GALATIANS CHAPTER 6

D) THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A LIFE OF SERVICE TO THE LORD (6:1-10)

[The Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT, Walvoord & Zuck, Eds., Victor Books, USA, 1988, pp. 609]:

"A believer is free from the Law of Moses and possesses liberty in the Spirit, but he must fulfill the law of Christ, and this can be done in the power of the Spirit. Such a life involves sacrificial service directed toward sinning Christians, burdened Christians, the pastor-teachers, and all people."

1) SERVICE TOWARD THE CHRISTIAN WHO HAS SINNED

a) [Gal 6:1]:

(v. 1) '''Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.'''

[BKC, cont.]:

"Paul deals with a hypothetical case of a Christian who is caught (prolemphthe) in a sin, or better, is 'caught by a sin.' The thought is that of someone running from sin but sin, being faster, overtakes and catches him. Two passages show how the legalists responded to such (cf. John 8:3-5; Acts 21:27-29). But a Christian should restore (katartizEtE, a word used in secular Gr. for setting broken bones and in the NT for mending fishing nets) him. The task of restoration is not to be undertaken by fledglings in the faith but by those who are spiritual, that is, believers who walk by the Spirit (cf. Gal 5:16), and who are mature in the faith (cf. 1 Cor 2:15; Heb 5:13-14). Furthermore this delicate work must be done gently (prautetos; cf Gal 5:22) and with the consciousness that no one is immune from falling into sin (cf. 1 Cor 10:12).

2) SERVICE TOWARD THE CHRISTIAN WHO IS BURDENED

a) [Gal 6:2-5]:

(v. 2) "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

(v. 3) If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

(v. 4) Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,

(v. 5) for each one should carry his own load."

i) A SERVING CHRISTIAN LENDS A HELPING HAND WITH HEAVY LOADS

(v. 2) "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. =

[BKC, cont.]:

"A serving Christian lends a helping hand with heavy loads... Though the principle would apply to all burdens the context has special reference to the heavy and oppressive weight of temptation and spiritual failure. While the 'spiritual' do the work of restoring, all believers are to become involved by prayer and encouragement. This, wrote Paul, will fulfill (anaplerOsEtE) the law of Christ, that is, the principle of love."

i_a) [Compare Gal 5:14]:

"The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

i_b) [Compare Jas 2:8]:

"If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right."

i_c) [Compare John 13:34-35]:

(v. 34) "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

(v. 35) By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

ii) SOMETHING MUST BE LAID ASIDE IF A BELIEVER IS TO BE A BURDEN BEARER

[BKC, cont.]:

"Something must be laid aside if a believer is to be a burden-bearer and that is conceit, an attitude that breeds intolerance of error in others and causes one to think he is above failure. The remedy for self-conceit is found in verse 4 - everyone is told to test (dokimazetO) his own actions."

II) [Gal. 6:6-9]:

(v. 6) '''Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.

(v. 7) Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

(v. 8) The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

(v. 9) Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

(v. 10) Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.'''

Since the reception of one's eternal destiny in heaven is depicted in Scripture as a once for all time moment of faith alone in Christ alone excluding any human doing;

and since sowing and reaping is an ongoing process such that one continually sows and continually reaps;

then verse 8 cannot depict such reception of the eternal destiny of eternal life, but rather the reaping/accumulation of the enhancement or destruction of the value of one's eternal destiny with what one continually sows to the Spirit or the sin nature respectively.

[Dr. Zane Hodges, "The Gospel Under Siege", Redencion Viva Publishers, Dallas, Texas, Second Edition, 1992, pp. 86-89]:

A) INTRODUCTION

'''It is important to see exactly what this text says. "Everlasting life," Paul states, is the direct consequence of sowing to the Spirit, of doing good. Corruption is what you reap if you do evil. It is all part of the law of the harvest. A man gets what he deserves to get.

It goes almost without saying that there is nothing said here about the "inevitable" results of saving faith. Indeed, the hortatory thrust of the passage shows the opposite. The Galatians must be careful about how they sow. They must never suppose that they can "mock" God or avoid the inexorable law of the harvest. The final reaping is not a foregone conclusion, but rather it is contingent on not "growing weary" while doing good.

But equally there is nothing here about justification by faith or the concept of a free gift. Nothing is plainer than that the "everlasting life" of which Paul speaks is not free, but based on the moral merits of those who reap it. To deny this is to deny the most obvious aspect of the text.

All becomes clear, however, if we simply remember that the Apostle is addressing believers.

1) [Compare Gal 3:2-5]:

(v. 2) "I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?

(v. 3) Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

(v. 4) Have you suffered so much for nothing--if it really was for nothing?

(v. 5) Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?"

