gentleness.

In our study we have learned about the royal law of love, the law of liberty, the law of faith, and the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 6:2 introduces us to another law.  "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."  The law of Christ is the law of love, demonstrated by a practical concern for others.  Jesus said, "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.  The Lord wants His children to be free to bear burdens.

Paul exhorts us, "Let each one examine his own work."  Galatians 6:4.  It's easy to find ourselves examining and evaluating what others are doing.  The apostle Peter exhibited this tendency, when he questioned Jesus about the apostle John, asking, "Lord, what about this man?"  Jesus replied, "What is that to you?  You follow Me."  John 21:21, 22.

Are you a help or a hindrance to others?  Do you gather or scatter?  Matthew 12:30.  Can you rejoice in what you are doing for the Lord?  Can you serve Him without being puffed up?

If you want to become a bearer of other people's burdens, start by carrying your own load.  Pull your own weight.  "For each shall bear his own burden."  Galatians 6:5.  As a Christian you are free to accept the challenge to live for others.

 

The Challenge to Do Good.  (6:6-10)

The apostle Paul supported himself as a tentmaker, so that he would not be a financial burden to others.  See 2 Corinthians 12:13-15; 1 Thessalonians 2:9.  He and his missionary companions were different than some preachers of their day.  He wrote, "For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ."  2 Corinthians 2:17.

He is also the one who wrote, "Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches."  This means that students should support their teachers.  Churches should support their leaders.  Paul himself accepted gifts from the church at Philippi.  Philippians 4:10, 15, 16.  Christian churches and organizations need to exercise mature discretion when it comes to financial matters.

Sowing and reaping is a biblical principle in the area of both money and ministry.  "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life."  Galatians 6:7, 8.  Those who feed their sinful nature will display the works of the flesh described in our last lesson.  Sowing to the Spirit has its own reward.

Many Christian workers experience weariness and discouragement at times.  To them Paul says "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lost heart."  Galatians 6:9.  Burnout is not uncommon among pastors, chaplains, and missionaries.  Often misunderstood and unappreciated they need the prayerful support and encouragement of God's people.

"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."  Galatians 6:10.  It was said of the Lord Jesus that He "went about doing good."  Acts 10:38.  He has made us free to walk in His steps.

 

The Challenge to Glory in the Cross.  (6:11-17)

Some Bible teachers think that the apostle Paul dictated this epistle to the Galatians until Galatians 6:11.  They might be correct.  We can be certain that Paul wrote the remaining eight verses.  "See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand."  Some attribute the large letters to the apostle's poor vision.

Finally, he contrasts the circumcision of the flesh and the cross of Christ.  The legalists compelled others to be circumcised, desiring "to make a good showing in the flesh...that they may boast" about it.

Those who preached the message of the cross suffered persecution.  The cross excludes all other ways to God.  Many in Paul's day were polytheistic, believing in many gods.  If Paul and the apostles had preached that Jesus was one of many ways, their message would have been well received.  If he had preached circumcision and the law, many of the Jews would have embraced him.  But he did not compromise the cross.

"But God forbid that I should boast (or glory) except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ...."  Galatians 6:14.  Paul expressed his determination in 1 Corinthians 2:2: "For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."  He preached the story of Jesus and His love.  He was single-minded, glorying in the cross.

Christ has made us free through the cross.  The world, the flesh, and the devil were defeated at Calvary.  Paul testifies that by the cross "the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."  Galatians 6:14.  To the church at Rome he wrote, "Our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with (or rendered inoperative)."  Romans 6:6.  God dealt with our sinful nature at the cross.  Victory over Satan and all the demonic forces of hell was accomplished when Jesus "disarmed principalities and powers...triumphing over them in it (the cross)."  Colossians 2:15.  His victory is our victory.  Hallelujah for the cross!

"In the cross of Christ I glory,
Tow'ring o'er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.
Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
By the cross are sanctified;
Peace is there that knows no measure,
Joys that thro' all time abide."

How will you exercise your liberty in Christ?  Are you up to the challenge?

 

Closing Benediction.  (6:18)

"Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Amen."

 

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