The Gospel in Galatians
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
With this study, we turn to the last chapter in Galatians, chapter 6. The custom of Paul, always, is to end his epistles, or letters, with counsel or exhortation on Christian living. This is because the gospel is not some wonderful theory but the power of God unto salvation, salvation from sin, its guilt, its power, its punishment. It is a power that transforms our lives.
In our last study, which was Galatians 5:16-26, the apostle Paul describes the Christians in a struggle between the flesh and the Spirit and the way of victory as we submit the flesh to the cross of Christ and walk in the Spirit, who is able to bear fruit in our lives. In Galatians 6:1-10, which will be our present study, Paul describes some of the practical results of that victory or of Christian living which involves:
Let us begin our study by looking, first, at Galatians 6:1-5 and then we will go to the second half of our study, verses 6-10, doing good to others.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.
What is Paul saying here? First, when he uses the word “brother” or “brethren” [as some translations read], he says, “fellow believers.” He is now dealing with the relationship between Christians. This is the relationship that should be seen within the church, if one of your fellow believers is caught in sin. The words Paul uses here mean a slip or mishap. It’s like a man walking on a slippery road who slips and falls because the road is icy. This is in contrast to willfully, deliberately choosing a life of sin.
The apostle John brings out the same idea in 1 John 2:1:
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
He says, “My little children, I am not telling you the good news of salvation so that you may condone sin.” He uses the present continuous tense for the verb “sin.” In other words, if anyone makes a slip and falls, not because he wants to but because he has not yet learned to walk fully in the Spirit, how should we treat such a person? How should we treat a believer who has slipped? The answer is found in Galatians 6:1:
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
Now, what does he mean by “You who live by the Spirit”? In the first three verses of 1 Corinthians 3, we will discover that Paul divides all born again Christians into two camps:
Let us review this passage. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3:
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly — mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?
Paul says that when we first come to Christ, we are babes in Christ. Yes, we have become partakers of the divine nature. We are born again Christians. We have experienced the new birth but just as any human baby who is born with two legs has to learn how to walk and, while learning, falls many times, so also, a babe in Christ, who has to learn to walk in the Spirit, is often carnal or controlled by the flesh. Therefore, the behavior of a carnal Christian, even though that person is accepted before God in Christ, has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him (see 1 Corinthians 3:16), the behavior of a carnal Christian is no different, to a large degree, from the behavior of an unconverted man. In Corinthians, Paul is rebuking the Christians for remaining babes in Christ approximately 10 years after their conversion.
It is wonderful to have a baby in the home. Parents, especially the mother, are happy to change diapers for one, two, or maybe three years. But after 10 years, if the mother still has to change diapers, there is something drastically wrong with that child. If a Christian, having experienced the new birth, is still walking in the flesh 10 years later, there is something wrong. In Galatians 6, Paul is saying that mature Christians will always help the immature Christian when he falls just like a mother or the parents will lift up a child that has fallen who is learning how to walk.
What are the signs, the evidence of maturity? What does it mean to be a mature Christian? A mature Christian is one who has lost all confidence in himself, who says:
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
This is a quotation from Romans 7:18. Therefore, a mature Christian does not look down upon the person who has fallen but says to himself, “There go I, but for the grace of God.” This is the difference between a mature Christian and a legalist.
A legalist is always comparing himself with those who have less success. An example of this is found in John 8:2-11:
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
One day, Jesus was preaching to the people. There was a large crowd encircling Him. He was giving them a message when suddenly they heard a commotion at the back. They saw some men. Everybody knew who these men were because there were large boxes tied on top of their heads. They were Pharisees. They looked like unicorns. Those boxes contained scriptural texts. They were pushing the crowd aside and they were dragging in a woman. They dropped her in front of Jesus. This was all planned. The purpose was to trap Jesus. They said, “Master (not Messiah, but teacher), Moses says that when anyone is caught in the act of adultery, they should be stoned and we have caught her in the very act. What is your verdict of this woman?” Jesus, instead of replying, bent down and began writing in the sand. The Pharisees thought that they had trapped Him at last. They said to themselves that this was a successful plan to trap Jesus. If Jesus said, “Don’t stone her,” He would have been breaking the law of Moses. On the other hand, if He said, “Stone her,” He would be going against the law of Rome. Either decision would get Him into trouble. They thought they had Him trapped. They said, tell us, what is your verdict? Jesus, looking up at them made a very interesting statement. He said, “He that has no sin, let him throw the first stone.” This is how our English Bible translates it. But in the text in the original Greek language, the word “sin” is preceded by the definite article. Jesus really said, “He that is without the sin.” Jesus was not referring to any kind of sin. He was referring to the sin of which these Pharisees were accusing Mary. It is very interesting that if they caught her in the very act, what about the man? He was one of them! Suddenly, the Pharisees realized that Jesus could see through the facade. He could see through their mask and they realized that He knew that they were just as guilty as she was. One by one they walked away.
