To Ignore, Impale or Encourage: What it Means to Bear One Another's Burdens

Galatians: The Longer Reach of Freedom

Paul tells the Galatians they can take one of three routes in addressing sin in their midst. Two common ways are to either ignore it or disparage the sinner. But if they are living by the Spirit and understand their need for grace, they will gently reprove the brother in sin and restore him to community. (For a look at what happens when we avoid community, watch the Igniter Media video ?Boys and Groups?.)

Todd WagnerMay 4, 2008Galatians 5:24 - 6:6; Proverbs 13:20; Galatians 5:24; Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 6:14; Galatians 5:25; Colossians 1:9-12; James 3:2; Galatians 6:2-5; Galatians 6:6; Galatians 5:22-6:1

If I told you there were some people out there who thought they could live the way God wants them to live without reading their Bible, you'd go, "Their crazy." If I told you there were some people out there who thought they could be people who are in relationship with God, honoring God, and they're never going to pray, they're never going to listen to God, or they're never going to have any kind of spiritual personal life, you'd say, "That's crazy. That seems to be oxymoronic."

Yet, there's another major means of grace that so many of us pull back from or isolate ourselves from or refuse to take part in. God says, "This is a major means through which you can experience the life I'm calling you into." I know, because I talk to you. I know there are scores of you out there, hundreds of you who are out there who have been really resistant to this means of grace. You're okay with the Bible, you're all right with listening to God and being people who pray, but you've not really availed yourself to connecting with others.

We're in this book called Galatians that's trying to help you understand how we are to live in light of all that God has done for us to break us free from this idea of legalism, from this idea of religion, from this idea of performance that Christ has accomplished for us everything we could never accomplish for ourselves.

He calls us to live and enjoy the relationship that has been restored. This relationship that has been brought to us through what Christ has accomplished can be experienced in its fullness through what the Spirit provides. Yet, we need his Word, we need a life with that Spirit and meditation, prayer, and yieldedness, and we need each other.

Today is going to focus on our commitment to each other, but let the record show that no matter how much we want to love you and serve you, if you isolate, if you peel off from the herd, if you dismember yourself from the body, then we can't be the body together. There are folks who never cease to amaze me. People go, "Watermark is a big church. It's really hard to connect."

I meet folks every single month who have been here for two weeks, four weeks, six weeks, who are already connected, already in a community, already pursuing relationships with others with all its awkwardness and oddness and discomfort. But they're in. They are part of a pack. They're part of a herd that is trying to care for and love each other. Yet I find other folks who go, "It's really hard, as hard as the big Serengeti here. It's hard to find out who I should run with."

I want to say to you this morning that maybe it's not really hard to find a herd. Maybe it's because you want to continually be isolated. I'm going to tell you, based on what God's Word says, you are destined for a future that will not be pleasant. It's going to be far worse than a bunch of kids who you're going to have to babysit while everybody else is experiencing community.

Through some good humor, we see that it's the one who just peels off, who isolates, who is not going to experience the life that God and his Spirit, God and his person, God and his Son wants you to have. We're called to be a part of a body. Again, think of that idea of being dismembered. Membership does matter. It matters for a lot of reasons.

But when you have a part of a body that is removed, severed, and put over there away from the rest, it's called being dismembered. It's a very grotesque thing. There's a lot of pain and suffering, and the body hurts. That individual member atrophies and dies when it's separate from the head and the body it's joined to. God calls you out of that.

God also calls us as individuals who are members of the body to care for one another. When there is a pain on a certain aspect or part of my body, other parts of my body rush to help it. Blood circulates, hands go down to cleanse, mind thinks, eyes see, mouth speaks. Everything is thrown in on this body to bring relief to a certain aspect of this body that is suffering. It's a picture for us in Scripture.

Let me set this back up by taking a look at where we've been and to remind you of what God is calling us into. He wants us to experience fullness, liberty, and freedom. This is very oxymoronic. You cannot live until you die You'll never experience freedom until you submit to the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God who are informed by what the Spirit says as revealed in his Word.

Community is never king, and it's never sovereign. In fact, to get you in more trouble, it can encourage you to go down a crazy path. Proverbs 13:20 says, "…But the companion of fools will suffer harm." So you can be a part of a herd, but if it's a herd of wildebeests that migrate through a river full of crocs, you have trouble.

