Galatians 5:26 - 6:2

Sunday Evening Bible Study

September 8, 1996


Paul is writing to a group of churches which have been infected with a doctrine of legalism.

But after having taught them why it's important not to be living under the Law, trying to please God on their own, they are now faced with another situation, the danger that happens when you take the Law away from people:

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

And so Paul has begun teaching on the issue of how to handle the the flesh, with the main key being:

Ga 5:16  [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Paul has been describing what kinds of things are produced in our lives when we live according to the flesh, and what kinds of things are produced when we live according to the Spirit.

:26  Warning against pride

:26  Let us not be desirous of vain glory

This seems a little out of place.

It doesn't exactly go with what is before it

The previous section has been talking about learning to allow the Spirit control you instead of letting the flesh control.

At first it doesn't seem to go with what goes after.

But it does.

The following section is all about ministering to others, and Paul gives us three excellent things to short circuit ministry to other people.

desirous of vain glory -  kenodoxos - (empty + glory) glorying without reason, conceited, vain glorious, eager for empty glory

Ga 5:26  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (NIVUS)

Ga 5:26  Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. (NAS)

Vain-glory is one of the common by-products of legalism.

When we live our lives by holding to some kind of strict set of rules and regulations, we can get kind of proud of ourselves for having accomplished the "impossible".

It's just like the Pharisees:

Luke 18:9-14  And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be

abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

We sure like getting attention.

That's one of the things that was hit at the worship leaders' conference.

Sometimes you might wonder how you can get people to get up in front of others and actually sing in front of them.

But it's easier to get people to do it than you think.

There's something very gratifying at having others watch you and listen to you, hopefully not getting sick of your music.

That's why we try to be very careful to not allow people up on stage the first moment they walk into rehearsal, but we want to get to know their heart.


Ministry sidetrack #1 - Vain Glory

The flesh likes to get attention.

But there's something sickening about coming to someone for help, and they're obviously more concerned about you adding a notch to their gunbelt than actually caring about you.

Vain glory only brings hurt, not healing


Whales really do communicate with each other.  One whale sounded the following caution to his dear mate:

"Better watch it; when you get to the top and start to blow, that's when you get harpooned!"

Those who follow the Chief Shepherd have to learn His methods.

(Mark 9:33-37 KJV)  And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? {34} But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. {35} And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. {36} And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, {37} Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

If you want to be useful to your Master in a way that's pleasing to Him, then empty glory has to go.

Humility makes you useful to Jesus.

What's your attitude toward children?

Are you too busy for them?

How do you treat the little ones in our church who run around after the service?

Do you ever stop and talk to them?

Do they realize that adults care about them?

I wonder why we haven't had anybody to do nursery for second service for several months now.

My testimony - never did children's ministry - at least until I got hired on staff at Calvary Anaheim, where I was put IN CHARGE of the children's ministry.  How humbling.  How good a lesson.

Humility puts you in a place where no job is "beneath" you.


In the fourth year of his layoff from his job, Dad gave Mom a dishwasher for Christmas.

You have to understand the magnitude of the gift:  Our old house had its original wiring and plumbing, and neither could handle the required installation.  There was no spot in the small kitchen for such a large appliance.  And we hadn't even been able to meet the mortgage interest payments for over six months.

But Dad hated the thought of washing dishes; he would rather do anything else.  And Mom had undergone major surgery that spring, a radical mastectomy for breast cancer, and found it difficult to do any work requiring the use of her arms.

No large box appeared, no new plumbing or wiring was installed, no remodeling of the kitchen occurred.  Rather, a small note appeared on a branch of the Christmas tree, handwritten by Dad:

"For one year I will wash all of the dirty dishes in this household.  Every one."

And he did.  He really did.

-- Judy Rogers, Westerville, Ohio, in Guideposts, Dec. 1988

:26  provoking one another,

provoking - prokaleomai - to call forth; esp. to challenge to a combat or contest with one; to provoke, to irritate

It's doing something to get a reaction from someone else.

A bad reaction.


My children like to take turns doing this to each other.

Just yesterday we were at a restaurant, and one of my sons began to make an annoying noise.

It got both of his brothers upset with him.

He kept on doing it.

They got even more upset.


I think it is worthwhile to see this provoking one another in the light of the atmosphere of legalism in Galatia.

When there's a kind of haughtiness and air or superiority because you've "arrived", you provoke people.


