Mar 06, 2016
Galatians 6:1-5

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If you were a fan of baseball (and more specifically an Atlanta Braves fan) at the turn of the millennia, two pitchers stood out as a dominant and in many ways nagging force: Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. Over the span of nine years beginning in 1999 and continuing into the 2007 season these two would dominate the game and prove to be a Braves killer. 

Not only would Clemens and Pettitte anchor the top-end of the Yankees rotation from 1999-2003 winning two championships (in 1999 when they swept the Braves in four before then repeating as World Series champs in 2000), but interestingly enough they would both leave The Bronx Bombers in order to pitch for the Houston Astros for three seasons. 

From 2004-2006 Clemens and Pettitte would not only make the playoffs twice, but in 2005 they took Houston to its first ever World Series. They’d ultimately loose to the White Sox, but not before beating a superior Braves team in the National League Divisional Series in an epic 18 inning, 6 hour Game 4 that still stands as the longest postseason game in history.

Following a disappointing 2006 season and on account they were both free agents, Clemens and Pettitte decided to leave Texas and return to the Evil Empire for the 2007 season hoping to see another few years of continued dominance. Sadly, things didn’t exactly work out.

While the Yankees would make the playoffs that season, they would suffer an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Divisional Series. What people didn’t know was that this would be the final year this dynamic duo would ever pitch together.

Though Clemens and Pettitte had grown to become best friends and undoubtedly had incredible careers that followed almost an identical trajectory, beginning that offseason their lives would completely diverge along much different paths for one specific reason… 

On December 13, 2007 the commissioner of Major League Baseball released what is today known as the “Mitchell Report” which documented the findings of an independent, 21-month investigation into the use of anabolic steroids and HGH in the National Pastime. 

In the 409-page report George Mitchell cited explosive testimony of former New York Yankee strength and conditioning coach Brian McNamee, who named both Clemens and Pettitte as repeat steroid users. Note: McNamee was also the personal, offseason trainer for both men. 

Though Clemens vehemently denied these allegations, even filing a defamation lawsuit in 2009 against Brian McNamee (which you should note he not only didn’t win, but in actuality had to settle a countersuit for an undisclosed amount just last year), his reputation was so tarnished he would never be allowed to play the game he loved again.

In contrast to the approach taken by Clemens, on December 16, 2007, just three days after being named in the Mitchell Report, Andy Pettitte called a press conference where he admitted to using HGH in 2002 in order to recover from an elbow injury that almost ended his career and he humbly apologized to the fans he’d let down through his actions. 

Because his honesty came as a breath of fresh air, not only would Pettitte pitch for another 5 seasons winning one more championship with The Pinstripes in 2009, but on August 23rd of last year the Yankees honored Andy Pettitte with a post-game ceremony where they not only retired his No. 46, but gave him a plaque in the famous Monument Park in Yankee Stadium.

While each man made the same mistake the way in which they both handled themselves resulted in entirely different outcomes. Clemens was ostracized and Pettitte restored.

Please understand… Though a sinless life may be the intended goal of regeneration, it’s never the result. While it’s true we all possess the power to never sin again (as we’ve all been filled with the indwelling Spirit of God), because “the flesh” tainted by sin remains part of the human condition sinful behaviors are inevitable. Yes, positionally you’re sinless before God, but practically speaking (and I hate to break it to you) you’re going to blow it!

Knowing this reality is an unavoidable part of the Christian experience for every man and women, Paul transitions his discussion of grace from the individual and onto the manner in which grace should be applied to the greater organism of the Church community.

Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” 

Paul begins this section, “Brethren…” Which is important for not only should the following exhortation be for pastors and church leadership, but its application is for everyone.

Understand… If we’re all seeking to “walk in the Spirit” and not “the flesh.” The Church community, the Spirit will supernaturally create, will be one of grace and not legalism. In a sense Paul is describing what the radical nature of a Spirit-culture looks like. 

