SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (December 4, 2013)
“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. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load. 6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches” Galatians 6:1-6.
“CARRY EACH OTHER’S BURDENS AND IN THIS WAY YOU WILL FULFILL THE LAW OF CHRIST” Galatians 6:2.
The Apostle Paul, after exhorting Christians to walk in the Spirit by bearing the Fruit of the Spirit and crucifying the sinful nature with its passions and desires continued to exhort Christians on how to continue living as good Christians. In the first part of Galatians chapter six, Paul exhorts us on several issues to pay attention to as individual Christians and also as cooperate body of Christ. It is this that we want to pay attention to in this edition of Spiritual Nourishment for Today.
Paul began with an exhortation to Christians on the way to handle fellow Christians who fall into sin. Paul admonishes those who are more matured spiritually in the church to gently restore those who fall into sin. This is how he put it:
BROTHERS, IF SOMEONE IS CAUGHT IN A SIN, YOU WHO ARE SPIRITUAL SHOULD RESTORE HIM GENTLY. BUT WATCH YOURSELF, OR YOU ALSO MAY BE TEMPTED.
Before we make any attempt to discuss this issue, it is very important to note that Paul is not saying those who fall into sin should not be taken through Christian discipline. This will be contrary to what he has taught elsewhere in his epistles. What he is emphasizing here is the need for the restoration of those who fall into sin within the body of Christ. We are being reminded that within the body of Christ there are two categories of people-those who are mature and those who are weak.
WE ARE NOT ALL OF THE SAME LEVEL AS FAR AS SPIRITUAL MATURITY IS CONCERNED; SOME ARE MORE MATURE THAN OTHERS. The other important reminder is that IN THE BODY OF CHRIST, SOME CAN FALL INTO SIN WHILE OTHERS STILL REMAIN STRONG IN CHRIST.
With this awareness, we can proceed to learn more about Galatians 6:1.
We are being taught by Christ through the Apostle Paul that when a fellow Christian falls into sin, those who are mature should help RESTORE THAT PERSON INTO A RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST. This shows how sin destroys one’s relationship with Christ. This is exactly what scripture teaches from the beginning to the end. It was sin which destroyed the relationship between God and mankind. This is what led to the coming of Jesus Christ who was born by the virgin Mary, crucified by the Romans and the Jews, died and rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven, seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty from where he will come to judge both the living and the dead. This situation still prevails. Anytime we sin, we break our spiritual relationship with Christ, thereby breaking our relationship with the Father and the Son. When we are separated from God, we are as good as dead. We become like trees without roots. We become malnourished in our walk with the Lord because we have been cut off from the source of life. The Bible describes people who are walking in sin as living dead. In our sins, we cannot be assured of eternal life, hence the need for a restored relationship with God.
God says through the Prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 18:23:
“DO I TAKE ANY PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF THE WICKED? DECLARES THE SOVEREIGN LORD. RATHER, AM I NOT PLEASED WHEN THEY TURN FROM THEIR WAYS AND LIVE?”
This is a clear indication that God is not happy when his people fall away from him and into sin. He therefore desires to see his rebellious children returning to him. The Apostle Peter supports this when he said in 2 Peter 3:9b:
“HE DOES NOT WANT ANYONE TO BE DESTROYED, BUT WANTS EVERYONE TO REPENT.”
These show clearly that God’s intention concerning a believer who falls into sin is to see him returning to him. In the church setting, God has given the mandate to those who are more matured spiritually to help restore such people back to true relationship with the Lord.
Before we could identity someone as having fallen into sin, Paul said that person MUST BE CAUGHT IN SIN. This means that there should be enough evidence to prove that. We should not just tag anybody as having falling into sin based on rumors. We should be sure there are at least two or three eye witnesses. After proper identification, our first concern should not be to PUNISH the person but to RESTORE the person. This must be drummed into the ears of all Christians especially those who are in leadership positions in the church. Most of the time we accuse certain people as having committed sins based on mere rumors without any concrete evidence. Where we are not sure, we should not attempt to tag anyone as having falling into sin. Those who are mature in the Lord will not be in haste in tagging people as sinners. They will diligently look for enough evidence to support the accusations and when proven to be true will make the Effort under the power of the Holy Spirit to RESTORE THOSE WHO HAVE FALLEN. Paul also cautioned that as we seek to restore those who fall into sin, we must be careful we also do not fall into sin.
I would like to remind all believers that Paul did not make any distinction between sins here. He did not mention any particular sin; he was talking about sin. Before the eyes of the Lord, every sin is sin. Therefore as matured Christians seeking to restore people into relationship with the LORD we should not focus our attention on certain things only. We should treat sin as sin and help restore everyone who sins. We should also be careful not to sin by the way we treat those who fall into sin.
IN DEALING WITH THOSE WHO FALL INTO SIN, OUR GOAL SHOULD BE THAT OF RESTORATION IN LINE WITH WHAT CHRIST CAME TO DO FOR MANKIND -RECONCILING REBELS WITH THE HOLY AND RIGHTEOUS GOD. OUR AIM SHOULD NEVER BE TO PUNISH THEM TO SHOW EVERYONE THEY HAVE SINNED OR TO SHOW THEM WE ARE THE ONES IN FULL CONTROL OF THE CHURCH. WHEN WE DO ANYTHING TO SEPARATE PEOPLE THE MORE FROM THE LORD WE ALSO BECOME SINNERS! GOD WILL NOT BE HAPPY WITH US.
Unfortunately, many people who fall into sin end up leaving the body of Christ; some even never attend church again because of the way they are handled. Of course many people also do not want to subject themselves to Christian discipline. But it is also true that sometimes the accusations also tend to be false but the people are seriously embarrassed in the presence of the whole congregation.
I wish to say that I am not the one to prescribe any appropriate means for church discipline or how to deal with those who fall into sin. Scripture is our teacher. What I however wish to point out is that we should treat those who fall into sin with love and help restore them instead of destroying them. This applies to all Christians not the leaders alone. We all have a role to play. May the Lord help us to keep away from fallen, and may we be truly restored even if we have fallen into sin.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Exhortations for Good Christian Living – Part 7
Exhortations for Good Christian Living – Part 6
Exhortations for Good Christian Living – Part 5
Exhortations for Good Christian Living – Part 4
Exhortations for Good Christian Living – Part 3
Exhortations for Good Christian Living – Part 2
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.