Summary: Galatians has a word or two on good deeds that sound a lot like the message of James. While James doesn't focus on the Spirit, and Paul centers there, the echoes of the faith are heard in both. It is impressive to note the parallels.
Last week we finished our study in the book of James. James was all about words and works of the faithful Christian. Our walk and our talk express our faith and our relationship with God. Just as faith without works is dead, James 2:26, James makes it clear that claiming to be religious without watching our language is self-deception and worthless religion, James 1:26.
James pulls no punches and puts us in our place pretty quickly. His message: Watch your mouth and get busy doing the will of God. True faith works and talks right for the Master’s glory. Dead faith doesn’t do the word and will of God and worthless religion wags its tongue with bad language. Both are a dishonor to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Both bring reproach on the church Jesus died to build and paid for with His own blood. James tells us to get busy living for Christ and use our lips for prayer and praise. Then James ends where today’s lesson begins, by encouraging us to help round up those that stray from the truth.
Today, as a follow up, I’ve selected Galatians 6:1-10 as a text that shows how Paul and James are in complete agreement regarding good works and faith. This also reinforces our Sumer Service Series and encourages us to keep it going! Our Summer Series may be over, but our service continues till we see Jesus face to face! God wants our good works to go viral! Jesus taught His disciples to pray: May Your kingdom come, may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Good works come from God and our hands have a golden opportunity to participate in God’s handiwork as we go out and give our time and energy to good works for God’s glory, works of service that celebrate our Savior’s sacrifice and sow seeds that please the Spirit of God. Galatians reveals how this is a spiritual work for spiritual people who are lead by the Spirit of God as we bear spiritual fruit and build up the spiritual kingdom. But it is still all about doing good works.
Galatians 6 teaches us to do good in at least four ways:
1. Do Good by restoring those trapped in trespasses.
2. Do Good by supporting your Christian teacher/preacher.
3. Do Good by sowing to please the Spirit instead of the flesh.
4. Do Good to everyone, especially those who are Christians.
Let’s look at each of these today and remember the promise that we will reap a reward if we do not give up.
1. Do Good by restoring a fellow Christian who is caught in sin’s grip. (1-4)
Here’s where this lesson picks up where James 5 leaves off. Who is this talking to? Is this just the job of the preacher or elders? Who is God telling to do this? You who are spiritual. That raises the question though, doesn’t it, who is spiritual and what does it mean to be spiritual? Are you spiritual?
To understand who is spiritual in this context, we need to go back and look at what Galatians has said about the Spirit, don’t we. We need to read the letter again and listen to what is taught about being spiritual. The first time that word “Spirit” occurs in Galatians is in chapter 3:2. Here is where we learn about receiving the Spirit of God by faith. Look at it in your Bible. (Note the contrast between the Spirit and the law).
1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4 Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Now go to verse 13
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
How do you receive the Spirit according to what this says? By faith. This promise of the Spirit is found in the blessing God gave to Abraham that He would bless all nations through him and this blessing would be by faith, like Abraham demonstrated, who God credited with righteousness because He had faith in God.