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Sun, Oct 31, 1999

71 - Humility and Restoration

Galatians 6:1-2 by Robert Dean
Series:Galatians (1998)
Duration:1 hr 6 mins 42 secs

Humility and Restoration; Gal. 6:1-2

 

In 5:26 Paul is going back and picking up the ideas that he was developing in verses 13-15, which is the idea of what we call impersonal love for all mankind, especially for believers. There was a problem in the congregation there and it stemmed from the fact that after Paul and Barnabas had initially come to them they were followed by a group of Jews called Judaisers. Legalism is always grounded on arrogance. There may be a lot of pseudo humility and a lot of pseudo compassion and concern for people but ultimately it is based on rhe concept that I am bringing something to the table that is impresses God with who I am and with what I have done, that somehow I can do certain things in my life that are going to gain God's approbation. Ultimately this is emphasising the idea that I have something of value and it has a very subtle form of arrogance and in some cases a very profound and overt form of arrogance. Paul is addressing this because the problem with arrogance is that it always ends up disrupting relationships—with families all the way up to congregations. 

 

Galatians 5:26 NASB "Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another." In other words, don't become proud of yourselves in your own conceits thinking you really have done something that somehow impresses God. The word translated "boastful" is the Greek word kenodoxos [kenodocoj]. It is a compound word from kenos, meaning vain, and doxos, meaning glory. What it has come to mean is to be proud of something with no basis for that pride; to think you are something when you are nothing. This is the essential problem with all legalism. This word "boastful" is followed by two participles in the Greek. A participle is an adjectival verb, so it can function either as an adjective or a verb. What really tells the difference in the Greek is whether or not it has a definite article with it, and since this lack the definite article that means that these are going to be two adverbial participles and they are adverbial of manner. That means that they are going to describe the how of the verb; they give us an example of how you would be boastful, how you would be conceited. In this particular congregation they were being conceited and it was exemplifying itself in the manner of these two particular verbs. The first is the verb prokaleo [prokalew]. It is a very ancient word in Greek, it goes back to the 5th century BC classical Greek of Homer, and it still maintains the same basic meaning all the way up to Koine Greek; it didn't change its emphasis much. It means to provoke, to challenge someone, to call someone out in a contest to combat; it is the same thing that Goliath did with David. It means to stir up what is evil in someone else, to antagonise them, to incite them to anger or to resentment. So one of the ways they were showing their conceit, their arrogance, was that they were challenging people in terms of their behaviour. It comes as a superior attitude sometimes and because of the way it is done and because of the attitude. We are going to see that we are to be involved in restoring other believers but the issue is how we do it, the framework in which we are doing it and our attitude. Their attitude, because it was grounded in arrogance and legalism, was in such a way that there was a sub-text which said, I am really better than you and let me help you.

 

Paul is not saying not to get involved in other people's lives and not to try and correct somebody or encourage somebody, he is saying not to do it from a conceited, arrogant frame of reference based on legalism where the way in which we do it is immediately like slapping somebody in the face and challenging them so that the first thing that happens in incitement to anger and resentment and to promote an antagonistic relationship. That is the point. The point is not to tear people down and tell them where they are failing, the point, Paul will saying in 6:1, is to restore them. So if we can't do it in the right attitude, don't do it at all.

 

The second verb that is used here is the Greek word phthoneo [fqonew]. It means to experience a feeling of ill will due to real or presumed advantage experienced by someone else. It means to move someone to jealousy or envy, to bear ill will or malice towards them. So Paul says, don't become conceited and thus be challenging one another and provoking one another to anger, and don't be coming from a position of malice or envy where we are adopting a position of superiority towards the other person.

 

