Galatians 6


“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.” Galatians 6:1

Doing Good To All

As we enter the final chapter of Galatians, we find Paul writing to the church in Galatia concerning their responsibilities toward one another in Christian service.

He tells them that there are things that must be done to fight against the negative impact these legalistic teachers have done within the church.

Paul says that there are times when a Christian lets their guard down, and sin can easily enter our lives and overtake us and before we know what’s happened we become under the bondage of sin again.

We must be on our guard as Christians against the devil and His schemes, 1 Peter 5:8. The devil whom Peter describes as a lion, roars, not only when it’s hunting but also when it’s about to attack its prey.

Whose responsible for helping those who are caught up in sin? Paul says, ‘you who live by the Spirit’, in other words, those who are spiritually mature. Why would that be the case? Why wouldn’t a young immature Christian be responsible for helping those caught up in sin?

It’s the responsibility of the strong in the faith to watch out for the weak in the faith, that’s why having spiritually mature elders is so important for a church. This doesn’t mean that the spiritually mature are beyond temptation and sin but it means they should be mature enough to deal with the situation.

They are mature enough to understand that they’re dealing with spiritual things, in the spiritual realms. Whereas a younger immature Christian may not have the experience in dealing with people.

Notice how the mature Christian should go about helping someone caught up in sin, ‘you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently’.

Paul says, restoring someone should be done with a spirit of gentleness, Galatians 5:23. In the context of Galatians, Paul is saying that those who have given in to the onslaught of legalism must be restored.

There were many legalists among the churches in Galatia, but not all of them were legalists, some of them knew what grace was all about, and they understand the nature of God’s grace. It’s the legalist who are the first to condemn and then ask for others to conform to their judgment.

Those who understand God’s grace, trust in God’s grace for salvation by faith and it is those Christians, that Paul is appealing to, to help those other Christians, whose lives have been devastated by legalistic teaching. And what does that tell us?

It tells us that, like newborn babies, human beings are fragile. We make a mess of trying to restore someone who’s caught up in sin because we don’t understand the meaning of the word ‘restore’. Paul says, ‘you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.’

If I had a beautiful vase on my coffee table and someone came along and knocked it over and broke it. If I really loved that vase, I would go out of my may to have it restored and I would place it back where it belongs on the coffee table.

Yes, you may see the cracks from where it was broken, yes it may not look as beautiful as it once did but the restoration isn’t all about the outward looks, it’s about putting that vase back where it belongs. Restore means to repair and to put back to where it was indented to be.

God is in the restoration business, we see the cracks of sin in our lives, we feel the brokenness in our souls that our sin leaves behind, but when God restores, He puts us back to where we’re supposed to be.

We make a mess of it because we see that broken vase, we think we’ve restored it but all we’ve done is leave it in the cupboard, instead of being on that coffee table where it belongs.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

The Greek word used here for burden is ‘baros’, which implies a heavy weight. Paul is speaking about Christians having sympathy or and bearing each other’s sorrows, due to sins or misfortunes, Romans 15:1.

The legalist wants to add to our burdens, they add the burden of their traditions and opinions on the conscience of those who are sincerely seeking to serve God. However, it’s our responsibility as brothers in Christ to help one another in the faith, Romans 12:10 / James 5:16.

Christianity doesn’t isolate individuals from one another. Christians must individually and collectively support one another to be faithful, Hebrews 10:23-24. The law of Christ is to love one another and this law of Christ brings individuals together into a common bond and fellowship, John 13:34.

The law of the legalist doesn’t do that, their law divides, and it divides by the binding of strict hair-splitting opinions and interpretations, Galatians 5:14. Loving one another means carrying each other’s burdens, but you need to allow the church to do that.

God doesn’t want you to suffer or struggle with anything, He provided a church family to help you carry the load. The legalistic won’t carry your burden they’ll add to it, and they’ll give you, even more, to struggle with.

“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.” Galatians 6:3-5

The legalist has deceived himself into thinking that his works have justified him before God. They don’t need the grace of God, they just need to keep the rules. And all that does is promote arrogant self-deception, and it clouds our minds of the grace of God, Romans 12:3 / 1 Corinthians 10:12.

And how do we know if we’re becoming a little too arrogant and self-reliant? We know we’re becoming arrogant and self-reliant when we start comparing ourselves with others.

As Christians, we must consider our own work in reference to God alone, otherwise, we start boasting about our good works and contrasting our good works against our brothers and sisters.

In other words, when we start contrasting ourselves with others, we begin to judge others by our own standards and not God’s. Paul looked at his own work as a response to God’s grace, 1 Corinthians 15:10. He understood he didn’t work his way into God’s grace, but grace has worked him into God’s work of grace, Ephesians 2:8-10.

