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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what the book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is important too. You must be able to recognize counterfeit teaching.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, December 8, 2017

Galatians (6:6) (Lesson 23)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                       Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Galatians (6:6)                                                                      (Lesson 23)

Welcome to HBS.

One of my unswerving prayers is I never teach y’all something that does not line up with Scripture.  The other positive thing I attempt to do each week is I try to make this Bible study interesting, and I have to admit it isn’t effortless.  Certain books of the Bible lend themselves to storytelling and this, naturally, attracts readers because people enjoy a good story.  I offer Genesis and Exodus as two examples.  Hollywood moguls thought so too because several motion pictures were produced based on characters and events from these two books.  But I’ve yet to see a movie based on Galatians or Ephesians and probably never will, and that’s my point.  Some books of the Bible just don’t “light up the big screen” like other books.  Some people would call them “dry” or “boring.”  It takes a mature Believer to understand the entire Bible for what it is; “a love letter from the Creator God to His creation, inviting us to be reconciled to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:18).

Our salvation is just the first step in a process known as sanctification, thus I urge y’all to remember why we’re here:  For in Him we live and move and are.  ‘As also some of the poets among you have said, “For we are also His offspring (Acts 17:28 – Berean Literal Bible).

But the One sanctifying and those being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brothers (Hebrews 2:11).

Our life in the Spirit isn’t just a walk it’s a journey.  There are no short-cuts to learning how to walk by the Spirit (Romans 8:4-25).  You can take comfort in knowing you’re not journeying alone (Romans 5:3-5; Philippians 1:6).

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Please open your Bible at Galatians 6:6.

Galatians 6

6: The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.

The one who is taught – the word taught is from the Koine Greek word Katecheo, (Kat-ay-kleh’-o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #2727, which means to instruct.  Paul means to say the Galatians are involved in a regular, ongoing ministry.  Being taught the word of God is (or should be) a normal part of their life from now on. 

We worship God at church, that’s a given, but the primary reason Believers attend church services is to be taught the word of truth from the Bible.  To mature in the faith the Believer must hear from God regularly?  One of the ways a Believer can achieve this is by listening to the word being taught in their church.  It was done this way in the O.T. and in the first century church.  Those house churches would spend the majority of their time listening to the word of God. 

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12-13).

The Bible isn’t a dead language; this is the world’s viewpoint.  It’s living and active because its author is the One, true God.  When we read and study God’s Truths, His living power invades our hearts and grows within us; His power changes us from the inside out.

The word – we find this term in John 1:1, referring to Jesus Christ.  The word is the gospel of and about Jesus Christ.  Our Apostle Paul uses a variety of ways to refer to this “word.”  

The word of God – 1 Corinthians 14:36; 2 Corinthians 2:17; Philippians 1:14; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13
The word of the Lord – 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:1
The word – Galatians 6:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Colossians 4:3; 2 Timothy 4:2

At the risk of upsetting some people, I need to point something out to y’all.  Some time ago many churches in an effort to bolster their membership ranks and in an attempt to halt the flow of families leaving the church decided to provide some “glamour and glitz” to their Sunday services in hopes of producing the “Wow” effect amongst the congregations and this trend is ongoing.  But here’s the thing, despite all the effort, energy, and money diverted to this program, and it is substantial, the church is not a member of the entertainment industry.  It’s not about the church leader, their diverse programs, or the spectacle they can provide.  These can all go away, but what must not diminish is the word of God or its Truths; its content (nothing added and nothing taken away) must be taught regularly to the Body of Christ.  Sadly, this is exactly what has diminished in the church today.  In the one place where God’s Truth should be found, and heard routinely, many churches are failing.    

Is to share – this phrase relates to the law of spiritual sowing and reaping.  Those who are taught the word are under the spiritual responsibility to share in the ministry of those who preach and teach it.

In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul writes about his use of liberty re: ” sowing and reaping, “the plowman ought to plow in hope and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops” (9:10b).

In other words, let those who are being blessed by the ministry of their faithful church preachers and teachers remember the words from our Apostle Paul:  So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel (9:14). 

is to share is a command from the Lord and mature Believers understand this (1 Corinthians 14:37).  However Paul did not take advantage of this blessing, but he advocated it for other preachers and teachers (1 Corinthians 9).  However, this is a hot topic because people attending church are aware of certain preachers who have become wealthy “making a gain” off the ministry.  They’ve turned it into a lucrative enterprise, in other words.  2 Corinthians 12:17-18 stands as a resounding rebuke to those individuals who would abuse the word of God in this manner. 

If you attend a church on Sunday morning, you’re going to hear the word tithe most likely, and that’s because churches today teach the tithe.  Now I’ve been a “regular” attendee of more than a few churches in my lifetime and of various denominations, including the nondenominational denomination.  And out of all those church groups there was only one that did not use the word “tithe,” when they spoke of taking up a collection to support their ministry.  Instead, they put baskets at the rear of the church and this is where you placed your envelope, if you were a member.  Everyone else, if they desired, could walk by and drop a ”love-offering” of whatever amount they chose or had purposed in their heart into one of the baskets.  Please know this was the only church that got it right, because in the Dispensation of Grace Believers are not commanded to tithe.     