Then Paul gives the positive mandate. Galatians 6:1 NASB "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; {each one} looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted." The word "if" is a third class condition, if and it might or might not be true or happen. Here it has the idea that this is fairly likely, it is probably going to happen in your life many times. The word "anyone" [any man] is the Greek anthropos [a)nqrwpoj] which is not male as man but really just any human being, the generic terms for any member of the human race. The word for "trespass" truly means a sin but we have to look at what this verb means. The Greek is prolombano [prolombanw] and there is a lot of discussion in the literature about the exact meaning of this word simply because it is not used very much in either secular literature or the Bible. It seems to have a wide range of meaning. It means to anticipate something on the one hand, to be caught or discovered in an act, and in other cases it seems to simply suggest that somebody has been overtaken and surprised. It does not mean to detect or to discover. So Paul is not talking about going around looking in somebody's life, violating their privacy and trying to find out what sins might be going on in their life. It has the idea of sometimes being overtaken, being surprised, perhaps being caught off-guard in a sin. It is more the idea of portraying sin as a trap. James uses that imagery over in James 1, that sin is like bait in a trap and we have the temptation as the bait in the trap. It is only when we take it by the exercise of our volition that all of a sudden we are in that snare; we have been caught by sin. Paul's approach is that none of us are above any particular sin. That is why grace and forgiveness are stressed so much is the Scripture.

 

"…you who are spiritual…" The word "spiritual" is the pronoun pneumatikos [pneumatikoj] and in context here it is talking about those who are walking by means of the Spirit, what he has just described in vv. 16-25 of chapter 5. It refers to someone who is filled with the Spirit but also walking and progressing in the spiritual life. The word "restore" means to knit together, it is a word that was used of mending fishing nets. So just as you would mend those nets to repair them so that they were now in a functional order, spiritually the idea is to restore this person, to get them back together. They have fallen, they have failed, they are out of fellowship, so don't jump up and down and tell them what a loser they are, etc. If their attitude is growth let us figure out how to solve the problem and move forward under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, and now you can help. Remind them simply of the problem-solving devices. It may involve more than that but it really depends upon the level of intimacy in the relationship.

 

"…restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness…" Here we have the word "spirit," pneuma [pneuma], a very important word in the Scripture and it has a lot of different meanings. It is the same word as used on the Holy Spirit and it is also used for the human spirit; but it can refer to wind or breath, also a mental attitude or a disposition. When it says here to restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness it is not talking about the Holy Spirit, the human spirit or wind, it is talking about having a certain mental attitude that should characterise the process of restoration. It is in contrast to that mental attitude of conceit found back in 5:26. The word for gentleness is prautes [prauthj] which is listed in verse 23 in the production of the fruit of the Holy Spirit as gentleness. It has to do with grace orientation. This is the person who realises he is no better than the person corrected. It is a recognition of authority orientation to God. The issue is God, not me or my behaviour or somebody else's, or my standards. There is no holier than thou attitude slipping in here. prautes is always humility in action. But it is not some kind of mamby-pamby that everybody is going to walk on. It is strength in the framework of grace orientation. It is having a relaxed mental attitude and being there for the sole purpose of being able remind a person of doctrine and help them go forward.

 

The whole orientation of this paragraph is not on the importance or even necessity of straightening someone out, but on the attitude that you have to have when that comes into your life—the focus of grace orientation and of forgiveness.

 

There always seem to be those who are concerned about how other people dress, what they do, where they go, what kind of activities they are in, and the Scriptures call those people busybodies. 2 Thessalonians 3:11, 12 NASB "For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread." In other words, mind their own business.

 

We need to realise that people have a right to privacy and to respect that privacy and maintain it and not talk about whatever failures there might be; though not necessarily covering it up. If they want to continue is sin and don't want to straighten up then it may have to be dealt with in a different manner. But we are talking about restoration in a positive situation. 

 

Galatians 6:2 NASB "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ."  What is the law of Christ? It is mentioned back in 5:14: "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." It is the law of impersonal love. The Lord told Peter to forgive seventy times seven. That is difficult and why it demands grace orientation; it demands a level of spiritual growth and maturity. We are not talking about dealing with a person who doesn't care here; that involves an entirely different procedure. We are talking about a person who wants to go on. It is terribly difficult to forgive someone seventy times seven, but let's see what the Scriptures say about how we are to let doctrine impact our relationships. Romans 12:5 NASB "so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." That applies to every single believer. [10] "Be} devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor." Romans 14:13 KJV "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way…. [19] Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." Ephesians 4:2 NASB "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love…. [25] Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE {of you} WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another…. [32] Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." That is the standard. Colossians 3:13 NASB "bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you."

 

We cannot assume responsibility for somebody else's sins in their life. When Paul says in v. 2 "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ," he is talking about the fact that we can encourage others. That is the way we do it. It is a reminder of doctrine within the proper framework, not necessarily beating them over the head with it, but if it is somebody with whom we have established trust and have a framework for saying something.