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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 helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not 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 this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

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 22, 2017

Galatians (6:11-16) (Lesson 25)

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 (6:11-16)                                                                 (Lesson 25)

It's our custom here at HBS to take the time to enjoy the "true meaning of the Christmas Season."   With that thought in mind we'll be reflecting on the birth of our Lord, and spending time with family and friends, sharing His love.  We pray you'll do likewise.  We'll return with the first lesson in Ephesians on January 5, 2018.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Summing up Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

Paul has been developing a contrast between two principles or mindsets.  The one believes salvation is totally of God.  The other believes salvation requires a joint effort between themselves and God.  The first principle is the one he not only seeks to live by, it is the one he taught to these Galatians.  The latter mindset is the false teaching Paul has been trying to drive out of the Galatian churches before it spreads like a cancer throughout the region.

In this letter to the Galatians our Apostle Paul has made us aware of a great divide between these two mindsets; i.e. two different understandings of salvation and two different philosophies of how the Believer’s life is lived out.  The individual either chooses the way of grace or the way of the Law.  I say this because in His Word God has been very specific about what the individual is to believe in order to obtain salvation:

…on the day when, (read carefully) according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus (Romans 2:16; See 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

For by grace you have been saved through faith (alone); and that not of yourselves (you can’t earn it and you don’t merit it) it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

Paul said the Galatians are to stand fast in their freedom (Galatians 5:1).  This is because the Galatians were willingly exchanging their liberty in Christ for bondage to the Law.  Therefore, the Believer’s freedom or liberty is at stake.  For other folks what’s at stake is still their salvation.  They’ve “tabled” the questions, “What are you going to do about Jesus Christ,” and “Where will you spend eternity” for another day.  But for the Believer the issue is, “Will you live out your life in freedom or bondage?”  So, the stakes couldn’t be higher, which is one of the reasons this Galatian letter carries so much spiritual weight.  After all is said and done, it comes down to this question, “What do you believe?”

Our Apostle Paul said, “Do not be deceived!”  This statement comes across as a warning to every Believer, but it can be understood as a command.  Here’s why.  Paul taught the word of God to these fickle Galatians; they were not ignorant of Christ’s sacrifice and its eternal significance.  But instead of standing fast in their faith, some of these Galatians were “giving an ear” to these Judaizers’.   In doing so, they were inviting deception.  This was their first mistake but other errors in judgment followed.  These became apparent when they abandoned the gospel, nullifying Christ’s work of the cross, and they denied Paul’s apostolic authority.  They changed course, completely.

If you believe you can please God by your own effort, i.e. you can somehow, in some way, earn a “right standing with God” (righteousness), then you have been deceived, my friend.  Nowhere in this book does it say you can earn your salvation.  Quite the contrary, God has done what we could not do ourselves, through Christ Jesus, and we are totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit (the Helper) to do in us what we cannot do in regards to walking in newness of life, i.e. walking by the Spirit.

Please open your Bible at Galatians 6:11

Galatians 6

11: See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.

It was common practice for Paul to use an amanuensis at times, a scribe, who wrote down his letters as he dictated them such as Tertius (Romans 16:22).  But on occasion Paul would pick up the writing device and personally write a few lines at the end of his correspondence.   We know Paul wrote the concluding statements in these letters (1 Corinthians 16:21; Galatians 6:11-18; Colossians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17; Philemon 1:19). 

This letter from Paul was passed around from one house church to another and read out loud to the Believers.  The Galatians would not handle this letter themselves, so they wouldn’t notice a change in writing styles.  Therefore it was necessary for Paul to draw attention to the fact he had picked up the pen and actually wrote the concluding statements himself, and there are a couple of reasons for this. 

First, Paul has been informing these Galatians how they should live their lives as true Believers since the midpoint of chapter 5, so now he begins to summarize all those important points written - with my own hand.  In this way his following words were emphasized (or underscored) by verse 11.  When we want something we have written to stand out we can choose to underline it or we can present it in boldface type (I do this frequently).  Paul didn’t have these options.  Here he accomplished this by taking pen in hand and writing in large letters.  The effect is twofold:  to inform the reader of the importance of what he has written, and it served to remind these folks that Paul, God’s called apostle, has written it, personally.

Secondly, Paul finished his letters by writing the closing because this was a way of verifying them as authentic, per his comment in 2 Thessalonians 2:2:  that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

Permit me to add to this quite a few people believe Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7) was an eye disease or eye-related problem, possibly Oriental Ophthalmia, and his writing in large letters here is just more proof of this.  Others believe his rather obvious eye related problem was the result of the stoning he endured in Lystra (Acts 14:19).  This eye disease or injury to the eye, they believe, resulted in Paul being partially blind, hence, the large letters (Galatians 4:13-15).  

Verse 12:

Now Paul begins to write about two different mindsets.  He mentions those with the wrong mindset first. 

Galatians 6

12: Those (people) who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.

There’s a lot going on here.  Unless you just joined our Bible study, y’all should know the group of people Paul is referring to when he mentioned “Those people in this verse.  They are the Judaizers, Jewish Christians who taught you needed Jesus but you had to add works to faith to be saved.  They didn’t deny Jesus was God’s Son, and they didn’t deny His death and resurrection.  They believed what Jesus started, man needed to finish.  To complete the act of salvation God needs our help.   