Most church leaders won’t agree with what I just said because, as I’ve already stated, they teach the tithe as biblical truth.  I’ll cite one example from my own experience:  I won’t use the man’s name because I don’t think that’s necessary.  However, I listened to his radio program one Sunday morning and heard this well-known Baptist preacher and author say, “How dare you show up in church without your tithe!” Then he quoted a well-known verse from Malachi 3.  I was stunned; and his audience should have been.  I turned the radio off, because his message turned me off.  Why?  This is not what the Bible teaches!  

This gentleman should have known better, but to be fair, he’s only relaying the message he was taught in seminary.  My advice would be to spend more time studying this book and rightly dividing it, per God’s command, instead of relying solely on the teaching of men (1 Corinthians 2:2-5; 2 Timothy 2:15).  I’m reminded this same Baptist pastor once taught you could lose your salvation, but he recanted that belief after years of personal Bible study.  He now understands, “Once saved, always saved” (Ephesians 1:13, 2:8-9, Romans 8:38).   He finally understands God’s truth on this important matter, even though that truth has always been there.  But the truth on Tithing is there as well. 

What Does the Scripture Say?

First, do the same thing I did and grab your concordance and look up the word "tithe."  It’s plural in the New Testament.  You'll discover it is used only eight times.  It is found once in Matthew and twice in Luke, each one is referring to the Old Testament law.  Tithe is used five times in Hebrews 7, speaking of a time before the Law was given, when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek.  The word tithe does not appear in the N.T. again after this. 

Our Apostle Paul devoted two entire chapters of scripture (2 Corinthians 8 & 9) to the subject of stewardship, and he never used the word tithe once.   Let’s be clear, Tithing is taught in the Bible, but only in the O.T, but even in the Old Testament it was not a form of giving.  You see, giving was always voluntary in the O.T.  The tithe was a tax; and not giving; just like we are taxed every April 15th.  You’re not sending the IRS a gift; you are paying off a debt.  If you don’t pay it, you face retribution, i.e. penalties, fines, wage garnishment, or possibly jail time.  So, in a nutshell, tithing was taxation under the Mosaic economy. 

Many churches promote a concept called “storehousetithing, based on Malachi 3:10, where God commands Israel to “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.”  I’ve heard this sermon more than once, and I know some of you have too.  One of the churches I attended told our congregation one Sunday morning “this church is God’s storehouse, and our tithes belong to Him, and His blessing is conditioned upon faithfulness in tithing.”

I’ve taught the book of Malachi a couple of times and verse 1 specifically says the letter was written to the Israelites.  You see, God’s chosen people were not bringing their grain offerings to the temple.  So, the LORD challenged them to bring “the full tithe” of grain sacrifices (Leviticus 6:14-23), and see that He would bless them with an abundance of future crops.

The book of Malachi and its message is not meant for us Gentiles, but I wonder how my pastor would have reacted if I placed a couple loaves of bread in the offering basket instead of cash as it was passed to me?  I imagine he would have been as shocked to see bread in the offering basket as I was to hear he was trying to put me back under the Law. 


Let’s be clear:  you can give as much of your talent, time, and treasure to God (the church) as you please, but let’s look at these reasons why tithing is not God’s standard for Grace Age Believers:

A: Tithing was a part of the Law of Moses; Believers are not under the law, were under grace.  Romans, Galatians, and other New Testament passages make it clear Believers are not under the Law.  That does not mean we are lawless, because we are under the law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:20-21; James 1:25, 2:8, 12; Romans 13:8-10).  God’s moral laws are still valid under the New Covenant and are repeated as commands in the New Testament.  But here’s the thing, the Church has never received a command to tithe from God.

Those who argue for tithing point out that Abraham and Jacob both tithed prior to the Mosaic Law (Genesis 14:20, 28:22).  Thus tithing supersedes the law, they say.  If you examine the references to Abraham’s and Jacob’s tithing, you will see God did not command them to tithe and there is no indication this was their regular practice.  On one occasion after a victory in battle, Abraham tithed the spoils from that battle, but nothing is said regarding his other possessions or his regular income.  It was a “one-time tithe.”  But they fail to mention this important detail (Genesis 14:20).  To follow Jacob’s example would be wrong, because he was making a conditional vow before God, promising that if God would keep him safe and provide for him, then he would give God a tenth (Genesis 28:20-22).  That’s hardly a good example to follow in giving, and yet they use it frequently. Tithing was required under the Mosaic Law, but, again, Believers are not under the Law, they are under grace. 

B. Tithing was an involuntary tax to support Israel; Believers are not a part of the theocratic nation.

In the Old Testament, there was both required and voluntary giving.  Every Israelite was commanded to fund national worship and to help the poor.  In actuality, there was not just one tithe, but rather two or three 1) Leviticus 27: 30-33; Numbers 18:20-21; 2) Deuteronomy 12:17-18; 3) Deuteronomy 14:28-29, so adding it up the total responsibility wasn’t 10 percent, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 percent.

