Chapter 33


Serving One Another


Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.” (Galatians 6:1-5)


The Galatians had foolishly been trying to bear the heavy burden of the Mosaic law. They had entangled themselves again with the yoke of bondage. They endeavored to establish righteousness for themselves by the works of the law. None of them said, “We are saved by our own works.” Satan does not work in such an open manner. These lawmongers at Galatia were saying, “We are saved by grace, but only if we keep the law.” Others of them said, “We are saved by grace alone, in so far as our justification is concerned; but in order to be sanctified we must keep the law as a rule of life.” In reality their doctrine was the same. They were attempting to mix law and grace. They had forsaken the gospel way of salvation by grace alone.


Now Paul says to them, “Do you want a law to live by? Then live by the rule of the law of Christ ¾ love.” Here is a law that is a living principle. It touches the heart, influences the life, honors God, and is sympathetic towards and helpful to men. The whole law is fulfilled in this one thing ¾ love. Without it, all the pretentious, self-righteous piety men claim to possess is hypocrisy.


It seems quite remarkable to me that those self-righteous people, who apparently want all men to know that they make the law of Moses their rule of life, usually forget that which is the essence and spirit of the law — love. They are (in their own minds) so righteous that they become stern, hard, severe, critical, and judgmental, which is being unrighteous. Even the righteousness of the Mosaic law is a righteousness of love. But I have never found one of those self-righteous legalists who was tender-hearted, kind, and gentle. He looks at the killing letter of the law and becomes as hard and stern as death.


        Let this be the law by which we live:  —”Love one another.” Reject that which is hard, stern, and severe. “Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” In chapter 5 the Apostle urged us to serve one another by love, telling us that it is love that fulfils the law, not religious ceremony and a pretentious show of piety (5:13-14). Here, he tells us how to serve one another in love.


Restore the Fallen


Paul begins this chapter by telling us that when a brother or sister in Christ is fallen, those who are spiritual (that is to say, believers, those who walk in the Spirit) are to restore the fallen. — “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one.” He tells us how to restore them. — “In the spirit of meekness.” He explains what the spirit of meekness is. — “Considering thyself.” Then, he presses his admonition home. — “Lest thou also be tempted.”


        The church of God is a family. Believers are brothers and sisters in the household of faith. The love that knits a family together and makes it strong is manifest in the tender care each member of the family has for the rest. In a strong, loving family the whole family rallies to the needs of one. The greater the need is, the more the family’s love is poured out to meet the need. And the need is never greater than when one in the family is, by his own folly, fallen.


That is the need to which Paul addresses himself here. Believers never have greater opportunity to show their love to one another, or greater opportunity to exemplify that which James calls “pure religion and undefiled,” than in seeking the restoration of a fallen brother or sister in Christ.


        Those who walk in the Spirit must take great care, when they look upon one who is fallen, not to indulge the lust of the flesh, that pride and self-righteousness that is quick to take the judgment-seat, looking down upon the fallen in a pretense of pity that says, “Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.” Let us ever hear our Savior’s words, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Anytime we start to look upon a fallen saint with such self-righteous contempt, we ought to ask ourselves, “Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.


        It is the lust of the flesh that jumps at the chance to distance ourselves from the fallen, put them out of the church, and show the world that we are a “holy” people who do not countenance sin. The instruction Paul gives us here is not in any way a detriment to proper church discipline. Rather, it is proper church discipline. The purpose of discipline in the family is not to exclude the fallen member, but to restore him.


There are many who move from church to church, looking for that perfect church. They attend a church only long enough to see a problem, and then they are off to another in their endless search of a congregation that is worthy of such fine people as they think themselves to be. A story is commonly told that illustrates my point.


Frederick the Great of Prussia once toured a prison, interviewing many of the inmates. One prisoner after another insisted that he was innocent of the crime for which he was imprisoned, asserting that he had been falsely accused and convicted. Finally, he spoke to a prisoner who frankly admitted his guilt and acknowledged that his imprisonment was just. Frederick called for the prison guards — “Quickly! Release this man, lest he corrupt all these innocent men!”


In all things, our Lord Jesus teaches us to be compassionate and tender, not harsh and severe. We are to restore the fallen “in the spirit of meekness.” Paul’s own explanation of this “spirit of meekness” is given in his next words. — “Considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” When we remind ourselves that we are nothing but sinners saved by grace, that our only righteousness is Christ, and that we are kept from doing the very same thing our fallen brother or sister has done, only by the grace of God, we are compelled to be gentle in dealing with the fallen.


