Full Text for Galatians- Volume 40 - Would you explain to us how the last verses of Chapter 5 and the first verses of Chapter 6 describe to us the daily life of believers? (Video)

No. 40. >> I like Joshua's question and your response. But now new questions come to my mind. Would you explain to us how the last verses of Chapter 5 and the first verses of Chapter 6 describe to us what daily life is like when God is making things right. In the new world, the world of restoration and reconciliation, do believers sin constantly? Or is sin the result of unfortunate and infrequent moments of extreme weakness? What does life in Christ look like? What does Paul mean when he calls the Galatians to bear one another's burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ? Wouldn't the statement law of Christ seem to contradicting everything he said before? And if I urge my people to seek after the fruits of the Spirit, am I merely wrapping the moral code in new clothing? >>DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.: The question you have asked, David, is a question that the people of God in our congregations desperately want an answer for. This is at the very heart of what it means to live as a Christian in this world. And I think we are very blessed that the Apostle Paul has helped us to understand the very things you are asking. Let's take a look now at the last two verses of Chapter 5 and the first five verses of Chapter 6 as a means of getting at what you're asking here. Because they are so important for us to deal with at this point, especially in light of what we said about the fruits of the Spirit and all those marks of the works of the flesh that mark a congregation as a congregation that is out of control because the impulsive desire of the flesh is kind of overflowing in it. Now, look at how Paul right after talking about we have crucified the impulses and the desires of the flesh, the passions and the desires of the flesh with Christ, he goes back now to what we call -- these are called hortatory subjunctives. But they are like imperatives. Let us, you know. And it begins with a conditional clause. And I think, again, this is a fact condition which means that he's stating fact. And that's why I would translate this: If we live by the Spirit and we do -- very important. And we do. And here I think you can see that this is kind of a statement of fact, as well. Let us also then walk by the Spirit. And that means live out the Spirit. Let these fruits of the Spirit live out in our lives. Now, this is kind of a general introduction now to this final part of his letter. But he contrasts that. The life in the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, he contrasts that in Verse 26 with again Pharisaical self righteousness. And I think he's being extremely careful in the words that he's using here. And I think they are very descriptive of this Pharisaical life that is life as we said under the law and therefore under the power of the flesh, as well. He says: Let us not become conceited is how most translations do it. But it literally is vain glorious. That's an old-fashioned world. But we glory in our own vanity. We look completely inward at ourselves. And here is what a conceited vain glorious life looks like. Provoking one another. Envying one another. This is the kind of Pharisaical self righteousness. The kind of, you know, perfectionism, you know, living according to the law. Self righteous behavior in which the law becomes the standard and breaking the law is what causes division in congregations. This is what Paul sees in his opponents as they bring their theology to the Galatians. It's not constituted by Christ. It's not constituted by love. It's where you begin really like life under the flesh, you are turned in on yourself, which is one of our definitions for sin. So here you have life in the Spirit. Let us walk by the Spirit. If we live in the Spirit and we do, then let us walk by the Spirit. And then this vain glorious life, provoking one another, envying one another. Now, he puts those on the table again. It's another hinge is really what it is between the catalog of vices and the fruits of the Spirit. And now what he's going to say in Chapter 6 regarding burdens. And in the very first verse of Chapter 6, Paul recognizes that even though Christ is in us, even though our communities are marked by the Spirit and the fruits of the Spirit are to live in us, we still live in a fallen world. That we are still infected with the virus of sin. And we still are broken people. Now, this is a very important concept to understand. And this is really in many ways what separates Lutherans from others. Because we live and perhaps you've heard this language -- we live in a now not yet life. We now have the fruits of the Spirit. We now live in a community of the Spirit. We now live with Christ in us. But not yet in it's total completeness and fullness. That's not going to happen until Christ comes again in the second coming in judgment. We still live in a world that is broken. Think of it this way: That there's like a cloud that is over us. And Christians still sin. Original sin still is in their bodies. They still have outbursts of the flesh. Envy. Even sins that we would consider to be you know somewhat horrendous public since, adultery, stealing, murder, breaking of the Ten Commandments. As Jesus said, we not only do it in our actions, we do it in our very thoughts. Just simply lusting after a woman is