The tithe consisted of the Temple tax, the Land Sabbath Tax, and the Special Profit-Sharing Tax (leaving the four corners of their fields unharvested, for the poor).  As I pointed out already, the required giving for the Jew was in the neighborhood of 25 percent annually.  In addition to all of this, the O.T. mentions voluntary giving, which included first-fruit giving and freewill offerings.
  
What often gets lost in this required and voluntary giving is the LORD wasn’t all that interested in how much His people were giving but on the attitude of the giver and the quality of the gift.  Think about that for a moment, as we prepare to move to Paul’s teachings on the subject for there are similarities.

The point is "tithing" is an Old Testament practice that was equivalent to our modern-day tax structure.  Tithes were not gifts at all, but were required giving.  Tithes as most of you know means one-tenth and from the time of Moses onward, the Israelites (not the Gentiles) were commanded to pay it.  But according to the Bible they were to pay it to only one group.  These people were the Levites who (among other people) ministered in the Temple:

And behold, I have given the children of Levi all (what) the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service of the tabernacle of the congregation (Numbers 18:21). 

It was made abundantly clear that the biblical tithe was to be paid to the tribe of Levi, one of the twelve tribes of ancient Israel.  In this initial law of tithing, no one else had the slightest authority to receive that tithe.  Even Jesus Christ, while he was teaching on earth, did not use (nor did he demand) a penny of biblical tithe to fund his preaching activities and neither did His apostles.  Did you ever consider this?  Looking at this biblically, the Lord was a descendant, in an adoptive way, from the tribe of Judah (Hebrews 7:14).  He was not a Levite.  Thus, He was ineligible to receive any part of the biblical tithe that was ordained for use by the Levites at the time of Moses.  

The central fact was this:  only members of the tribe of Levi were at first ordained in the Bible to receive the tithe (the tenth).  The Levites in turn were to give one-tenth of that tithe to the Priests (Numbers 18:25–28) who did not tithe at all.  In our modern age, if you think about it, even the ministers and priests are disqualified from receiving any biblical tithe because there is no official body of men functioning as Levites.

Since there is no Temple in existence, there are also no Levites, ministers, and Priests serving in the Temple.  The tithe at first was brought into play by Moses to maintain the service of the Temple.  With no Temple, the major factor for tithe paying does not exist as far as the biblical laws of tithing are concerned.  For preachers and church leaders to change the direction of paying the tithe from that of the Temple to the service of their Christian ministry is to do so without any authority whatever from God, the author of Scripture.  In fact, to use the tithing laws in a manner not sanctioned by the Word of God is to sin against biblical law.  And that is what most church leaders and evangelists are doing today.

Now some people get excited and say the church will go "under" in short order if the people are told they don't have to tithe.  I disagree and remind them if the church is supported only because Believers are wrongly taught to tithe then that practice must end.  Many churches today would have to "cease operations" if their tithes were taken away.  But the churches God chooses to exist will continue to thrive because God’s people will continue to support them with their love offerings and the church will “never" lack for anything.  One godly writer said, "God's work done God's way will never lack God's provision." (Galatians 6:2)

The tithe is never imposed on the Believer.  We don't live in a Theocracy!  According to Deuteronomy 12, the tithe was to be paid in Jerusalem only.  So, if you think you are under obligation to give a tithe, per scripture, not only are you 2,000 years too late, because the Jewish Temple is no longer in existence, but what’s more there’s more than 5,000 miles separating you from your goal.  Here’s the thing, this is so clearly taught in the New Testament one has to be oblivious or severely prejudiced to miss it.   

If we are not under the tithe, and clearly we are not, how much are we supposed to give?   Before I answer that question, let’s all look to God’s example of giving in Christ:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). 

Jesus Christ laid aside His privileges, took on human flesh, and took upon Himself the sin and corruption of this world, in order that we might become rich (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Grace Age giving then looks to the substitionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself up for all, so we might be rescued from God’s wrath, and says, “Lord, You gave all for me.  What can I give You in return?” 

Paul may have had this thought (or one like it in mind) when he wrote about the subject of stewardship to the Corinthian church:  You are not your own, for you have been bought with a price…” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

In the Dispensation of Grace, all that we are and all we have belongs to God; not just a tenth.  We are merely the “managers” of His resources.  As good stewards of God’s resources, we are responsible to use them wisely to further His work here on earth.   Under Paul’s guidance, this is all about inner motivation and not outward compulsion (2 Corinthians 8:3-5, 9:7). 

Therefore, we shouldn’t think, “How much can I afford to give?” but rather, “How much can I give?”  We should not wait for someone to pressure us into giving; directing us where to channel our funds.  We should look for and be aware of good works that need to be met for in Ephesians 2:10 Paul writes:  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 

The word workmanship is better translated His masterpiece.  God is working out in our lives a tremendous exhibition of His love, His character, His life, His joy, His patience, His peace, His power, and His wisdom.  He is teaching us, training us, bringing us along, bit-by-bit, here a little, there a little, day-by-day, applying the paint, as it were, in all the right places, to produce a one-of-a-kind masterpiece to be put on display for all the world to behold.  This is to result in good works:  love, kindness, mercy, compassion, helping one another, seeking another’s highest good. 

