Study Notes

Galatians 6:1-5


In the book of Galatians, Paul let us know that we are saved by the grace of God, not by religion. He then warned us not to turn that freedom into an excuse for sinning, or judgmentalism. Rather, we should love each other and walk in the Spirit.

Now he gives us a perfect example of how being saved by grace, avoiding sin, and loving each other all roll up into the Christian's life and actions.

6:1 Caught In A Trespass

The longer you know Christians, the more likely it is that you will encounter good, faithful people that fall into sin. They get tripped up, they stumble into something bad in their lives - a wrong relationship, a damaging addiction, a new carnality. Often, people are blindsided - hit in an area they thought they were strong in. They are knocked down and nearly out of the game.

You Who Are Spiritual

Paul doesn't sic the judgmental legalists on people like this - he sends those who are spiritual. (Let's hope that's you.) Okay, Mr. Spiritual - you've got a brother in Christ who is going to leave his wife for a woman he met on the internet. There's a Christian sister who has turned back to drinking. What are you going to do? Your ultimate goal should be their restoration.


The word we read as "restore" in English is the Greek word "kat-ar-TID-zo." It means to fix what was broken, to piece back together what was torn apart, to restore a fallen Christian. It's the same word that the gospel writers used to describe James and John "mending" their nets (Matt 4:21; Mark 1:19). In ancient Greek, the word was used medically to describe the setting of broken bones.

The man or woman in sin is not your enemy. They're torn apart and need mending. They need you to be Jesus to them. They need to be restored, put back together, to be lifted back up. The spiritual among us are called to that ministry.

But how do we do it? How can we bring restoration for the fallen?

First, there has to be a confrontation of the sin. Jesus taught,

Luke 17:3 "...If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

Restoration begins with the sinner confessing his sin. There is no place in Scripture that I know of where sin was forgiven that was not repented of. Where there is no repentance, there must be disfellowship. Jesus taught,

Matt. 18:15-17 "And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen {to you,} take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer."

If there is a lack of repentance, there is only one answer - excommunication, disfellowship. This is what Paul did with the Corinthian man who had brazenly entered into a sinful relationship with his step-mother (1Cor. 5:1-5). Until he repented, he was to be removed from the church.

But Paul's ultimate goal was to see the man driven to a place of repentance, where he could be restored. He later told the Corinthians to forgive and comfort the man, otherwise he would be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow (2Cor. 2:6-8). He told them,

2Cor. 2:8 Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm {your} love for him.

And so sin should never be ignored or swept under the rug - it must be confronted. But that should always be done with a view towards restoration from a spiritual heart of love.

In A Spirit Of Gentleness

I don't believe there has ever been a greater fall from the faith than that of Simon Peter's denial of Christ. On the same night that Peter told Jesus,

Matt. 26:35 ..."Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You"

... he found himself telling a servant girl,

Matt. 26:72 ..."I do not know the man."

And when he had said this three times,

Luke 22:61-62 ...the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before a cock crows today, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.

This man Peter had fallen so far in so short a time. What would you do with someone like this? Disfellowship him - banning him from the church? Allow him in, but never to be trusted with any sort of ministry? Pretend it never happened, just sweeping it under the rug? Hopefully, we as the church would do just as Jesus did - not ignoring the sin, but forgiving and restoring after his repentance.

As you recall, Jesus made the first step towards Peter's restoration. After Jesus rose from the dead, the angel at the tomb told the women who had come,

Mark 16:6-7 And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, {here is} the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He said to you.'"

The message was clear - Peter was invited as well. When they arrived in Galilee, Peter was still not in any position to minister. As a matter of fact, he had decided to return to the fishing business.

John 21:3-8 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will also come with you." They went out, and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus therefore said to them, "Children, you do not have any fish, do you?" They answered Him, "No." And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find {a catch} ." They cast therefore, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." And so when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped {for work} ), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net {full} of fish.

Peter moved in Jesus' direction. He was back in fellowship. But something had to happen before he was fully restored.

John 21:15-19 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, {son} of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My lambs." He said to him again a second time, "Simon, {son} of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Shepherd My sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, {son} of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Tend My sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me!"