like breaking the Sixth Commandment. This is our nature that we still live in a body, we still live in a world, that is infected with a virus. Now, Luther used to talk about it in this way: That we are at the same time saint and sinner. That there is this tension. And here is I think a key to Lutheran theology. And I just heard this expression the other day. I think I've always talked about it. But I've never thought about it this way. And it's been very helpful. We get into trouble theologically when we see he it's either/or. It's either the Spirit or it's the flesh. And in a way it sounds like that's what Paul is saying. But it's not. Because Paul is a realist. He knows the real world in which we live is a world in which Christ is present with his gifts. And the Spirit is reigning. And that the triumph is already here in Christ. Yes, it is. And we live in that. That's why we're resurrected beings. But we also know we live in a world broken by sin. So it's never an either/or. It's always a both/and. Lutherans live in a both/and world. Now, don't ask me to explain that. That's why we sometimes resort to mystery. The fact that we live at the same time as saint and sinner is a great mystery. The fact that we live as saint and sinner, we are still triumphing in Christ is a mystery. Because we are plagued by the impulsive desires of the flesh. And sometimes they break out. Even in communities constituted by the Spirit. Even among us who are Christians. Paul knows that. Paul sees that. Paul is a realist. He knows what's happening. And that's why this very next section is so critical. Listen how this is just dripping with not only pastoral care but pastoral insight into the character of what we are as human beings. Paul begins Chapter 6 by saying this: Brothers, even if anyone is overtaken or caught up in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness, taking heed to yourselves at the same time lest you yourself be tempted. Now, Paul here is speaking about one of the fruits of the Spirit that is to be exhibited in a Christian community and that is the spirit of gentleness. This is the artisan's tool of the Christian. Who is able to restore somebody who has fallen away into a sin. Now, we're not quite sure what the Greek means here in it's fullness, to be overtaken. To be caught up in a transgression. Some people say this is like an addiction. But I think it's really much simpler than that. That each and every one of us at various points in our lives see that the impulsive desire of the flesh breaks out. Sometimes it breaks out in action. Where we affect people. You know, you can think of various situations in your own life or in your own experience where this has happened. More often than not, it happens in our minds. It happens in our discontent or in the hidden life that we live. It happens in the way in which we feel about people or we hold in resentments or we hold in lust or whatever into our own minds. What Paul is saying here is that when this happens, and it happens, take heed to yourself lest it happen to you, that you, too, be tempted. What communities that are constituted by the Spirit do is they are merciful, they are forgiving, they are compassionate, they are loving. I think that's one of the most extraordinary statements here where he says: You who are spiritual. You who are marked by the Spirit. Where the Spirit is living in you. Remember he says if you live by the Spirit and you do walk in the Spirit. That doesn't mean that you live a moral, perfect life. But you're a forgiving, loving, compassionate, really merciful person. You're characterized by these fruits of the Spirit of Christ. And if you are one who is spiritual -- and this is such an important statement -- you restore, you bring back the one who has fallen in the spirit of gentleness. Now, I know a pastor who at the moment right now who is at death's door. He's a dear friend. I'll never forget when he was teaching at St. Louis, his name is Kenneth Korby -- I mention him because I want to give him credit for this. And I hope I get this right. I always tell this story in class. But he was the pastor of an inner city congregation. And it came to his attention as pastor that one of the teenagers of his congregation became pregnant, became great with child. Nobody knew it. Although there were probably some hints about it. And she came in and she confessed this to her pastor. And he gave her absolution. And she was free. I mean this is the thing we have to recognize about forgiveness. It was as if the sin had not happened in the mind of God. It was as if she were not pregnant even though in real life she was. Because God had said that as far as the east is from the west, he would remember this sin no more. And yet she still had to deal with the consequences of sin. And in discussing it with her, Pastor Korby decided that they were going to announce this in the congregation. Not announce her sin. But to announce her absolution, her freedom from that sin. And I guess her mom was in the choir. Didn't know this. But instead of gossiping about her sin, Pastor Korby wanted them to gossip about her absolution. And so being a spiritual one in the spirit of gentleness, he announced to the congregation that this young girl was expecting a child outside of marriage. And that she had confessed her sin and received absolution. And that the congregation was to rejoice in her restoration back to the community in the spirit of gentleness as one who could now