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“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” Galations 6:1a
I can feel my skin bristle as I read these familiar words. Why?
It shouldn’t bother me. Paul is teaching the Galations about living in the Spirit and this passage in its context clearly communicates how we are to have a spirit of tolerance and forgiveness toward those who fail, while gently caring for one another and carrying “each other’s burdens.”
Paul goes on to warn his readers, “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions.” (vs 3-4a)
But somehow to me the words “you who are spiritual should restore him” conjure up images of self righteous “religious” men or women who have twisted this verse into ammunition for their judgmental attacks.
So when Beth Moore set out to teach on this passage in this week’s Living Beyond Yourself online Bible Study, my ears perked up. How would she explain it?
I was not disappointed. In fact her teaching on this delicate matter is so insightful and wise that I had to share about it here.
Beth begins by going back to 1 Corinthians 2:15 – a verse which with out explanation could start a few holier-than-though battles itself. (In fact I have recoiled at it myself in the past and was very relieved to hear her insight.)
“The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment.” 1 Corinthians 2:15
Oh my goodness. That could be misheard to sound like Mr. Religious should be walking around pronouncing judgments on everyone and never having to answer for his own behavior. What does Paul mean???
First, Beth defines the Greek word “anakrino” that is translated in the English version as “makes judgments”. The original Greek means “to discern, judge, to examine accurately or carefully.” (Ok – I am starting to feel a bit more comfortable.)
Second, and most importantly, as we must do with all verses, Beth puts the verse in context. What are the things we are to discern or judge? She points to chapter 2 verse 14; “the things that come from the Spirit.”
The spiritual man does not judge people. Rather he is in tune with the Spirit and is accurately examining the things that come from the Spirit.
Beth describes the spiritual man as the person in which the mind of Christ is activated and concludes that it is no wonder it is the “spiritual man” who should restore one who has fallen. “Only a spiritual person could judge the situation without judging the sinner.”
She finishes up her teaching on this verse emphasizing that spirituality comes from yielding to the Holy Spirit. This surrender is a daily decision. We can be spiritual one morning and not that night, Beth points out. She so succinctly explains, “We are spiritual when we are out of control and the Holy Spirit is in control.”
So we can be assured that Paul was not teaching the “religious” to go out and judge people, calling people on their sin and “restoring” them with an air of condemnation and superiority.
Unfortunately, that hypocritical picture is the way many view Christians – and with good reason.
How beautiful it would be if, instead, we all strove to be spiritual with the intent of allowing the Holy Spirit to be in control of us – to be completely surrendered to self and yielded to the Spirit.
I love how Beth says that we can be spiritual one morning and not that night. Good grief – how accurate that is in my life. I will be surrendered and trying to allow the Holy Spirit to fill me and then bam! – I stumble and allow my selfish nature to rear her ugly head.
Thank you merciful God that you do not leave me there, lost to my sinful nature, but you gently pick me up and restore me. And thank you that, when I need it, you have the right person, in the right Spirit, to help in that restoration.
This is a list of the women participating in the study and the links
to their blogs. New postings on the study will be published for
the next ten weeks, between Friday 8pm – Saturday 8am.
Please feel free to visit each of us and comment. Everyone is
welcome to participate in this discussion as we seek to live
beyond ourselves. May God bless you richly from the hearing of
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