As we’ve noted in previous studies, how we treat one another is really the foundational litmus test for whether or not we’re right with God and abiding in His grace. As Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

Love for one another is central to the Gospel. 1 John 3:11, “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” 1 John 4:7, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”

It is legalism and these various distortions of the Gospel that foster a church culture of division and divisiveness. A church full of selfish ambitions, jealousies, and envy is not one yielded by the Spirit of God. Never forget… If you aren’t actively loving others one is free to question whether or not you’ve fully experienced God’s great love for you! As Pastor Joe Focht said, “Grace received is grace bestowed.”

And it’s with this in mind that Paul carries our love for one another out to a place the legalist will refuse to go… The surest way to know if you’re “walking in the Spirit” or have adopted a legalistic mindset is to consider how you treat someone overtaken by sin!

Paul begins, “If a man is overtaken in any trespass…” In the way he frames this there is no doubt Paul is deliberately contrasting the Christian who, while “walking in the Spirit,” is “overtaken in a trespass” with the person deliberately “practicing the works of the flesh.”

This word “trespass” simply means “to fall beside, a lapse, or deviation.” The word describes “a false step, sin, offense, misdeed, or blunder.” In the Greek “overtaken” simply means “to be caught off guard.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary provides clarity by translating this verse as, “Even if a man, through lack of circumspection, should fall into any sin.” 

Keep in mind Paul is not referring to someone living in a determined sin of rebellion against the will and Word of God, but rather the person who’s been “overtaken” or has simply fallen into a sin. While still an act of the will Paul is speaking of a blunder - blowing it!

This is an important distinction, because the way in which a church community is called to handle a brother caught in a deliberate, unrepentant sin is much different than the scenario he’s describing here. There are situations where the church is called by God to enact disciplinary measures for the express purposes of breaking and repentance.

Note: Paul clearly says, Any trespass…” Understand, when it comes to the scenario Paul lays out there are no conditions applied to his exhortation which is totally in line with grace.

So how are we to handle the “one overtaken in a trespass?” Paul continues, “You who are spiritual…” In context this phrase refers to the person “walking in the Spirit” in whom the “fruit of the Spirit” is being produced. He then exhorts this person to “restore such a one…” 

In the Greek this word “restore” was a medical term meaning “to mend” or “make one what it ought to be.” The mental picture Paul is painting is the setting of a broken bone. 

Before we continue there are a few unspoken realities implied by using such an image. 

First, the only way “a man overtaken in a trespass” can be “restored” is for the person to first acknowledge a brokenness exists! If a man cannot concede a problem, there can be no solution. If he refuses to admit a need, there can be no remedy. This is why the Scriptures present a different approach to the person in unrepentant sin. Brokenness is essential!

Once again… The way the baseball community handled Andy Pettitte has been radically different than the way they’ve handled Roger Clemens simply because one fessed up and showed contrition while the other dug in his heals, denied, and grew all the more stubborn.

Additionally, after acknowledging his trespass, it’s then necessary “a man overtaken in a trespass” humbly allow the involvement of one “who is spiritual” so that he can be “restored.” 

Restoration, by definition, is a two man endeavor. Consider the reality that it’s virtually impossible for someone to correctly set a broken bone themselves. What is yielded is often twisted and ineffective. A “bone-setter” is needed for the break to be set properly.

When you break a bone the immediate goal is not to manage the pain, but rather to quickly set the bone back in place so that further damage is avoid and the bone can heal correctly. 

If the bone isn’t set in a timely manner or if it’s set incorrectly, not only will the results prove detrimental, but the bone will need to be painfully re-broken at a later point.

This is why it’s counterintuitive for a believer “overcome in a trespass” to isolate themselves from Christian community or for that community to ignore an obvious problem. When it comes to a break the longer you wait to deal with the issue the more difficult it becomes.