Yesterday, my second-grade boy was at a party. I was with those folks a little bit later last night. They said, "Your son really impressed us today. The cake came out, and all the other kids jumped on it. They were pounding it. Your son just stood back, and he waited. He knew there was enough cake. He knew we weren't going to give all the cake away and forget some kids. Then we gave him a piece of cake, and after he ate that, he came back up and said, 'That was excellent cake. Do you mind if I have another piece?' So we gave him more."

In fact, I went home, and I told Cade. Cade was at two parties yesterday, and I was with him at the second one where there was also cake. He goes, "Dad, the cake at the first party was awesome." What's so great is they said, "Your son in this community of kids had something different about him. He showed preference to others, and we thought, "We want that kind of kid at our party."

This is what it means in 1 Corinthians 10:31, when it says, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God," which means don't fight for that piece of cake like it's the last piece of cake on earth or like if you get that cake first, if you get it now, if you get more than others, it will be life to you and you'll never suffer and want again. That's the way kids eat ice cream. That's the way kids go for an Oreo. That's the way kids line up for snacks. "This is life to me," and they kill each other to get the first cookie or the most cookies.

What do we do as adults? We kill each other to get the next deal or more of the deal, like that deal is going to be our god. God says, "No. There's no deal that's ever going to fill your heart. I'm going to fill your heart." You need to be around people all the time who remind you of that. The next sexual experience is not going to so satisfy you that you'll go, "That's it. That's all I need." The next relationship with someone who loves you in a way that you've always dreamt of being loved, like they'd write a song about, will not satisfy you until you'll never need another relationship again.

He says, "Don't pursue that like it's your God. Pursue me. Seek me. Everything else will fall into place. Why? Because when you seek me, you'll live this way and love this way. When you live this way and love this way with others who live this way and love this way, it will be heaven on earth. The point though, is you need to be part of a community that is ruled by God's Word, and God's Spirit to encourage you and help you experience all that God wants you to experience. It is contrary, though, to our nature.

Watermark is a great place. I love this place. But it's also a very difficult place. Why? Because we call you here to be known. We call you to not isolate. We call you to live authentic lives in the context of relationship. We really all want to be loved and known, but we also all love to be left alone.

We love to do what we want to do, chase who we want to chase, be who we want to be, not have somebody really speak into our marriage, not have somebody really speak into our parenting skills, not have somebody really speak into the way I've managed the resources God has given me.

We love to chase our flesh, and its fantasies and desires. We don't always love what it produces. In fact, eventually, we'll never love what it produces. It is scary when you let other folks in. It's scary, but it's where life is. This is why you want to do it. In Galatians 5:24, where we wrapped up last week, it says this. "Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

I want to make this very clear. The word that's used in the Greek for crucified, every time it appears in the Bible, it always refers to the execution, to the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross, except for four times. This is one of them. I going to show you the other three, and that will give light to what is going on here.

So many of us experience this idea that, "My flesh doesn't feel very crucified. It still feels very alive. It doesn't feel like it's been nailed to the cross." We all know I was not nailed to a cross; you have not been nailed to a cross. People who have loved God and followed God, when you read Galatians 5:24, and it says, "Your flesh with its passion and desires has been crucified," go, "Why am I still a person who loves so many things that are contrary to God and his Word and his Spirit? My flesh doesn't feel executed or terminated."

Here's the idea. Let me show you the three other places where this idea of being crucifiedshows up, and it'll give you some insight. The first one in Romans 6:6. It says, "…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him…" Again, this is the one that would be very similar to Galatians 5:24. "…in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin."

This is what's key. What you have done is by faith you've come to a place where you say, "There's a way that seems right to me, but in the end, it's the way of death, and it's not a good way. Every time I go this way…I trust my feelings, I trust my own intellect, I trust my own understanding…it does not lead to better relationships, it doesn't lead to better money management, and it doesn't lead to serving others. It leads to exalting self and using other people for my own selfish gain, which eventually breaks relationship and creates isolation and pain for me, so I have to find a new herd I can exploit."

When I first trusted Christ, the very first Bible verse I memorized was 2 Corinthians 5:17, which says, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." I can remember I was in high school, and I would go, "The old things have not passed away for me. I still look at that sundress the way I used to look at the sundress. I still move throughout the cafeteria with the same insecurities that I used to move through.

