The Spiritual Person
Text: Galatians 6:1-10
Proposition: The spiritual person is one who because of their obedience to the Holy Spirit acts and reacts like Jesus, practicing the law of Christ.
Introduction: What does it mean to be a spiritual person? It’s a question that people today are seeking to define. Some would say that the only way you can achieve true spiritual satisfaction is by following your heart's desires. Some use yoga and some use meditation to get in touch with their inner self. Mike Yaconelli co-founder of Youth Specialties, an organization that trains Christian youth leaders, said, “Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives.” I’d agree with that but Pastor and author Timothy Keller takes it a step closer (The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism), “The Christian Gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.” But the essence of being a spiritual person has to first and foremost begin with your spirit connecting to the Holy Spirit of God. Last week we looked at how to do that and in so doing to think of ourselves less. The secret to that was locked up in Galatians 5:16, “…Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” The lust of the flesh is all about thinking of ourselves more, or perhaps thinking more of ourselves. To walk in the Spirit means to first be made alive spiritually through faith in Christ. That’s when the spirit in you ceases to be dead to God and becomes aware and alive to God. Any effort to be spiritual apart from the presence of the Holy Spirt will always end up in some form of self-glory. As Paul concludes this letter to the Galatian church he wants to encourage them to be truly spiritual people, people who walk in the Spirit. If you like, the next verses that we are about to read are a partial description of what it means to walk in the Spirit. Have a look at Galatians 6:1-10.
I. The Command… Restore in a Spirit of Gentleness, Don’t Get Tempted.
Verse 1 says, “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. If you would indeed regard yourself as a spiritual person then when you see another person, especially a Christian, getting tangled up in sin, restore them. Do you remember that story in John 8 where the Pharisees drag this woman before Jesus saying she had just been caught in the act of adultery. It was a test to see if Jesus would have her put to death by the Law of Moses or whether He would be compassionate and free her. You know what happened, He found a way to restore her. It was a beautiful act of grace, forgiveness by Him, and a restoration that said, ‘Go and sin no more.’ The idea of doing restoration is modified with the caution, ‘considering yourself lest you also be tempted’. Restoration is sticky, you could be tempted to think of yourself as better, you could be tempted one day in a similar sin, you could be tempted to be indifferent and do nothing. So to restore is the work of you who are spiritual, it is done by being led of the Holy Spirit, to walk in the Spirit and do what Christ would do.
Perhaps a subset of this call to restore is seen in the next two verses. Look what it says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”. Certainly to restore a person will mean that in some way you help them to stand and then go free again. In fact that very word, ’restore’ in the Greek is ‘katartizō’, it means ‘to put in order’, like resetting a broken bone or a dislocated shoulder. To bear one another’s burdens is to help them with what is causing dislocation, to help them get back into alignment. But it’s the last part of verse that is curious. Paul says that when you bear one another’s burdens you fulfill the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? This whole book has been written to correct an overemphasis on the Law of Moses, so what Paul says is to place a higher Law at the front of our thinking. The law of Christ is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Their well being is connected to you. Do you remember that verse from 1 Cor. 6:17, “But he who is joined to the Lord, is one spirit with Him.’ Jesus regards Himself as connected to us, our well being is directly related to Him in that He knows our griefs and is acquainted with them. To bear one another’s burdens is to deliberately acquaint yourself with the love of Christ for the one being burdened. To bear that burden would be in some way to restore them, to help regain their balance and place. Once again there is a caution applied to this, it’s given as a reason for why we need to bear one another’s burdens. Look at verse 3, “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” What’s the inference? John Stott comments here, “Notice the assumption which lies behind this command, namely that we all have burdens and that God does not mean us to carry them alone.” Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.
II. The Second Command… Pick Up the Load That Christ Has Given You.
It would be easy to see verse 2 and verse 5 as contradicting each other yet the explanation is in the words used. In verse 2 it is ‘burdens’, a weight that they cannot carry and were not designed to carry. In the verse 5 the word is ‘load’, like the load a soldier has in his back pack, essential to his survival. The average soldier wears a Kevlar vest weighing 30 pounds, a back pack that has everything from first aid components to extra ammunition, water, food, and a variety of other things that will make the pack weigh from 50 to 90 pounds. But I tell you that the soldier will rejoice in this load when he needs food, shelter and protection as he carries out his mission. What do you think the load is that Christ has designed for us to carry? If you are curious about that check out Ephesians 6. There is protective armor, there are weapons of defense, essentials like truth, your feet made steady with the gospel. Over all is the mission command to stand firm therefore. A soldier does not have the luxury of thinking only of themselves. Their very survival depends on those all around them. It depends on the one who leads them, who teaches them to keep alert, to learn to recognize signs of weakness in the enemy and signs of failure in themselves. Paul says, “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” The well being of the leader ensures the well being of the fellow soldiers whether those leaders are pastors, elders, deacons or deaconesses or teachers. Don’t think that you can short cut your dependence on these ones. They are put there for your effectiveness in mission. The corporal who mocks his sergeant or captain or major will not only undermine them but also put themselves at risk. So Paul cautions, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” If you sow discontent or slander or mockery it will have a way of costing you something.
All this is the load that Christ has given you, it is there to help you walk with the Spirit, to be spiritual people who live by the law of Christ. One last thing, though you carry a load entrusted to your survival it will at times feel excessive or even unnecessary, like a soldier on a long patrol. Look at verse 9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” This too is part of the load you are commanded to carry. We not only obey but persevere, we keep our eyes on Christ. Verse 10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Opportunity will come, often at the least opportune time, but in Christ, by His law, love one another.