On the other hand, Paul preached Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23).  This means your salvation is of God from start to finish.  Another way of saying this is, “Justification by faith alone, apart from works of the law.”  Paul taught these Galatians the way of salvation was “by grace (alone), through faith (alone), in Jesus Christ (alone).
Paul challenged these false teachers because their teaching was a direct attack on the gospel, and if the Judaizers prevailed, the Lord’s work of the Cross would be nullified. Therefore the Doctrine of Grace was at stake in this controversy.  So, it comes down to a simple question:  Are we saved by believing (as God said) or by achieving?”  Paul said believing; the Judaizers said achieving.
This controversy continues today.  Just as Paul battled the Judaizers during his lifetime, so we too must constantly battle the Judaizers of our own day.  The important Doctrine of Grace, which states, “The just shall live by faith” is still being attacked today.  And I’m not talking about faith in oneself or in their ability to live a godly life or their ability to keep every single commandment all the time; but faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ (alone).  The way of Grace is intentionally narrow because God knows the heart of man (Matthew 7:13-14; John 10:1-10, 14:6).

In verse 12 Paul gives us the Judaizers’ motive, which was twofold: to make a good showing in the flesh and to avoid persecution.  When all is said and done, their motives were the love of human praise and the fear of human opposition.   Sounds “par for the course” to me because it describes all “Those” with a worldly view; people striving to get ahead in life, despite the collateral damage. 

Making a good showing in the flesh – this is actually a play on words.  Paul’s talking about the outward act of circumcision.  Paul is saying these Judaizers were boasting about the cutting away of their foreskin and using that “work” to display their spirituality.   Paul said their motive is: "to make a good showing in the flesh."  They worked to bring the Galatian Believers from a pagan, Gentile background under circumcision, because it would be a good showing for them.  This gives them something to boast about; to their thinking it makes them more spiritual. 

Please don’t overlook the word "compel" it’s significant to the text.  There was nothing wrong with a Gentile being circumcised; even pagans were circumcised in those days.  But there was everything wrong in compelling a Gentile to be circumcised, saying they could not be right with God without first becoming right with the Law of Moses.   Beyond seeking their own glory, their other motive was to avoid persecution for the cross of Christ.  If these legalists agreed with Paul they would have been persecuted.  The persecution would have probably come from their peers, or from those Jews who remained steadfast in Judaism.  

The Bible teaches us the Jewish nation and this includes the Judaizers considered the cross of Christ an embarrassment if not downright offensive.  Why?  It was the cause of their persecution and suffering.  To find one's salvation by the way of Grace (alone) or the cross of Christ was so abominable to the unbelieving Jew that those who chose to believe were persecuted and suffered for their faith (Matthew 10:22). 

To lessen the persecution or to possibly avoid some of it the Judaizers worked both sides of the fence. They believed Jesus was God’s Son and they believed He died and was resurrected but they denied Paul’s teachings of the cross.  They promoted circumcision a religious work instead.  This pleased the Jews, for the most part, and saved them from some if not all of the persecution Paul and the Gentile Believers experienced.  

What does Paul mean by "the persecution of the cross"?  It understands all that's implied by Jesus Christ’s own words, “It is finished.”  This is really the point of the great divide. There are those who believe that Jesus was God’s Son and He died on the cross, but that isn't sufficient for salvation.  Why?  In addition to that, they believe they need to perform certain works of the flesh in order to be saved.  In chapter 1 of this letter, Paul told the Galatians if this is what you believe, you’ve nullified God’s grace by placing your faith in a different gospel, which is no gospel at all (1:6-7).

The majority of people would most likely say that they believe in God.  They would probably say that they believe that Jesus lived, and He died on a cross.  But the overwhelming majority believes that still isn't sufficient for salvation.  They believe:  I've got work to do.  They’ll tell you straight up I've have to:  attend church services, pray a prayer, tithe a certain amount of money, and perform good works (although no one knows how many or what kind) in order to be saved.  That is in stark contrast to the cross (alone), which believes Jesus died on the cross to do for me what I could not do for myself, and this is in full agreement with what God has said. 

I know there's a tendency to think:  well, as long as people believe Jesus died on the cross that's the main thing.  And then if they add all these other things, attaching them to Christ’s cross, then what’s the harm?  It’s not a big deal.  Paul says:  “No, it is a big deal; that has become a different gospel, which is no gospel at all. What you believe and why you believe it matters to God.  This is the point of the great divide.  It's either God’s way of Grace or it's not.  This was the point of the division, the biting and devouring of one another in the Galatian church (5:15).  This was the point of divide in the Reformation, and this is still the point of divide in the church today.   People are still biting and devouring one another over this subject.  Satan couldn’t be more pleased. 

Verse 13:

Galatians 6

13: For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.

Paul’s saying the Judaizers did not practice what they preached.  While they were telling the Gentiles to be circumcised, the Judaizers were not keeping the whole Mosaic Law themselves. 

And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law (Galatians 5:3).