The point is that those who are of the faith of Abraham, view their work in response to God’s grace but the legalist views his work in comparison to his brother. Those of the faith of Abraham work in thanksgiving but the legalist works and compares his work with his brother.

Notice what Paul later, ‘for each one should carry their own load’. Wait a minute Paul, didn’t you just say that we’re to ‘carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, we will fulfil the law of Christ.’

Well, as pointed out earlier, the Greek word used in Galatians 6:2 refers to a heavy burden to be borne, the bearing of each other’s sorrows, due to sins or misfortunes.

The Greek word used in Galatians 6:9, for burden is ‘phortion’ refers to the burden of a soldier, in other words, every soldier must carry his own pack.

Paul is speaking about how every one has to bear their own responsibility, fulfilling the purpose of his own responsibility, filling the purpose of their own life.

Every Christian is responsible for carrying their own weight. We all have a load to bear, but it is comparatively light, Matthew 11:30. The burden in Galatians 6:2 is an excessive burden. The load in Galatians 6:5 is our normal burden of responsibility.

Now I know that we’re family and we’re supposed to help each other but ultimately, we’re responsible for our own relationship with God, Romans 2:6 / 1 Corinthians 3:8 / Galatians 6:4 / James 4:12. When it comes to the final judgment, no one will be responsible for someone else’s personal behaviour, 2 Corinthians 5:10.

There’s a real blessing when Christians share with each other and those around them. And after speaking about the importance of sharing each other’s burdens, whilst at the same carrying your own load.

Paul now goes on to speak about another aspect of sharing, the sharing of our finances with the teacher or preacher of God’s word.

“Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.” Galatians 6:6

The word, ‘share’ that Paul uses here is the Greek word ‘koinonia’ and it means to share in joint partnership. It’s the same word that Luke uses in Acts 2:42 when he speaks about what the new Christians devoted themselves to, it’s the word, ‘fellowship’.

Paul is saying that Christians have the blessing of sharing their finances to support their preachers or teachers, 1 Corinthians 9:11-12. It’s a great privilege and honour to support those who teach us, but we need to be sure we’re supporting the right people.

“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.” Galatians 6:7-8

It seems that the Galatians were doing what the Corinthians were doing, that is, supporting the wrong teachers, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15. When Paul later wrote to the church in Corinth, the Corinthians were supporting those who were denying the apostleship of Paul and were teaching a whole bunch of false doctrines.

This is what the Galatians were doing, too, they were supporting the Judaizing teachers who were teaching that Christians needed to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. And so, Paul warns them that if they do this, they will reap what they sow.

In other words, if they sow by supporting those who are emphasising the works of the flesh in reference to law-keeping and meritorious works, then they will reap the results of such behaviour, but if they sow to the Spirit, they will reap the kingdom of God.

Paul’s telling them that they must stop supporting these Judaizing teachers. If we sow spiritual things, we will reap spiritual things, if we sow fleshly, we will reap what the flesh produces.

In this context, Paul is basically saying, if these Galatian Christians continue to invest their money into these false teachers. These false teachers who were promoting a gospel that included legalistic law-keeping. They will ultimately reap the consequences of supporting them, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9.

God says that we will reap what we sow, not only in this life but also in that which is to come, Romans 2:6.

Before we move on let me explain something that troubles me, especially when I hear Christians speaking about sowing and reaping.

Many Christians wrongly believe in ‘karma’, saying that the principle of sowing and reaping and karma is the same. Karma is a belief in Hinduism and Buddhism, something that isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Bible.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says Karma is ‘the force created by a person’s actions that are believed in Hinduism and Buddhism to determine what that person’s next life will be like’ or ‘the force created by a person’s actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to that person’.

In other words, karma teaches people to believe that they will always get what they deserve. If they do good, good things will naturally come their way, if they do bad, bad things will inevitably come, and so on.

While the idea of having good comes around again for the good things we do. And having bad come around again for the bad things we do, sounds like the sowing and reaping principle of Galatians 6:7, it really isn’t.

Karma insists on receiving the returns of what we do today in the afterlife, something like ‘if you’re a bad man today, you’ll be a dirt-eating fly in the next life.’ But the Bible gives us just one simple explanation to say what we deserve.

The Bible simply says that all of us deserve nothing good for what we’ve done and how we’ve lived, Romans 3:10 / Romans 3:23 / Romans 6:23.

Karma says we can do good and receive our due after this life but the Bible says there’s nothing we can do in this life to make us worthy of receiving goodness in this life and in the life to come.

What’s more, karma says all of us will live again, to either a better or worse life based on what we do today. The Bible, however, says that we can only live, if we believe in the Son of God, John 3:16-17. In other words, our actions can’t win a better afterlife for us, only the blood of Jesus can.

