Gal 6:1 "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted."
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Gal 6:1 flows from the points Paul was making in Gal 5. (Chapters/verse breaks are man-introduced and so often break up the flow of thought.) Paul is trying to get the Galatians, a mixed church of Jew and Gentile, to both acknowledge that they are not under the law, but neither are they free to serve their own flesh. He also must repeatedly remind them that they are to serve each other humbly and in love, as tensions between the groups are high. The Judaizers had been quick to point out everything they think the Gentiles are doing wrong, including not getting circumcised, but in a spirit of shunning vs. Treating them as fellow brethren. Some Gentile believers were taking their freedom from the law as a free license to sin. Paul makes these points that all lead up to Gal 6:1: - we are called to be free from sin - don't use that freedom as an excuse to serve the flesh - serve one another humbly in love. "For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." Gal 5:14-15 - walk by the Spirit, not the flesh - the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit - if we are led by the spirit we are not under the law "The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like." Gal 5:19-20 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Gal 5:22-23 - "Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." Gal 5:26 All of his points can be summed up as 1) we are not under the law (so the Judaizers are focused on the wrong things,) 2) We are under the Spirit (so the Gentile believers are not free to indulge the flesh how they please and 3) We are all united in one church and should deal with conflict and sin in a humble, loving manner rather than try to act superior. Here, then, is Gal 6:1: "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." A fellow brother in Christ who is unapologetically living in sin does need addressed, as that behavior is damaging to himself, to the church, and to the testimony of God before the world. Fortunately, other brothers and sisters in Christ are there who can restore him through encouragement, admonition, rebuke, exhortation, accountability, etc. Yet we should not do this with a gleeful hope of vengeance, because we want to make ourselves look more pious, but because we genuinely care about them and "love our neighbor as yourself." Focusing on them as a beloved brother will help keep our admonition gentle. Paul does add here that we also need to 'watch ourselves.' Some sins are very addicting or more tempting than others, and so we need to 'be on guard' when dealing with the sin. For example, a strip club is probably not the best location to hold a heart to heart conversation about the perils of lust. Guarding ourselves also moderates our gentleness, as we also need to be firm about the sin. 'Strength under control' is at the heart of meekness. Gentle doesn't mean we avoid discipline or that we just give them a head's up about their sin and then run away, but rather is about the state of our heard in how we approach them. "Restoring" the brother means to bring to working condition or adjusted to be fully functional. What for? For the work of God on Earth, such as evangelism and building the church up. Whether restoring a painting or fixing a broken vase, restoration takes self-control and the tools chosen/application of strength should not be too rough for the task.
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