Circumcision was only a small part of the Law.  But if these Galatians were going to submit to circumcision, then they were obligated to adhere to the whole Law, i.e. the dietary laws, keeping the holy days, the Sabbath laws, and they had to make certain they kept themselves from ceremonially unclean things.  The LORD God didn’t present Moses a menu of options on Mt Sinai, saying, “Go ahead and select those laws you want to keep and don’t worry about the rest.”  The Law of God is an all-or-nothing proposition per His “conditional” statement” (Exodus 19:5-6). 

The Apostle James reminds his brethren of this with these words:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all (James 2:10).

The LORD God didn’t leave any wiggle room in the Law on purpose.  The Law was strict.  The penalty for breaking the following laws was death:
Striking, or even reviling, a parent (Exodus 21:15-17)
Blasphemy (Leviticus 24:14-16, 23)
Sabbath-breaking (Exodus 31:14, 35:2; Numbers 15:32-36)
Witchcraft, and false pretension to prophecy (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27, 13:5 18:20)
 Adultery (Leviticus 20:10, 22:22)
Unchastity (Leviticus 21:9, 22:21-23)
Rape (Deuteronomy 22:25)
Incestuous and unnatural connections (Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 20:11-11-14, 16)
Manstealing (Exodus 21:16, 24:7)
Idolatry, actual or virtual, in any shape (Leviticus 20:2, 13:8-10, 15; 17:2-7) 
False witness in certain cases (Deuteronomy 19:16-19)

Without a doubt we are rather apathetic when it comes to laws and rules.  I say this because we’re all lawbreakers by birth; it’s our nature.  Most people consider themselves “good” simply because they haven’t robbed a bank or killed anyone.  But they don’t think about all the lies they’ve told, all the times they’ve coveted someone or something, the times they disrespected or dishonored their parent(s), they let their anger get the best of them, they stole something, etc.  They’re self-assessment is based upon what other people have done or are doing. God’s standards are much higher; we’re all required to meet His standard 100% of the time.  And that’s Paul’s point.  Those who believe they can achieve God’s standard of righteousness based on their works do not even keep the Law themselves.  Nobody can keep God’s Law perfectly; we are all flawed creations (Isaiah 64:6).  The Judaizers were failing the very system they were promoting and yet they’re inviting the Galatians to become a part of their charade.  It made no sense then and it makes no sense today.

So, now Paul shifts the conversation and begins to speak about the correct mindset; the one that boasts only in the cross of Christ:

Galatians 6

14: But may it never be that I boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Paul, the chief of sinners, (means:  the first in line to be saved by God’s grace) knew better than most what it meant to be redeemed out of an undeserving life, even though that life was zealously dedicated in serving God, or so he thought, and that’s the thing. Misguided thinking leads to problematic living (Philippians 3:2-16). 

Some folks falsely label Paul a braggart, but Paul knew human boasting was of no value where God’s Grace is concerned:

Where then is boasting?  It is excluded.  By what kind of law?  Of works?  No, but by a law of faith.  For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law (Romans 3:27-28).

The word preached by Paul was the way of Grace; because the only way a person can approach God is through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). 

God’s Son paid the sin debt required by God for all (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).  But here’s the thing, each person has to appropriate Christ’s work of the cross to their account by faith (Romans 3:21-22; Hebrews 11:6).  Through our faith in Christ, the righteousness of God is given to us.  This is called “imputed righteousness.”  Jesus Christ took our sin and offers us His righteousness, if we’ll only believe.  That’s what took place at the cross (Romans 3:24-26).  It sounds too simple; to be saved in this manner, but this is what the book says “We are saved by faith.”  I’m not saying God’s plan of salvation is simple, far from it.  I’m saying our role in it couldn’t be easier.  People just need to overcome their pride, and “take God at His Word.” 

Now, for anyone to add anything to Christ crucified or to take anything away from it invites the condemnation of God Himself.  This book in several places says do not add a word or take anything from what God has clearly said because God’s Word is complete. 

“You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it” (Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32; Revelation 22:18-19).

God has revealed His plan of salvation in this age and everything God has said is the truth:  The entirety of Your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160; Proverbs 30:6).  I’d be careful about “editing” God’s truths.  Paul told the Galatians in 1:8:  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached (i.e. Christ crucified) to you, he is to be accursed!  (This means they must answer to God.  But we are responsible to withdraw from their false teaching and pray for them so that they too will come to understand God’s truths). 

Paul’s specifically speaking about “Those people” a.k.a. the Judaizers who believed their good works needed to be added to faith, such as circumcision, to complete the salvation process.  But, as I’ve said, Judaizers’ are still among us, we’re battling this same issue today.  I can think of two church groups that believe and teach that unless you are water baptized you cannot be saved!  I won’t name the churches but I attended one of them for a brief time many years ago.  I spoke to the pastor about this belief and showed him what the Scriptures said after his sermon one Sunday morning.  The hairs on the back of my neck stood up after he told his congregation, “If a person made a confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, re: His death, burial, and resurrection, but was killed in a traffic accident on his way to church to be baptized with water, he would go straight to hell, because without water baptism he was not saved.” And he based this belief on this Bible verse (Acts 2:38).  I explained, using several other Bible verses, the Bible doesn’t say this.  In response, he likened me to “Apollos.”  He said I had been taught correctly about “some spiritual concerns,” but my knowledge of baptism was incomplete.  We spent the next six months emailing one another, but nothing was gained.  So, do not be deceived by the teachings of men.  Always go by what God has said and always rightly divide the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15).    

