The Galatians were hindered in their walk as Christians by someone that wanted to pull followers away for themselves. This often happens and it is important for us to test what people are saying against God’s word rather than just blindly accepting it. But even more that testing the word, we need to test the spirit. As Paul says in Galatians 5:16-18 “But I say, live by the Spirit” and then in vs. 22-23 he says “But the fruit of the Spirit is …”. He says these things having also described in vs. 19-21 “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident”. As he closes, he admonishes them, in Galatians 6:1 “even if a person is caught … you who are spiritual restore” and that may mean hands on helping as we, in vs. 2 “carry the burdens of one another”. Then he reminds them that what they sow, they will reap, in Galatians 6:9 “if we do not give up”. In our culture, we want quick results but the reality is, every seed has its cycle time to harvest, some are ready quickly and some just take time. Be a good grower and bring the seed to harvest, don’t give up!
Who Hindered You?
As Paul comes to the end of his letter, he comments in Galatians 5:7 “you were running well” but clearly they have gone off track. So he then asks “Who hindered you?” but he isn’t wanting an answer because he already knows and responds to his own question answering in Galatians 5:8 “This persuasion is not from the one who calls you”. Then in Galatians 5:9 Paul mentions leaven which “is used of false doctrine (Mt 16:12: compare Mt 13:33). In 1 Co 5:6 it means the corrupting influence of one bad person; so BENGEL understands it here to refer to the person (Ga 5:7, 8, 10) who misled them. Ec 9:18, “One sinner destroyeth much good” (1 Co 15:33)1.
And Paul goes on to say, in Galatians 5:10, “the one confusing you will pay the penalty”. Paul is right, there is the judgement seat of Christ where we will give an account of our actions, but right here, right now, we are to test what we hear, and reject what is not from God.
For example the Bereans, who were open minded, and it is good for us to be teachable, but they didn’t just accept everything as it was said to them. They “examined the scriptures and verified them as we also are to do.
Acts 17:11 (LEB) Now these were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica. They⌋accepted the message with all eagerness, examining the scriptures every day to see if these things were so.
1 Corinthians 14:29 (LEB) Let two or three prophets speak, and the others evaluate.
1 Thessalonians 5:19–21 (LEB) Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but examine all things; hold fast to what is good.
Paul goes on to give the litmus test for our relationships in Galatians 5:13-14 “through love serve one another … love your neighbor as yourself”. Then Paul throws in a statement for those that are having trouble understanding these serve and love concepts. If they aren’t walking in love then as it says in Galatians 5:15 “if you bite and devour one another, watch out”. This is the way of the natural man, deceitful, talking behind each others backs, the tongue on fire and setting fire.
But The Fruit of the Spirit Is
In Galatians 5:16 is what can be a wonderful or awful word, “But”. When we say “but”, we mean that whatever we just said doesn’t apply because what we are about to say is what is really important. So if we have a statement like “bite and devour” followed by “but” it is wonderful. Here Paul says in Galatians 5:16-18 “But I say, live by the Spirit” and “But if you are led by the Spirit” and again in Galatians 5:22 he says “But the fruit of the Spirit is …”. You know these in vs. 22-23, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control” then he says, “Against such things there is no law” which is to say, have these in overabundance, all you want, all you like, and then a little more because they are good for you and for everyone around you.
Sometimes I really like the way the Bible is written, and this is one of many places. Paul says in Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, …”. This is the natural way, the way we were born into and maybe even the way that we are now. Then Paul reserves this word “But” to describe the life of God we are to live in Christ. Our life in the Spirit negates, cancels, puts behind us and makes of no effect, all of the “Now” deeds that are contrary to our new life in Christ.
Two Parts of Life in The Spirit in Demonstration (a personal comment)
- Part one is what I will call “My testimony”: Many people have been hurt, wounded, abused, offended, even broken because of the “Now” deeds of the flesh and one of the primary actions that take place as we accept Christ and begin to walk in the Spirit, is an often quoted passage, one that Jesus read about himself in Luke 4:18, it is
Isaiah 61:1–3 (LEB) The Spirit of the Lord Yahweh is upon me, because Yahweh has anointed me, he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted,2 to proclaim release to the captives and liberation to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of Yahweh’s favor, and our God’s day of vengeance, to comfort all those in mourning, 3 to give for those in mourning in Zion, to give them a head wrap instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a faint spirit. And they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of Yahweh, to show his glory.