[So Paul is addressing those] who have already been justified by faith and who possess everlasting life as a free gift. Naturally Paul knew that eternal life was freely given (Rom. 6:23; see also Rom. 5:15-18), just as the Apostle John knew this. But Paul is not speaking about what the Galatians already have, but about what they may yet receive. Herein lies the key to this text.'''

B) ETERNAL LIFE IS EXPERIENCED IN MORE THAN ONE DEGREE

[Hodges, cont.]:

"It must not be forgotten that eternal life is nothing less than the very life of God Himself. As such it cannot be thought of as a mere fixed and static entity. Rather, its potentialities are rich beyond the power of the mind to conceive them. Thus we find Jesus declaring, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). From this we learn that eternal life can be experienced in more than one measure or degree.

But it cannot be experienced at all unless first received as a free gift [by a moment of faith alone in Christ alone]. Not surprisingly, the Creator of the universe has illustrated this with every human life that is born into the world.

No man or woman possesses physical life at all except by his parents imparting it to him. Even physical life, therefore, is a free gift! But when a child is born into this present world, the capacities of human life (all present at birth) must be developed by himself under the guidance of his parents and subsequent teachers. How "abundantly" he will experience human life is determined by his response to instruction and to experience itself.

So it is in the spiritual realm too. In order to have life "more abundantly," one must meet the conditions for this. One must respond properly to his heavenly Parent.

Here it should be stated clearly that in the New Testament eternal life is presented both as a free gift and as a reward merited by those who earn it. But one important distinction always holds true. Wherever eternal life is viewed as a reward, it is obtained in the future. But wherever eternal life is presented as a gift, it is obtained in the present.

Naturally, it goes without saying that no one can ever receive eternal life as a reward who does not first accept it as a free gift. This is the same as saying that a person must first have life before he can experience it richly.

C) ENHANCING ONES ETERNAL LIFE

[Hodges, cont.]:

"Galatians 6:8 is understood as speaking only of a man's final salvation from hell, then it teaches clearly that this final salvation is by works. Not to admit this is not to be candid. But no one excludes works from his doctrine of salvation more vigorously than Paul does, and he insists that to mix works and grace is to alter the character of both (see Rom. 11:6).

Galatians 6:8 is irreconcilable with fundamental Pauline truth so long as one holds the view that final salvation is under discussion.

But why hold this view? It is easy to understand how the measure and extent of one's experience of God's life must depend on the measure of his response to God. From that perspective the image of a harvest is exactly right. The nature and quantity of the seed we sow determines the nature and quantity of the harvest.

It is obviously wise for a Christian to be reminded that every act he performs is like a seed sown in a field. Its harvest will be either corruption or eternal life. And is there a Christian alive who has not sown much more often to his flesh than he ought to have done? Clearly the Church needs this reminder about the law of life. To make the issue here a man's final destiny in heaven or hell is to lose the whole point of the exhortation.

If the matters just discussed are kept in mind, other passages which offer eternal life as a future experience based on works can be understood in their proper bearing. One might think especially of Matthew 19:29 with its parallels in Mark 10:30 and Luke 18:30. The eschatological "harvest" is in view in these places. Obedient men reap an experience of eternal life precisely because they are obedient. But this in no way conflicts with the reality that such obedience must be preceded by, and motivated through, a gift of life given freely and without any condition but faith alone.'''

[DAVID W. ROTH / PASTOR-TEACHER ; BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SOW!; TAPE # 4845 GALATIANS GAL. 6:6-8; 05/06/01]:

'''(Gal 6:8 NKJV) "For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life."

Paul wrote this letter to set the record straight regarding the doctrine of justification by faith alone, but he would not have them believe that this doctrine gives one the right to live any way he or she pleases with no fear of the consequences. It would surprise you to know how many Christians live their lives as though there is no accountability before God.

Paul mentions in this text two types of soil in which the Christian can sow his life; the flesh or the Spirit.

We have seen in the previous chapter that Christians find within themselves competing and conflicting desires.

(Gal 5:16-17 KJV) "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. {17} For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."

There is within any true believer a desire to live holy as prompted by the Holy Spirit but there is also within every true believer a desire to sin as prompted by their unredeemed humanness. As we have already seen, this conflict is sharp!

What Christian here has not truly desired to live holy only to find within him a competing desire to sin? The apostle Paul himself recognized in his own life this internal struggle between good and evil.

(Rom 7:18-19 NKJV) "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. {19} For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice."

But even though this internal conflict between the flesh and Spirit is great, it does not excuse the Christian from his responsibility to live as the called out sons of God. We have been redeemed by God in order to become trophies of His grace who would reflect His likeness to the world. We are called to be Christians, which means Christlike.

