Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 35
By: John Ankerberg Show
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|How do you deal with a brother who has fallen into the trap of sin, whether it be religious sin, whether it be religion, or rebellious sin? It doesn’t matter. How do you deal with a brother? How does the Holy Spirit of God look like in you towards others that have been found out to be in sin? How does that happen? How does a believer walking by the Spirit deal with another’s sin?|
Restore Such a One In a Spirit of Gentleness
Turn with me to Galatians 6:1. Now, let me get you into the flow. Why do I do that? Because we’re in a river, a current, of a book. They didn’t have chapters and verses. It’s not chapter 6 when Paul wrote it. That’s the way it’s put down for us to better understand it. It was just a flow. And if you don’t get in the current then you don’t understand what he’s saying. All of this hooks together.
Let me do that for you. Having seen the contrasts between the relationships that are ruined by the flesh—all of us have been there; whenever you choose your way instead of God’s way it’s going to ruin some relationship, it is not in any way going to enhance it—but when we see that contrasted to the relationships that are affected by the Holy Spirit of God living His life in us; now that’s Galatians 5:22-23, and the love of God’s Spirit that flows out of us, then it becomes very easy to understand why it’s so important for each of us, everyone of us to walk by the Spirit, 5:16, and to be led by the Spirit, 5:18. Because that’s the only time our relationships are going to be what God wants them to be. That’s the only time there’s any joy and there’s any peace and there’s any patience and there’s any kindness and there’s any goodness. That’s the only time these things happen is when we walk by the Spirit.
When we walk by the Spirit, Christ produces His love in and through us and that’s what touches other people, in the restaurant, in the store, wherever we are. People don’t see us; they’re not touched by us; they’re touched by Christ who lives in us. Everywhere we go Jesus is passing their way and it’s an awesome thing. That’s what Christianity is all about.
Now in this agape love that we’re looking at, or have looked at in 5:22-23, it’s Christ’s love in us. This is the first time, when He produces that love in us for other people, that’s the first time and the only time that we can even discern what a person’s need really is. We’re living in a day when people think they know what they need, but they do not. Only the Spirit of God knows what we truly need. There’s a difference between felt needs and true needs and only the Spirit of God can give us that discernment. But with that discernment also comes the resolve, which is what agape love is, to meet that need, whatever God has revealed no matter what it cost any of us. And He immediately fills us with His joy, His peace, His patience, His kindness, His goodness, His faith, His gentleness, and His self-control as we experience God’s love working in us. That’s a powerful thought.
This is Christianity. This is what separates Christianity from religion, God living in us producing His character through us. We can live in this love only if we’re believers. Now, if you’re here this morning and you’ve never received Jesus Christ into your life, you’ve never experienced His love, then you cannot understand what we’re talking about until you come to know Him. My prayer always is that somebody could understand the difference of religion and realize he doesn’t have Christ living in his heart and receive Jesus into his heart. Only believers can experience this. It’s Christ living in them. But only the believers who are walking by the Spirit can experience this.
Oh yes, if you don’t walk by the Spirit you will experience His love, but it’ll be that love that chastens and disciplines and scourges that Hebrews says He scourges those whom He loves. You’ll experience His love, but not in the way we’re talking about. What we’re talking about is letting Jesus just be Jesus in you. Our choice to say yes to Christ—and this is the most beautiful thing that Galatians, I think, brings out—immediately crucifies the flesh. In other words, by saying yes to God we have just said no to our flesh. We have made it lie dormant. It cannot hurt us in any way. It cannot divide our relationships. It cannot do a thing. It can only enhance them when the Holy Spirit of God lives in our life. The flesh is left in its position of deadness.