Spiritual Christians recognize that, even though they may not be committing acts of sin, they are potentially, by nature, even after their conversion, one hundred percent sinners, saved by grace. It is not our acts of sin that make us sinners. This is the mistake that the Jews made.
Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
“I did not know sin until the law showed me that ‘You shall not covet.’” Why did he choose that specific command? It was because covetousness has nothing to do with an act but is a cherished desire that contradicts the will of God.
- Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
- So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
- So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
He says that there is in him a force, a principle, that he calls sin. “It is not I but sin that lives in me.” He calls it the law of sin and death. This makes us sinners. We are born with it and, therefore, we are born sinners. Our sinful acts are simply the outward evidence, the fruits of what we are, just as sanctification, Christian living, should be the fruits of what we are in Jesus Christ.
Paul says here that we should bear one another’s burdens because we belong to one body, just as when the toe kicks a stone and is hurt, the whole body comes to its aid, so also we should bear each other’s burdens. We should not look at ourselves as superior to others because we are all one hundred percent sinners, saved by grace.
We find a simple illustration of this in the New Testament and especially Paul’s writings. Paul compared the church with the human body. 1 Corinthians 12:27:
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
The body is many members but it is one body. These members are vitally linked to the head which, spiritually, in the church, is Christ. The body is totally controlled by the head. Here is an example. Let us say that my stomach is hungry. It’s empty and wants food. It sends a message to the head. “Head, I’m starving.” The head sends a message to the legs. “Take this body to the fridge.” Now, the legs do not say to the head, “I am not hungry. If the stomach is hungry, why doesn’t it go itself?” No, the legs are in total submission to the head. That is what we Christians must be to Jesus Christ. The legs take the body to the fridge. Now, the head orders the hands, “Open the door and bring the food out and feed the stomach.” The hands don’t say to the head, “I am not hungry. I am tired. I want to rest. If the stomach wants to eat, it can feed itself.” No, the hands also are in total submission to the head. And so must we be.
As Christians, we are living under the dominance of Jesus Christ. If Christians are walking in the Spirit and are constantly applying the principle of the cross to their lives — “I am crucified with Christ; I am still living; It is not I, but Christ lives in me” — then we will have an attitude towards the believer as if their fault, their mishap, is ours. Then, in gentleness, in kindness, and in love, we will restore them because they are part of us. This is the power of the gospel.
Sin has not only alienated us from God, but sin has brought alienation between man and man. It has produced all kinds of divisions in this world — racial, class, tribal, caste, and color. It has produced bamboo curtains and iron curtains. All of this is the result of sin.
In the New Testament times, the world was divided between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and masters. Today, it is divided with all kinds of factions. The gospel removed every partition wall. It brought down every human barrier, and brought about the brotherhood of mankind in Jesus Christ. There is no male and no female. There is no Jew and no Gentile. There is no slave and no master. There is no rich and no poor, no educated, no uneducated. We are all one in Christ. This, is what the gospel does in the Christian church.
Talking to His disciples, Jesus says in John 13:34-35:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
“I want you to love each other just as I have loved you” — unconditionally, without a cause, spontaneously. When the world sees this unconditional, self-emptying love reflected in the behavior of the believers, then it will know that they are His disciples. We are living in the scientific age which simply will not accept the theory of the gospel. The scientific age wants the gospel to be proven.
The reason so many countries in Eastern Europe turned Marxist is because Christianity failed to reveal the life of Christ and it is failing today in Bosnia and other countries. Do you know why Islam took over the Middle East? Those countries were once Christian countries. What happened? The church lost its saltiness. It became only an outward form of religion, denying the power thereof. As a result, Islam, in the Seventh Century, took over and today the prominent religion of the Middle East is Islam. Who is to blame? The Christian church has failed to demonstrate the power of the gospel.