Through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world -

When Paul says the world here, he’s not talking about the “physical world” made up of physical matter, i.e. trees, plants, wild life, flowing streams and rivers, oceans and seas. He’s talking about the world’s system.  How do you suppose that is characterized?  Pride tops the list.  Prideful boasting about one’s self, their social status, and religious endeavors and the Judaizers’ are just one example.  When an individual has the world’s mindset, their life will be characterized by prideful boasting.  This is what Paul’s talking about and this is why he’s upset with the Judaizers.  The message they’re preaching, “You can do something to earn God’s favor and righteousness” is straight from the pit of hell; it’s the message of the world – Satan’s playground.  This is the mindset of “joint effort” in salvation and it’s a lie and Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).   

Paul said, “There’s nothing to boast about, except the cross of Christ.”  Why?  God’s Grace removes all rationalization for boasting, because the saved individual realizes he or she didn’t do a thing except believe the gospel (they followed God’s directions). They realized on their best day they couldn’t keep God’s commandments; they simply did not measure up to His standard of holiness.  They understand it’s all about God’s Grace; His unmerited favor available by invitation to an undeserving, rebellious, enemy of God (John 6:44; Romans 5:6-11). 

Paul said, “I died to the world,” which means that living the independent life apart from God believes, “I got this,” or “I can do this without any help from God.  Paul died to that prideful mindset. 

Verse 15:

Galatians 6

15: For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

By now when you see the word circumcision in the text you should recognize this is of the Jews.  The religious rite of circumcision is an everlasting covenant in the flesh; an outward sign that revealed an individual was one of God’s chosen people.  This covenant was the sign given to Abraham by the LORD God (Genesis 7). 

Jesus’ sacrificial death changed things significantly.  There are no conditions to our salvation.  In light of Christ crucified or the cross, circumcision means nothing.  So, instead of giving these Galatians a sense of false pride in being circumcised or not being circumcised, Paul said no matter which decision you made it doesn’t matter.  You are saved only if you are in Christ Jesus and this is accomplished by faith (alone) and not by works of the flesh.  And if you are in Christ, you are a new creation.  And if you are a new creation you’re no longer motivated by the world’s system.  In other words, prideful boasting and being motivated by “self” indulgent activities are not the way; instead, your motivation is (agape) love or the law of Christ (6:2).

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but (what) faith working through (agape) love (Galatians 5:6; Romans 2:28-29; 1 Corinthians 7:18-19; Galatians 5:22-23).  Circumcision isn’t the issue; salvation is the issue, per God’s plan. 

Verse 16:

Galatians 6

16: And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God (See Romans 9:6).

Notice Paul’s use of the word “walk” in this verse.  It denotes a willful activity.  The Koine Greek word for rule is Kanoni the English word “canon” is derived from this word.  Paul uses it here to refer to the gospel, i.e. the Word, which is the Lord Jesus Christ. 

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30). 

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ (6:2).     

The burden of Christ Jesus was the commandment that most characterized His teaching which is we are to love one another.  Those who obeyed this commandment would find their load or burden light and easy.  The other way opposite of love is the way of distraction, divisiveness, and disorder; the Galatians were becoming aware of this.  You could search but you would not find peace and mercy being practiced in the Galatian churches at this time.  This is why Paul said make a decision to walk by this rule and not just say you’re aware of it.

the Israel of God – there isn’t sufficient time left to explain this statement and its significant implications regarding what the Scriptures say, especially concerning end time events.  Please know it is one of the most controversial topics in the church today.  (See the false teaching:  Replacement Theology) 

In Romans 11:16-36 our Apostle Paul gives us the illustration of the olive tree.  These verses refer to Israel “the natural branches” being broken off from the olive tree and the Church, the “wild” branches or shoots being grafted into the olive tree.  Since both Israel and the Church are both referred to as branches, it stands to reason that neither group is the whole tree but the olive tree represents God’s workings with all mankind.  This means God’s Prophetic Program with Israel and His New Covenant Program with the Church or the Body of Christ are part of His outworking of His purpose among men in general.  God’s program with Israel has been interrupted (Acts 7) ushering in the Dispensation of God’s Grace – the Church Age (Acts 9). 

But it is not as though the word of God has failed.  For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but:  “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.”  That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants (Romans 9:6-8).

In Galatians 3:16 Paul wrote:  Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.  He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is Christ.

Paul’s saying the primary recipients of the Abrahamic Covenant were Abraham and Christ.  This, of course, would include every single Believer in Christ Jesus, which means all Believers are recipients of the Abrahamic Covenant.  The promise is not realized in the Jews.  Why.  For now there is no difference between Jew and Gentile.  Here Paul calls “the church” the Israel of God.  In his letters he has emphasized Abraham’s true seed is not by racial descent but by faith (alone) (Galatians 3:7, 9, 29; Romans 2:28-29, 9:6; Philippians 3:3).  The gospel is all about Jesus Christ and His work of the cross and not national Israel.  Those who believe the gospel are in Christ Jesus and thus are the “true people of God” in this dispensation. 