Ministry sidetrack #2 - Irritating each other

Are you going to go to somebody for prayer who ticks you off?

I don't think so.

Of course, there is a good way of provoking another person:

Heb 10:24  And let us consider one another to provoke (a different Greek word) unto love and to good works: (AV)

:26  envying one another

It's one of the works of the flesh:

Wanting what another person has.

Being bummed that someone has something nicer than you.

Maybe wishing you've "arrived" like another person.


Discouragement comes when you try to start with what you wish you had but don't have.  And it intensifies when you insist on trying to be in a position you are not in and probably never will be in.

-- Stuart Briscoe, Bound For Joy, Regal Books 1975, 1984, p. 95


Ministry sidetrack #3 - Envy

How can envy affect ministry?

I think about how easy it is to get caught up in what we don't have, but want.

"Oh if we only had a building like this other church ..."

"Oh if we only had a pastor like this other church ..."

"Oh if I only could help others like this other person ..."

But what envy does is to sidetrack us by getting the focus back on ourself, rather than on the other person, where it needs to be.

Chapter 6

:1-10 Ministering to each other

:1  Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault,

Ryrie:  be overtaken = be apprehended, taken by surprise, caught red-handed.

fault = paraptoma - to fall beside or near something; a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness

This is what happens to all of us, isn't it?

Paul uses kind of soft language here.

He doesn't say, "If a man deliberately commits a heinous crime ..."

We will all fall from time to time.

And what do we do when a person falls???

:1  ye which are spiritual,

Ryrie:  spiritual. The mature Christian, who is led and taught by the Spirit

Those who have learned to walk by and be filled with the Spirit.


Bill Gothard:  Spirituality is not measured by how well we expose an offender but by how effectively we restore an offender .

:1  restore such an one

Ryrie:   restore. Used of setting broken bones and mending fishing nets.

restore - katartizo - to render, i.e. to fit, sound, complete; to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair; ethically: to strengthen, perfect, complete, make one what he ought to be

In contrast:

Under legalism, this would be rewritten:

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, nail him to the wall, bring him up before the court, and sentence him to severe punishment!

It is one of the saddest things that can happen in a church when we are so compassionless that when a person falls, we just kick them down a little more.

But God's goal is always restoration, not removal.


Stanley Jones writes about a crucial moment in his life when he found himself on his way to what could have been a spiritual disaster:

For months after my conversion, I was running under cloudless skies.  And then suddenly I tripped, almost fell, pulled back this side of the sin, but was shaken and humiliated that I could come that close to sin.  I thought I was emancipated and found I wasn't.  I went to the class meeting -- I'm grateful that I didn't stay away -- went, but my music had gone.  I had hung my harp on a weeping willow tree. As the others spoke of their joys and victories of the week, I sat there with the tears rolling down my cheeks.  I was heartbroken. After the others had spoken, John Zink, the class leader, said: "Now, Stanley, tell us what is the matter."  I told them I couldn't, but would they please pray for me?  Like one man they fell to their knees, and they lifted me back to the bosom of God by faith and love. When we got up from our knees, I was reconciled to my heavenly Father, to the group, and to myself.  I was reconciled.  The universe opened its arms and took me in again.  The estrangement was gone.  I took my harp from the willow tree and began to sing again -- the Song of Moses and the Lamb, especially the Lamb.  The cross was my refuge and my release.

That was a very crucial moment in my Song of Ascents, the moment when I lost my music.  My destiny was in the hands of that group.  I was a very bruised reed; suppose they had broken me?  I was a smoldering wick; suppose they had snuffed me out?  Just a criticism: "I told you so.  Too good to be true.  He was riding for a fall."  But they never uttered a criticism, or even thought of one, as far as I could see.  The reaction was nothing but redemptive love.  That group became redemptive.  I saw and experience the power of redemptive love incarnate in a group.

-- A Song of Ascents

But then again, if we don't want to restore, we could always "confront" them:


Take heart, timid Christian.  The next time you're persuaded to confront a backslider but don't know where to begin, help is available.  Thanks to the new Confronter's Bible you need no longer hem and haw with cryptic references, subtle hints, or suggestive innuendoes about the error of his ways.

Like the Eschatology Bible, with all the rapture verses shaded in premillenial purple, and the Social Justice Bible, with all references that produce guilt accented in oppressive orange, the Confronter's Bible contains a color-coordinated system highlighting verses on relevant themes:  rebuking (passion pink), sins to be avoided (stop-sign red), straying from the straight and narrow (off-white).