Paul is saying, if the gospel is truly controlling our lives, we are free, not just free from the guilt and condemnation of the law, but we are free from the power and the slavery of self which dominates the unconverted man. Then we can love each other unconditionally, as Jesus loves us.
There is a second result of the Christian walk, in Galatians 6:6-10:
Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
The Christian not only carries the burden for one another, the Christian has not only a loving relationship between brother and brother and restores those who are struggling, learning to walk in the Spirit, but the Christian goes about doing good. Most Christians have great difficulty reconciling grace with law or faith with works because outwardly, they seem to be opposing each other.
Because of this, many Christians who accept grace and faith, undermine or downplay law and works. And vice versa. This is a great error because — while it is true we are not saved by faith plus works or faith plus circumcision or faith plus keeping the law, we are saved by faith alone — the Bible most definitely teaches that we are saved by faith that works. The apostle James in chapter 2:14-24, brings this out clearly when he says:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.
You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
“Faith without works is dead.” Genuine justification by faith does produce works.
A passage that puts this in a beautiful nutshell is Ephesians 2:8-10:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.
We are saved by grace alone, through faith and our works make no contribution towards our salvation. But we must not stop at verse 9. We must read verse 10:
For we [those who are justified by faith through grace] are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
The fruits of justification are good works.
Another passage that says the same thing is from the apostle Paul. This one is in Titus, a little book after 2 Timothy. We will read two passages from Titus. The first one is Titus 2:14 which says:
...Who [referring to Christ] gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Now we turn to Titus 3:5 and 8, one dealing with our salvation, the other dealing with the fruits of salvation. First, verse 5:
...He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit....
That is how we are saved.
But now, in verse 8, he adds,
This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God [the born again Christian, the person who is justified by faith in God’s gift, Jesus Christ, those who believe in God] may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone [not to yourself but to others].
When Jesus was on this earth, He went about doing good. So also must a Christian reflect that life of Christ because Christianity is not simply a mental assent to the truth. But Christianity, in reality, is participating in Jesus Christ. Christianity is saying, “Not I, but Christ,” or “For me to live is Christ.” Colossians 1:27:
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The world no longer sees us but sees Christ living in us, the hope of glory.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:14a, talking to the disciples:
“You are the light of the world.”
The “you” is in the plural form in the original. The word “light” is in the singular. We are many but one light. That light is Jesus Christ who lightens every man today through us and in us.
Having said this, we will read what Paul says in Galatians 6:6-10. Verse 6:
Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
God has chosen some to spend their full time in preaching the word, in evangelizing the unchurched. These people had to survive in this world and Paul is saying, “Those who feed you spiritually, who bless you spiritually by the proclamation of the word, you in turn must share your material blessing with them.”
Then, in verse 7, he lays down a fundamental principle:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
What is Paul saying here? That which man sows, he will reap. This is a fundamental principle, not only in agriculture, but in all things of life. This is one of the remarkable verses of Scripture. This is an immutable law that operates in every sphere of life, in agriculture, in physics, and in our daily living. A great evangelist was a drunkard before his conversion. One day someone asked him why he only drank carbonated water at church socials while others enjoyed banana splits and milkshakes. Do you know what his reply was? “When the Lord gave me a new heart at my conversion, He did not give me a new stomach.” That is a wonderful truth in the sense that He gave us a new heart. But the tragedy is we still have sinful natures. And because of this, we have a constant struggle with the flesh and, therefore, this inner struggle with the flesh and Spirit will continue to our dying day.
The question is, “How do we respond?” Some of the answers were given in our last study. Now we will look at Galatians 6:8:
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
In our last study, we looked at Romans 8, especially verses 5-14 where Paul says that the mind of the person walking in the flesh, is preoccupied with fleshly things:
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation — but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Friends, a Christian should not sow in the flesh. A farmer, for example, who plants corn expects corn in the harvest. He doesn’t expect wheat. What we plant is what is produced. Let our minds be totally dependent on the Spirit so our lives will be Spirit-controlled.
Paul says in verses 9 and 10 (of Galatians 5):
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
This is Christianity. It is the evidence of the power of the gospel in your life and mine.