Free to Serve
Galatians 5:13-16, 25-26; 6:1-10
INTRODUCTION Continuing the theme of our last lesson, we note something more of the proper uses and advantages of the perfect liberty of the true believer in Christ. We cannot emphasize too often or too much that Jesus saves His people from their sins [Matthew 1:21]. He does not merely save from punishment for sin -- He saves from sin. Salvation in human experience begins in regeneration and justification, continues in sanctification or consecration of life, and will be completed in resurrection and glorification. Our lesson is concerned with sanctification, or consecration of life in Christian service. Lesson outline follows: 1. Service, Galatians 5:13-16, 25-26. a. Law of liberty, 13-14. b. Words of warning, 15-16. c. Spirit of service, 25-26. 2. Spirituality, Galatians 6:1-5. a. Mutual ministries, 1-2. b. Personal problems, 3-5. 3. Sowing, Galatians 6:6-10. a. Helping the helpers, 6. b. Sowing in season, 7-9. c. Favoring the faithful, 10. NOTES ON THE TEXT: SERVICE, Galatians 5:13-16, 25-26. Acceptable service is impossible for a lost sinner [Romans 8:8; Hebrews 11:6]. No one was ever saved by serving, but we were saved to serve. Those are unfaithful, ignorant, or hypocritical preachers who say that God did not call them to teach doctrines but only to preach the gospel. The fact is that such preachers do not preach half the gospel. Law of Liberty, 13-14. True liberty in Christ brings us under the constraint of His love [II Corinthians 5:14]. We owe nothing to the flesh [Romans 8:12]; if we take proper care for our bodies (as we ought), it is only that they may be better instruments for the use of the Spirit abiding within. That Spirit teaches us to love our Lord, to love His Word, to love His people, to love His work, to love even our enemies, and so to fulfill His law. Words of Warnings, 15-16. In connection with the warning here, we might meditate upon the "golden rule" [Matthew 7:12]. A walk directed by the Spirit of God will not satisfy the lusts of the flesh, but it will lead to the spiritual blessings that God knows are best for us. Spirit of Service, 25-26. Genuine life in the Spirit requires that we walk in the Spirit. We need to guard against wrong thoughts and wrong desires which are sure to affect our outward conduct. The only way to maintain right conduct is to have right thoughts and right desires in our minds and hearts. Only the Spirit of service within can enable us to render spiritual service in outward life.
SPIRITUALITY, Galatians 6:1-5. Vain attempts to counterfeit "spirituality" generally involve displays of emotion, religious hysteria, and even imitations of spiritual gifts. But true spirituality will produce the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23]. The Word of God was inspired by the Spirit of God, and this Spirit will always lead us to obey that Word, never to disobey it. Mutual Ministries, 1-2. Brethren who are spiritual are not the chronic faultfinders who are always telling you everything that is wrong with everybody else, trying to appear extraordinarily pious and holy. The real spiritual brethren, in a Biblical sense, are very conscious of their own weakness; but they seek to be lovingly helpful, rather than spitefully critical, to those who are still weaker. When the Holy Spirit manifests His power in the lives of God's people, there are mutual ministries of helpfulness and burden-sharing which quietly "fulfill the law of Christ" without ostentation. Personal Problems, 3-5. Three verses here point out three personal problems which should keep us too busy for critical meddling. First, we must beware of personal pride, which makes it easy to deceive ourselves with inflated self-esteem. Second, there is no lasting joy in discovering someone worse than ourselves; we need rather to prove our own work individually in the light of God's Word to find ground for rejoicing in ourselves. Third, each of us has his own burden of personal responsibility which no one else can bear us. We had better make this our special concern.
SOWING, Galatians 6:6-10. Referring to future results of present conduct, the Scrip- ture gives us the figure of sowing and reaping. Just as the present is the product of the past, so will the future be the product of the present. From the standpoint of human responsibility, our present sowing determines the harvest we shall reap in future time and eternity. Helping the Helpers, 6. Compare I Corinthians 9:11. Preachers and teachers of the Word have shared their spiritual knowledge with those to whom they minister; it is right and proper that the persons taught "communicate" or share "in all good things," including material needs. So we are to help those who have helped us. Sowing in Season, 7-9. If we imagine that somehow we can escape the divine law of sowing and reaping, we are deceived. God is not mocked; He "will render to every man according to his deeds" [Romans 2:6]. But everything must come in due season; the time of reaping is future to the time of sowing, and in our present responsibility the season for sowing is now. Favoring the Faithful, 10. Our resources and opportunities are limited; we cannot do everything good that we might like to do. Does this mean that we can justify a limited outlook and outreach, with arbitrary exclusion of strangers and enemies from our Christian charity? Not at all. Yet on the other hand it is right and Scriptural to give special attention to the needs of "the household of faith."
CONCLUSION [Colossians 2:6] We received Him by faith; we must walk or live by faith. We received him in humble self-surrender to the Word and will of God; we are commanded to continue walking in like humble obedience. We received Him under the convicting power and personal direction of the Spirit of God; we ought still so to walk. ================
[From AAB, September 24, 1976, p. 2-3. -- jrd]
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