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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Friday, December 15, 2017

Galatians (6:7-10) (Lesson 24)

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 (6:7-10)                                                                 (Lesson 24)

Welcome to HBS.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

The Creator God has established various natural laws in His universe that are unyielding.   When Isaac Newton saw apples falling from a tree, he noticed each one struck the ground.  He noticed because as he continued to watch the tree no apple that broke free from its branch ever traveled upward.  Mr. Newton may not be the first person to recognize God’s gravitational pull on the earth, but he was the first person to write a law describing it. 

God has established other natural laws in His universe such as the Laws of Thermodynamics.  Man has debated these laws over the centuries, but what has changed?  The debating continues, but God’s unyielding laws stand.  I assure you if you step off of a tall ladder you will become acquainted with the Law of Gravity.  Debating this law with God will not change your situation.  God’s gravitational law will stand and you will fall.  And we’re all experiencing the undeniable effects of God’s second law of Thermodynamics.  This law simply means everything in existence is breaking-down.  It is the universal law of decay.  Everything in God’s creation ages, wears out, and dies; not just our bodies, but the clothes we wear, our cars, our homes; just about everything you can think of has an expiration date.  This isn’t how God designed His universe; it’s the result of Adam’s offense; it brought sin and death into the world (Romans 5:12-21, 8:21; 1 Corinthians 15:21).

It stands to reason, since there are laws that govern the universe, then God has also established moral and spiritual laws for His creation.  We first learn of this in the book of beginnings.  In Genesis 4:7, long before the Ten Commandments were given to the nation of Israel at Mt. Sinai, Cain knew it was wrong to murder someone.  Before he committed the evil deed the LORD God communicated this message to him, “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it. (In other words, get your act together!)

This book says it is not possible for sin to exist where there is no law for:  where there is no law, there also is no violation,” (Romans 4:15; 1 John 3:4; Romans 7:7).  These Bible passages prove no sin can be imputed where there is no law in effect, which also proves God’s moral law was in effect at the very beginning, even before God gave the moral law to Moses.  The statement the LORD God made to Cain about sin crouching at the door is clearly in reference to his conscious plan to kill his brother.  Cain, who was destitute of faith and envious of his brother, evidently toyed with the idea of taking his brother’s life for some time.  The Omniscient LORD God (Psalm 139:1-3; Matthew 10:29-30; 1 John 30:20) appeared to Cain before the deed, to warn him, his plan to kill Abel would violate His established moral laws.  I say “laws” (plural) because when Cain murdered Abel he violated every one of the Ten Commandments.  There’s some homework, if you’re interested.  How did Cain violate each one of God’s Ten Commandments?  I’ll give you a head-start with this Bible passage Romans 13:8-13.

Man continues to debate and lawyer their way around these moral and spiritual laws which are meant to govern our present lives, but humanity will end up bringing about their ruin if they ignore God’s wise counsel (Proverbs 8:33; Romans 1:18-32, 3:23). 

In our lesson this week, Paul explains one such law:  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap (Galatians 6:7).

Please open your Bible to Galatians 6:7-10

Sowing and Reaping

Galatians 6

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.  Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.  So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith (7-10).

The Galatians were being deceived by the Judaizers.  The different gospel they proclaimed as truth, which is really not another; sets aside the grace of God, and justification based upon faith (alone) and teaches a works-based faith instead (Galatians 1:6-7, 2:21).     

God is not mocked – the Koine Greek word for mocked is Mukterizo (mook-tay-rid’-zo), Verb, Strong’s Greek #3456, meaning:  to turn up the nose or sneer at.  To understand what Paul means to say by this, we need to back up one verse to Galatians 6:6. 

And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.

Paul’s saying if the Galatians value the things that are “of God,” those things that are eternal, and they value walking by the Spirit, then they need to share all good things with him who teaches.   This message differs somewhat from Paul’s instruction to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 9).  I said differs but not changed.  Here Paul said Believers are to share all good things.  You won’t find this command in his letters to the Corinthians.  The closest parallel is:  If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you?  (1 Corinthians 9:11)

We find an in depth explanation of Galatians 6:6 from our Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9.  In this chapter, Paul answers the Corinthian saint’s question on Christian liberty.  Paul (who sets the example for every Believer) just recently made a statement in 8:13 saying he was willing to surrender his rights (liberty) for the sake of his brother:

Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:13).

In chapter 9 Paul goes on to show us he practiced what he preached.  Not only did he talk the talk, he walked the walked; meaning he laid aside his rights.  Paul could have stressed the need for the Corinthians to support him financially, instead of doing that Paul chose to earn his own living.  He was a tent-maker by trade; he chose to work with his hands rather than accept any financial help from the Corinthians.  This wasn’t unusual for Paul.  He usually declined financial help from immature Believers.  This may seem odd to us today, but Paul took the gospel of God’s grace to the gentiles, a.k.a. pagans; to places other people had never been.  He didn’t want these people to get the idea he was doing it for the money.  There were plenty of people making money from preaching, but Paul didn’t want to be linked with any of them (1 Corinthians 9:12).