The problem is the flesh, if it cannot get us to sin outright, will deceive us back into a performance mentality. This is where the Christians falter. The sincere Christians falter right here. When they think they can do something other than saying yes to Christ and letting Jesus do something through them, that’s that performance mentality. That’s what happened to the Galatians, and all of us have fallen in this trap from time to time. And it’s then that we realize that the signal of that fact that we’re not living and walking correctly as believers is in the broken relationships that we have with other people. When all that animosity builds up within us, when all that anger and wrath and all that other kind of garbage that we looked at in 5:19-21 begin to well up inside of us that’s when we know that we’re not walking by the Spirit of God. Now listen, if believers fight, whether it’s in your family, whether it’s in the church, or wherever, if believers fight, nobody wins. Everybody loses.
On Wednesday nights we’ve been studying the book of Judges. And we’ve been looking at the characters there. And it’s like, almost like a topical study because it’s rather different than it is in the New Testament in the epistles. It’s more narrative. And this past Wednesday night we studied about a particular tribe within the 12 tribes of Israel by the name of the Ephraimites. Ephraim and Manasseh were brothers. Ephraim was the youngest, but here’s old granddaddy Jacob who, the same thing happened to him. He gave the blessing to that younger one instead of the older one, who was Manasseh. And Ephraim became very arrogant and very contentious in the 12 tribes of Israel. So the Ephraimites were always causing problems in the people of God. Gideon had to deal with them. But Gideon had enough sense to know that you don’t fight each other, and so therefore he was willing to deal with it with sensitivity and humility and he calmed their anger down and it was no bloodshed.
But Jephthah, the one we studied this past week, was different. Jephthah was an illegitimate child. He was a man of valor. He was a mighty warrior. He was no sissy. And the Ephraimites did to him what they did to Gideon, and when they did it to him he didn’t handle it correctly. In fact, he killed 42,000 of the Ephraimites, which was Israel. I mean, if it’d been the Ammonites or the Amorites or somebody else, that would have been one thing, but he didn’t. This was not the enemy. This was his own people. All of Israel lost when he blew it and handled it the wrong way. That’s what the flesh does. It always wounds, it shoots the very wounded in the body of Christ. But the Spirit of God produces a love that draws people together, even those that are intolerable, and people that are unlovable. But if we ever fight it’s a foolish thing.
And so Paul is telling the Galatians this truth. You don’t want to go that route that you’ve been going. You want to go this route. You want to let Jesus be Jesus in your life. And it’s with this thought that we enter chapter 6. See, that’s the current of the river that’s carrying us right into where we are today. Paul is going to show us what Christ’s love looks like when we’re allowing Him to be who He is within us. He wants us to see the sensitivity that God’s going to give us to other people.
Paul begins with the problem that his whole epistle has been addressing. There’s sin in the camp. All the southern churches had bought into false doctrine, which is sin when you err and you depart from truth. The Galatians had fallen into the trap of sin. But here’s what Paul wants them to see. How do you deal with a brother who has fallen into the trap of sin, whether it be religious sin, whether it be religion, or rebellious sin? It doesn’t matter. How do you deal with a brother? How does the Holy Spirit of God look like in you towards others that have been found out to be in sin? How does that happen? How does a believer walking by the Spirit deal with another’s sin?
Now, this is so important to me that I’m going to do one message on this first verse. I mean, I’m not going to go any further than verse 1. I’m not going to do that with every verse, but I think this is so key. It’s so amazing to me that Paul starts here. He could have started in many places, but he didn’t. He started when a brother is in sin and he wants them to understand the beauty of how God’s sensitizes you towards a brother that’s fallen and erred in sin.
Verse 1. There are three things that I want you to see in this passage. First of all, Paul illustrates the problem. He illustrates the problem. He says, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass.” Now, the “even if,” the word “if” there is the word ean. It means it’s a situation that could happen and probably will. The Galatians have already fallen into sin, and I think what Paul is saying here is, this is probably not going to be the first time. Now, when they do, and when you do, how do you handle somebody who has fallen into sin? Even if a man is caught, “is caught.” Now the word “caught” is the word prolambano. It comes from two Greek words, pro, before, lambano, to take or to overtake, to overtake with surprise. Now there are really two thoughts here, and the translations bring out both thoughts and you have to look at both of them. They’re very valid. They do not contradict in any way.