The absolute truth of the matter is that we are all sinners (Rom. 6:23). If we say we have no sin, or that in anything we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8, 10). “In many things, we offend all”(James 3:2). Sin is not necessarily a matter of willful rebellion against God. It is often, as stated here, being “overtaken in a fault.” Stumbles and falls do not imply willfulness, but weakness. That is not an attempt to excuse sin; but it is an indication of how we are to look upon the sins of our brothers and sisters in Christ, — not as crimes to be punished, but as weaknesses requiring help. When a child falls, you do not beat him, or even scold him. You pick him up, help him, and do whatever needs to be done for him. Regardless of the nature of the fall, when a brother or sister is “overtaken in a fault,” those who trust Christ, those who walk in the Spirit, those who know they are sinners saved by grace alone, are to restore the fallen.


Burden Bearing


Here is another way we are to serve one another in love. — “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (v. 2). Pastor Scott Richardson once said, “Life in this world begins with a slap on the bottom and ends with a shovel full of dirt in your face; and everything between the two are but bumps and bruises and heartache.” That is exactly the way Solomon describes it. Isn’t it? —For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity. There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God” (Eccles. 2:23-24).


        Life can be difficult. For some people one heartache seems to follow another, often in rapid succession. Faith in Christ does not change that fact. Believers suffer the same heartaches and sorrows that other people suffer. Many who walk with God in faith, trusting Christ, like David, have spouses who despise them and children who crush their hearts. Many who are made perfect in Christ, like Job, endure bereavement, bodily sickness, emotional anguish, being misunderstood and misrepresented by friends, and at times feel utterly forsaken by God. The fact is we all need help along the way as we make our pilgrimage through this world.


Life in this world is full of trouble and care. If a brother or sister is weighed down by some burden, we are to be alert to their needs and do what we can to help. We must not allow them to carry the crushing load alone. And we must take care not to add to their burden, like the Pharisees (Matt. 23:4), indicating that their burden is somehow connected with their own lack of faith and righteousness, or some secret sin.


        We must not divorce verse 2 from verse 1. The two are connected. Paul is specifically telling us that we are to bear our fallen bother or sister’s burden of sin, and to bear it as our own, in love ministering to the needs of the fallen, forgiving the fault, and helping them to recover. Someone once said, “Christians are the only ones who shoot their wounded.” That is not true. Religious people may shoot their wounded, but Christians mend the wounds.


The way we treat those who have fallen is a very real indication of our own relationship with Christ. By thus bearing one another’s burdens, Paul says, we “fulfil the law of Christ” (John 13:34-35). The Judaizers at Galatia were attempting to bring the Galatian believers back under the law of Moses. Here Paul makes a clear contrast, telling us that we are to live and be motivated not by the law of Moses written on tables of stone, but by the law of Christ written in our hearts.




All pride is self-deception. — “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself” (v. 3). If anyone imagines that he is better than his fallen brother or sister, or that he would not do the things the fallen has done because he is stronger, more spiritual, more righteous, or more holy than the one who has fallen, he is simply deceiving himself (1 John 1:7-10). — “Man at his best state is altogether vanity.” — “In my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” We owe our being, our knowledge, our mercies, our preservation, and our gifts to God alone (1 Cor. 4:7). In ourselves, and left to ourselves, we are nothing and know nothing. All such pride and self-righteousness is an abomination to God (Pro. 6:16-18). Such an attitude in anyone, John Gill correctly observed, is an indication that, “He is destitute of the grace of God, he deceives himself and the truth is not in him.”




But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another” (v. 4). — Here Paul calls for self-examination. We are not to sit in judgment over others, but over ourselves. It is so easy to compare ourselves with others, whom we look upon as weaker or less gifted believers because they have fallen, and to think we are something special, that we are strong, or that we are better than them. What arrogant folly! Let us each prove the sincerity of our faith in and love for Christ by the Word of God. If we are honest, we will find plenty to judge and condemn in ourselves, without having to compare ourselves with others and condemning them.


        When Paul says, “then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone,” he is speaking ironically. His meaning is just the opposite of that. We know that is the case because he declares in Philippians 3:3 that all who are born of God “rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.” He is not here telling us that we are to look within ourselves for personal righteousness, that we may have assurance of salvation. We are to look outside ourselves to Christ alone for assurance (Heb. 11:1; 1 Cor. 1:30-31). — “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.


        If we will heed Paul’s admonition, we will have every reason to be ashamed of ourselves. We will own and acknowledge our sinfulness and shame, while at the same time rejoicing in a conscience void of guilt before God, because Christ has redeemed us and given us perfect righteousness, complete forgiveness, and absolute acceptance with the holy Lord God (Heb. 9:12-14; 10:22; 2 Cor. 1:12). It is in this sense that we are to understand Paul’s words. A believer may rejoice “in himself,” in the vindication of his own character before men, though not before God, as Job and David did. The fruit of the Spirit in us is the result, not the cause, of our justification and righteousness before God.


Believers do not point to the sins and faults of others, rejoicing in those things to their own praise, using them to convince themselves or others that they are not like the fallen. That is the attitude of the self-righteous Pharisee and hypocrite.