Man was originally created in the image of God but that image was marred in Adam and Eve's fall into sin. Redemption seeks to restore the image of God in fallen man. This image of God is to be progressively restored through the process we call sanctification. Sanctification is the process whereby through the Spirit of God we more and more reflect the image of God. In glorification, the image of God will be fully restored in the redeemed. This does not mean that we become gods but that we reflect the image of God as created beings.

In Galatians 6:8, Paul states that if you sow to the flesh you will reap corruption. The word corruption is derived from a Greek word which means to degenerate, or to go from good to bad. It was used to describe meat which spoiled as the result of sitting out in the sun. It was also used to describe a decaying body after death.

(Acts 13:36-37 NKJV) "For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; {37} but He whom God raised up saw no corruption."

In our text, Paul uses the word corruption to speak of the moral consequences or spiritual decay which are the result of giving into your fleshly desires. Although faith in Christ alone for salvation delivers one from corruption in the ultimate sense of not going to eternal punishment, this does not imply that a Christian doesn't reap corruption in the physical realm.

There are many examples in the Bible where men and women of faith suffered physical and spiritual consequences for there sinful actions. They often included sickness, suffering, calamity, trials and even physical death which were the directly related to their sinful activity.

Listen as I read several passages which illustrate the law of sowing and reaping as it relates to sowing to the flesh.

(Eccl 7:17 KJV) "Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?"

(1 Cor 11:30 KJV) "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."

(Job 4:8 KJV) "Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same."

(Prov 1:31-33 KJV) "Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. {32} For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. {33} But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil."

This does not mean that all sickness, trials, calamity, and death are the direct result of a Christian's disobedience. Oftentimes God will bring these very sorts of things not because of sin, but for the testing of one's faith.

As a general rule, those who sow their lives to sin live short and unproductive lives. On the other hand, those who live godly and obedient lives generally will live longer than those who continue in sin. We see this principle of long life illustrated in God's command for children to honor their parents.

(Eph 6:1-3 NKJV) "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. {2} "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: {3} "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."

Children honor their parents when they govern their lives by the godly principles and instructions they learn from their parents. Those instructions would include how to live holy and avoid the pitfalls of sin. If a child applies those godly principles to life he will avoid the type of life that may lead to suffering and maybe even an early death.

The law of sowing and reaping is not negated because of the new birth. God will discipline His children when they live contrary to the principles of holiness as set forth in His word. King David is a classic example of a Christian who committed both adultery and murder and suffered the consequences of his evil actions.

In the book of Second Samuel and chapter twelve, the prophet Naman foretells of a four-fold judgment which will come upon David and his household because he sowed his life to the flesh.

Don't be deceived into thinking God will not hold you accountable for your sins. What you sow, that you will harvest. On the other hand, if you sow to the Spirit you will reap of the Spirit eternal life.

(Gal 6:8 KJV) "...; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."

What does it mean to sow to the Spirit?

Dr. William Hendriksen writes, "Sowing to the flesh means to allow the old nature to have its way. So also, sowing to the Spirit means to allow the Spirit to have His way."

Paul states that if you invest or sow your life according to the divine influence and power of the Holy Spirit you will reap the harvest of eternal life. But what does he mean by reaping eternal life? Does he mean that if you sow or live according to the Spirit that you will be guaranteed entrance into heaven when you die?

To aide us in our understanding of the meaning of eternal life we must understand that the phrase eternal life may have different shades of meaning which are to be determined by the context. Sometimes it refers to the eternal state where you will live in the presence of Christ for all eternity, but at other times it may not be referring to duration in time but to quality of life.

I think Dr. John MacAthur is correct when he suggests that the "eternal life" that is here in view refers not to duration in time but to the quality of eternal life that is to be enjoyed here and now on this side of the grave.

"Because, it is external, no sin in a believer's life can separate him from eternal life, but any sin in his life corrupts his reflection and enjoyment of that eternal life, That is why some Christians are among the most miserable, unhappy, and wretched of people." - MacAthur.

The issue in our text is not one of eternal destiny but of blessing or cursing which is the result of how one lives his life in this world. Sin will never keep a true Christian out of heaven but it will certainly have a quenching effect upon how ones enjoys the present-tense experience of eternal life.

Make no mistake about it; the moment you trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior, eternal life began for you.

(John 5:24 KJV) "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."

Eternal life is a present-tense reality for every true Christian. However, the quality of that on this side of the grave is to be determined upon how and where you do your sowing. If you sow the flesh you will reap the appropriate harvest but if you sow to the Spirit you will reap harvest or a quality of life that will far surpass your every expectation.'''