The first thought is seen in the King James Version, the New King James Version, the Young’s Translation and others. It’s the thought that a person has been surprised by the fact that sin has overtaken him. In these translations that word prolambano is translated as “overtaken.” If a man is overtaken, and they translate it “by a fault.” Now, these translations view the verb prolambano as a sin that has snuck up on somebody, and overtaken them is the idea. And you can see their point. You see, before we became a believer we chased after sin. Do you remember those days? How many of you, before you became a believer, chased after sin? What’s the middle letter of the word “sin?” “I.” I rest my case. You see, before we became believers we lived for ourselves. We chased after what ourselves, what pleased ourselves. We chased after sin. But once you become a believer you don’t chase after sin any more. You pursue Christ; however, sin chases after you and sometimes overtakes you.
And that’s the thought that comes out in some of these translations. The verb is in the aorist passive voice; aorist tense meaning at an occurrence, at an event, and passive voice indicating that something happened to the person. At a certain time he was overtaken by the sin. Now, Paul has already warned the Galatians of sin before they became a believer. And then he had to warn them again after they become a believer. So we see how sin is still a problem to a believer, but it’s a little different focus. A believer doesn’t focus, doesn’t chase after it; it chases after him.
But the other truth, now that’s one truth that’s absolute here, but the other truth is found in the New American Standard translation, and I love it. And that is that, not only has he been overtaken by a sin and he’s fallen into its trap, but the other truth is that he’s been caught in his sin by somebody. And that’s what the New American Standard translation says, “even if a man is caught in any trespass.” You see, the little phrase “even if” introduces what they call an exceptional clause. And that exception to this clause is, and why they translate “even if,” is that this man has been caught. Not only has he been overtaken, but this man has been caught in a sin, rather, “if a man is caught in any trespass.” Now that’s a person who’s caught, then there’d be no reason to go and restore him, which is the last part of the verse. I mean, that supports itself. You have to know about his sin if you’re ever going to restore him. That’s what he says in the last part of the verse. He says, “You who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” So both truths are in play here. First of all, a man’s been overtaken into a sin. He’s fallen into its trap. But secondly, somebody has caught him in that sin.
Now, this act of sin that a believer had been caught in would no doubt enrage believers who are not living surrendered to Christ. This is a hard fact of life. You can just hear them now. “How could he do that?” “I can’t believe that happened.” “Why, I would never do that myself.” Now, this is how ridiculous we get sometimes. We forget that the flesh, my flesh, is just as wicked as anybody else’s. And we better be real careful when we say we wouldn’t do anything. But, you see, people that don’t walk by the Spirit, they’re repulsed by that sin to the point that they will not love that individual. They want to get him out rather than love him in. Only the Holy Spirit can produce the kind of love that would actually be sensitive to the needs of one who has been caught in sin. It is supernatural to be sensitive to someone when you know that he has sinned. It’s supernatural; this is not a natural tendency. This is that love of Christ being manifests in our lives. Flesh condemns and wants to carry out the sentence, but the Spirit seeks to restore.
Now, it appears to me that Paul is anticipating the wrong reaction by many of these people. And this would explain what he says in the last part of the verse. He says, “You who are spiritual.” He automatically draws a line right there. “You who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” You see, the sin of a brother in Christ can only be responded to in the sensitivity that Christ’s love produces in our life. If that love is not there, then we’ll be insensitive. We will be calloused. We will be hard when a brother has fallen into sin.
