Galatians 6 - New Creation in Christ

INTRODUCTION: As Paul concludes this letter he instructs the Galatians to consider some of the practical examples of conduct that should be part of the Christian life together. He also gives a warning that we are not preparing properly for our heavenly home if our efforts throughout life are toward material gain alone. We should remember that we are a new creation in Christ and therefore our hope is for those things that are eternal.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the Revised Webster Bible.


A - RESTORATION MUST BE DONE WITH A SPIRIT OF MEEKNESS

Galatians 6 "1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye who are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man thinketh himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden."

COMMENTS: Paul's statement about the likelihood of struggles against sin among believers should not surprise us, for the Lord Jesus spoke of our weakness toward temptations. Matthew "26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Paul used a phrase here that is unique in the New Testament in relation to the "law" that we should follow, and that is "fulfill the law of Christ." The Lord Jesus summarized all of the law as follows. Matthew "22:36 Master, which [is] the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said to him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second [is] like it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." We have freedom from the curse of the Levitical law that no person can completely fulfill, but we also have obligations to God and to others within that freedom. We have the weakness in the flesh just as does the one we might try to help, but the strength of the Lord is available to both. . 1 Corinthians "10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it]."

Paul wanted his readers to concentrate on strengthening their faith, and the faith of those around them as when he wrote to the Thessalonians. 1 Thessalonians "4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort [you] by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received from us how ye ought to walk and to please God, [so] ye would abound more and more." When we offer help to another Christian who may be struggling in their faith, we must do so in humility as Paul similarly wrote to the Romans. Romans "12:3 For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith."

When Paul wrote about bearing one another's burdens {Gr. baros}, he used a Greek term that more likely reflects the weight, heaviness, or pressures we feel from life circumstances. what he says later does not need to present a contradiction, as he used a different Greek word when he said each one must bear his own burden {Gr. phortion}. The second term can refer to the burden of the Levitical law expressed as required religious rites for justification. Jesus made this comment about the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Matthew "23:4 For they bind heavy burdens {Gr. phortion} and grievous to be borne, and lay [them] on men's shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers." In contrast, the lighter burden of serving Christ can be carried in thankfulness for his gift of salvation. Matthew "11:27 All things are delivered to me by my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, except the Son, and [he] to whomever the Son will reveal [him]. 28 Come to me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest to your souls. 30 For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden {Gr. phortion} is light." Not all struggles are eliminated for the Christian, but we have this sure hope, 2 Corinthians "4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh out for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight {Gr. baros} of glory;" That is an eternal treasure we will gladly carry!


B - YOU WILL REAP WHAT YOU SEW

Galatians 6 "6 Let him that is taught in the word share with him that teacheth in all good things. 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all [men], especially to them who are of the household of faith."

COMMENTS: though Paul often worked to support himself as he traveled and ministered to others, he wanted those in the church to know that the shepherds of the church flock deserved to receive compensation from the body of believers. 1 Corinthians "9:13 Do ye not know that they who minister about holy things live [from the things] of the temple? and they who wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they who preach the gospel should live by the gospel." Paul also wrote of this matter to Timothy who was one of those shepherds. 1 Timothy "5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the grain. And, The labourer [is] worthy of his reward."

Paul then made a statement of caution to be aware that perhaps not all who gather to worship with a company of believers have been truly converted by faith. Some of the readers of this letter may think they belong to the Lord, but they need to be sure that they are not actually mocking God with a hollow faith. Not long before the northern kingdom of Israel was to begin their fall to their enemies, with Judah to suffer the same result decades later, one of the Lord's prophets penned these words. Hosea "10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for [it is] time to seek the LORD, till he shall come and rain righteousness upon you." Hollow acts of worship are always recognized by the Lord. Isaiah "29:13 Therefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:"

Centuries after Isaiah, the Lord Jesus spoke of the same pretense of followers, and it carries down to the present age. Mark "7:6 He answered and said to them, Well hath Isaiah prophesied concerning you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 But in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, [as] the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said to them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoever curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, [It is] Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatever thou mightest be profited by me; [he shall be free]. 12 And ye permit him no more to do any thing for his father or his mother; 13 Making the word of God of no effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things ye do." James wrote in his letter that we must read the word of God and apply it to our lives. James "1:23 For if any is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and immediately forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But he who looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [in it], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."


C - A NEW CREATION IN CHRIST

Galatians 6 "11 Ye see how large a letter I have written to you with my own hand. 12 As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. 14 But may it never be that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace [be] on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. 18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with your spirit. Amen."

COMMENTS: In chapter 4 of this letter Paul had written that the Galatians would have plucked out their eyes if they could give them to him, and now he states that he personally wrote this letter even though he apparently had to use large writing to do so. As he drew the letter to a close he again emphasized the central topic of circumcision. Those who require circumcision for everyone in the church are doing so to avoid any persecution from staunch Jews who oppose the salvation that is represented only by the cross of Christ. Those men want to be able to boast about any they have seemingly "converted" even though no one can be saved by keeping the law. Paul wanted it to be clear that he would rejoice only in the salvation brought by the cross of Christ whereby he said he considers the offerings of the material world as being dead because they are temporary as if being crucified. He considers he has died to the world and lives now in God's kingdom. The mark of being saved by Christ is not in circumcision or uncircumcision, but those who are saved become a new creation in Christ. Paul had already written in chapter 5 that circumcision was not the key factor. Galatians "5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 7 Ye did run well; who hindered you that ye should not obey the truth?"

Paul gave an explanation of the new creation in Christ when he wrote to the Corinthians. 2 Corinthians "5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And [that] he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live to themselves, but to him who died for them, and rose again. 16 Therefore henceforth we know no man according to the flesh: though indeed, we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now henceforth we know [him] no more. 17 Therefore if any man [is] in Christ, [he is] a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 And all things [are] from God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 That is, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and hath committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

Paul said that peace and mercy will be on those who live in accordance with the principal of being a new creation in Christ, and they will be part of the Israel of God. This is a confirmation of what Paul had written in Galatians "3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." Galatians "3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." It seems that Paul has spent emotional energy from his heart in this letter, and believes he has done all he can to make his explanation clear when he says "From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." His complimentary close again draws attention to Christ, "Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen."


--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, whether I give words of restoration to another, or am in need of receiving them myself, may I remember the inherent weakness of the flesh so I will conduct myself with humility. Guide all of my relations with other Christians toward the goal of fulfilling the law of Christ in love, while keeping in mind that I must not think more highly of myself than I ought. I need your Spirit within me to direct me toward the daily process of sowing generously to the growth of your kingdom from the resources you have given me. I want to share with the people you bring across my pathway in life, but especially with those of the household of faith. I praise you Lord for making me a new creation in Christ and for giving me grace and peace that is eternal in the spirit. Hallelujah for the incomparable cross of Christ! Amen.

Galatians, Chapter 1 - No Other Gospel
Galatians, Chapter 2 - Gentile Circumcision
Galatians, Chapter 3 - Faith Came before the Law
Galatians, Chapter 4 - Heirs of God
Galatians, Chapter 5 - Liberty in Christ

Published 22 January 2013