Getting back to Galatians 6:6, sharing in Koine Greek is translated Koinonia (koy-nohn-ee’-ah), Noun, Feminine, Strongs’ Greek #2842, and it means “fellowship” or share.  It’s an interesting word choice.  It does not convey the idea of payment for services rendered, as though one was paying a debt.  It expresses the idea of mutual participation in the ministry with and to other members of the Body of Christ.  The word sharing conveys the meaning of mutual involvement or communion (Romans 12:3; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Hebrews 13:16).  For example, the sharing of the Philippian church was not merely payment for services rendered to Paul.  There existed a mutual participation in the ministry, a linking-up in fellowship as Paul ministered to others (Philippians 1:5, 4:15).  

Now we’ve arrived at the heart of Paul’s message - for whatever a man sows, this he will reap – here Paul uses a farming illustration to explain God’s moral law.  The farmer knows if he sows 40 acres of corn, he will not reap 40 acres of apples.  It’s not possible because the Creator God has established this law in His universe:  Whatever you sow, of that same kind you will reap” (Genesis 1:11-12).

The farmer as well as the urbanite with a small garden or flower bed understands this law.   They totally “get this” farming principle, but I find it interesting the vast majority of people don’t understand (or won’t accept) God’s moral and spiritual laws apply in life equally.

The farmer knows there is a time element involved in sowing and reaping.  Sowing is the beginning of the process, while reaping is the conclusion of it.  When the farmer sows his field, he must do so in faith, trusting all of his efforts will eventually be worthwhile.  I was born and raised in a farming community, so I’m aware no farmer enters their field to begin the process of sowing thinking “this won’t accomplish a thing.” The farmer does just about everything by faith, trusting God.  As Paul pointed out, so it is with the spiritual life. 

you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:7-8);

We walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7);

for I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). 

The law of sowing and reaping reminds us our sowing will ultimately be rewarded by our reaping. 

The law of sowing and reaping also exists to remind us we will reap what we have sown.  When the farmer sows wheat seed, he fully expects to reap wheat.  Paul employs the image of sowing and reaping to show the direct correlation between what is done in this life and what we’ll reap in eternity.  Paul wants the Galatians (and us) to know God is keeping a running account.  What we do and why we do it matters to God.  Paul is saying we have but two choices as to what we will sow in this life.  We can either sow to the Spirit” or “to the flesh.”

Sowingto the Spirit” means to invest our time and resources in those things which are spiritual (of God) and thus are eternal.  This investment is achieved through the Spirit of God, and not through the flesh.  Our Apostle Paul said, “… put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:14). 

It has been said, “If your life were an arrow, your values would aim that arrow.”  Good values, therefore, help you establish sound priorities in life and help you make the best use of your time and talents, i.e. your resources.  Therefore every Believer should remember there is no higher value than love.  God said so (Matthew 22:36-40).  This is why the first fruit of the Spirit is love.  Paul said there was nothing greater for:  if I do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13).  If you don’t practice loving unconditionally, then you’ll never love. 

Galatians 6

8: For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

I pay attention to every word and punctuation mark in scripture and I’ve noticed the words “flesh” and “Spirit” are used often by Paul throughout this Galatian letter.  But Paul introduces a new concept here it’s the sowing of seeds.  So we need to determine what Paul means by the phrases:  "sows to the Spirit," and "sows to the flesh?"   

This is a good place for an illustration:  Paul’s saying our individual lives are being built just like a building is erected, “one brick at a time.”  These bricks resemble the choices we make, one at a time.  By these individual choices, we are putting one brick after another into that building process, and the kind of life that results from our decision-making depends on the hundreds, literally thousands, of individual choices that went into it.  The warning that comes across in this section of Paul’s letter is to make those choices based on what God’s Spirit is concerned with.  Walk by the Spirit is a command to do this, daily. 

You’ve probably noticed there’s quite a bit of repetition in Scripture and this is done on purpose.  When something is repeated it’s because God wants us to learn this truth.  So, once again, this book says there are two ways we can sow.  We can sow to the flesh, and if you choose to walk this path your plan is to get what you want out of life.  It means you’ve swallowed the old McDonald's’ slogan, “You can have it your way” hook, line, and sinker.   Or you can sow to the Spirit and the aim of this is to fulfill God’s will and purpose for your life (John 15:1-6; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Peter 4:10-11).

It’s important to understand the one who sows to the flesh ends up with zero   Paul used the word “corruption. It’s the Koine Greek word Phthora (fthor-ah), Noun Feminine, Strongs’ Greek #5356, which means decay or destruction.  Here Paul uses it to convey the idea of a “putrid corpse, in the process of decomposition.  Now that doesn’t evoke a pretty picture, but it explains Paul’s comment perfectly.  Below are three names you may recognize.  These people opted to sow to the flesh and reaped corruption.

·         Pete Rose was discredited and dishonorably discharged from baseball for illegal betting.  He is forever barred from entering the Baseball Hall of Fame.  He’s suffering the consequences of “his poor choices.”  Pete is reaping what he has sown. 
·         Martha Stewart only wanted to avoid losing money in the stock market.  The problem with her decision was it broke the law.  Martha lost more than her money in that transaction.  Her reputation is tarnished and her company suffered financial loss and she served jail time.  She reaped corruption. 
·         Over thirty years ago they found the body of Jim Morrison in a bath tub in Paris, France.  Jim and The Doors climbed the ladder of success and made it to the top.  They enjoyed rock-stardom for a few years, but “what goes up must come down.”  He too was sowing to the flesh.  Drugs and alcohol played an intricate role in their lives, and because of this Jim reaped what he had sown.  On July 3, 1971, Jim, who was only 27 years old, overdosed on heroin. 