No one knows how many good works God has prepared for us, but they are out there waiting for us to walk in them as we trust and obey, depending fully on Christ Jesus. 

As I said previously, Paul devoted two whole chapters to stewardship, the management of God’s resources, and he said the amount we’re to give is determined by the two “P’s” – prosper and proportion. 

On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he (what) may prosper(1 Corinthians 16:2a).

And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea (Acts 11:29; 2 Corinthians 8:3).

The New Covenant churches each gave according to their ability.  We know some of the churches gave sacrificially, i.e. beyond their ability; however, the point is each of them determined how much their gift or their contribution was going to be.  No one commanded them to tithe. 

Another point worth mentioning is this: …For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have (2 Corinthians 8:11-12).

Paul is saying, if you have a willing mind (you have the desire to give) but you have insufficient funds to give to the church (you have money in your checking account, but it’s already committed to groceries, medical bills, rent, utility payments, etc.) your desire to give (alone) is acceptable before God.  You don’t have to give money to the ministry too.  Has anyone ever taught you this is what the Bible says? 

If we are able, we have responsibilities, if we're not able, then we don't have responsibilities.  Our responsibility is according to our ability or as our Apostle Paul said, “according to what a person has.” The portion is incidental; it’s the proportion that matters.  Those who have less than enough are to receive from others who have more than enough.  This isn’t Gary’s opinion; by the way, this is what your book says.  Turn to 1 Corinthians 8:13-14:     

For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality-- at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality.

Those who had little gave the little they had:  that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.  For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, (2 Corinthians 8:2-3)

Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).

They gave of their own accord.”  Another way of saying this is, “The amount they gave was of their own choosing.”  No one ordered them to tithe on a certain amount (your “net” or your “gross income”) and no one belittled them for “not bringing a tithe into the storehouse.” They all gave as “they purposed in his heart.  This is proportionate giving.  Here we find although this (house church) was in deep poverty, and they were facing persecution and trials from within and without, yet the gift they gave was beyond their means.  The amount they came up with individually, and as a church, they had purposed in their heart to fulfill a great need, i.e. to help the Judean saints who had significantly less. 

Getting back to Galatians 6:6, anyone teaching the word of truth has the right to receive remuneration for their services…  The laborer is worthy of his wages:  If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?  (1 Corinthians 9:11)   (See Romans 15:27; 1 Corinthians 9).

Breaking this passage down, Paul is saying, since I have taught you the word, since I taught you about spiritual things, since I have encouraged you in the word of God, shouldn’t you provide material things for me?  This verse is about sowing and reaping just as our text in Galatians 6:6 is, just as his comments in 1 Corinthians 9. 

Back in Paul’s day, the Greek philosophers received an honorarium for their instruction, and this was common knowledge.  Didn’t Paul have the right to exercise this concern when teaching spiritual things?  This is one of the basic church principles, if we receive spiritual blessings, we should in turn share material blessings. 

but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints.  For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.  Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them.  For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things (Romans 15:25-27). 

Paul wants the Galatians to know Believers cannot go without sound Bible teaching and those who teach the word should be paid a wage so they don’t have to work at other jobs to support themselves and their loved ones.  I’ve served with pastors who had to work at other jobs.  They couldn’t support themselves and their families on just the salary they received from their ministry, and this is truly unfortunate because it placed a preventable burden upon them.  But these men cheerfully press on, while burning the candle at both ends, praying for a better day when they’ll have the time to devote their efforts and energies to the ministry full-time. 

When you give to support the church, you are fulfilling the law of Christ, according to Galatians 6:2, because you are helping to bear another’s burden. 

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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Friday, December 1, 2017

Galatians (6:1-5) (Lesson 22)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                       Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Galatians (6:1-5)                                                                   (Lesson 22)

Welcome one and all to HBS.

This week we begin working on the final chapter of our Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians and we need to remember “context is king.”  Every studious student of God’s Word should be aware, if you’re want to understand what lies directly ahead, you have to have a handle on where you’ve been.  In the first 12 verses of chapter 5, our Apostle Paul launched his final assault on the Judaizers and their false gospel built around the rite of circumcision:  Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision Christ will be of no benefit to you (5:2).

Just prior to this he laid the groundwork of his argument by establishing the truth each Believer in Christ Jesus is a child of freedom by virtue of their identity as a child of the free Jerusalem, whose children come into being by the promise (4:23-26):  So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman (Hagar), but of the free woman (Sari).  It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 4:31).

In the first six verses of chapter 5, Paul addressed the Galatians, the hearers of this message, the ones he taught.  Then in 5:7-12, he addresses the Judaizers who preached their false message.  In both cases, the language is precise and not subtle.  Freedom, as Paul uses it here, refers to freedom from the frustrating struggle to keep the law to gain God’s favor.  It is the freedom of knowing with all certainty you are accepted by God, because of what Christ has already done – it is finished, indeed!

And yet, Paul had to command them to keep standing firm and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery (5:1).  Paul isn’t telling the Galatians to keep standing firm in their holiness or in their righteousness.  He commands them to stand firm in their freedom or liberty; this is what they are to robustly defend.

