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Lesson 13: The Gospel and the Church *

Introduction: How should the church deal with sin? How successful have the efforts of your church been in the past? Mostly, I see two things happening. First, critical people criticize the sins (or supposed sins) of others. Second, sinners feel that their sin is "their own business" and want church leaders to "mind their own business" - meaning, "please pay no attention to me." The victims of critical people are outraged, and serious sinners retreat into their sinful shell. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what it has to teach us on this topic!

  1. The Sin Trap

    1. Read Galatians 6:1. What does it mean to be "caught" in sin? (Your sin is exposed when you did not plan to have it become public. Or, you walked into sin when you would prefer to walk with God.)

      1. Would this apply to defiant sinners? (If you are bragging about your sin are you "caught" in it?)

    2. There must be a misprint in my Bible. Paul must have meant to write "you who are critical should restore," not "you who are spiritual" should restore. Don't you see more of the former than the latter?

      1. If only the "spiritual" should "restore gently," what does this teach us about church organization? Should we try to stop our critical members from rebuking sin in others?

      2. Think back to the times that you have been rebuked for either real or imagined sin. Has it been the spiritual leaders of the church who rebuked you? (Most of the time it is visitors and new members who rebuke me because they disagree with my views! My spiritual wife does the very best job of keeping me in line!)

      3. When you see sin in others, have you noticed it is often your own sin that you notice?

        1. Should you be disqualified from "restoring" others involved in the same sins that cause you to struggle?

    3. What does it mean to restore someone "gently?" Does this include tossing someone out of church membership?

      1. Read Matthew 18:15-17. How does Jesus define "gently?"

        1. Notice in Jesus' example that it is not the "spiritual" leaders in the church, but the victim of the sin who confronts the sinner. How would you reconcile Paul's advice with that of Jesus?

  2. Burden Bearing

    1. Read Galatians 6:2. Has Paul changed topics?

      1. Is sin a burden in our life? (Yes.)

      2. Are we obligated (if we are spiritually qualified) to carry the sin burdens of others?

      3. What does the "law of Christ" have to do with bearing the sin burdens of others? (Recall last week that we discussed the difference between the "righteousness by faith" approach to daily living, and the "works and law" approach to daily living? The faith approach asks, "What can I do to please God, my spouse and those around me today?" The works approach asks, "What red-lights on the road to sin have I crossed today?" One focuses on love towards others, the second focuses on yourself and sin. The faith approach, the law of Christ approach, asks "What can I do to bear the burdens of others?" This would include helping them overcome the burden of sin.)

    2. What significance do you attach to the word "carry?"(Carry seems to require more than minor aid.)

      1. How can I "carry" the sin of someone else? (How many times does the sin of others adversely affect you? To "carry" the sin while you are restoring the person means that you may be suffering from that person's sin.)

  3. Pride in Burden Bearing

    1. Let's revisit the last part of Galatians 6:1. Assume that you are helping a fellow church member who is burdened with lying. Is Paul telling us that if we help such a member, we might start lying?

    2. Read Galatians 6:3-5. Paul just told me to carry the burdens of others. Now he tells me to carry my own load! Is Paul contradicting himself?

      1. Does Paul's advice to be careful about not being tempted fit in here?(The pieces of the puzzle come together! If we are helping the liar with his sin, we might be tempted by pride to think we are superior. We might be tempted by gossip to tell others what a bad person he is. We need to "carry" our own burden of pride and gossip.)

      2. Paul tells us to "test our own actions," "take pride," and refrain from "comparing" ourselves to others. What is he telling us to do? (We cannot compare ourselves to the liar. We cannot take pride in the fact we are not liars. We should not overestimate our "goodness." We should compare ourselves to Jesus, not others. To make Jesus the point of comparison, to be conscious of our own sin, is to "carry" our "own load.")

    3. Now that we have discussed this subject, what characteristics should the church require in those who are "restoring" those caught in sin? (These should be humble saints who are aware of their own sins, who are not gossips, and who are gentle because they realize that God has been gentle with them.)

  4. Blessing Instructors

    1. Read Galatians 6:6. This is where you get to take me out to dinner!

      1. To whom is this advice addressed? (Paul is addressing those caught in sin who have benefitted from those who are restoring them gently and carrying their sin.)

        1. What are the restored sinners required to do? (They are to be a blessing to those who restored them.)

        2. Have you ever been involved in restoring a sinner and got punished for it? (Years ago, a couple asked me to help them because they were going through a terrible time in their marriage. Sin was involved. I met with them, and offered to have either one of them live in my home for a while until they could reasonably live together again. It turned out that I was accused of being "allied" with the spouse who temporarily came to live in my home - even though the couple mutually agreed on who should come and live with my wife and me!)

  5. Payback

    1. Read Galatians 6:7-8. Why does Paul refer to God being mocked in the law of return? (If God is in charge of the world, then we should be able to rely on certain rules. One of these is the "payback" rule. Seeking to help others brings help to you. Harming others brings harm to you.)

      1. How does this relate to the idea of restoring someone caught in sin? (It gives you an argument in your attempts to restore! But, the main idea is that showing love and kindness to others will be rewarded.)

    2. Read Galatians 6:9. Why are we warned about becoming "weary?" (Although God is in charge, sin and free-choice abound. Sometimes payback is delayed. Sometimes we will not be rewarded until we reach heaven.)

      1. In our study of Galatians, we have hammered the importance of "grace." What does this series of verses teach us about the importance of works? (Grace gives us salvation, but works have a reward - both positive and negative. Paul specifically mentions the reward that awaits us in heaven for our good works!)

    3. Look again at Galatians 6:8. What is significant about the way that Paul describes proper sowing? (Notice the grace approach: sowing "to please the Spirit." Our mission is to love God and love those around us.)

    4. Read Galatians 6:10. Why does Paul distinguish between fellow believers and the rest of the world? (We have a greater obligation to those who believe.)

    5. Friend, will you set your goal on becoming more spiritual so that you can help carry the sin burden of others? If realize that you are more critical than spiritual, will you ask the Holy Spirit to help you move from critical to spiritual?

  6. Next week: Boasting in the Cross.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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