University Bible Fellowship of
Toronto
           
 
           
 
 
Bible Search 

SOW TO PLEASE THE SPIRIT

Galatians 6:1-6:18
Key Verse: 6:8

Thank God for presenting us a wonderful Christian life, that is, to live by the Spirit. We learned that when we live by the Spirit living in us, we can bear the fruit of the Spirit. May we deeply recognize this and strive each day to live by the Spirit, keeping in step with the Spirit. We may do so believing that those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature of the flesh, with its passions and desires. Today’s passage is the last chapter of Galatians. In this chapter Paul tells us about how to fulfill the law of Christ, sowing and reaping in life, and, in the postscript, writes an important summary of this letter. In a sense life is sowing. Life is honest; it cannot be deceived. One reaps what he or she sows. God who cannot be mocked wants us to be serious about this.

First, to fulfill the law of Christ (1-4). Look at verse 1. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” Bringing up one’s sin problem is not easy at all, for sin is a sensitive part in one’s life. However, without sin problem solved before God, our lives are insincere and all our relationships are superficial. If a person’s sin problem is resolved and so his relationship with God and with others is restored, that’s really a beautiful work. We remember how Joseph helped his brothers who were caught in a sin and became miserable before God. Joseph even created heart-breaking events to lead his brothers to repentance and thus be restored in life to become the people who could take God’s great purpose upon them. A prophet Nathan led King David to repentance, confronting the king with courage and telling the king a poignant story with great wisdom. As for us, we can help the one caught in sin by praying intensely and patiently for him and giving him proper words time and again. Also, it often requires a spiritual fighting out of genuine love. When one is restored, that can be one of the most beautiful things in life. There is no true restoration in the world, but there is in Christ Jesus.

Paul said continually in verse 1, “…But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” Christian life includes watching oneself. When Paul had a farewell meeting with the elders in Ephesus, he said to them, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers” (Ac 20:28). He also said to Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely” (1 Tim 4:16). Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Lead us not into temptation” (Lk 11:4).

Look at verse 2. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” God’s people should not be dependent on others, but be independent by depending on God. However, here the Greek word for burden is ‘baros’ meaning a weight or heavy load different from ‘phortion’ in verse 5 translated to “load” meaning a common term for a man’s pack like backpack. So we are to carry one another’s ‘burdens’ which are too heavy for a man to bear alone. Especially, when one’s burden is so heavy and yet he still carries someone’s burden, it is really great. Paul said, “In this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Here the law of Christ reminds us of 5:14, “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.” So we can say that the law of Christ is the law of love. In Christ Jesus we have this one single law to be fulfilled.

Look at verses 3-5. “If anyone thinks that he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.” It is easy to fall into self-deception and one’s self-deception caused by pride is burdensome to the people around him. Self-discovery is hard, yet through self-discovery one can correct himself and grow. For this each should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself without comparing himself to somebody else and live a confident life as an individual, carrying his own load, that is his cross before God (Lk 9:23).

In this part we learn that God wants each Christian to fulfil the law of Christ, carrying each one’s own load and each other’s burdens with a healthy pride before God.

Second, the principle of sowing and reaping in life (5-10). Look at verse 6. “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.” A person’s spiritual growth is directly related to his attitude toward the one who serves him with the word of God. For one’s attitude toward his Bible teacher is the reflection of his attitude toward God’s word. Certainly sharing all good things is out of thankful heart. It is a right thing to do before God and God blesses such a relationship.

And then verse 7 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.” In verse 3 Paul said of self-deception, which is to be watched out. Here Paul says, “Do not be deceived.” Jesus also spoke to his disciples as the first words, “Watch out that you are not deceived” when he talked about the signs of the end of the age (Lk 21:8; Mt 24:4; Mk13:5). Until now in Galatians Paul dealt with false teachers. They seemed to be similar to true teachers, but their motive was wrong, trying to alienate God’s flock of sheep from God and God’s community. As we know, the devil is a liar from the beginning and the father of lies (Jn 8:44). He is the main deceiver and there are those who deceive. Deception is going on. But it is up to each person whether he or she is deceived. Usually, those who are impure in heart and not clear minded before God are deceived and misled. Anyway, here the command is “Do not be deceived.” We can guard our hearts from deception when we are aware of God and fear him who cannot be mocked.

