Lesson 23: The Spiritual Galatians – Galatians 6:1-5

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

You're listening to Lesson 23 from the sermon series "Galatians" by Pastor Ricky Kurth. When you're done, explore more sermons from this series.



The word “fault” (6:1) here is one of the Bible’s many words for sin. But here, Paul is not talking about the persistent kind of sin practiced by the man in I Corinthians 5:1,2. The word “overtaken” (6:1) means this man was trying to escape the temptation to sin (cf.Ex.14:9), but it overtook him. Such a man needs to be “restored,” not disfellowshipped like the man living in persistent sin. That Corinthian, like the rest of the Corinthians, thought grace was a license to sin, and so they didn’t mourn their sin. A man trying to escape sin but overtaken by it is likely to mourn it and repent of what he did.

The word “restore” means to give a man back something he lost (cf.Gen.40:21). Saved sinners don’t lose salvation, they lose “the joy” of salvation (Ps.51:12). They begin beating themselves up for their sin. Spiritual believers who know Paul’s message of grace (Gal.6:1 cf. Cor.14:37) must do the restoring. We do it by assuring sinners that God is “satisfied” with Christ’s payment for their sins (Isa.53:11), so they should be too, and quit beating themselves up for sinning.

This restoration is to be done “in the spirit of meekness” (6:1), that of thinking a fallen brother is above you (IPet.3:1-5cf.Phil.2:3) rather than thinking you’re above him because you didn’t sin his sin. The legalists in Galatia were instead coming down on sinners like a ton of bricks, because they’d never consider that they might be tempted to sin their sins, as Galatians 6:1 says. But Paul says they might (ICor.10:12)!

The legalists were doing what the legalistic Pharisees did— they bound heavy burdens on men (Mt.23:2,4), i.e., rules that go beyond what the Bible said. Paul advises bearing one another’s burdens instead (Gal.6:2). This fulfills the law of Christ, that of loving your neighbor as the Lord loved you (Jo.13:34). Christ pleased not Himself when He bore the burden of our sins, so we should bear the “infirmities” of weaker brothers (Rom.15:1), i.e., the rules that go beyond what the Bible says that believers lay on themselves (Rom.14:2). We bear that burden by picking it up ourselves (Rom.14:21). Paul is drawing a contrast between legalists who lay the burden of rules that go beyond what the Bible says on men, to grace believers who take the rules that go beyond what the Bible says that men put on themselves and bear them themselves.

Legalists would never bear the burdens of others because they think they are above others, thinking they are “something” (Gal.6:3). Paul says they are “nothing” because they lack the love he’s been talking about (cf.ICor.13:2), the love for others that makes you fulfil the law of Christ by bearing their burdens. Legalists could use some self-examination, so Paul recommends some (Gal.6:4).He tells them to prove their own work (6:4), i.e., their own service for the Lord (cf.ICor.15:58), because someday the Lord will “try” it at the Judgment Seat of Christ (ICor.3:13). Paul tells them this because legalists always try or test the works of other believers, not their own, seeking to find fault with them, and they always end up biting and devouring one another (Gal.5:15). All because they try to work out the salvation of others, and not their own (Phil.2:12,14).

If the legalists would prove their own work, Paul says they’d have rejoicing in themselves (Gal.6:4), i.e., in their own personal rules that go beyond what the Bible says (Rom.14:22). Instead, they were rejoicing in getting others to follow their rules that went beyond what the Bible asks, like circumcision (Gal.6:12,13).

Paul concludes this chapter by reminding the Galatians that we “shall” all bear our burdens, i.e., bear it to the Lord’s Judgment Seat, where “every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10,12), so we should focus on working out our own salvation, and not that of others.

A video of this sermon is available on YouTube: The Spiritual Galatians (Galatians 6:1-5)

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