Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
(a) You who are spiritual. In other words, “You who are mindful of the Spirit.” Spiritual people have been born of the Spirit and have the Spirit of God (John 3:5, Rom. 8:9).
(b) Restore such a one. When someone stumbles in sin, the temptation is to lay down the law and punish the offender. The temptation is to play judge and jury. “Don’t do that,” says Paul. “Have the mind of Christ. Reveal the grace of the Good Shepherd to the one who has gone astray.”
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
(a) Bear one another’s burdens is synonymous with the exhortation to love one another, for true love lifts and shares the load of others.
(b) The law of Christ is the Lord’s commandment to love one another as he has loved us (John 13:34).
The law of Christ is not an old covenant law that comes with penalties but a new commandment and a new kind of commandment (1 John 2:8, 2 John 1:5). We don’t love others because we fear God’s punishment; we love because we have received his love. As with everything in the new covenant, love starts with God, and as we receive from the abundance of the Father’s love we find ourselves loving others (see entry for 1 John 4:11).
Further reading: “What is the law of Christ?”
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
Sowing and reaping is a universal principle; you reap what you sow. We can sow to the Spirit and reap life or we can sow to the flesh and reap destruction (see next verse).
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
(a) Sows to his own flesh. To sow to the flesh or walk according the flesh or carry out the desires of the flesh is to live without regard for the things of God. It’s trusting in yourself (your abilities, your understanding) and living solely from the basis of your earthly experience (what you see, hear, touch, know, etc.). Like a butterfly who acts as a caterpillar, walking after the old ways of the flesh is abnormal for a believer.
Further reading: ”How to walk after the flesh in 20 easy lessons”
(b) Will from the flesh reap corruption. The flesh is selfish and will fight to the death to save itself. Thus the selfish life is a dead-end street that ultimately leads to self-destruction (Matt. 16:26, Rom. 8:6).
(c) Sows to the Spirit. To sow to the spirit or walk by the spirit is to look to the Lord to supply our needs. It’s being mindful of spiritual things – what God has said and is now saying, what God has done is now doing. (Gal 5:25).
(d) Will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Walking in step with the spirit releases the whole shalom life that God intends for us. When we live out of our union with the Author of Life, the result is a life of righteousness, peace, and joy (Rom. 8:6).
(e) Eternal life describes the abundant fruit that results from living in union with Jesus; see entry for John 3:15.
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
(a) Let us not lose heart. Some use this verse to preach conditional salvation as in “you must do good every day of your life to reap eternal life.” But such a message causes us to lose heart and be discouraged, which is the opposite of Paul’s intention.
(b) In due time we will reap. The context is sowing and reaping: sow to the flesh and you cannot expect a good harvest, but sow to the spirit and you can – even if it does not immediately appear.
(c) If we do not grow weary. When we don’t see results, the temptation is to give up and throw in the towel. Our prayers seem to go unanswered. Our labor in the Lord seems to bear no fruit. Our trials seem endless. Don’t quit, says Paul. A good harvest is coming.
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
The household of faith. In the New Testament, believers are often referred to as the family or household of God (Matt. 12:50, Mark 3:35, John 11:52, 2 Cor. 6:18, Eph. 2:19, Gal. 3:26, 1 Pet. 4:17).
For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
A new creation. Jesus did not come to make bad people good but to make dead people live.
The original word for new (kainos) means new in kind. Christian, you are not a new and improved version of who you used to be; you are something brand new altogether (2 Cor. 5:17). You were a little Adam; now you are a little Christ, a son of God. You are not a sinner saved by grace. You were a sinner; then you were saved by grace. Now you are a sinner no more. You are a saint. One with the Lord, you are as righteous and holy as he is. “As he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
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