First there was the declaration of Simon's love for Christ, and then the commission back into ministry, and lastly, the strong exhortation of, "Follow Me!"

Saints, this is how we must restore fallen Christians. There must first be sorrow over their sin. Then we must make the effort to reach out. Next, they must be challenged as to whether they have a love for God before they are restored into their former calling or position. Finally, there must be a strong exhortation on our part: "Follow the Lord!"

God is gracious, but also takes sin very seriously. We must be faithful to present the full heart of the Lord, Who said to the woman caught in the act of adultery,

John 8:11 ..."Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more."


Now, as we're dealing with Christians who are in sin, there is a danger to us. The Bible plainly states that sin is pleasurable for a season (Heb. 11:24-25). And because it is, a Christian who is in sin can become one of the worst stumbling blocks in the world to us. We can be dragged down and taken in by the deception of the pleasures of sin if we are not incredibly careful. This is exactly why Paul told the Corinthians,

1Cor. 5:9-11 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I {did} not at all {mean} with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler - not even to eat with such a one.

We've got to be very careful as we reach out, even to the repentant sinner, that we do not get tempted into the very sin that they are coming out of. A couple of years ago, it was told to us at a pastor's conference that a Calvary Chapel pastor received a man into his office. The man wanted to kick his heroin addiction, repent of his sin, and get right with God. He pulled out his needle and heroin and put it on the pastor's desk, giving it up for good. The pastor prayed with the man to receive Christ. But after he left, the pastor, who had been saved out of addiction himself, went into the bathroom and shot up for the first time in years. His addiction returned, and he began stealing money from the church to pay for his renewed habit. Incredible as it may sound, it is a true story. Can you see why Jude wrote in his epistle,

Jude 23 ...on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

We've got to be on guard for ourselves when restoring a Christian caught in a trespass.

6:2 The Law Of Christ

This is grace at work. This is love enacted. This is walking by the Spirit. Gently restoring the sinful brother, carrying him as a soldier carries his wounded comrade to the helicopter. Bearing one another's burdens, for often the weight of sin will crush us if we try to stand alone. This fulfills the Law of Christ. You know what that Law is, don't you? It's love. Jesus said that the Law hinged on just two commandments.

Matt. 22:37 ..."‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

If we are spiritual, we will demonstrate the love of Christ by bearing one another's burdens in each other's difficult times.

6:3-4 Thinking You're Something

If we ever get to the point where we're thinking, "I'm too important to go see that guy in jail. I'm too busy to track down that brother who's fallen into sin. I've got better things to do than invest my time with this sister who can't seem to stand on her own two feet," then we have totally deceived ourselves.

Folks, there is not one of us that is too important to get our hands into the muck and mire of ministry. If you want a reason to boast, don't do it by comparing yourself to others. Do it by comparing yourself to yourself. I spend more time in the Word on a daily basis than I did ten years ago - I'm excited about that. I minister to more people than I did ten years ago - that makes me happy. I'm growing in the Lord, giving more of myself away for the kingdom. However, if I begin to say, "I'm in the Word more than YOU, I'm ministering to more people than YOU, then I'm deceiving myself into thinking that I'm better than you. I'm not better than you - I'm just better than I used to be!

6:5 Bear Your Own Load

Then Paul says that each of us should bear his own load. Now, at first, many people think this is a contradiction to what he said just a few verses earlier:

Gal. 6:2 Bear one another's burdens...

does sound opposite to,

Gal. 6:5 ...each one shall bear his own load.

But there is actually quite a difference here. You see, the words are very different. When Paul said that we should bear one another's burdens, he was talking about their "BAR-os," which is a troublesome heaviness.

But when he said that we should bear our own, he was talking about our "for-TEE-on," which is a smaller load, the load that Jesus said,

Matt. 11:30 "For My yoke is easy, and My load is light."

We have each been given a load. A certain amount to carry. But when sin besets us, our backpack gets filled with rocks. We will be crushed under the weight of it unless someone helps to lift it off of us.

How many Christians have you left lying under that weight in your lifetime? How many believers have you abandoned to their sin? If you are spiritual, you will take on the ministry of restoring these people with a spirit of gentleness, fulfilling the law of Christ.

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