“Brethren, even if a man is caught,” then he says, “in any trespass.” Now, what is a trespass? The word “trespass” is the word paraptoma. It means to fall alongside. Para, alongside, pipto, to stumble or to fall, to fall alongside. In fact, it’s a very general word for sin. It carries more the idea, yes, of sin; it is sin, but it’s not so much the premeditated kind. It’s something that a person was deceived into, or he didn’t set out to do this. The Galatians didn’t set out to have these things happen that chapter 5:19-21 told us about. They didn’t set out that way. They simply erred from the truth, they strayed from the truth and now they’re living in this sin.
This is not the harsh word for sin that is used in other places, harmatia. It’s not that same word. In Galatians it makes perfect sense for that reason. You really have to understand that they didn’t set out to be bad people. They just simply chose something rather than letting Jesus be Jesus in them. The origin of sin in a believer’s life always will be when he errs in judgment and when he departs from truth. This causes us to be overtaken by sin and sometimes we get caught in it. And the apostle Paul is that brother dealing with them in their sin, and now he’s telling them how to deal with one another.
You know, when I was growing up I always got caught in everything I did. I’m serious. I could do anything I did, I don’t know how in the world I caught every single time. And this is the whole idea Paul’s bringing out. I went fishing one time with two young fellows in my youth group when I was in college. I had my fishing license; and one of them didn’t need it; he was 15 years old. One of them needed it, but just refused to buy it. He was 16. Sixteen years old you had to have a license. Well, I had warned this one fellow. I said, “Bill, you have to have a license. Let’s stop and get it.” “Oh, they’ll never check me. We’ve never been checked.” You know how that goes. All of a sudden I look up, and I see the guy with the green shirt on and the green trousers and I know exactly who it is. It’s the game warden. He comes over, he says, “Let me check your license.” Well, I showed him my license and he looked at Bill and said, “Sir, can I see yours?” And Bill said, “I’m only 15 years old.” And the ranger said, “Well you know what? You look a lot older than that.” He said, “How old will you be your next birthday?” And Bill says, “17.” I tell that story because that’s exactly the way I was growing up. I couldn’t lie. I couldn’t do it. I’d always hang myself in the midst of it.
Well, what Paul’s talking about is these Galatians, they sinned, but I guess they weren’t good enough at covering it up, and now they’re caught. That’s the problem. He illustrates the problem. Now what do you do? Now what? Now that you’ve caught your brother in a sin, now what do you do? What, the second thing he does here, he describes the procedure. What procedure do we follow when a fellow believer has been caught in a sin, not just overtaken, but caught? What’s the responsibility of one who has caught his brother? Well, “Brethren,” he says in verse 1, “even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.”
Now, he says, “You who are spiritual.” Now he’s talking to a particular group in that people that he’s writing to. It’s not one church, it’s several churches, but he’s singling out several ones that walk side by side with those who are not walking in the Spirit. And the word for “spiritual” there is pneumatikos. According to Dr. Spiros Zodhiates’ Word Study Dictionary, he says about this word, it’s a believer who is enjoying the influences, the graces and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In other words, in our context of Galatians 5 and 6, it’s somebody walking by the Spirit. It’s somebody that the Spirit of God is producing His love within them. That’s who he’s talking to.
He’s not talking to the people that care less. He says, no sir. I’m only talking to one certain group of people here, those people who are walking by the Spirit, those people who are like that glass that we’ve talked about how many times, that has had the bottom knocked out, and the glass has been put into the river and the river is flowing through them, which is what being filled with the Spirit is all about. Jesus is the river. He’s the life that flows through us. Only a believer who has been filled by the Spirit has the sensitivity to another believer who has sinned, because it’s Christ in him that needs to respond, not the individual, but Christ in him.
And I want to say this, and just to caution you in your walk with Christ, remember that there are two groups of people in every body of believers, no matter where you are. They were in Galatia; they are in your church. You have people that don’t give God the time of day. They do not walk by the Spirit, yet they’ll show up. But then you have the people that are walking by the Spirit of God. Oh, when a person is ever caught in a sin by an individual who refuses to walk by the Spirit of God! I want to tell you something, they will ruin your reputation and they will ruin your life. You know why? Because they are devoid of the sensitivity of the Lord Jesus Christ and how He treats others, you see. So Paul’s not talking to the people that are fleshly-minded. He’s only talking to the spiritual ones, those who are walking by the Spirit, those who are being led by the Spirit of God.