Now Paul says about sowing and reaping. A man reaps what he sows. It is a universal principle. Yet, not many people apply this to their lives. As we studied in the previous lesson, no one can truly bear good fruit except living by the Spirit. Here in this last chapter Paul specifies it again, saying, “The one who sows to please his sinful nature (flesh), from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” All human beings are sowers. Each one sows something every day wittingly or unwittingly. What each person sows may not be apparent, but what he reaps is apparent. Usually people ignore what they sow and the process, and just want to have a good result fortunately. Many young people just want to have good marriage partners, regardless of who they are and how they live. God cannot be mocked. Job 4:8 says, "As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it." Psalm 126:5 says, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” The old adage is true: ‘Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.’ This is a good biblical teaching. One’s thought is the first chain for act, habit, character and destiny. The word of God sown in our minds produces godly thoughts. Ultimately, those who sow to please their sinful nature of flesh will definitely reap destruction; those who sow to please the Spirit will definitely reap eternal life.

One Sunday evening in 1855, two drunk young men were walking toward a gambling house. But ironically there was a small church on their way. And at the entrance of the church the title of the evening sermon was written, “The wages of sin is death.” One young man began to have guilty feelings and said to the other, “Let’s go to the church tonight, not to the gambling house.” But the other young man did not want to change their plan. He said, “We have already decided to have much fun gambling tonight,” and went into the casino. However, that night the first young man went to the church and heard the sermon. God worked in his heart through his word. He repented of his life of sin and turned to God. After the conversion he changed his lifestyle and studied very hard, growing in faith in God. But the other man kept on his life of drinking and gambling. 30 years later, the young man who kept his old lifestyle was found in prison and there he read in the News Paper that his friend became a president of America. He beat his chest with mixed feelings of envy of his friend and regret of his past life. According to what each one sowed, one became a prisoner; the other, a president of a nation. The present’s name is Stephen Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), the 22nd and 24th president of America. It is true that a man reaps what he sows.

Abraham and Lot began the life of faith at the same time. But Lot ignored what he sowed and the process. He lived according to his smart calculation. When a dispute arose between Abraham and Lot, Abraham did not want to dishonour God and discourage Lot. So he said to Lot, “If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go the left.” Abraham gave Lot the choice of the land. Then Lot took the opportunity and chose for himself, not thinking of Abraham his uncle’s broken heart, not to mention God’s hour. He got a seemingly good place to live near Sodom, not being able to see the corruption of the people there. When he lived his life continually with his smart calculation for immediate benefit, he bore the terrible fruit in his life. His wife became a pillar of salt and his daughters committed the sin of incest and the descendants became the enemies of God. However, Abraham chose for God and lived a life of faith, striving to please God and valuing God’s word of promise. Then in the end he bore the fruit of his faith, Isaac, according to God’s promise after 25 years of his life of faith. And God kept his promise given to Abraham in the generations to come until Christ was born.

We can also think of two kings of Israel, King Saul and King David. the first king Saul lived to please himself, pretending to obey God, but in fact obeying God in his own way, which was disobedience to God. Although God gave him a message through Samuel, “You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!” and God gave him several chances to repent, he kept his own way of self-seeking life. Finally, he came to a miserable end, killed in a war with the Philistines. However, David sought to please God. For the honour of God he fought with Goliath, the formidable Philistine champion, who all the Israelite feared and dared to fight with. And as for David, pleasing God seemed to be the continuation of immediate loss and misunderstanding and suffering. Yet, through all the sufferings he learned God’s heart and became a man after God’s own heart. God raised him as the king of Israel after Saul and used him to establish a theocratic kingdom, which was the shadow of the messianic kingdom.

We should know that to please the Spirit incudes to challenge difficult things with faith. For without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). Many believers just want to stay in their comfort zone, not challenging seemingly impossible things. In other words they want to avoid their personal Goliath. Such life is a life of pleasing the sinful nature. Outwardly they seem to be okay, but inwardly their lives remain sorrowful and miserable. However, when we challenge with faith to please God, our weakness can be turned into strength (Heb 11:34). In this fall semester, we want to welcome freshmen with the words of God in 1 Samuel 17 about David and Goliath. We ourselves may recognize each one’s Goliath and but confront him, not avoiding him, and defeat him as David did. And then we may be able to encourage some freshmen to begin their university life with such faith to please God. May we really sow to please the Spirit, not our sinful nature.