I still look in relationships to exalt self. I'm still greedy. I'm still prone to want to have things my way. I must not have really trusted Christ." So in the quietness of my heart in my room and night, I'd say, "Lord, I'm serious about wanting to be in Christ so the old things would pass away," but the old things never passed away. My flesh was still there. It didn't feel very crucified.

It was because of my wrong understanding of what it meant that I crucified my faith. What I did is by faith when I came to understand who God was, what my need was, where I was headed in rebellion against God. I hadn't experienced the complete fullness of it as a guy late in my teens. At times I wasn't sure. I'd seen enough that I knew the life I was living was not a God-informed life, and it wasn't bringing blessing to others.

I saw how God dealt with that out of love and patience and care for me and making provision for me in my brokenness and fallenness and by paying the wages of my sin. So what I did is I trusted in God's provision for me on the cross. When I did that, what I was really saying is the flesh, the rebellion against God, sin, deserves judgment. It is wrong. It deserves to be exterminated. It deserves death. It needs to be executed.

What needs to live is God's will and way. God is right when he judges that which is in rebellion against him. God is good, and what he calls us to is life-giving. So by faith, I accepted God's provision for my sin, and by faith, I was saying that God is good. If you go back to the original life from the Enemy, the prince of this world, Satan, he said, "God is not good. He doesn't have your best interest in mind. God's Word isn't right. It's not that big of a deal if you rebel against it."

The cross screams against those original three lies. God is good. He's so good he died for you even though you're a rebel. God's Word is right. It leads to life, not to death. God's Word is serious. When you violate it, it's going to have a consequence. The cross screams all three of those things.

There came a moment in my life when I said, "I identify with God, his goodness, his love, his provision for me, and that his way is right and my way is wrong. By faith, not based on feeling, not based on what the world was selling, not based on what the Enemy kept trying to encourage me to."

I go, "That is true and right. I will be ruled by that truth. I will be ruled by the person of God, the love of God, the Word of God." So who I am as a rebel and a nature that is inconsistent with God's best, is dead to me. It was still there. It still is today, but I am not informed by it and ruled by it.

This week I had a great conversation with one of my daughters who's really been struggling with a lot of different things lately in her own effort to understand why sometimes she feels pulled in directions that aren't right. She said, "Dad, I feel…" I stopped her and go, "Wait a minute. What do your feelings have to do with this? Your feelings are your feelings. I'm not asking you to be dishonest or inauthentic, but what you're trying to do is tell me that because you feel this way, it must be the way you need to act and live in fear, in self-judgment, and self-hatred."

I said to her, "What does God say about who you are? Your flesh is always going to love things that are contrary to him. In fact, the righteous, it says in Scripture, shall live by…what?" We had just looked at some things together as we've been talking about this over the last course of the week. I said to my sweet girl, "What does the Scripture say? The righteous shall live by faith. They don't live by feelings. They don't live by the Spirit of the age. They don't live by what somebody is selling, contrary to God."

So I said, "When you want to heap judgment on yourself and self-hatred and loathing because you feel like you shouldn't think these ways and be tempted to have these thoughts or be tempted to be judgmental or be tempted to be selfish or angry, you're going to always be tempted to run after your flesh.

Your dad is tempted. Your dad at times feels anger. Your dad feels lust. Your dad feels greed. Your dad feels selfishness, but I wouldn't be a very good dad if I followed my feelings, would I? You don't want a dad who is led by his feelings and what seems right to him. You want a dad, and God wants me to be a dad, who lives by faith.

My flesh wants to be angry. My flesh wants to rule in judgment. My flesh wants to be greedy and self-indulgent. My flesh wasn't to destroy this marriage covenant, but I don't live by my flesh. I live by faith. My flesh is, in effect, crucified. I consider it dead though it's very alive." I say it deserves to be nailed to a cross because it will destroy me. God is good, and he tells me to live according to what he says, not what I feel.

Do you get that? How are you going to live? Are you going to continue to be neurotic? Are you going to continue to be self-loathing because you feel this way? What's God say about you? Who's God say that you are? Temptation is not sin. Sin is sin. You're choosing not to do that, but you don't have to freak yourself out that you're in the world with an Enemy who seeks to devour you and a flesh that wants to go that direction. The question is, will you be an enlightened, Spirit-informed person or not? There is life if you run from that."