As you can see sowing to the flesh is investing one’s time and resources in that, which is mortal, physical, and thus passing away, rather than those things which are Spiritual, of God, i.e. those things that are eternal.  In short, those who sow to the flesh are those people who do what they feel like doing because they feel like doing it.  These people by-and-large are not interested in God or what God has said.  They are building themselves a little kingdom all their own here on earth and they are in a hurry to become lord over it.  This book says their destruction is certain (Proverbs 16:18; Psalms 37:38; Philippians 3:18-19; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).

Sowing to the Spirit is investing one’s time and resources in those things which are Spiritual and thus eternal.  This can only be achieved through the Holy Spirit.  To sow to the Spirit is the same as to walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18).  It is the same as abiding in Christ and in His Word (John 15:7).  It is the same as walking with Christ (Colossians 2:6) and setting one’s mind on the things above; not on the things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2).

So, we’re at the point in this lesson where the obvious question is, “What interests you the most the world’s system (this originated with Satan and consists of those philosophies and values that perpetually influence humanity to think and behave contrary to God’s expressed will – 1 John 2:15-16) or Spiritual things?  “Is God the Main Thing in your life or has He been brushed aside by lesser things?”  How you answer these questions is important because how you view Spiritual matters speaks volumes about the kind of life you’re building. 

Remember, every single day we make hundreds of choices and we’re going to be sowing in one of two fields.  There is no third field.  You are either going to sow into the field called the flesh or the field called the Spirit.  Now when you opt to sit down and watch an “R” rated movie where do you suppose you are sowing?  When you curse at the driver next to you and flip the finger at him because he would not let you cross over into his lane, in which field are you sowing?  When you cheat on your taxes, which field are you sowing in?  Are you starting to get the idea? 

Paul wants the Galatians to know every word they speak, every choice they make, has eternal ramifications.  They can’t go through the day, biting and devouring one another, in all actuality, sowing in the field called the flesh, and then complain when they reap a harvest of corruption.  This book clearly says whatever you sow, you reap.  If you sow Spiritual seeds, you will reap a harvest of God’s blessings.   Paul wrote:  the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (6:8). 

Earlier I pointed out Paul said it’s possible for someone to decide on sowing to the flesh.  If they chose to do so, what will they reap?  Look to the Corinthian church and the Galatians who were entertaining the idea of being circumcised, to assure their place in God’s kingdom or their salvation.  Paul said those who sow to the flesh wind up with zero or corruption.  So, verse 8 is not about obtaining eternal life/salvation, as some people claim, or even losing it, if we don’t “toe the line.”  It is a warning of discipline to those who sow to the flesh.

Another law of the harvest is:  you reap far more than what you sow.  An example of this is the tiny acorn.  It starts out small but it contains within itself a mighty, towering oak tree.  A pumpkin seed is small compared with the massive pumpkin it produces.  While up in Indiana recently I saw a pumpkin that weighed in excess of 57 lbs.  The size of the seed does not determine the size of the harvest (1 Corinthians 2:9).  That's why the text contains a negative warning:  "Do not be deceived" (6:7).

Galatians 6

9: And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.

Here Paul is saying there are times when Believers devote their talents, and time in doing good, but they don’t notice any fruit, so they lose heart.  They’re active in their church.  They’re forgiving, they give regularly, they practice loving; they pray, serve, teach, and they witness.  But they aren’t getting any positive feed-back; there are no external signs showing what they are doing amounts to all that much. 

And yet our Apostle Paul, the encourager, provides this verse for those who are “growing weary,” those who are losing heart in doing good.   He’s saying press onward toward the goal.  Our rest is on the other side.  Remember, this verse comes in the context that begins in verse 6.  The well doing that we are not to be weary of has to do with sowing and reaping.  When I sow to the flesh, I usually reap an immediate benefit.  If I purchase a new car, I drive it home right away.  If I get paid on Friday, I go right out and treat myself to a lavish meal and I eat it.  These are examples of immediate rewards. 

It’s not that way, Spiritually speaking.  Spiritually, we are making an investment.  You agree to help a child at church with their English homework, mentoring them over a period of time and this is considered an investment.  You’re not going to see a return on your outlay right away and that’s the thing.  Sometimes people grow weary of doing good things; it becomes a chore.  Sometimes these tasks may even become a burden (Galatians 6:2). 

This book says the time of reaping is ahead for those who persevere in doing good.
Paul assures Believers a reward for doing good awaits:  for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary (v9b).

The farmer sows his seed with the expectation of harvesting or reaping at the proper time.  I’ve never seen an “instant seed.”  The Bible never speaks of one in this life so we should not expect to see a harvest in this life from what we have sown Spiritually. Nevertheless, we must never give up; because we know that at the proper time our Lord will reward those who have been faithful servants (Matthew 25:23).

