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Lesson 13: The Gospel and the Church *

Introduction: Most of our study of Galatians has focused on how we live by the Spirit and by grace. Paul now turns his attention to how we should relate with other members of the church. What should we do about sin in the church? Does the nature of the sin matter? Does the prominence of the member matter? On a recent church weekend retreat, one member wanted to discuss this issue with me. We agreed that everyone in the church is a sinner. We all need grace. A distinction arises, however, when a member becomes a proponent of sin. They not only sin, but they argue that sin should be accepted. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Restoration

    1. Read Galatians 6:1. What do you think it means to "catch" another member in sin? (It could mean that you surprised them or it could mean that they were "caught up" in sin.)

      1. Does it make any difference?

    2. Look again at Galatians 6:1. What is our goal once we learn of the sin? (To restore the person.)

      1. What do you think that means - to restore the person? (To help them out of sin.)

      2. How does this work given that we are all sinners? (We are all sinners, but Paul makes a distinction between "you who are spiritual" and those "caught in a sin." It seems this is a sin that needs to be addressed.)

      3. How should we do this? By yelling at the sinner or trying to embarrass the sinner? (The Bible tells us to restore them "gently." No yelling. No attempt to embarrass.)

    3. Let's focus on the last part of Galatians 6:1. What is the danger in restoring another person from their sin? (We may be tempted.)

      1. Tempted by what? (The text does not say, but my first reaction is that we should avoid being tempted by the sin that we are trying to address.)

        1. Have you experienced this?

      2. If the problem is looking deeply into the sin, what does this suggest to us about watching television and movies that deal with sin? (We get the exposure to sin without the positive side of trying to help another person out of sin.)

    4. Read Galatians 6:2-3. When I read Galatians 6:1, I thought the temptation was to engage in the same sort of sin as the person who had been "caught." This suggests a different answer. What is it? (The sin problem here is that I will think I'm superior to the person I'm helping out of sin.)

      1. If I'm helping another person out of sin, doesn't that automatically mean that I'm "better" when it comes to this sin? (If we think that, Paul tells us that we have been deceived. We are all sinners.)

      2. One of the things Paul tells us to do is "carry each other's burdens." If you are thinking all the time that you are a better person than the one you are trying to restore from sin, is there a practical problem? (If you have an attitude of superiority, that comes through. Surely, that kind of attitude prevents you from being truly sympathetic. You are not helping to carry that person's burden.)

    5. Read Galatians 6:4. What does it mean to "test" our "own actions?" (If you are like me, I'm not really tempted in all areas of my life. Stealing money or murdering someone are not things that tempt me. If I'm counseling someone who likes to steal things, God tells me to consider the areas in which I have a problem so that I will not feel superior to the thief.)

      1. Wait a minute! I just wrote that we should not feel superior to the thief, but the text tells us that we can "take pride" in our self. How can we avoid feeling superior and at the same time be proud about our self? (We should not have pride based on the fact that we are better than the person we are helping. Rather, we should take pride in the fact that we are making progress in our walk towards righteousness.)

        1. Doesn't taking pride seem contrary to understanding that it is the Holy Spirit working in us that gives us progress towards holiness? (I think the sense is that we rejoice in victories over sin.)

    6. Read Galatians 6:5. Why should we carry our "own load?" (Paul has been writing about us carrying "each other's" burdens. Here, he tells us to carry our own burden. Once again, I think the point is that when we realize our own sins, it makes us feel less superior to others who face different kinds of sins.)

  2. Lifting Up the Instructor

    1. Read Galatians 6:6. What does it mean to "share all good things with his instructor?" (It means to support the person who is teaching you.)

      1. Notice the kind of instruction that deserves support -"instruction in the word." What does that tell us about people who teach a philosophy of life that is not Bible based? (That instruction does not deserve our support.)

  3. The Law of Return

    1. Read Galatians 6:7. We understand that a farmer "reaps what he sows." How does this work when it comes to sin and helping others get out of sin?

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 8:14 and Ecclesiastes 9:1-2. Should King Solomon and Paul have a debate? They seem to completely disagree! (Two things are going on. First, Solomon may be saying that there are exceptions to the general rule. Hebrews 11, especially Hebrews 11:35-38, agrees that unfair things happen here on earth. However, that is not the general rule. Plus, Hebrews 11 says that it will all be made right when Jesus returns. Second, Solomon is clearly depressed. Many Christians I know cite Ecclesiastes 9:5 to prove the state of the dead. That is foolishness. If that text is taken literally, it rejects the promise of Hebrews 11 that all will be made right in heaven. Solomon is simply depressed - and this fact encourages those who struggle with depression.)

    3. Read Galatians 6:8. Paul explains that the reaping he is talking about is our eternal destination. That resolves some of the conflict with Solomon. What have you observed? Have you observed "pay back" even during life here on earth?

    4. Read Galatians 6:9. What should we do if we feel "weary" because of our good works? (We need to remind ourselves that we will receive a reward if we do not give up!)

      1. Isn't this contrary to the idea of grace? (Galatians 6:8 makes it hard to argue that Paul is talking about two different things, eternal life versus rewards in heaven. Instead, I think Paul tells us that those who accept grace, those who choose to live by the leading of the Holy Spirit, those who are walking the path to righteousness, reflect good works in their life.)

    5. Read Galatians 6:10. How has our "opportunity" changed since the time of Paul? (We now know of needs world-wide. We can hear about them instantly. Paul, on the other hand, was talking about things that would catch the attention of the believer.)

      1. Does our "opportunity" seem overwhelming sometimes?

      2. I read a research article about the use of local tax revenues versus state tax revenues. The article found that local people more intelligently used local taxes on local problems. They understood the situation better than those handing out revenue at the state level. Would that concept apply to helping others? We might be aware of world-wide problems, but helping the people we know locally helps us give more effective aid?

      3. What does Paul say about making fellow believers a priority when giving aid? (He says we should "especially" help fellow believers.)

    6. Friend, have you considered carefully how you can help those around you? Did you notice that Paul gives us specific instructions for helping? That means that our help should be intentional. Paul encourages us to be helpful by telling us that we will reap a reward for our help. Will you consider what you can do to help others?

  4. Next week: Boasting in the Cross.
* Copr. 2017, 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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