The yoke of the Law is the yoke of slavery, because it places those trying to keep it back under the burden of 613 commandments, which they cannot possibly keep and thus under its curse, which they merit for we all are helpless, lawbreakers.

The particular yoke of bondage the Gentiles were being influenced to accept was the religious rite of circumcision.  The Judaizers told the Galatians they had to be circumcised to be fully accepted by God, since they believed God only accepted those who had this sign of the covenant.  Paul was stunned when he heard they were leaving his gospel for another gospel; having escaped the ritualism of paganism, they were about to accept Jewish ritualism, which prompted him to write:  You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth (Galatians 5:7).

The Galatians had obviously changed course; since they had abandoned God’s gospel of grace and Paul’s leadership they were no longer running well.  Paul preached the gospel and taught the Galatians Christ’s substitionary sacrifice on their behalf was designed to set them free from the Law.  He has indicated it is possible to yield that freedom because we’re witnessing people in Galatia opting to become enslaved once again to the Law or to bondage.  But Paul has also pointed out the approach one decides to take to God in light of Christ’s sacrifice matters greatly.  This would mean to “run well” involves remaining solidly fixed upon the correct approach they take to God, which is grace and not works.

A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough (Galatians 5:9).  Leaven is used here to symbolize the false doctrine of the Judaizers.  In our text Paul is issuing a warning to the Galatians.  If they allow the Judaizers, the folks who have hindered their walk with their Savior, to keep teaching their grace-plus-works gospel, that false gospel would eventually spread to other congregations.  Make no mistake, Paul’s point is clear:  legalism is no small thing.  It denies one’s liberty and puts them into bondage and under the law’s curse.  It nullifies the Lord Jesus Christ and His work of the Cross, and it violates the work of the Holy Spirit.  It puts people under obligation to the entire law, and it keeps them from running the race that has been set before us.

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13).

"Opportunity for the flesh" - is the same as saying "Don't return to legalism."  Paul is saying the same thing in verse 13 that he said in verse 5:1 that you have been set free, therefore, don't use that freedom to once again subject yourself to the yoke of slavery, to legalism. After all, what is legalism?  A Legalist believes in my own strength, in my own power, in my flesh - I can make myself righteous and I can earn some favor before God.

We have been talking about the flesh versus the Spirit - legalism versus grace. Defining the flesh, as God defines it in the book of Galatians, is that which I can do on my own, in my own strength or my own power.  "Flesh" isn't just the sins of the flesh that we typically think of.  It is legalism too.  It is trusting in religious ceremonies and rituals; it is whatever I think I can do in my own strength and in my own power to make myself righteous.  That is the flesh - that is legalism.

In contrast, when the Believer is walking in the Spirit they understand fully they cannot make themselves righteous.  They can't make themselves like Jesus Christ.  Therefore, they depend on the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work they cannot do themselves.  They also fully understand they don’t deserve what the Holy Spirit is doing for them.  There salvation was not on the basis of merit or because they did enough good works to gain God’s attention.  It is purely on the basis of God’s grace that they experienced salvation and the life of the Spirit in them.

But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another (Galatians 5:15).

This is a significant verse for us as we move forward into chapter 6.  You see, the Galatians were already at each other, because the legalists have come in and convinced them they have to compare themselves with one another and compete with each other.  This is how it was in Galatia, and for many churches it isn’t any different today.  The legalist mindset is alive and well because people are either ignorant of what this book teaches or they ignore Paul’s teachings outright.  But legalism feeds people’s pride and where you find pride you will always find its cousin, strife.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another (Galatians 5:25-26).

In Galatians 5:16 Paul urged Believers to "walk by the Spirit," but in 5:25, although he seems to be issuing the same command, he is not repeating himself.  There is an important difference in these two Koine Greek words that are translated:  "to walk," in these two verses.  In 5:16 he used the common word for putting one foot before the other in the ordinary process of walking.  The word used in verse 25, however, means:  "to get in line with," or "to follow after."  Here Paul views Believers not as a group of individuals, each of whom is seeking to walk in the Spirit.  Instead, he compares them to an army (a unit) marching in line, in harmony.

Thus, from this we learn we are not only responsible to care for ourselves, but also for each other; and we will make progress only as we march together in harmony; as God’s one Church.  A group of people cannot march properly and successfully as a group if someone in front is stumbling or someone behind is lagging, or if someone fails to get in line.  We cannot make progress unless we are walking together in the Spirit.  So, Paul is saying we are responsible for one another.

One of the practical ways we can determine whether we are walking by the Spirit or walking according to the flesh is in our relationships.  Paul said in verse 5:26 if you are not walking by the Spirit, then you become boastful, which is a term that means:  "to have an over-inflated view of yourself."

