The Apostle Paul teaches us through the Galatians exactl what our response is to be if a brother in Christ is “overtaken in a fault” (Galatians 6:1). Clear context is seen by understanding all the previous chapters as a whole. These chapters were written to encourage the Galatians to forsake their Jewish traditions and reliance on the Law, and replace it with conformity to the Gospel they were saved by.
The Galatians were being deceived by false teachers, putting them back under the bondage of the Law through circumcision and observances. Paul was teaching them something new, about the Christian liberty they had received in Christ, liberty that had freed them from the bondage of the Law. As Paul brought them to Galatians 5, their response to his preaching and teaching determined whether they were walking in “the works of the flesh” or “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16-26).
Coming out of Galatians 1-5, the Galatians knew just how easy it was to sin. Coming into Galatians 6, the Galatians were doing their utmost to fight the flesh and walk in the Spirit. Paul begins this chapter with an “if,” giving them a hypothetical situation to apply the previous chapters. Paul could teach this from personal experience as he knew all too well just how easy it was to allow the temptation of flesh to get the better of him (Romans 7:14-24).
THE OVERTAKEN OF A BROTHER
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
By definition, the word “overtaken” has the idea of “surprise,” almost as if a person could actually claim they “fell into sin.” I will write another devotion on this phrase, but I will say that in no place within God’s Word does a man “fall into sin,” nor will a man be able to have this excuse before Almighty God one day. The only thing man falls into is temptation, which often takes us by complete surprise, but man always willfully chooses to sin against God.
The scene in Paul’s illustration is that of a brother in Christ running from sin, but that sin is gaining on him and finally catches up with him, and this brother yields to the temptation. Before he knew what was happening, he was sinning. Here, Galatians 6:1 makes a direct connection to (Matthew 26:41) where we are reminded of something we know very well, that “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
DEFINING A FAULT
By definition, the word “fault” has idea of taking a step in the wrong direction and losing your footing. This situation is far too common in today’s church. As Fundamentalists, we are well aware of God’s boundaries set before us. These boundaries are marked by the Word of God and enforced by the Spirit of God who teaches us the will of God.
Our problem, we choose to step over God’s clear boundary line and step into sin. It is a fact that we all stumble, but what Paul is teaching is that we do not have to. We stumble of our own personal choice. James makes this very clear, while pointing out the fact that we will never be able to make an excuse before God:
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.”
Putting ourselves into Paul’s hypothetical situation, we would have to admit with an honest heart, when faced with choosing to sin or choosing to run, we don’t always make the right choice. Paul taught Corinthians that will always give a way of escape, we just have to chose to take it. By this, Paul teaches that we can fall into temptation but we chose to sin against God:
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
(I Corinthians 10:13)
THE UNDERTAKING OF THE BRETHREN
When we are not the one’s who have sinned, many feel it is their God given obligation to reveal a brother’s sin rather than restore that fallen brother. We joke often, and yet it seems too true, that the Independent and Fundamental Baptists shoot their wounded. This is a sad commentary, and NOT what Paul is teaching the Galatians.
OBLIGATION OF THE BRETHREN = RESTORE THE FALLEN
To restore the fallen means we are to bring the sinning saint to the place where he will confess his sin. By definition, restore is a medical term meaning “to mend, set a fracture,” seen as the word “mending” in Matthew 4:21 as the sons of Zebedee were “mending their nets.” A couple important notes of application are from this verse: 1) the part of the net needing mending is a part of the whole, as the fallen brother is still a part of the church, 2) the whole net is not effective until the broken part is mended, as the church cannot function fully and properly until the fallen brother is mended. The fallen is a born again believer, member of the Body of Christ. Like the nets needing mending, any member of the body that is broken is still a part of the body but needs to be mended for the whole body to function
Paul often illustrates members of the church as members of our body. If a bone is broke in need of mending. Until the broken bone is mended, the rest of the body suffers in pain. Like a dislocated arm, it hurts, and the longer it goes without being relocated the worse it hurts and the harder it is to relocate. Equally, when a member of the church sins, and is in need of restoration, the rest of the body suffers until fellowship is restored. Until a broken arm is set, much of the body becomes useless, so it is with the church that waits on a sinning saint to get right with Christ. As the dislocated arm is extremely painful, so is the sinning saint in pain until he is restored, and the longer he remains dislocated the worse the pain gets and the harder it is to be restored with God and with His church.
Remember Achan in Joshua 7:1-26? He surely thought his sin was a private matter. However, he brought defeat and death upon the nation of Israel at a place they should have had an easy victory. What he thought was a private matter actually had major public repercussion.
HOW OFTEN OUR EASIEST VICTORIES BECOME OUR GREATEST DEFEATS, BECAUSE OF SIN! PRAISE GOD, THOUGH, WE CAN BE RESTORED!
MANNER OF THE BRETHREN = SPIRIT OF MEEKNESS
It is easy to be frustrated watching a brother in Christ sin and flounder in this world. However, this frustration is too often vented on the fallen brother, pushing him further from restoration. When this happens, we have failed to remember there is a gentle way and rough way to restore a brother. Thus, the brethren need to be spiritual to do this work.
Before the brethren can do the work of the Spirit, we must properly passed through Galatians 5 and been filled with the Spirit. Why? It is only then that God can use the brethren to tactfully, gently, lovingly, bring the fallen brother back to fellowship with God and the brethren. The only way this is possible is though the spirit of meekness.
I John 1 is written to believers and not the world, it is about our fellowship with God and the brethren, and the answer to restoration when fellowship is broken:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
(I John 1:9)
Confession is painful to the flesh but refreshing to the spirit! Consider that broke bone, setting it is very painful for the flesh but the result is refreshing for the spirit. It is far better to endure the short time of suffering related to setting a broken bone than it is to endure a lifetime of disability that will arise if the bone is not properly set. So it is with the church. It is hard to forgive sins, it is even harder to forget the past, but it is the job of the brethren to do exactly that.
CONSIDERATION OF THE BRETHREN = LEST THOU ALSO BE TEMPTED
The brother that fell in Galatians 6:1, he fell into temptation but he chose to sin. We do not fall into sin, we fall into temptation. However, it takes us by such surprise as if we fall into sin as we lose our footing by the choices we make. So, our consideration must be concerning ourselves, that “today it’s my brother, tomorrow it’ll be me!”
Only when we truthfully consider ourselves, consider our sins and the mercy of God upon our own lives, are we able to effectively deal with the sin of a brother. Thus, our consideration must be as Christ treated us, knowing the wretchedness of our sins, knowing we would persecute Him, knowing we would deny Him, knowing we would spit in his face, yet He still bore our sins upon Himself.
Our consideration brings us to the next verse in Galatians 6:
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
Here, burdens are “a high point in a scale” which points to something being heavy to carry alone. Picture again our injured body, our broke or dislocated arm that unable to bear the load it normally would. When we are injured, the entire body compensate for the weakness of the injured part. We do this out of love for ourselves, because we do not want it amputated.
“the law of Christ” in Galatians 6:2 is “That ye love one another” as told us in John 13:34-35.
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
We all have a lot to learn about handling sin, both in our own lives and in the lives of others. This can only be accomplished through the teachings of the Word of God as Paul taught the Galatians. We must realize it is our sins that are hindering the work of God’s church. This is a serious matter in these last days, a matter that must be tended to immediately, “lest thou also be tempted.”