Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
How Should I React to Sin?
The main theme of Galatians is about whether legalism, in the form of the Jewish law, is required for a Christian. Paul?s answer is an emphatic ?no!? Legalism, in general, is superimposing an external set of rules or expectations on yourself or others?even Biblical rules or principals. Legalism says ?I can do it myself if you just tell me what to do.? Legalism is actually a very childish and immature way of living. As a child you have to ask whether everything is okay?crossing the street, putting your hand on a hot stove, playing video games instead of studying. Our parents had to instill values in us so that when we grew up we would no longer need to call them every day to ask what we should fix for dinner. Sadly, we treat our relationship with God that same way. We want Him to tell us whether to turn right or left, go here or there, say this or that. There is a better way.
We?ve been talking about the internal transformation of character that takes place when you have a relationship with God. The goal is to think so much like God that you don?t necessarily need to ask at every turn whether this is a good choice or not.
So eventually we can ask ourselves: ?Will this decision enhance or detract from my relationship with God?? ?Will this response enhance or detract from my ability to reflect the character of God to others?? ?Am I seeking to satisfy this desire in way that would be pleasing to God and in a way He would be proud of??
The more transparent, honest, self-reflective, and pliable we are to God, the more access we give Him to change our character and thought patterns. This results in a greater ability to make wise decisions without having to find a Bible verse for every turn in the road. We still rely completely on the Lord for everything, but it becomes easier to hear the voice of the Spirit because our thoughts sound more and more like the Spirit?s. The Bible then, is not a rule book or a guide book, but the story of man?s fall and God?s rescue and redemption. It reveals the character of God in broad brush strokes as an outline, not a playbook. Paul said: ?Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.? (2 Tim 1:13-14) (?hold on to? is the Greek word: ?echo? ? to hold, ?pattern? is ?after a sketch?)
But what happens when we fail? The truth of the matter is we obey God imperfectly and we think like God imperfectly. The Apostle John said that if we say we have no sin we?re deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:8). As individuals, when we mess up, we need to ?with the Spirit keep walking? (Gal 5:16). Fess up to God, ask for His cleansing, and move on.
But what happens when someone else blows it? There are two normal reactions: one is to avoid them and the second is to judge them. Neither really works very well. Paul here at the beginning of Chapter 6 offers us a third alternative: restore them because that?s what He did for us.
Christians are jokingly known as the only army that shoots its own wounded, but that?s just what can happen if we take the prideful attitude that ?we?re better than you.?
The goal of dealing with failure should always be to ?restore? and it should be done ?gently? not harshly. ?Caught? in a sin is a good way to put it. The old nature will assert itself unless we ?put to death the deeds of the body? (Rom 8:13). Sin catches us and entraps us. Our goal is to help spring another brother or sister from that trap. ?Caught? can also mean when a sin is detected by another. There comes a point when you simply cannot ignore something that?s happened. You must deal with it.
The idea of restoration has several meanings: ?setting a broken bone?, ?mending a broken fish net?, or ?refitting a ship after a difficult journey.? Our responsibility to others is to set a life towards healing, repair brokenness and help put back that which has been torn off by sin. This kind of work requires that we not only stand by the person but actually get in there and get involved. This might mean spending time discipling them, encouraging them, crying with them, and working with them to fix brokenness their sin has brought about.
Paul says that it is up to the ?mature? to do this. This refers to those of us who are walking with the Spirit, and mirroring more and more that character of God through the Holy Spirit.
And how is it to be done? In a spirit of gentleness. This is the same word used in 5:3. It should be done humbly, knowing no one is immune from failure. It should be done Biblically?God knows best how to restore a person, not us. But it should also be done honestly. You are doing no one a favor by just letting them continue in bondage.
Why is all this important? Because (and here he goes from plural to singular) we need to take care of ourselves when dealing with sin so that the same temptation that pulled our brother into problems won?t pull us in as well!
Instead of bearing the burden of the Law, we should help bear the burden of those around us. Part of that burden bearing is helping restore them from sin. But it can also mean praying for them, or literally helping them. In the body of Christ we are never alone. It fulfills the ?law of Christ? in this way:
John 15:12-13 ?This is My command: love one another as I have loved you.?
That same self-sacrificial love that Jesus showed us should be in us to give out to others.
When we have some successes against the flesh, and when we see others struggle, we begin to think we are pretty good.
Our problem is that we begin to naturally drift towards a feeling of superiority. It was the same thing Jesus? disciples fought constantly. The best way to combat it is to serve:
Philippians 2:3-5 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ESV
And remember?it?s all Jesus anyway!
John 15:5 ??apart from Me you can do nothing.? But ? Philippians 4:13 ?I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.?
Never forget the self-deceiving, self-rationalizing nature of the self!
4 ? 5
The antidote to feeling superior is not to compare your success or failure to those around you. Instead, just focus on what God is doing in and through you. That?s the burden you and you alone carry.
We will not be judged by how many converts we bring to Christ. We will be examined based on how we did in relation to God?s work in our lives. Billy Graham is held to the same standard you are?faithfulness.
1 Corinthians 4:2-5 In this regard, it is expected of managers that each one be found faithful. 3 It is of little importance that I should be evaluated by you or by a human court. In fact, I don\'t even evaluate myself. 4 For I am not conscious of anything against myself, but I am not justified by this. The One who evaluates me is the Lord. 5 Therefore don\'t judge anything prematurely, before the Lord comes, who will both bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts. And then praise will come to each one from God.
- Don?t look down on a stumbling brother or sister?help them up
- Do it gently to avoid condemnation and punishment
- Do it carefully to avoid setting a trap for yourself
- Do it responsibly. You are responsible to help others who are struggling but are not responsible for the outcome
- In the end we answer to the Lord for our own relationship with Him
It?s possible that Paul is referring specifically to those who turn from legalism. The tendency might be to constantly remind them of how wrong they were. That?s not going to help restore them.
So how do we help?
- Know each other well so you will have a place to speak into their lives and they will trust you
- Love each other well so they will know your motivation is to restore, not punish or judge
- Be prepared to counsel, help them reflect, pray with and for them, love them even when the rebel
- Know when to get help
- Be patient and faithful in your love for them