Keep in mind, the fundamental goal of restoration is not to punish the individual or seek to “finish them off,” but is instead to see that person return to the place they were before they were “overcome in a trespass.” The heart behind restoration is a desire to see that person find healing over comfort, correction over coddling. You want to set the bone!

Which demands we consider what the person “overcome in a trespass” needs to be “restored” too. Don’t loose sight of the fact the entire context for this admonition is this contrast Paul has established between the “works of the flesh” and the “fruit of the Spirit;” not to mention, the larger reality “the flesh” and “the Spirit” simply will not coexist.

Though sin in the life of the believer does not affect a person’s position before God (grace has declared you righteous apart from your involvement), sin as a “work of the flesh” does hinder your ability to grow in Godliness because it restricts your ability to “walk in the Spirit.” 

With this in mind, it becomes only logical that the work of restoration center not on the particular trespass committed or the specific work of the flesh, but instead focuses on helping that person get back to “walking, being led, and living in the Spirit.” 

Now don’t get me wrong sin and these various “works of the flesh” do carry with them very real and unavoidable consequences that must be navigated for restoration to occur (Paul will get to this in just a minute); and yet, the ultimately remedy is never more of the flesh (which is what legalism proposes - Things I can do to fix the problem) but always more of God’s Spirit! The original remedy to sin remains the remedy for sin… Jesus’ work on the cross!

When dealing with “one overcome in a trespass” we would be wise to always remember the trespass occurred because the person operated in the flesh, not the Spirit. Therefore, restoration is all about helping a person in sin get back to “walking in the Spirit!”

Because the stakes in these situations are so lofty, Paul continues by saying it’s important we “restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” How tragic it is that so many people “overcome in a trespass” are no longer in our ranks today because they were treated by their church in a manner that can’t be described as gentle! 

Doesn’t Paul’s exhortation towards “gentleness” make complete sense when you see “restoration” in the context of setting a broken bone! Consider… What main characteristic do you always want to find in a bone-setter? Answer: “A spirit of gentleness!” 

How is it that we possess such a spirit? Two realities: First… Don’t forget “gentleness” is a “fruit of the Spirit” that describes strength under control. It’s impossible to posses any of the “fruit of the Spirit” without the active involvement of the Spirit behind the fruit! 

Secondly… Paul continues, “Considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” This phrase “considering yourself” is interesting for it literally means “to fix one’s eyes upon yourself.”

Understandably, this seems like a weird direction for Paul to take, especially after telling his audience the key to avoiding self-centeredness is to be God-centric and others-focused. 

And yet, the truth is that the key to properly handling this person caught in sin with gentleness is to always remember you are fundamentally no better off than they! 

We should always be cognitively aware when dealing with a brother or sister in sin that our flesh would immediately lead us to the very same destination if allowed! It’s been said that we’re all only one decision away from completely ruining our lives. 

Isn’t it true that when faced with a person caught in sin it’s so easy for legalism to see such an occasion to puff itself up with moral pride. This is why we must allow grace to remind us of one overarching reality… The ground is completely level at the foot of the cross.

Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

This word “bear” is an interesting word for it literally means “to get the shoulder under to carry.” To carry what? “Another’s burdens” or literally another’s “heaviness, weight, or trouble.” The word described things that were hard to lift and even harder to carry.

The idea Paul is conveying is that in order to “restore” the “one overcome in a trespass” so that this person can return to “walking in the Spirit” it’s essential the “one who is spiritual” intervenes with the specific intention of carrying the practical consequences of their sin. 

Think about how sacrificial and difficult it is to actively get into the midst of someone else’s problems. Seriously, it’s a difficult and weighty burden to bear when you willingly jump into the fray in order to help someone navigate a marital crisis, work through poor financial decisions, overcome an addiction, or see friends overcome differences to find reconciliation.

Very often the burden born is troublesome, messy, heavy. “Bearing another’s burdens” is not an easy task and will inevitably bring with it undo stress and continued conflict! 

