To DOWNLOAD an MP3 of this message, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as".It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others. But when we do, the result is usually bad. Either we get an inflated sense of superiority, or we get a deflated sense of failure. Either we’re better than our fellow Christian, or we’ll never be as good.
Our sermon reading for today comes from the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians. Galatia was a Roman province located some 500 miles north of Jerusalem. Paul himself introduced these people to Christ on one of his missionary journeys.
Paul wrote to the Galatians primarily to correct a specific false teaching that was being spread there. After Paul left, others began to teach the Galatians that Paul had it all wrong. They said that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was not enough payment to make sinners acceptable to God. Certain Old Testament rituals also had to be done in order for God to forgive sin.
This was an attack that struck at the heart of Christ’s message. Paul wasted no time in responding to it. In chapter one of his letter, Paul wrote…“6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6 NIV).In chapter two Paul points out that sinners are not saved by their own actions, but by trusting in what Jesus has done in our place. Paul wrote…“…a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:15-16 NIV).▬
First Paul set the Galatians straight on how sinners become saints – through faith in Christ Jesus, and through faith alone. Then he moved on to instruct the Galatians just how they were to live now that they were God’s people.
We read from…
Galatians 6:1-10, 14-16 (NIV)
1Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5for each one should carry his own load.
6Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The 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. 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
14May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. 16Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.
Right off the bat I’m going to re-read verses 14-15. I think these verse are KEY to this section.
Paul says that the world (the sinful world) has been crucified to him, and he has been crucified to the world. You know what comes after crucifixion right? Death. Paul is saying that the sinful world is dead to him. Why? Because of Christ’s cross and what it means.
When Paul learned that it WAS actually God’s Son who died on that cross outside of Jerusalem and rose from the dead on Easter morning, that changed everything for him. Christ’s cross meant that all of Paul’s past sins had been paid for. Paul no longer had to go to hell for his sins.
Through this message, Jesus made Paul a new man. On his first birthday, Paul had been born into the nation of Israel. But now Paul was reborn, into the Israel of God. The Holy Christian Church. All true believers.
The value system of the world no longer mattered to Paul. Now he would learn to value what God values. Now he would learn to live God’s way. The world was dead to him, and he to the world.
By faith in Christ, we too are dead to the world. We have been born again through faith in Jesus. Now, like little children we are learning to walk – in God’s way. We are learning to talk – God’s language.
Because Jesus has come into our lives, we are Dead to the World, but Alive and Growing – In Christ.
In verse 15, Paul says “what counts is a new creation”. He says something similar in 2 Corinthians, chapter five..."Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).This “new creation” thing sounds like God moves in with a wrecking ball, levels the old, bulldozes the old foundation and starts building from the ground up. That’s what it sounds like. But in reality, when God brings people to faith, it’s more like moving an old house onto a new foundation. Gently, carefully he sets us on the foundation of Christ. Then he remodels us from the inside out. Piece by piece.
Complete forgiveness comes with faith – in an instant. But the remodeling of our hearts and lives, that’s on-going.
That’s why Paul had to instruct the Galatian Christians how to act now that they had come to trust in Jesus. Looks at verses 1-2. Paul says…“1Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2 NIV).The moral principle that guides much of the world is, “live and let live.” But Paul tells the Galatians to “live and love”. They are to actively watch out for each other.
When we see followers of Christ wandering down a sinful road, we are to actually do something about it! This means gently pointing out sin to each other. This means reviewing what God says about a particular sin, and sharing that. This means reminding each other that while sin is wrong, there is forgiveness for those who turn back to God.
Correcting a fellow Christian can be an uncomfortable thing to do. Have you ever confronted someone about an on-going sin in their life? Not because you were angry with them, but because you were concerned that their faith in danger?
I find it a hard thing to do. Who likes confrontation? Not me. I don’t want to seem judgmental, or like a know-it-all goody-goody.
Paul says that by gentle correction, we bear each other’s burdens. We fulfill the “law of love”, that law that Jesus gave His followers the night before He died for them. Jesus said…“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34 NIV).▬
In verses 3-5, Paul says that a Christian doesn’t only look OUT for others, he also looks INTO himself.“3If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5for each one should carry his own load” (Galatians 6:3-5 NIV).
Paul says, don’t do that! Don’t judge yourselves by comparison. God gives us different things to do. He also gives us different abilities with which to do our individual assignments. He doesn’t want us to compare.
When we evaluate ourselves, we aught to identify what resource God has given us as individuals. What time. What money. What talents. What skills.
Then, we should look at what responsibilities God has given us. Then we can evaluate how well we’re doing. You see, personal evaluation has nothing to do with the person sitting next to us.
Verse 6 shows that followers of Christ have a love for God’s Word, and with that love a desire to support those who teach it correctly.
“6Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor” (Galatians 6:6 NIV).Here in Lynnwood, I’m supported in many ways. The paycheck that you give enable me to feed my family. We live in a house that we never had to make a down payment on. From time to time, there are gifts kindly left on the parsonage porch. There are constant repairs and improvements being made to our home. And these are just a few of the physical benefits teaching God’s Word here.
Along with these good things I also have the prayers, which I never hear, but that I know are being made for me and my family. There are the thoughtful conversations, and the encouraging emails. There is the time that individuals devote to making my work easier to fulfill.
All these things not only provide for my needs, these gifts shared also give me time. Time that I can spend studying the Word of God. Time that enables me to be a better teacher for my fellow Christians.
In verses 7 and following, Paul reminds the Galatians to take their new life seriously.
“7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The 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. 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10 NIV).The life of a Christ follower is a joyful life. But, it is also a hard life. We have all sorts of problems living God’s way in this broken world.
The world presents us with many different solutions to our problems. If one diet doesn’t work, there’s always another. If one financial strategy doesn’t produce, there’s always another plan that might. Parents move from one form of discipline to another, and another, and another.
Paul tells the Galatians, and us, don’t ever move on from doing good.
Someone once said, “Honesty is the best policy”, meaning that people who tell the truth prosper. But sometimes when we tell the truth, it doesn’t work out the way we expect it to. And then we are tempted to move on to some other strategy to get what we want. We are tempted to tell lies, or to manipulate people to get our way.
But the sinful ways of the world are not God’s ways, and so they are not our ways. Let us not grow weary of doing what is right, even when it doesn’t seem to be producing. At the right time, God will give us a good harvest if we don’t give up.
Our faith is not based on getting rewards for doing what is right. Our faith is based on the fact that through Christ we have been given peace with our Creator, even though we deserved His anger and punishment. Because of Christ we have forgiveness for our past sins, and mercy for every stumbling misstep to come.
Paul closes our reading with these words:
“…what counts is a new creation. 16Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:15b-16 NIV).To you who rest your hopes on the Cross of Christ, peace and mercy are yours. May we all learn to walk in God’s ways with confidence. For through His Son, God has made us His chosen people, His Israel.
The peace which comes from God, which far exceeds all our understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.