Building on that thought, the one word that best describes a legalist is arrogant.  Legalism is a very selfish way to live.  It is selfish, because, by definition it means:  my eyes and my interests are turned inward.  I am constantly assessing how I am doing.  The legalist is continuously re-evaluating:  how do I measure up, how do I compare with everyone else?  Since they have an arrogant heart, they also have a challenging heart.  They feel spiritually superior to those around them, even if they’re not, (and they’re probably not) and they’re willing to go out of their way to prove it.  The spirit of competition is present within them and waiting for an opportunity to exploit the failures of others for their own personal gain.  If they lose a competition, then an envious heart is cultivated widening the gap in the church community even further.

The paragraph above describes the situation in Galatia and I pray you can see there wasn’t a lot of harmony in the church.  There was little unity in that congregation, which meant there was little, if any, fellowship in that community of Believers, because they were boastful, challenging, and envious of each other.  That’s a recipe for failure, because people by nature will bite and devour and consume one another.  In Galatians 5:15 Paul said that is exactly what was happening in Galatia.

In their desire to maintain at least the appearance of severity toward sin, the legalists of Paul's day had become calloused and even cruel toward those who had stumbled in their walk.  It is this problem that is addressed in Galatians 6:1-5.  Legalism has no interest in reducing the burdens humanity must bear.  Instead, it produces burdens for them to bear and then refuses to assist those on whom they are imposed.  However Jesus contrasted Himself with the scribes and Pharisees with respect to burdens:

"And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger (Matthew 23:4).  "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy, and My load is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

Peter rightly criticized the Judaizers when he said:  "Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? (Acts 15:10)

Thus it’s appropriate for Paul to address the subject of burden-bearing with respect to the "Galatian problem" and in view of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  As I pointed out at the beginning of this lesson, understanding the context of chapter 5 is essential, if were to properly understand the written material in Chapter 6.  The contention and strife which characterized these churches was further evidence that legalism, rather than liberty, was the norm (5:1, 13).  It’s obvious the strife among the saints in Galatia was a product of the "works of the flesh," rather than the "fruit of the Spirit."

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Please open your Bible at Galatians chapter 6:1.

Galatians 6

1: Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

In verses 6:1-5 Paul provides the Galatians with a practical example of how the "walk in the Spirit" is supposed to work in the Body of Christ.  

Paul begins this section of the letter with a conditional clause and a hypothetical situation in the church.  He doesn’t have a specific event in mind, but he used the word “brethren which confirms the fact he wants the saints in Galatia to deal with his theoretical problem. 

The word “you is not meant to be singular but plural, which emphasizes the obligation of the church as a body of Believers to respond to the sin of a saint in their midst.  It is inferred in this verse that the sinner “(the one caught in any trespass) is a saint, so we are dealing with the church’s obligation to respond to the sin of a Believer. 

The word trespass is a unique word.  It is different from the word transgression, which Paul has used elsewhere in this letter.  It is the Koine Greek word Paraptoma (par-ap’-to’mah), Noun, Neuter, Strong’s Greek #3900, meaning:  a falling away; lapse a slip, to stumble.  In other words, hypothetically speaking, one of the Believers is not willfully sinning against God, but that individual has stumbled; has had a momentary lapse of reason. 

That thought leads us to the word caught.  Paul uses it here to suggest this hypothetical Believer was caught off guard.  Paul is describing a person who usually demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit, but has suddenly been overcome by the flesh.  The word caught was used back then for a bird or animal caught in a trap, which is why Paul chose the word.  It describes a Believer who has suddenly been overcome by some temptation; his or her lusts, or passions, got the best of them.  In other words, Paul is not dealing with a calculated, premeditated, and habitual sin, but with a person who has suddenly surrendered to or has been caught in one of Satan’s schemes and this has taken everyone in the church by surprise (2 Corinthians 2:11; Hebrews 4:15-16; 2 Thessalonians 3:5).   

All Believers experience times when they walk in the flesh and not in the Spirit.  When this happens, we can expect those who are walking in the Spirit to respond biblically by confronting our stumbling, i.e. our sin (Matthew 18:15; Romans 2:4; 1 Corinthians 5:12; Galatians 2:11-13; 1Timothy 5:20; 2 Timothy 4:2).

I’m sure you noticed it’s difficult to remain spiritual 24/7.  You and the family dress up, grab your Bibles, and head on out the door to attend church on Sunday morning and the experience is uplifting.  But before you sit down to Sunday dinner that same day you’ve already had at least one argument with your spouse or the children.  Tempers flare and words were exchanged that were probably wish you never said.  Our “mountain-top” experience or being spiritual is fleeting; we can go from one to the other very quickly.  Never underestimate how strong the flesh is.  Yet, Paul tells us in this verse who’s responsible or should respond to the brother or sister who has sinned:  you who are spiritual.”  Who would that be since we can’t maintain our spirituality?  Let’s all turn in our Bibles to 1 Corinthians 2:15-16 for the answer:

But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man.  For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE SHOULD INSTRUCT HIM?  But we have the mind of Christ. 

According to this passage, being spiritual is the same as having the mind of Christ, which is the same thing as walking by the Spirit.  So, the legalist is unable to help this brother or sister who was overcome by sudden temptation, and is no longer in step or in harmony with their congregation because the legalist is wrongly motivated.  They see it as an opportunity to “get ahead,” to assert spiritual superiority.  It is an opportunity for the legalist to judge and condemn, which places them a bit higher in the pecking order. 