Notice how Paul concludes with what he’s been teaching throughout the letter. He’s contrasting those who sow to the Spirit, with those who are sowing to the flesh. Paul says that those who sow to the flesh will reap the curse of God, Galatians 1:6-9.

In Galatians 5:20-21 after giving us a list of sins which says if you are continually involved in these sins, you won’t inherit eternal life, which tells us if we’re not involved in those sins, we will reap eternal life. Those who sow to the works of the flesh will reap certain destruction but those who sow to the Spirit will reap certain life.

The Greek word for eternal is ‘aionion’ and Paul is using it in reference to the quality of life to come. Christians have this life now as a result of God’s grace, but it will continue into the future in the presence of God.

“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. See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!” Galatians 6:9-11

We must remember we’re not responsible for making Christians, God is. But we need to let others know of that good news, to give them a chance to become Christians, and to share that message with others in order for God to work on those people with His word.

And the reason we do good works is simply because God has work for us to do. God has work for us to do, it’s all prepared for us, but we need to make ourselves available to do those good works, Ephesians 2:10.

Doing good works isn’t about us, it isn’t even about those we help, it’s about giving God the glory that only He deserves, Matthew 5:16. We do good because we are saved, not to become saved. We do good because we are in Christ, not in order to come into Christ, Philippians 2:12-13.

Jesus began two thousand years ago, to fulfil the Father’s will by His good works and His sacrifice on the cross. He delivered His message, but He wants us to finish the picture. There are good works to be fulfilled and we need to make it our business to finish them and so fulfilling those works He has planned for each of us.

The legalist will go to the judgment day in doubt because they have trusted in their own performance but the sons of faith will go to the judgment day with boldness because they have trusted in the atonement sacrifice of Jesus.

We should not give up on our good deeds because we’re doing God’s work and He promises that we will reap a harvest. We understand that between seedtime and harvest comes a time of waiting.

After a seed is planted, the heat, moisture and pressure of the ground finally cause the outer hull to crack open. Then roots shoot up, digging their way through the ground but it takes time for this to happen, and it takes place underground.

Above the ground, you can’t tell anything is happening and that’s the way our lives are. After we plant the Gospel seed, we feel like nothing is happening, but all kinds of things are happening inside where we can’t see. And like the seed that bursts through the ground with a beautiful green shoot, our seeds will finally come into a beautiful manifestation of God in our lives.

Aren’t you glad that Jesus didn’t give up? Aren’t you glad, He didn’t give up on us? Hebrews 12:3. We need to understand that God’s timing is often a mystery. He doesn’t do things on our timetable but His word promises that He will not be late, not one single day, Habakkuk 2:3.

God causes things to happen at exactly the right time and our job isn’t to figure out when, but to make up our minds that we won’t give up until we cross the finish line. We do good works because God has them prepared for us to do and we don’t give up because Jesus didn’t give up on us.

Some believe we should only look after each other, but Paul says the opposite, he says Christians must ‘do good to all people’. Paul says to the Galatians, ‘do good to all people’, and to Titus, he says, ‘doing good is excellent and profitable for everyone,’ Titus 3:8.

Why would Paul say, ‘especially to those who belong to the family of believers’? They say that charity begins at home and that’s certainly true. Too many Christians, even among our own number go unnoticed because they’re too embarrassed to ask for help. Some of them won’t ask for help because their pride gets in the way.

If we’re so quick to help those who aren’t Christians, we should be twice as quick to help our own. When we do good to those who aren’t Christians, we’re proclaiming to the world that Jesus is our Lord. And when we do good to those within our church family, we’re reminding them that they too have made Jesus their Lord.

In other words, all our good works not only benefit us but benefit the world too. But the glory for doing those good works goes to God, Psalm 115:1.

Paul says, ‘See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!’ It’s possible he was emphasising the seriousness of his letter, and it’s possible he’s emphasising a warning about what he’s about to write.

I personally believe he was writing with large letters because he was going blind. I believe this because Paul has already mentioned it in his letter, Galatians 4:12-15.

“Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh.” Galatians 6:12-13

The problem with legalists is that they always want to be recognised, they’re always fighting to become popular among the saints. In other words, it’s all about status and when they get that status, they go all out to recruit other Christians to their own doctrine.

But the problem with seeking status is that it promotes pride, Romans 11:20 / 1 Corinthians 10:12. These legalistic teachers wanted some status of importance in the church in an effort to get Christians to be circumcised.

The word ‘compel’ means to constrain, it means to persuade someone strongly or as we would say today, intimidate. These guys were using every tactic of intimidation they could think of, to get others to submit to their rules and regulations.

