Summary: An insiders look at our commandment to restore backslidden believers.
Can the temporary errors a believer makes be atoned for after salvation? The question leaves much to be examined by a believer. If I am saved, and yet fall into sin, what then becomes of me? As humans we often make mistakes and later regret them. I recall a recent article in the St. Petersburg Times, in which Jimmie Keene of Tampa is described undergoing the tattoo removal process. The article titled, “The Painful Price” brings to mind the similar effect sin has on one’s spiritual walk. Just as it is possible but difficult for a tattoo to be removed, sin likewise proves to be difficult, often requiring outside assistance. In Keene’s case it was $1,500, a high-powered laser, and seven sessions of immense pain.
What painful price must one bear as a believer to remove the effect of sinful patterns? Is there hope for the one who claims Christ but denies Him with their actions? The answer comes through Paul’s brief discourse in how to restore sinning saints. While the process is painstaking and not comfortable for either side, the goal is that inevitably both will be humbled and serve Christ together.
The word of hope is this: God does desire that carnal believers be restored and he provides the directions for those who are close to Him. Paul flows Galatians 6:1-5 with three main focuses.
I. The Problem of Restoring a Sinning Believer (v.1)
EXP. We are commanded to restore a sinning believer who is trapped in the sin. However we also must not let our guard down or we may be tempted to do the same sin.
ILL. Aesop’s fable of The Oxen and the Butchers pits the Oxen in a revolt against the Butchers, only they come to realize the Butchers are skilled and the demand for beef will always be high. Without skilled workers who will kill efficiently, the oxen face pain and suffering. The moral is “Do not be in a hurry to change one evil for another”.
APP. In attempting to do a good deed, to help a fallen friend, another not so obvious evil is that we could fall into the same sin or another sin thereby changing one evil for another. Our own pride must not get in the way of accepting all restoration with a humble heart.
II. Fulfilling the Law of Christ (v.2)
EXP. The principle for us is to share each others burdens to fulfill the Law of Christ which is love.
ILL. An anonymous writer has said, “Life’s heaviest burden is having nothing to carry.”
APP. As God’s creatures we are designed not to take the world on by ourselves. Rather we are designed to carry burdens with one another in order to fulfill the love of Christ. As Christ incarnate is within us, we show the love of Christ as others experience through our actions.
III. Don’t let Pride Get in the Way (v. 3-5)
EXP. Moving in a related but different pattern of thought of the verses before, Paul strongly emphasizes that we are not to be filled with pride as we restore because those who envision themselves as much are nothing.
ILL. The sniper in DC was filling his mind with thoughts of himself. That he was unique, powerful, unable to be caught. The pride lead him to commit murder to prove his point to a massive audience.
APP. Pride can cloud our vision of reality. This sniper always had a clear shot on his victims, but didn’t have down the greater reality that he will never be remembered as a great man, only a lunatic. He will face judgment and punishment for his actions as all that have come before him have. Pride can make us feel as if we are doing the restoring or we are somehow a major part of the process, when in reality the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the workers and we merely facilitate.
What can we say to the saint who falls into habitual sin? It is more likely a good sense of the attitude of heart and mind God desires that will lead us to restore saints rather than that of a technical support “fixer-upper”. We are not called to be the restoration, just to lead in being a part of the process of God’s restoration in sinners lives. As we do so, we see more the stains of sin being removed and believers being returned to holiness. Are you a part of sinners coming to know the grace of God in rest