Look at the third one. The first one is in Galatians 5:24, the second one is in Romans 6:11. The third one is in Galatians 2:20. "I have been crucified with Christ…" Well, I wasn't crucified with Christ. My daughter wasn't literally crucified with Christ. "…and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…"

There's that word again. Is Christ in you physically? Of course not. That's not what we mean. What I'm saying is the rule of Christ, my relationship with Christ, informs everything I do. He is my Father who will never leave me or forsake me. I am in Christ. He is in me. Not physically. God is Spirit; the Spirit is Spirit. To talk about the physical presence of the Spirit is craziness, but God's universal rule is direct, causal, sovereign influences over everything in whom we live and move and have our being.

Christ says, "If anyone hears my voice, calls out to me, asks me to come in, I will come into him and dine with him and he with me." The idea is we are in relationship with God. He has said, "I will dwell, I will own, I will occupy, I will be present in your life. I will never leave you or forsake you. You can leave me. You can run away from me, but I will never, ever, lose my commitment in relationship with you.

We have lives that may go totally different directions after you've come to me and cried out to me and acknowledged your flesh is wicked and that Christ needs to be your provision. In fact, you might have a sin that leads unto death.

I might not be with you, geographically speaking, again, in terms of your present obedience to me until the grave. But I will come. I will get you. I will find you. You can run from me. You can grieve me. You can quench me. You can not follow me. But I am your Father, and I will get you at the grave, no matter what a rebel you've been.

Our relationship and fellowship will be tested. We will not enjoy each other in this life when you leave me, but you are mine. You are forever in my heart, and I will never leave you. My Spirit of truth, my Fatherly advice will always call you." What did Jesus say to people again and again? In the Gospels, Jesus said these words 21 times.

"Follow me. I love you, and I know you think that way is right, but there's life over here where I am. I am the way, the truth, and the life. Follow me." It's what the Spirit says. "Follow me." Are you going to follow your feelings? Are you going to follow your flesh? Are you going to follow the world? No. The Spirit says what Christ said. "Follow me. Walk by my power, walk in my leadership. Follow me."

He calls us to this. He tells us, "You have to consider your flesh dead because you know it is not a good ruler in your life. It is terminal and deserves to be judged. I'm going to be ruled by Christ. The third one we're going to look at (the fourth one overall) is in Galatians 6:14. "But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me…"

Do you see what he says right there? Contrary to God, the way informed by the Prince of Darkness is the way of death, the way of rebellion. The world was not nailed to the cross. Understand what these Scriptures mean. I consider them executed, dead, terminal, and judged. I no longer want to be ruled by them, nor will I be ruled by them.

The world is dead to me. I am no longer of this world. I am in this world, but I am a citizen of a different world, so I shall live according to that citizenship. I will not trespass. In other words, I'm not going to walk over here like I live here. I walk where God has me walk: in holiness, in righteousness, and truth.

What's all this mean? One of the things I love about this place is this is an authentic community. Meaning, we don't have to pretend our flesh is dead. We consider it dead when we live rightly, but we don't have to come in this room and act like we still don't struggle. We all struggle. So look what it says in verse 25. It should be true. "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."

The idea here, again, is new life in Christ, a new understanding of God in our flesh should result and produce a new life. The old things are gone, that I only have my flesh to consult, that I only have my world to consult, that I only have my feelings to trust in. I'm going to lean not in my own understanding, but in all my ways, I'm going to acknowledge him, and he'll make my paths straight.

In the midst of this, there are times when I don't walk by the Spirit. I don't live by the Spirit, and I need folks who are committed to me to help me and go, "Todd, over here." The Spirit is saying, "Follow me." The Word is saying, "Live this way, and you'll find life." That inner conviction and prompting that you used to get when you were in high school and still get today when you'd be greedy and lustful and selfish and angry and want to take short cuts…

What was happening is there was a conviction in you that wasn't right. Now you have a whole different way to operate. A way informed by God. Not a way informed by peer pressure and the world. What are you going to give yourself to? Are you now of Christ? Do you set your mind on the things above and not the things of the world? Do you live as Christ would have you live (wholly different, altogether different), or will you give yourself back to a person who has no Father and live as a fool?

Sometimes I would not walk as a spiritually-informed man who would know the truth about what God has accomplished through Christ. I would go back and walk like any 17- or 18-year-old, like any 45-year-old. It would be a tragedy. So I needed others who would come and say, "Todd, walk differently."