Now look what he says. “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual.” You others, don’t you touch it; you have no business in this matter. Get your own life right first. I’m talking to the spiritual ones. He says, “Restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” Now that word “restore” is a beautiful word katartizo. It means to put it back in its proper position. I love that. Kata means with, and then artios, to adjust or to finish. It’s a word used in the secular world of a doctor who’s resetting a bone. A bone’s been broken and he takes it and puts that bone back to where it can mend and where it can heal and where it can be usable again.
The word “restore” is in the present imperative tense. Present tense means it’s an ongoing process. You know, it doesn’t mean to walk up to somebody—I hear this all the time—“I’m going to tell you the truth in love.” You know, really what they mean is “I’m going to drop a grenade in your lap and I’ll see you later.” You know, they justify themselves. Those people who walk after the flesh. That’s how they justified themselves. But by the present tense he’s talking about the fact you restore and continue to restore. It’s a process here. Restoring a brother who’s fallen into the trap of sin is not just going to tell him about it. It’s more to it than that. It involves a responsibility to stay with him until he gets back on his feet.
It’s like that elk hunter and he’s out there on a rock and he’s got his sights and all that, crosshairs are right on that big herd bull. He’ll score, oh, he might be in the record books. And he’s just about to pull the trigger, and the guide that’s with him taps him on the shoulder. He looks at him and he says what? He said, “Now remember before you pull that trigger, it’s five miles back to camp. Now, some of you don’t understand what I’m talking about. You kill a 1200-pound animal, guess who’s going to carry it back five miles to camp. If you’re going to pull the trigger, understand it’s a responsibility that goes with pulling that trigger.
That’s what I’m saying. If you’re going to go to somebody and tell them about their sin, make sure you’ve already resolved with God you’re going to stay with them until you get that person back on his feet, because that is the sensitivity and the resolve that God’s love produces in an individual who’s walking by the Spirit. There’s a responsibility that goes with it.
Well, the word doesn’t mean to kick the person out of the church. It doesn’t mean to destroy the person by telling everybody else. There’s another Scripture that says that love covers. And Dr Zodhiates and I were studying that one day and he said it means it builds a house over, a roof over. In other words, when you find out about a brother’s sin you tell nobody. You go to God, and you go to him, and you keep it underneath that roof. You see, we’re going to have church discipline somewhere down the road, and I want you to understand it’s restoration, not discipline. That word “discipline” has too many bad connotations to it in our culture. We think about it as kicking the guy out. That is not it at all. If you ever see church discipline practiced here, it’s going to be to restore somebody. It’s going to be to help somebody. It’s going to be to try to get somebody’s attention that he’s making a mockery of what we call and understand Christianity to be. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful thing.
But the word “restore” refers to that which may be painful at first. It’s not only a process, but it’s painful at first. Sometimes it’s painful for a while. Let’s just meditate on that for a second. You’ve just broken your arm and you go to the doctor. Guess what he’s going to have to do? He’s going to have to hurt you in order for you to heal. And so the pain is automatically implied. I know when my son had surgery on his ankle, I remember he just thought that was going to be a piece of cake. Of course, he didn’t understand the pain that was going to go with that. And he was in a lot of pain for quite a while before the injured place in his body began to heal. So the very term restoring a brother, restoration, has implied within it there’s pain. There’s going to be some pain to it. The act of restoring someone is very painful.