The power of God works in us, in our lives to deliver us from whatever that old life was, and for many people, this is their testimony. God has worked, and maybe is still working, in their life to fix the negatives.
- Part two is what I will call “Overcoming Power”: This is the positive, producing, fruit bearing side of the fruit of the Spirit. For example, most people think about self-control as the ability to stop doing something, the ability to break an addiction. What I am talking about here is the self control to power through a task to completion. It is the ability to continue and fulfill your word when the odds are against you. Few people quote the next verses from Isaiah where it says
Isaiah 61:4 (LEB) And they shall build the ancient ruins, they shall erect the former deserted places. And they shall restore the devastated cities, the deserted places of many generations.
This “Overcoming Power”, this positive, producing, fruit bearing side is what we need in people that are teachers, politicians, policemen, well, you get the point, it is this fruit that changes the culture around us.
You Who Are Spiritual, Restore
In Galatians 6:1 Paul says, “even if a person is caught in some trespass”, well, without reading any more, what might you think Paul would advise? Shouldn’t you stop their bad behaviour and punish them somehow so they won’t do it again? That is the way the world would handle it, but Paul says, “you who are spiritual, restore such a person”. He says to help them get past it, to, in Galatians 6:2 “carry the burdens of another” maybe by encouraging them, maybe by helping them as the Samaritan did, maybe by covering their shame. We, as Christians, should operate as Jesus instructed us in
Luke 6:37 (LEB) “And do not judge, and you will never be judged. And do not condemn, and you will never be condemned. Pardon, and you will be pardoned”.
Paul is clear though, this is not for us to be the fixer, the savior, the answer for everyone’s needs, because we have our own burden to carry. Are you being abused? Are you enabling someones bad behavior? Are you afraid to say what is on your mind because they might reject you? The trespass may be happening to you, get help if you need it.
Let Us Not Grow Weary in Doing Good
Here in Galatians 6:6 Paul says to “share in all good things with the one who teaches”. We might say, honor the teacher, just as God’s word says to honor those in authority and to honor father and mother. We may not think about it, but every generation is born not knowing what we need for life and someone teaches us. They may teach us the culture they know or they may teach us the ways of life, God’s ways. But we don’t always have good teachers and even if we do, some times we don’t get the lesson.
Proverbs 22:6 (LEB) Train the child concerning his way; even when he is old, he will not stray from it.
Hebrews 5:12 (LEB) For indeed, although you* ought to be teachers by this time, you have need of someone to teach you again the beginning elements of the oracles of God, and you have need of milk, not solid food.
Paul also makes an important point, and this is a life lesson in Galatians 6:7-9 “whatever a person sows, this he will also reap” which is widely quoted and preached, but Paul goes on to say in vs. 9 “at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give up”. We forget that there are many kinds of seeds and each one has its own germination period and each has its own maturity cycle so some seed we reap quickly but some seed may take a lifetime and we may not see the fruit until we get to heaven. Do not give up. Be a good gardener.
A New Creation
Paul ends this letter in Galatians 6:12 pointing out those that “are wanting to make a good showing in the flesh” but as it says in Galatians 6:15 For neither is circumcision anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creation”.
He Has Spoke To Us By A Son
Much of the conversation and division as the early church is preaching the gospel is because the Jews are holding on to the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms. God has spoken to men through these and it says in
2 Peter 1:20–21 (LEB) recognizing this above all, that every prophecy of scripture does not come about from one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
And in the few verses before this, Peter echo’s what he and the other apostles witnessed is same message spoken in Hebrews 1:1
2 Peter 1:16–17 (LEB) For we did not make known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ by following ingeniously concocted myths, but by being eyewitnesses of that one’s majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when a voice such as this was brought to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
- Galatians 5:16–26
- Galatians 6:1–5
- Galatians 6:6–10
- Galatians 5:7-26
- Galatians 6:1-18
- Hebrews 1:1-4
- 1. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 336). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.