Tonight at Raise the Mark, that's what we're going to do. We're going to pray for each other. Paul was writing to another group of people in Colossians. They were people who lived in a city called Colossae. In chapter 1 of the book to those people in Colossae, in verses 9 through 12, this is what he says.

"For this reason also, since the day we heard of it…" The "it" is that you understood that your flesh should not be something you consult. You want to live according to the Spirit of the world, that God is going to judge wickedness and rebellion and that Christ loves you. Since the day you've received that, Paul says, "…we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge…"

Here's this idea again. You don't go drink knowledge. The idea is that you'd be ruled and controlled by something other than you. The knowledge of who God is. "…of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding [that you would operate that way] …" Why? "…so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects…" That you would do…what? "…bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…"

That others would look at you, and they'd go, "Who are you that you would live so differently? Where is the strength of righteous living coming from? Where's the power? Where is the glorious truth that is screaming through you mightily so you attain and steadfastly hold to this joyous living, giving thanks at all times to God who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of people who live this way? We should say it's because of our Father.

Paul says, "I pray for you because I know sometimes you don't want to walk by the Spirit, you don't want to be led of the Spirit, so you're going to not walk worthily. Verse 1 of the next chapter… I love this. In chapter 6 verse 1, he comes right at us, and he says, "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass…"

Again, think of this way. If you are a son of God, and you are part of the kingdom of heaven, then you are not of this world. This world is not your home. Your citizenship is in heaven. So when you walk on this earth as the earth would have you walk, you are trespassing. In other words, you are giving yourself over to a way that is not native to who you are.

What he says to us in this little section right here, "If you are caught…" This word has two ideas. One is caught, like, "I caught you doing it, I see you doing it." By the way, if you know me at all, if you're my child, if you're my wife, if you're my closest friends and people who are swimming through life with me, you will see me at times not live a Spirit-informed life but a way that feels right Todd, looks right to Todd, meets up with Todd's understanding, the world's understanding, and the way I respond.

If you love me, when you see me doing that, you're going to watch me. If I don't come to my own senses, acknowledge the error of it, confess it and agree that's not the way I want to live and be ruled, then you owe it to me if you loveme to say something to me out of love in a spirit of gentleness. Watch all this. This is great stuff.

I love this place because we acknowledge in this place that we are not done wrestling with this world. We're not done wrestling with our flesh. All of us struggle with materialism, with selfishness, with conflict avoidance, with anger, with lust, with worldly strategies and coping techniques to numb ourselves from the pain.

God says, "This is how you should deal with your pain. This is how you should deal with conflict. This is how you should deal with isolation. This is how you should deal with hurt." We go, "That doesn't seem right to me." He goes, "Okay, great, but I thought you agreed that you should be nailed to a cross." We go, "Yeah, I did." He goes, "Are you going to follow me?"

"It doesn't seem right."

"Again, we're not talking about what seems right to you. I thought you were trusting me now as a person who's spiritually-informed that I'm good. I'm not trying to rip you off. I'm trying to set you free."

I love this. James 3:2. This is the brother of Jesus Christ, the half-brother of Jesus. This is what James 3:2 says. "For we all stumble in many ways." Can I have an, "Amen"? If James said that, I'd stop right there. I'd go, "Preach it, brother. I can relate to that text. We all stumble in many ways, don't we? Anybody here struggle? Anybody here sometimes not live as a spiritual person even though you love Jesus? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Of course. So here's the question. What are we going to do? Let me tell you what the church has traditionally done. We act like we don't struggle. We come in. We hold hands with our wife we can't stand, with our husband, who we pray he dies on the way home from work, but we hold his hand on Sunday. We smile, and we act like everything's fine and everything's cool. We keep our materialism to ourselves. We don't have you checking my web browser. I don't check yours. We just leave each other alone because we're spiritual people.

One of the reasons we chose the name Watermark is because a watermark is a symbol of authenticity. From the very beginning, we've been committed to being an authentic people. I've told you guys from the beginning, I love Christ. I know his way is right. I know living by the Spirit is where life is. But I'm prone to wander. I'm prone to leave the God I love.