The same kind of tactics they used on Peter and the church in Antioch, Galatians 2:11-13. They were compelling the Gentile Christians to be circumcised in order that they might make an appearance of toeing the line with the law.

But the real reason behind this was to try and escape being persecuted for the sake of the cross of Christ. What they were doing was making themselves enemies of the cross, Philippians 3:18. This is how cults start, they intimidate people to conform to their ways.

Once the new converts totally conform, the new convert goes out to intimidate others to conform. In other words, their goal is to save the saved and they want their own group to grow, made up of people who now follow the original legalistic teaching.

Paul not only explains the motivation of the legalistic Judaizers, but he also shows their hypocrisy. He says they were zealous about keeping one part of the law, which was circumcision.

But the only reason they were zealous was because they wanted to impress those around them, Matthew 23:3. These guys were hypocrites because they wanted to keep one part of the law but ignore the other parts of the law, James 2:10-11.

In other words, Paul says these guys demand conformity to their standards but fail to measure up to perfect law-keeping, they are hypocrites.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14

Though the preaching of the cross brought persecution, Paul wouldn’t stop preaching about it, Romans 1:16. Though the atonement of the cross by the grace of God was foolishness to some, he would still proclaim that God’s grace was revealed by His Son hanging on the cross outside the city walls of Jerusalem, Philippians 3:3-7.

Legalists will always praise themselves in their own ability to keep law and they can always tell you about all the good deeds they’ve done. But Paul says that he personally would glory only in the grace that proceeds from the cross.

All that Paul had gained in the world, he had sacrificed for the grace that came from the cross. His old man of sin had been crucified when he came to Jesus.

“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.” Galatians 6:15

When Paul speaks about circumcision here, he’s using it in a way that stands for a legal system of religion and all that would involve. In other words, if you’re trying to be right with God solely through your good works, you’re wasting your time. He says if you’re trying to do that, then your meritorious efforts accomplish nothing.

There’s no religious significance to the act of circumcision and so it makes no difference whether a person is circumcised or not but what really counts and what is really important, is that we become a new creation, 1 Corinthians 7:19 / 2 Corinthians 5:17.

But how do we do that? We become a new creation when we’re baptised into Christ. We become a new creation by the atoning blood of Jesus, Acts 22:16 / Galatians 3:26-28.

“Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.” Galatians 6:16

Peace and mercy is the apostolic blessing which is invoked upon those who will walk under the Law of Christ, as distinguished from them that desire to cling to the Law of Moses.

What is this rule which Paul is speaking about here? The law of Christ, Galatians 5:1 / Galatians 5:2-4. God’s grace isn’t in vain in the life of the Christian who has given themselves to thank God through obedience, 1 Corinthians 15:10.

Christians don’t work in order to receive salvation, Christians work in order to thank God for all that was accomplished on the cross on their behalf.

That’s the rule Paul is speaking about, he’s speaking about a life that just overflows with thankfulness to God for what He has done for us and it’s demonstrated in our good works, 2 Corinthians 4:15.

When Paul speaks about the Israel of God, he’s referring to the true Jews, the true Israelites who became children of Abraham by faith, not by works of law and all Christians are sons of Abraham by faith, Romans 2:28-29 / Romans 4:13-16 / Romans 9:6-8.

“From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” Galatians 6:17

These Judaizers were boasting about their works in relation to law but Paul had only the scars left by those who persecuted him for preaching the Gospel of grace and faith, 2 Corinthians 4:10.

These Judaizers were boasting to their supporters concerning the mark of circumcision but Paul only had the scars of persecution for preaching the cross in order to deliver men from the bonds of paganism, 2 Corinthians 11:24-29.

This explains why Paul was so angry with these legalists, they were stealing the work of God that had been brought forth by the grace of God and Paul’s hard work.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.” Galatians 6:18

It’s grace that goes with every Christian, for in it, we all must trust, 2 Corinthians 12:9. It’s in grace that we find the boldness to speak about judgment. For we will all stand before God, not on the merit of our own performance of law or meritorious good works, but the foundation of the grace of God.

Everything we do, say and live for is because of the grace of God. Grace is what we are, we’re a living, talking example and advertisement of what grace is, 1 Corinthians 15:10.

In the closing of his letter to the Galatians, Paul calls on the favour of Jesus for the entire welfare of the Galatians church. It’s Paul’s prayer that Jesus shows special favour to them, 3 John 2.

The word ‘your’ is plural in the Greek text which means Paul is including the whole church which meets in Galatia.

Notice that the word ‘spirit’ isn’t a capital ‘S’, so he’s not referring to the Holy Spirit. Now you might ask, well, what difference does that make?

Just as God is a triune being made up of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. God created us as triune beings, made up of a spirit, soul and body, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.