even come to the Lord's Supper and receive the gifts of Christ's body and blood because she was restored back to the community. Now, that's what forgiveness is all about. That's what mercy is all about. That's what a community constituted by the Spirit is all about. So to go back to your question, David, the fruits of the Spirit are not a moral code. They are characteristics of a community that is living out the Gospel in the way in which Christ lived out the Gospel because he was the Gospel. Namely, it is a community that is characterized by forgiveness, love, mercy and compassion. Now, I think that this statement here by Paul shows that he understands people. He understands that even he himself, you know, with his thorn in the side or whatever it was that plagued him, he, too, was plagued by the impulsive desires of the flesh. He recognized this reality. And so in Verse 2, he talks about what this means. And this is -- one of the theme verses for our deaconess program. Because this is what they are, deaconesses are servants of love and mercy. Love and mercy of Christ. And what they do -- because they are baptized, what all Christians are to do, is to bear each other's burdens. You know Luther had a beautiful example of this when he talked about the Lord's Supper. He said: When you come to the Supper of the Lord, what you do is you come with all your sins, with all your burdens, with all your transgressions, all those impulsive desires of the flesh that have plagued you all week, all the darkness, all of the demons that are plagued you. And you come forward to the altar and you lay them all there for Jesus to bear. You just lay them there. And then you receive that extraordinary refreshing gift of forgiveness and love and mercy in eating and drinking the very body and blood of Christ shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. But when you're there at the altar, you pick up the burdens of those who are marked by the Spirit, those in the congregation who are bringing their burdens forward. And you help them as a member of the community in Christ to bear the burdens. That's what Paul means here. Bear each other's burdens. And it's so important for us to recognize that in the Supper, in our life in Christ, that's what we do. And when we do this, this would have just absolutely shocked the Galatians and his opponents, we bring to fulfillment -- and again, the Greek here says it this way: Bring to fulfillment over and over and over again the law of Christ. Now, what is that law? The law is brought to fulfillment in one word: Love your neighbor as yourself. The law of Christ is now the law fulfilled in love. In Christ on the cross. Serving one another in love. Bearing each other's burdens. Restoring in the spirit of gentleness those who are broken. That which Christ wills and graciously bestows is what is given in the law of love. Through us. As we are manifesting Christ in the world bearing each other's burdens. You can see that there are burdens to bear. There are sins to forgive. There are gross outbursts of sin that need to be publicly restored back into the congregation. This is what it means to be a community that is marked by the Spirit. And then Paul goes onto explain this in the next three verses. And you can see here that he's always responding to the context in which he is with his opponents. He says: For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Now, he of course here is speaking about his opponents and their perfectionism. Their hierarchal arrangements in which they are setting up the law as to who can achieve these things. He said: This is not what it's about. This is not what this whole coming of Christ and his Spirit is about. And then in Verse 4 -- and here we have to translate this carefully. The word here is work. And like the ESV says: But let each one test his own work. Now, what this is is the Gospel work. And that Gospel work is bearing each other's burdens and thus, fulfill the law of Christ. Each one, each individual is going to be examined according to his own Gospel work. And then it says: And then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. You can't boast -- we've always said this: You can't boast in your neighbor's faith or his love or his acts of mercy and compassion and his forgiveness. It has to be you yourself. Now, here you see that Paul understands the big picture. He's always talking about community. But at the end of the day, our salvation is based on our own confession of faith, our own manifestation of Christ in the world, our own Gospel work. Our own bearing the burdens of others. Each one of us has to do that individually. And we don't boast in someone else's. We boast in our own. And in boasting in our own as we're going to see at the end of the epistle, we're not boasting in our own, we're boasting in what Christ is doing through us. It's not our work. It's the work of Christ. Like Paul says: I'm not going to boast in anything but the cross of Jesus Christ and his sufferings. And then finally in Verse 5 -- and this brings us to the end of this section -- for each one will have to bear his own load. You bear each other's burdens but at the judgment of God when you stand before God, you must bear your own load. Namely, you must testify there to your faith in Christ and the concrete expressions of that faith as you have lived Christ out in the world by bearing each other's burdens. And thus bringing to fulfillment over and over again the law of Christ.