I need the Word of God to continually pour over my soul day after day as long as it's still called today to remind me of what is right and true. I have to listen to the Spirit. I walk with God. I ask him to speak with me through inner promptings, convictions, Scripture I've memorized, and I need community. I need other folks who go, "Todd, come here." Can I tell you why I have a great marriage?

I have a wife who loves me and understands she married a man who loves Jesus but isn't glorified yet, so sometimes he lives less than the way a spiritual man should live. I have a wife who, when she sees me moving to ground I shouldn't be in, trespassing, she doesn't go, "I finally have a reason to expose you. You're out." I said this at the first service, and I want to be careful, because Parcells isn't like this exclusively, but it's like this.

I have a friend. I have a completer in my life. When she sees me out there not reading the defense right, walking into trouble, or just willfully trying to force a pass because I think it should go there when it shouldn't, I throw interceptions, and I make dumb decisions, and it's hurting our team, I don't have a coach on the sidelines who comes over and screams F-bombs in my face and spits at me while she does it and says, "Get over there on the bench, and I'll figure out if I'm going to put you back into my playbook again."

No. I have more of a Tony Dungy as a wife, who says, "Come here. Time out. Let's talk, Peyton. You're one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. I believe in you. I love you. I know what you want to do. I know how you want to execute the offense of God in our marriage so I can complete you and you can be a man that everybody looks at and goes, 'That's an athlete for God.'

I know that's who you want to be. Did you see what just happened? Did you know you threw it to the wrong jersey intentionally, or did you just not read the defense right, or did you give yourself to your arrogant strong arm? What happened?" I just go, "Coach [sweetie], you're right." "Okay. I love you. I'm so glad you're my quarterback. I just want to make sure you acknowledge that wasn't good, and we're not going to play that way. But you're my man, and I love you."

I love that about her. By the way, if I go, "Coach, I think you're crazy," she'll go, "Hang on a second. Let's get the offensive coordinator over here and let's have him talk about this with us. 'I thought Peyton [Todd] did this. Do you agree'?"


"We both do."

"Well, the heck with both of you."

"All right. Offense, come on over here. Everybody, do you guys like it when he does that?"

Eventually what happens is the whole team gets involved and says, "We love Peyton. We think he's a great quarterback, but he's committed to throwing to the other team right now. So we cannot let him wear our jersey. We want him to be on our team. We love him, but while he's thinking this way and acting that way, he can't be on our team. It's not because we hate him. It's not because we think we're better than him.

Right now, he thinks he's a Pittsburgh Steeler, so he keeps throwing to black. We're wearing blue or white. So you're on the bench. In fact, we can't even have you on the bench while you're committed to them. Let's take the jersey off, and when you're ready, we'd love you back."

That's Jesus talking to us in Matthew 18:15-17. He doesn't say you come right out and when you see a mistake, you turn around and go, "Do you see what I live with? Do you see that quarterback? He is crazy. I can't stand him." You're not malicious towards him. You're not slandering to him. You're not gossiping. You're not saying, "I'm so glad to get rid of you." You're saying, "You are my quarterback. You're my man. You're my friend. You're my neighbor. You're my brother in Christ. I believe in you."

Did you see what just happened? Watch what it says. "…if anyone is caught…" And we all will be. Sometimes, we'll see somebody do it. Other times, the word caught also means you are overtaken by or trapped in. So caught can mean one of two things. Sometimes we'll see each other making mistakes.

Other times we'll see a brother who has been overtaken and overwhelmed by some habit, some thought, some feeling, some behavior, some history, and he can't stop getting out of it, so it says, "…you who are spiritual…" In other words, you who are not operating according to the flesh, but who are going to operate according to the Spirit. In the context of this passage, what does it mean to operate according to the Spirit?

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, which does not seek its own interest, does not take into account of wrongs suffered, is not provoked, does not act unbecoming, does not rejoice in unrighteousness (which means it's doesn't pretend it doesn't see something happening wrongly), hopes all things (believes they can be a good quarterback), believes all things, believes you when you say you love Jesus, bears all things (in other words, that's not going to be so much you're done with me), and endures."

That's love. Are you going to be ruled by that? If you are, if you're spiritual, you will be. Guess what else you'll be? You're not going to be overwhelmed by the fact that you're in a part of a body where somebody is struggling. You're not going to be wigged out. There's going to be peace in the midst of this. God can still show up. You're going to gently…love, joy, peace, patience.