Years ago I had ulcers. Can you imagine me with ulcers? But I had them. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, I just knew that I felt like someone had driven a knife through my back at night and I couldn’t understand what was going on. Well, I went in and talked to the doctor and he said, “You’ve got ulcers, Wayne.” And I said, “Well, what causes that?” He said, “It’s not what you’ve been eating.” He said, “Evidently, Wayne, it’s what eating you.” Oh! And he says, “You know, Wayne, I’m a Christian, and I hear you speak about the victory we have in Jesus from week to week.” And he said, “Wayne, I just want to say something to you as your brother, as a Christian brother. I’m going to hurt you.” And I thought, well, here we go. He said, “In a spiritual way,” he said “Wayne, why don’t you start living what you’ve been preaching?”
You think that hurt? Oh yeah, that hurt. But you see, what that did, it lanced the boil and then the healing could start taking place in my life. And he became a friend that became accountable to me for quite a while to make sure we got back where we’re living what we’re preaching. That’s what I’m talking about. He loved me enough not just to tell me, oh no, but to stay with me all the way through the process.
You see, when we’re filled with the Spirit of Christ we have a sensitivity to others. Nobody can explain this, because most of the time they’re the very people that are unloving. They’re intolerant. They’re difficult people to start with. But God gives us that sensitivity to love them beyond them, in spite of them. The Christ in us gives us also the resiliency to endure the pain with them because they’re going to go through some painful times and then the joy one day of watching them come back and be able to stand on their feet once again. But it’s all about restoration, restoration.
I remember the first time I ever mentioned we were going to discipline somebody, we never mentioned the name and we never called their sin ever in public. The four steps in Matthew 18, only two of them are public. But I remember when I first mentioned it the young people were sitting off to my right. My son was in the youth group at that time, and he was sitting back there, about 175 of them sitting over there. And he told me when I said somebody’s going to be disciplined this next week, everyone of the young people turned to each other and said, “Oh no, they found out, they found out, they found out.” We weren’t even talking about. It did a beautiful thing, raised the standard real quick.
But we would send a registered letter to the person. They had to sign for it before he ever got it. I mean, before he ever went to church discipline he had to get it and read it. And what that letter said was, we do not want to do this third step. Will you please, we beg of you, meet with us. We erred on the side of grace every single time, and usually that was what got their attention when they realized the seriousness of what they had done, that it affected the whole body of Christ that come and claim to be Christians. I remember one time this one man got that letter and it just wiped him out. He’d been having an affair with another woman and had even moved away from his wife and he was just absolutely adamant that he was not doing anything sinful in God’s sight. Well, that letter came and he said, “Wayne, it hit me like a ton of bricks.” He said, “For the first time I saw the seriousness of my sin. Before I thought I could get away with it and never bother anybody.” But he said, “I saw the seriousness of my sin,” and he said, “I went and asked my wife to forgive me. I broke it off with this other person. I’ve gone to everybody I’ve known to go to,” and he said, “I just need, I need so much now to share this with the body of Christ.”
He came one Sunday night and told me this on the platform. And, you know, when people come and say I want to give a witness or share a testimony I check them out. I’ve learned. I’ve been around and done that, because a lot of times what they’re about to share you don’t want everybody to hear. And I asked him, I said, “What is it you want to share?” And he said, “I want to ask the people just to forgive me, because I’m so ashamed.” And I said “Yes sir, you can share that.” And it came the appropriate time and I let him come up to the pulpit, and he tried, he opened his mouth and just immediately began to falter and he just began to weep and sob and he said, “I’m so sorry. I am so sorry.” And he asked the people to forgive him. And his precious wife was sitting right down here to the left and she has to go through the heaviest load of all this. And, boy, it was awesome. I said, “Folks listen, he’s as clean right now as any of the rest of us in here. He’s already been washed by the blood and the blood has just cleansed him. Now we need to encourage him as a brother because we’re going to have to help him get back on his feet.”