Look at verse 9. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Here the seed is good deeds. Doing good need discernment and do what is truly good to build up others for the life that is true and eternal. God wants us not become weary in doing good. May we particularly not become weary in sowing the seed of God’s word in the hearts of students one by one, believing that at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. May God raise disciples of Jesus at U of T campus one after another for his great glory, as we fight against all the adverse circumstances and gospel enemies without giving-up spirit. And verse 10 says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” In this way we can build up Christian community for his great purpose in this generation.

Third, what counts is a new creation (11-18). Look at verse 11. “See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!” Most likely, the use of large letters was simply for the sake of emphasis, like our use of italics, bold or underlining. Until now, it seems that Paul had been dictating his letter to a scribe or secretary. But here he takes the pen in his own hands to put his unique signature on the letter. It was his stamp of authenticity as an apostle.

Verses 12-16 are a postscript. Usually postscripts add supplementary information to a letter, using the designation “P.S.” But here Paul uses a postscript to strongly emphasize the main point of his teaching.

Look at verse 12. “Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.” Here in his postscript Paul deals with the Judaizes again lastly to make clear about their falsity. They are those who want to make a good impression outwardly, (by means of flesh in 2011 NIV). The Judaizers wanted to impress people, not God, through their circumcision work, and get recognition and reward from those who belong to circumcision group in Jerusalem. So they were trying to compel Galatians to be circumcised as a condition for their salvation on top of believing Jesus’ death on the cross. In essence, they taught that people can be saved by the works of the law. Yet, as we studied, no one is justified by observing the law but by faith in Christ Jesus (2:16). Salvation is solely trusting in what God has done. Christ redeemed us by hanging on the cross and by faith in him we have become children of God.

And the reason why they preach circumcision is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. As we studied, the cross of Christ is an offense to the people of the world, especially to those who try to earn salvation through human goodness and achievement. The Judaizers wanted to avoid such offense.

Although they were circumcised as the expression of following the law, they themselves did not keep the law. They were hypocrites with inner conflicts. Yet, they wanted Galatians to be circumcised so that they might boast about their flesh. The King James Version translates the word “boast” as “glory.” They were seeking their own glory.

Now Paul clearly said of his life. In verse 14, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” In the past Paul pursued the recognition and success of the world. But the cross of Jesus changed him and so his attitude toward the world was changed. The world no longer had any attraction for Paul. Rather, the cross of Jesus had all attraction for him. To Paul, the cross of Christ was not a stumbling block, but a source of pride. To him, the cross of Christ was the cross of life, the cross of victory, and the cross of glory. He loved the cross and boasted about it.

And in verse 15, “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.” Creation was wholly the work of God. Likewise, new creation is also solely the work of God, not human work. It is his miracle in Christ Jesus through faith in the cross of Christ. Only new creation is counted and makes difference in life.

And in verse 16, “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.” What does “this rule” mean? In Greek “rule” is “canon.” This is the universal rule Paul laid down for all the churches: justification is by faith in Christ Jesus alone, not by observing the law (2:16). This is the truth of the gospel. Peace and mercy will come to those who follow the rule and they will establish a new community in Christ Jesus.

Verses 17-18 are Paul’s final greetings. In verse 17, “Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks (stigma) of Jesus.” The Greek word for marks is “stigmata.” It was used in secular Greece for the branding of a slave. Paul was a slave of Jesus who had received his branding through persecutions. It was like a Christian tattoo.

As we observed, Paul’s life was a quite contrast to that of Judaisers. While they boasted about the flesh, Paul boasted in the cross of Jesus Christ. While the avoided being persecuted in the pursuit of recognition of the world, Paul rejected world’s recognition for the cross of Christ, and was willing to be persecuted to the point of having the marks of Jesus in his body. While they wanted to make a good impression outwardly, he sought a new creation by inner change through the cross. The cross of Jesus separated Paul from the Judaizers. In the same way the cross of Christ Jesus divides true believers and false ones. Those who sow with the cross will reap in the victory and glory of the cross. Paul concluded with the final blessing in verse 18: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.” In the end what matters is one’s spirit in the grace of Jesus Christ.

May we truly sow to please the Spirit cherishing the cross that we can reap eternal life in the victory and glory of the cross. May God help us not to become weary in doing good, believing that at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

UBF headquarters | Chicago UBF | UBF TV | Northwestern UBF | Washington UBF | New York UBF | Europe UBF  | Email Us | Site Admin
Home