Resisting the Sinful Nature
“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (v. 1). - Galatians 6:1–18
Paul encouraged the Galatians to repent and to help each other repent. He told them that the Judaizers’ campaign springs from ignoble motives. They wanted to look good to other people. That is, they wanted to appear pious and holy by championing the law. In this they were like the legalists of all ages, especially those who add new rules to the Bible.
Paul also said that the Judaizers wanted to avoid being persecuted. They wanted to be at peace with the unconverted Jews, who were the main persecutors of the church at this time (Galatians 6:12).
Some of the Galatians had fallen in line with the Judaizers, and thus were in sin. There is something in the human heart that resists the notion that we are poor and miserable, blind and dead. We want to believe that we make some kind of contribution to our own salvation. This is a great sin, and it is a sin that the Judaizers of Paul’s day and the legalists of our own day play upon. Many of the Galatians had fallen into this sin. They thought they were something, when in fact they were nothing (6:3).
Because of their spiritual predicament, Paul encouraged them to repent. It was not too late. You’ve fallen into sin, but you have not yet become apostates. David sinned and committed adultery, but he did not become a full-fledged adulterer because he repented. Peter denied Christ, but he did not become an apostate because he repented. So you Galatians, you listened to the voice of the serpent in the garden of the church, and you thought you could earn salvation by keeping the law. But you can repent and return to the true faith.
The sinful nature encourages us to think whatever we please and to do whatever we please. We must resist the residue of indwelling sin and cling to the truth. Paul tells us that we are to think about the Gospel rightly, confessing that our salvation depends solely on the finished work of Christ, to which we bring no contribution. Paul tells us that we are to do what the Spirit leads us to do, not what we please, and that we find the Spirit’s leading in the law of God recorded in the Bible. In such submission we shall find true freedom, and reap a bountiful harvest of blessing (6:8).
Consider Paul’s defense of the Gospel. All in whom the Spirit has worked must continue to fulfill the law of Christ. We are not redeemed to live independently. God gave the church for our nurture. Maintain your interdependence with the church—corporately keeping in step with the Spirit.
Passages for Further Study
- Luke 6:37–38
- James 4:11–12