Well, I said, “All you men come down and get around him and bring a verse with you. Every one of you get down here. And if you can’t get to him, lean on the guy in front of you.” Man, they just came down and hovered over him and began to pray with him and share Scripture with him. And I said to his precious little wife, and I looked at her and I said, “I know what you’re going to have to go through now rebuilding that trust bond,” and I said, “Ladies, come down and get around her and share the Word with her and encourage her.” And asked the choir to just sing something appropriate, and it was awesome what they did. They began to sing that song, “O the blood of Jesus, O the blood of Jesus,” and the last line of that is, “that washes white as snow.”
And that’s the closest thing that I’ve experienced to real revival since I’ve been in the ministry, and I’m 60 years old. When I saw people, nobody was judging anybody. Everybody was rejoicing that a brother had been restored, and everybody was praying for one another. And the love that was in that church, it was so thick you could have cut it with a knife that night. That’s what we’re talking about. That’s the sensitivity God puts within believers when they see a brother who’s been overtaken and yet been caught in the act of sin. This is how they treat them. They don’t kick them out. They love them. They seek to restore them. It’s all about restoration.
“You that are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” The word “spirit” there is the word for attitude. It’s a little “s,” spirit of gentleness; however, it indirectly speaks right back to the Holy Spirit that produces that very gentleness. Because the word used there for “gentleness” in verse 1 is the same word used in 5:23 as the fruit of God’s Spirit. And so it’s the word prautes. It’s the word that refers to the brokenness that you approach a person with. Brokenness, it’s used in a secular sense of a horse that’s full of power that has now surrendered his power to his master. And here’s a person that comes in that meek spirit understanding what they’re not apart from God. It’s a humble word. It’s a beautiful word. It speaks of the character of Christ.
Now get the picture. My son’s a Georgia football fan. I’ve been praying for him for years. For some reason I just can’t get him to repent. But the guy that announces all the Georgia football games, he gets on the air and he’s on radio so you can’t see it, so he’s trying to draw a picture. He says, “Now let’s get the picture, let’s get the picture.” And he’ll go back and rehearse everything for you. Well, let’s get the picture of what Paul’s doing right here. Unless you’re allowing Christ to live through your life, which is the same thing as being filled with the Spirit, which is the same thing as a glass having that bottom knocked out, stuck in the river letting the river flow through it—now listen to me—then you have no business dealing with a brother that you’ve found out is in sin. You have no business touching it. Don’t get near him. Because you see, number 1, you’re already living after the flesh so you’re no better off than your brother. So he’s not talking to the people that won’t get right with God. Don’t say a word. Don’t say a word, beause if you point a finger, there’s three more pointing right back at you.
But to those that are spiritual, if you’re allowing the Spirit to produce His love in your life, and He’s given you the discernment to the need and the resolve to meet that need, then He’s talking to you. And what He says is, Christ will empower you to come alongside and to help a brother be restored to where he can be effective again. For those who are living surrendered lives when we’re caught in our sin, I tell you, that’s wonderful. I pray that if I ever do something stupid, I pray that there’ll be people that love the Lord that’ll come around me. I’m telling you, you don’t want the ones that aren’t walking that way. We need Christ’s gentleness towards us.
Okay, so Paul illustrates the problem; secondly he describes a procedure; but then finally he warns of a possibility. There’s a warning that comes in here. He warns of a possibility. “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” Now, here comes the warning: “Each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Now here we go. The “each one” there refers to the “each one” that are spiritual, because that’s who he’s talking to, to those who are allowing Christ to live in and through him, to those that are sensing that they need to spend some time with a brother. And how long it takes nobody knows, but they’re willing to get him back on his feet.
He says, “looking to yourself.” And that word “looking” there is the word is skopeo. Keep one’s eye upon. You know I’m a bass fisherman. And I’m trying to learn to be a trout fisherman. For those of you that fish for trout, I have more respect for you now than I’ve ever had in my life. Now, when you bass fish and that thing hits, you jerk with a jerk that’s going to just take his teeth out, because they’re tough fish. Buddy, when they hit you’d better be on the strike, and you bring him in. I’ve discovered something. That’s not exactly the way you do a trout.