And yet, consider how this “fulfills the law of Christ…” Isn’t it true that in order for any of us to be filled with and walk in the Spirit Jesus had to first take upon Himself the weight of our sin?

Knowing how difficult a task “bearing another’s burdens” is Paul provides three realities we should always keep in mind when embarking on such an endeavor:

Galatians 6:3-5, “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.”

First, when engaging this task of restoration by “bearing another’s burdens” it’s essential you realize Jesus alone is the solution! It’s what Paul means when he says, “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” 

So often we make a greater mess of things when we dope ourselves into thinking we can solve the problem! How arrogant a position when we’re powerless to solve our own problems! This is why it’s key in “bearing another’s burdens” we never forget what Jesus said in Matthew 11:30, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Secondly, when engaging this task of restoration by “bearing another’s burdens” it’s essential you find joy in the work and not the result! Paul says, “But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”

While the task itself is heavy and tiresome, it is Christ-like. Sadly, it’s so easy to allow the frustrations and problems - even the failures to weigh us down and rob us of our joy. 

And yet, our joy should be found in the fact we were God’s tool fulfilling His calling regardless of what results. Hebrews 12:3, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”

Finally, when engaging this task of restoration by “bearing another’s burdens” it’s essential you remember the task is your spiritual duty. Paul closes this section by saying, “For each one shall bear his load.” While this word “bear” is the same word we found in verse one, the idea of “his load” is much different than “another’s burden.” 

The word “load” referred to the backpack of a Roman soldier. It was something the soldier was commissioned to carry. Keep this reality in mind when your faced with “one overcome in a trespass…” If you don’t seek to “restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness” who will?

“But I can’t!” You’re right you can’t, but the Spirit that indwells you can and will! “Well isn’t that the job of the pastor?” It can be, but there is no escaping it’s your job as well. Sadly, many refuse the task because they honestly don’t want to exhort the time or energy. In Philippians 2:3 Paul made it clear that this Spirit-culture (this environment yielded by grace) is only possible when we all seek to “esteem others better than himself.”

I can’t wrap up this section of Scripture without first making it clear to any of you “overcome in a trespass” that it’s ok. Seriously, you failed but that doesn’t make you a failure. Jesus died for all sin and His grace remains just a sufficient today as it did when you first experienced it.

Understand… The worst thing you can do when you’re overcome is fail to come and confess to “one who is spiritual.” Restoration demands you allow someone to help set the bone correctly as well as “bear your burdens.” How does this happen? A bone-setters main job is to remind that person of God’s amazing grace! His job is to refocus one’s attention on Jesus.

In your pride you can try to do this on your own, but never forget setting a bone improperly will only produce a gimp to develop in your walk! If you want complete healing, as James 5:16 says, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

Finally, I think it’s tragic the church today takes one of two approaches that both fail to provide restoration. On one end of the spectrum you have churches who view restoration as a no-consequence, free-pass which masks itself as being the most loving and Christ-like. Regrettably, they employ the Anti-Gospel distortion of “Grace, So I can do anything” to justify focusing on God’s love for the person and not His desire to transform behaviors.

And yet, on the polar opposite end of this spectrum exists the legalistic church who views restoration as a harsh road that requires penance and endured consequence. Ironically, they employ the Anti-Gospel distortions of “Grace, And do these things” as well as “Grace, But don’t do these things” in order to re-demonstrate one’s worthiness.

Instead of ignoring brokenness or cannibalizing the broken, it is our prayer that Calvary316 be known as a “Grace Place!” May we be a community that fully represents this Spirit-culture! May we always demonstrate the grace and love God has shown us to one another, especially in the moments we fail to live a life consistent with our heavenly calling. 

May we actively seek spiritual restoration through a “spirit of gentleness” and demonstrate a willingness to “bear one another’s burdens” for there is an inescapable truth to these things… Not only will you need restoration yourself as it’s inevitable you’ll be “overcome with a trespass,” but you’ll never forget the person who restores you in such a way. 


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