An index assists the confronter in deciding the best way to approach the erring brother or sister.  Should you confront via telephone?  Only if the offender is over six feet.  Should you meet in a restaurant?  Only if it has three stars.

In the event the rebukee does not respond to your "speaking the truth in love," try any of these suggested alternatives:  pull his hair (Neh. 13:25), set his fields on fire (Judg. 15:5), call out the she-bears (2 Kings 2:24).

What more can be said about the Confronter's Bible, except: Backsliders beware!

-- From Christianity Today

:1  in the spirit of meekness;

This is a word we studied in depth a month ago, one of the qualities of the fruit of the Spirit.

Two of the ideas we discussed then are pretty important here:

1)  Strength under control

Barclay:  That which throws most light on its meaning is that the adjective praus is used of an animal who has been tamed and brought under control.

It's the idea of a powerful wild horse that has been broken and tamed, and now the animals brute force can be channeled correctly.

We think of "meekness" as "wimpiness".


Meekness is having the strength to respond, but choosing to hold back your hand.

When we are faced with a person who has fallen into sin, we can get overcome with anger, and want to say foolish things like:  "You deserved it!", or, "what a stupid thing to do!".

But meekness requires that we hold back those kinds of comments if they're not appropriate at that time.

2)  Teachableness

I think one of the best things I can put in my mind when I'm faced with a person whose fallen is this:  "What can I learn from this?"

I need to realize that I too could be in the very same situation, and somehow, by God's grace, I'm not.

And I want to make sure that I'm learning through another person's experiences.

If I only go into a helping situation with the attitude that I've got it all together, and I'm here to teach you, you're going to find yourself rarely helping others.

You won't bother listening to what they're really saying.

You'll tend to jump to the wrong conclusions.

And worse yet, you'll stop growing yourself, because it's must possible that God may be wanting to use this situation to stretch you.

Sometimes we need to put ourselves in the other person's place is we are to be meek.


It was F.B. Meyer who once said that when we see a brother or sister sin, there are two things we do not know: First, we do not know how hard he or she tried not to sin. And second, we do not know the power of the forces that assailed him or her. We also do not know what we would

have done in the same circumstances.

-- Editorial: "Welcoming the Sexually Tempted," Christianity Today, 4-5-93, p. 17.

:1  considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Here's the warning we need to watch out for.

If we're not careful, we can get so caught up in coming down to the other person's level, that we too can get caught up in their sin, or another sin.


Rescuing a drowning person.

You need to be careful that you don't end up drowning yourself in the attempt.

Recently there was an article in the paper about a truck filled with people that rolled into a lake.

All five people inside drowned.

Two more people tried to rescue them.

They drowned too.

We need to make sure we know our limits.

If you're ministering to a person who gets caught up in pornography, and you have a lust problem yourself, you better make sure that you don't talk too much in detail about the issue, or else it will stir up bad stuff in you.

After all, we can cause each other to stumble into sin.

I've had people begin to go into vivid detail about their sins, and sometimes I have to stop them and say, "Gosh, I don't think I need to hear all the details .."

Paul wrote:

1Co 5:6  Your glorying [is] not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? (AV)


On a television program a small boy was asked if he had any pets. "Well," he replied, "I did have some goldfish but some water softener got into the aquarium and they softened to death." So, also, self- indulgence, laziness, indifference and lack of self-discipline can become a part of our lives.  Our spiritual muscles become flabby and we are easy prey to temptation and sin.

We also need to be aware of the temptation to gossip.

If we get too much information, and we're a person weak in the area of gossip, it may be too much for us to keep quiet about!

You don't need to know everything!

The Bible says "confess your faults to one another", but you don't have to go into all the details.

:2  Bear ye one another's burdens,

Ryrie:  burdens. I.e., the excess burdens that we need to share with one another, in contrast to the "burden," or load (different Greek word), in verse 5, which means the normal amount each must carry for himself.


:2  and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Ryrie:  I.e., the commands of Christ, especially the new commandment to love one another (John 13:34). Living under grace is not license; it is a life of love and service (5:6, 13).

Note:  the "law" of Christ.

Paul has been talking about how we can't live by the "law", and yet there is a "law" we are to live under:

(John 13:34 KJV)  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.