Judgment Day


Believers understand and live in the awareness that every person will be judged for his own works, not for another’s. — “For every man shall bear his own burden” (v. 5). In the Day of Judgment we will answer for ourselves, not for others. Yes, there is a day coming when we shall be judged according to our works (2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11-15).


“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27). The Judge, before whom we must stand, is the God-man, whom we have crucified (John 5:22; Acts 17:31; 2 Cor 5:10). We will be judged out of the books, according to the record of God’s strict justice.


When the books are opened, what shocks of terror will seize the hearts and souls of those who have no righteousness and no atonement before the holy Lord God! With the opening of the books, every crime, every offense, every sin they have ever committed in mind, in heart, and in deed shall be exposed! “Judgment was set; and the books were opened” (Dan. 7:10).


I realize that this is figurative language. God does not need books to remember man’s sins. However, as John Gill wrote, “This judgment out of the books, and according to works, is designed to show with what accuracy and exactness, with what justice and equity, it will be executed, in allusion to statute-books in courts of judicature.” In the Scriptures God is often represented as writing and keeping books. And according to these books we all shall be judged.


What are the books? — The Book of Divine Omniscience (Mal. 3:5) — The Book of Divine Remembrance (Mal. 3:16) — The Book of Creation (Rom. 1:18-20) — The Book of God’s Providence (Rom. 2:4-5) — The Book of Conscience (Rom. 2:15) — The Book of God’s Holy Law (Rom. 2:12) {This book of the law has two tables. The first table contains all the sins of men against God (Ex. 20:3-11). The second table contains all the sins of men against one another (Ex. 20:12-17).} — And the Book of the Gospel (Rom. 2:16).


But there are some against whom no crimes, no sins, no offenses can be found, not even by the omniscient eye of God himself! — “In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve” (Jer 50:20). Their names are found in another book, a book which God himself wrote and sealed before the worlds were made. It is called, “The Book of Life.” In this book there is a record of divine election, the name of Christ our divine Surety, a record of perfect righteousness (Jer. 23:6, Cf. 33:16), a record of complete satisfaction, and the promise of eternal life.


The question is often raised, “Will God judge his elect for their sins and failures, committed after they were saved, and expose them in the Day of Judgment?” The only reason that question is ever raised is because many retain a remnant of the Roman doctrine of purgatory, by which they hope to hold over God’s saints the whip and terror of the law. There is absolutely no sense in which those who trust Christ shall ever be made to pay for their sins! Our sins were imputed to Christ and shall never be imputed to us again (Rom. 4:8). Christ paid our debt to God’s law and justice; and God will never require us to pay. God who has blotted out our transgressions will never write them again. He who covered our sins will never uncover them!


The perfect righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us. On the Day of Judgment, God’s elect are never represented as having done any evil, but only good (Matt. 25:31-40). The Day of Judgment will be a day of glory and bliss for Christ and his people, not a day of mourning and sorrow. It will be a marriage supper. Christ will glory in his Church. God will display the glory of his grace in us. And we will glory in our God.


Those who are found perfectly righteous, righteous according to the records of God himself, shall enter into eternal life and inherit everlasting glory with Christ. They that have done good, nothing but good, perfect good, without any spot of sin, wrinkle of iniquity, or trace of transgression, shall enter into everlasting life. (Rev 22:11).


Who are these perfectly righteous ones? They are all who are saved by God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Rom. 8:1, 32-34). Heaven was earned and purchased for all God’s elect by Christ. We were predestined to obtain our inheritance from eternity (Eph. 1:11). Christ has taken possession of heaven’s glory as our forerunner (Heb. 6:20). We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17). Our Savior gave all the glory he earned as our Mediator to all his elect (John 17:5, 20). And in Christ every believer is worthy of heaven’s glory (Col. 1:12). Glorification is but the consummation of salvation; and salvation is by grace alone! That means no part of heaven’s bliss and glory is the reward of our works, but all the reward of God’s free grace in Christ! All spiritual blessings are ours from eternity in Christ (Eph. 1:3).


All who are found guilty of sin in that great and terrible Day of Judgment shall be cast into the lake of fire and there be made to suffer the unmitigated wrath of almighty God forever! One by one, God will call the wicked before his throne and judge them. As he says, “Depart ye cursed,” he will say to his holy angels, “Take him! Bind him! Cast him into outer darkness!”


In that day there will be no mercy, no pity, no sorrow, no hope, and no end for the wicked! To hell they deserve to go! To hell they must go! To hell they shall go! Let all who read these lines beware. Unless you flee to Christ and take refuge in him, in that great day the wrath of God shall seize you and destroy you forever! I beseech you now, by the mercies of God, be reconciled to God by trusting his darling Son! In that great and terrible day let us be found in Christ, not having our own righteousness, but the righteousness of God in Christ.


In that great day, “every man shall bear his own burden.