When you’re fishing for trout, you don’t jerk. If you jerk, the fish is either going to be 30 feet up in a tree or you’re just broken that little two-pound test leader that you’ve got on there. You don’t do it that way. You use your wrist. That’s all you use is your wrist. And I’m trying to learn that.
But dry fly fishing is something, I don’t know if I’ll ever learn. First of all, they’re so little. Have you ever seen the flies that they use out here? I mean, only people 20 years old and younger can even see the holes in the thing there. No wonder they have these huge magnifying glasses you pull down in front of your glasses to see them. I mean, it’s like where is it? Where’s the thing? Tying it on is bad enough, but that’s not the hard part. The hard part is when you throw it out in that stuff out on the foam out on the stream when you want to make sure you throw it to because that’s where all the goodie stuff is floating down the river. How do you see it? And trying to keep your eye upon, skopeo. That’s the word he’s using here. Don’t take your eye off of it. Do what? Uh oh, you missed it. You’ve got to stay right with that fly that whole time.
Well that’s the word that he uses here. And so what he says is, you keep your eye on something. If you’re going to go restore this brother you better keep your eye right on something. And what is it? He says, “Looking to yourself.” You better watch out, because your flesh is just as susceptible to sin as this brother’s is that you’re trying to restore. That word skopeo is used in Philippians 3:14 and it’s translated as goal. And it says, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” And a runner never runs looking back. If you’re looking back you just lost the race. You have to run keeping your eyes on the goal that you’re trying to attain. And that’s that word that he uses. He says guys, you’re vulnerable, even you that are spiritual. You’re vulnerable. And it’s that quick that you can fall in the same temptation that this man has fallen into.
So he says keep your eye upon yourself, “lest you too be tempted.” And that’s passive voice. Not that you go into it thinking that’s going to happen, but that temptation doesn’t come upon you. And the word for “tempted” is the word peirazo. To be put into a situation that’s so delicate that you have to make a choice. And he says you better be careful when you put yourself into that situation, because most of the time if you’re not looking to yourself you might get your eye on that sin and as a result of it, end up falling to that very sin. Be very very careful.
You know, I don’t know whether it’s my imagination or not, this is why I love to preach, by the way, book by book and verse by verse. You know why? Because it’s not topical. Topical to me forces you so many times to take the text and make it say what you’re trying to say rather than let the text say what it says. But I don’t know how many people I have noticed that’s been preaching against immorality and preaching against this, and that’s all they ever preach against, are the very ones falling to that sin. What Paul says is, “Man, if you see a brother caught in a sin, first of all thank God that’s not you, because only by the grace of God you’d be right in his shoes. Now, secondly, if you’re going to go meet that person’s need, you that are spiritual, the rest of you sit over here and be quiet.” He says, “If you’re going to meet that need, you be careful. You’re vulnerable.” It’s like that sign that says approach with caution. Approach with caution because there’s fire in here and you may end up getting burned yourself.
We do have responsibility to one another, but only when we’re living filled with God’s Spirit can we ever see that responsibility carried out. So Paul illustrates the problem. He describes the procedure. He warns of a possibility. And there are two truths I’d like to leave you with today. They’re side by side. One of them is if you’re not walking by the Spirit then I would encourage you to get your life to where you actually can be usable to God, to reach out and touch another brother who’s not walking that way. But if you are walking by the Spirit, may I just simply say, you are so desperately needed in the body of Christ because only you that are walking by the Spirit can cause the unity of the body to come back together. And so Paul speaks to a dysfunctional church, several churches, the whole Southern Galatia and he says to them, “You’re walking this way. This is the way you’re supposed to walk. Now those of you who are truly walking this way I have something to say to you about a brother who has fallen into sin.”
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