We need to continue to plant, sow, and water, not with the idea that we are the agents of growth but with the understanding what we sow, God can make grow:   So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.  Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor (1 Corinthians 3:7-8).  

Verse 10:

Galatians 6

10: So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Let’s make sure we understand what Paul is saying here.  Every opportunity that presents itself is actually an appointment prearranged by God Himself.  Where am I getting this; from my Bible study.  This is why we study our Bible, so that we make every effort to present ourselves approved to God, an unashamed workman who accurately handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 – Berean Study Bible).  

The  word opportunity comes from the Koine Greek word Kairos (kahee-ros’), Noun, Masculine, Strong’s Greek# 2540, which is sometimes translated “time” or “occasion.
But don’t think of it as time, slipping away.  It refers to those moments of time when a door of opportunity literally opens before us, and we have a choice to make.  Kairos means:  a measure of time, a fixed and definite time, a seasonal time, or the right time.  You are familiar with the child’s Sunday school song, “In His Hands.”  Well, the Bible teaches all of our time is in God’s hands.  The time of our birth as well as the time of our passing, and every minute in-between, is owned by God – He’s in control of all things (Psalm 95:1-5; Daniel 4:35; Matthew 20:15; Ephesians 1:11-12). 

Every true Believer has been created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).  There is definitely a time element involved in that passage and here our Apostle Paul is saying the Galatians (as well as every true Believer) will have opportunities to do good, if they welcome and take advantage of those occasions or seasonal periods of time when they come; and they will come.  Every single day there are moments when these Galatians can be an encourager.  There are times when they can come alongside someone who is carrying too heavy a burden and offer to share their load.  For instance, a Believer may be eating a meal with another church member when all of a sudden that individual begins talking about a situation confronting them at home.  It’s true misery loves company; and at that particular time the door of opportunity just may swing open for you.  This could be your Kairos moment and if so you have a choice to make. 

Let us not lose heart in doing good - this includes many different things.  It certainly speaks to those who are being taught the word of truth.  They are to share all good things with the one who teaches.  But Paul isn’t saying these folks are to be “paid for their services,” necessarily.  The phrase “is to share” teaches us Believers have a Spiritual responsibility to share in the ministry of those who preach and teach the word but the word share means “fellowship.  Paul’s saying Believers who give to the ministry are actually participating in the Lord’s work with and to other members of the Body of Christ.

Let us do good… to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Please turn with me in your Bible to Titus 3:8.

This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have (what) believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds.  These things are good and profitable for men.

Skip down to verse 14:

14: Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful. 

From these Bible passages we learn Believers are to actively, energetically pursue a course of good deeds for others and not just for our church family.   Where do I get this information?  Turn with me to Acts 10:38 please.

You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

The Apostle Peter summarized the Lord’s ministry thusly:  He went around doing good.”

The Apostle John said something similar:  This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.  And there are also many other things which Jesus did, (the many astonishing things) which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written (John 21:24-25). 

The Lord Jesus Christ performed many miracles, signs, and wonders (John 4:48) during His three-year ministry to His own people (the Jews – John 1:11) with a few gentile exceptions, with purpose but what I want you to take away from this is there wasn’t a prejudiced bone in His body.   Jesus showed loved to all people.  He was openly critical of those who were not in harmony with God’s Truths (John 8:44), the Pharisee’s come quickly to mind; but this book says Jesus Christ came to save all people (John 12:44-50; 1 Timothy 2:4).

In contrast, the Galatians were already at each other (5:15).  The competition was well underway thanks to the legalists.  There wasn’t a whole lot of good being done anywhere.  Paul taught these Believers the divisions between Jews and Gentiles had been eliminated.  But instead of peace and harmony, they were experiencing quarreling and divisiveness.  Paul said this activity runs contrary to what the Lord accomplished on Calvary and against the unity for which the Body of Christ was to strive (1 Corinthians 12:13).  This troublesome situation resulted from the Judaizers’ teaching that circumcision was necessary if the Gentiles wanted to be fully accepted by God. 

People haven’t changed all that much over time.  It’s natural to think anyone who refused to be circumcised would be considered second class or worse, inferior, and I base this on the human pecking order.  Therefore it’s no wonder discord and divisions developed between the Believers who chose to be circumcised and those who chose to say, “No.” 

So, I hope you’re starting to see the Judaizers brought some serious problems into these churches that had been taught the grace of Christ.  This is why Paul refused to remain silent and why in verse 10 he commands the Galatians to “do good to all people, especially those who are of the household of the faith.”

Paul is saying our love is meant for all people and this is because he fully intends to save some.  There is a view toward evangelism in the words we speak and in our actions for we are Christ’s ministers of reconciliation (1 Corinthians 9:19-23; 2 Corinthians 5; 1 Peter 3:15). 

However, our primary focus, as far as fellowship goes (2 Corinthians 6:14), is on the household of the faith.  This truth crosses all denominations.  When someone says they have trusted in the gospel of Jesus Christ by faith (alone) for their salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), we are to take them at their word.  Once that has been established, we are to serve them, as Christ served us (Mark 10:35-45; John 13; Galatians 6:2). 

(To be continued)

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