But Paul defines this by saying the spiritual one is the person who is walking by the Spirit.  The spiritual one has the mind of Christ.  This is someone who has yielded control and is under the control of the Holy Spirit.  If a Believer is drifting off into sin, the only people who can help are “those who understand God’s grace;” i.e. those who have the mind of Christ, who are walking by the Spirit.

Paul has identified who the spiritual people are for the Galatians and for us, but it would be nice if a set of instructions came with that?  So, from a hypothetical aspect, we know there’s a Believer in our midst, overcome by temptation and has sinned, but now what?  Should we draws straws and the short straw fixes this problem?  That would be no.  Paul clearly said, “you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.

The Greek word rendered "restore" is Katartizo; meaning:  to mend torn fishing nets (Matt. 4:21).  In ancient Greece this word was for the setting of broken bones.  In Ephesians 4:12 the same term is used for the "equipping" of the saints.  In 1 Corinthians 1:10 Paul used this same Greek word to describe divisions within the Corinthian church.  Clearly, the term conveys the positive implication of healing and restoration.  This word is used for knitting something together or restoring it to its original condition, and that's exactly what Paul is calling these Believers to do.  The spiritual Believers are urged to restore their fellow Believer who has been over-powered by sin back into harmony.  It’s a unified effort of restoration and this is a process.  It does not happen overnight.     

Paul said the restoration process is to be done in a spirit of gentleness.  This is the same Greek word used in 5:22 of the fruit of the Spirit.  You say, “That’s all well and good but you still don’t know where to begin.”  If you still have doubts.  If the task of restoring a Believer appears too daunting, and there’ no reason why it should; you can always start with these words of Jesus Christ who simplified the process:  ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’ (Mark 12:31).  

Just about everyone has heard of the Golden Rule, “Treat others the way you would want to be treated.”  Start with this for everyone knows how to love in some form or fashion.  Who hasn’t taken care of a kitten or a puppy?  Who hasn’t attended to the needs of an ill child or an aging parent?  Who hasn’t volunteered to serve where there was a need?  Restoration is nothing more than caring, showing up, to demonstrate compassion and to love on someone with needs.     

Lastly, Paul said “each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted." What does this mean?  I’m glad you asked.  The word tempted here is the same word found in Matthew chapter 4 used of the “evil one” tempting Jesus in the wilderness.  In this context, it means, “to tempt with a view toward destruction.”  Paul wants the Galatians to know Satan will test and tempt all Believers in order to bring about their destruction.  Therefore they must be on guard at all times (1 Corinthians 10:12 2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:11).

I find it remarkable Believers will lock their cars and homes to protect themselves and their families from evil, but then they willingly permit evil a foothold into their lives via their television sets, personal computers, laptops, smart phones, I pads, and various other streaming devices.  Do you not know:  “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light… (Matthew 6:22-24).

The Lord Jesus Christ is saying all people should keep their eyes on God, or things of God, because the eyes are the windows to the soul. Therefore we should not put any unwholesome thing before our eyes.  If Jesus would not sit next to you on the sofa and view it with you, then change the channel or better yet, turn it off.  God cares about your music selection too, by the way.  You see, the eye regulates the motion of the body; an individual who is not focused on the things of God is unsteady.  In short they are not spiritual.  In order for a person’s conduct to be “right,” it is important for them to fix their eyes on spiritual things (Colossians 3:2).  Having their affections, their concerns in perspective, and unwavering; their conduct will line up with God’s Word.  Jesus said, “You cannot serve two masters. So the question is, “Who are you serving?”  “Who or what is the Main Thing in your life?”

Verse 2:

Galatians 6

2: Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.

Maintaining the word-picture of walking, Paul says that when you are going along the road and see someone who has fallen under a crushing burden too heavy for him, you should get under the load and help him bear it.

When we walk by the Spirit, we bear one another's burdens.  The law of Christ is the law of love.  I put it this way:  Seek the other person’s highest good.”  God put it this way:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Paul has already explained this in chapter 5. One of the ways we help a person is by helping them bear their burden or their load.

The problem is the legalist doesn't help carry the load; the legalist piles more on top of their load.  That’s exactly what Jesus said referring to the Pharisees.  The legalists don't make the load lighter; they make the load heavier, because they come with criticism and confrontation.

The "burden" we must bear is one that the stumbling saint cannot bear alone.  Just what is meant by the term "burden"?  The burden here is something the sinner is not able to bear on their own, whether it is the guilt of their sin, its controlling power, or the consequences of that act.  The burden could be depression, poverty, sickness, or deep remorse.

The bottom line is simply this:  we are our brother's keeper.  The legalist will deal with sin as the Law of Moses directs - by condemning the sinner; they pick up a stone…  However, those who have experienced the grace of God, which delivers men from sin, will manifest grace in response to the sin of others.  Only those who understand God’s grace can impart it.

One way in which we can help bear a brother's load is to help provide accountability for them.  Let's say you tell a struggling believer who’s dealing with a drinking problem, "If you feel you are going to cave or give in to this temptation, here’s my telephone number.  Call me anytime; allow me to help you carry the load."  You can bear somebody's burden by offering to come alongside in their time of need and holding them accountable.

Another way we can bear a person’s load is through a faithful prayer life.  We can also bear the burdens of others through encouragement.  Those facing temptation need lots of encouragement.  Paul was an encourager.  You might try following his example:  Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

We, who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, are called to come alongside those who have stumbled in their walk, pray for them, walk with them (it is a process), and help bear their burden.  The sad thing is in many churches the burdens of those who are hurting are ignored or overlooked altogether because the people attending church today are shallow, meaning, they don't want to get involved in other people’s business.  You do you, and I’ll do me” is the mindset of most folks today.  You’ll find this is especially true in many of the larger churches where cliques are formed up, and newbie’s are generally not welcomed.  The sense of community or unity has gone missing or it never existed.  People attend church services but they are just one family unit among thousands in attendance.  These folks will make contact with a dozen or so individuals while they are there, but they are not there to establish new relationships.  Sad to say, churches and the activities that take place in the church aren’t much different as you’ll find in the Civic Center, or the local sports arena.  People have come to see the church as a place to be entertained.  They arrive, sit down in their familiar seats, week after week, and watch the players do their thing.  They each have their favorite portion of the program, and some will take advantage of the sermon to nod off.  But here’s the thing, people aren’t being taught church doctrines today so they really don’t know how to deal with this problem.  And yet, The Creator God has spoken; we are commanded to bear one another’s burdens.  It is the law of Christ. 

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).

The word "look" is Skopeo; it means:  "to fix the attention upon with desire for, and interest in."  We are to be looking out for the interests of others.  How can we fulfill this command to bear one another's burdens if we don't look out for the interests of others?  We can begin here:  if we esteem others as better than ourselves, we will look out for their interests; we'll be concerned with their needs.  Please turn to Philippians 2:20-21:

Here Paul was concerned for Timothy’s welfare so he wrote:  For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.  For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:20-21).

Notice that he doesn't say others care for themselves and not you, but others care for themselves and not for Christ.  To be concerned for other Believers is to be concerned for Christ, to love Christ is to love His people, and be willing to bear their burdens.

In the next verse Paul mentions a danger we should all consider.  When you see your brother or your sister suffering or stumbling, don't excuse yourself, get involved.  Love is a verb, remember?

Verse 3:

Galatians 6

3: For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

First things first; our Apostle Paul is not saying we are nothing.  Paul is saying apart from the grace of God, in us, we amount to zero, morally, and that’s due to our sinful nature.  "There dwells in me, (in my flesh), no good thing," (Romans 7:18); “Apart from me, you can do nothing," (John 15:5); "Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth" (1 Corinthians 3:7). 

Permit me to ask this question.  Do you honestly believe God would send His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die a horrible death for nothing?  Every person born into this world is made in the image of God and has an eternal soul.  People will argue with me but from a biblical standpoint our time on this earth is for one purpose only and that is to come to a decision about Christ Jesus.  After this life you will spend eternity in one of two places, heaven or the Lake of Fire.  A person is either saved or not saved at the end of their life.  I can cite numerous Bible verses that clearly say true Believers are “the temple of the living God” and “we are God’s children” and also “God’s heirs,” which by adoption makes us brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Now do you call that nothing?  I don’t think so. 

So, Paul is speaking of the self-evaluation of pride that each legalist has in their own righteousness, based on their plan of obedience to the Law or works-based faith.  Self-righteousness causes a person to think he or she is something special when in fact they are not (1 Corinthians 3:18, 4:7).  Grace removes all grounds for boasting (2 Corinthians 10:12; Ephesians 2:8-9).

The solution to the problem of Believers measuring themselves by the performance of others is given in verse 4.  Paul commands Believers, who seek to elevate themselves at the expense of others, to focus on their own responsibility and accountability before God.

Verses 4-5:

Galatians 6

But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to one another.  For each one will bear his own load. 

Paul says the competition and the confrontation has to stop; the Body of Christ is not about comparing yourself with one another to get ahead of each other.  Just examine your own heart because ultimately that is what you are responsible for.  When you stand before the Lord Jesus Christ at the Bema Seat Judgment, He won’t be comparing you with other people in the church.  He’s going to be examining your account.  It will be all about you.  You are responsible for your own heart.

Paul tells these Believers to stop comparing with everybody else and just look inward.  In verse 5 he said:  each one will bear his own load.  There is no contradiction in the statements made in verse 2 and verse 5, because he uses two different Koine Greek words.  In verse 2 it’s the word Baros, which means:  a burden, a load so heavy you can’t carry it alone.  But in verse 5 it’s a different Koine Greek word; it’s the word Phortion, which means:  a soldier’s backpack.  This is something you have to carry yourself.  By this Paul means to say you are responsible for your own heart and that is a load you have to carry yourself. 

Paul is talking about the practical fleshing out (the doing) of what it really means to walk by the Spirit.  It has to do with how I help those who are stumbling into sin.  It’s about my willingness and ability to bear one another's burdens.

(To be continued)

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