Patience with one another. Can anybody use a little patience as you're making your way towards Christ's likeness? Give me some of that. You're going to love me towards Christlikeness. You're going to spur me on to love and good deeds, and you're going to do with gentleness. That's the fruit of the Spirit.

You who are spiritual, you who are operating by love, by gentleness, you are operating by a sense of, "God's in this peace. I'm not overwhelmed." Joy, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, not anger. He says, "You restore such a brother," and he highlights one fruit in the Spirit of gentleness. "…each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted."

There are two different ways you can be tempted here. Firstly, you can be tempted to be of the flesh. Sometimes when you see somebody throw an interception in your life, you go, "Oh man. Get over here," F-bombs, spit in your face, bench them. That's not what a spiritual coach does. He literally takes time out. He reiterates, "You're my man. You're God's man."

You can be tempted to be arrogant, to be impatient, to be cruel, to tell everybody what a lousy quarterback they are, to be unloving, or you can also sometimes be tempted to go, "It looks like there's not a major consequence to the way they did that. Maybe I can start to participate with them in doing those things and get seduced by the way they are living away from a spiritual way of living. I'm tempted to let my flesh rule."

When your flesh rules, you either do one of two things. You ignore out of self-love. Meaning, if if I go to you and tell you that I think you might not be running the offense that God has called you to correctly, you may not like me because there are lots of people who are cheering you as you play that way. Out of love for myself, I'm not going to say something hard to you because you're famous, you're influential, you're somebody everybody celebrates. You might isolate yourself for me, and I love me so much that I don't want to potentially lovingly bring this up.

Or, I will impale you out of self-righteousness. I will ignore you out of self-love or impale you, and go, "You weakling. You failure. You hypocrite." Then I'll tell everybody, "Look what he did," and somehow puff myself up by bringing them down. But a Spirit-informed life doesn't ignore and doesn't impale. It encourages. It bears burdens. It believes, it hopes, and it endures.

Do you want to be a part of a body like that? I do. I've been dreaming about it my whole life. Seven years ago, a group of us got together and go, "Let's do Christ-following together like this in this community. Let's be authentic people who love each other, who realize at different times every one of us will stumble in many ways, and let's be committed to working through that conflict in a spirit of gentleness, in a spirit of kindness, with faithfulness and self-control and love.

Let's produce fruitfulness in our life. Let's encourage each other day after day as long as it's called the day, so none of us will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Let's get a community that's committed to God's Word, who loves his Spirit and yields to it every way he can and is committed to biblical community. Let's see what God might do with that."

We're calling in. We're calling to be a part. We're asking you not to isolate yourself because there is an Enemy, a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He devours isolated people. I know a lot of you guys who are here are isolated even though you're in the herd because you're not connected deeply. I know you might be around other people who are not in the Spirit, so even though you're with them, they're not loving you biblically. Today's message is for them.

Brethren, if you're spiritual, you will not let somebody you love continually walk outside of the Spirit and not believe you should call a time out and say, "Come here," to them. Don't talk about them to somebody else. Go to them, and if they don't listen to you, call an offensive coordinator over, and then widen it to a few members of the team, then widen it to the offense.

Eventually, if they're committed to that (very rarely people are, but sometimes they are), you say, "We love them. We want them to be on our team, but they are right now not committed to walking and living in a way God wants them to walk and live. So we're going to take the jersey off of them so the world won't be confused. We cannot wait for them to come back. We pray they would come back."

If you love God, if you love others, if you love lost people, if you love the Spirit, you will do this. Why? Because a person who is not walking according to the Spirit loses joy, they lose peace, they lose fruitfulness and an opportunity to be useful to God, and they lose the privilege of anticipating their Father coming home. That's what it says in 1 John 3:3.

It says, "He who purifies himself, who fixes his hope on his coming, is a man who purifies himself." In other words, when you're browsing somewhere you shouldn't browse, when you are on an angry tyrannical rage, when you are isolated from your wife and not pursuing her and loving her as Christ loved the church, when you are giving yourself away to lust, when you are diving in and using all that God has resourced you with for yourself and your future and your luxury and your comfort, you're thinking, "I hope Jesus comes now. Right now."

You're like, "Oh no. Now? On this website? Now? In this moment of gluttony? Now? In this tirade? Now? In this isolation from biblical community and my wife? Now? When I've given myself away to the idolatry of work and materialism? Now? Oh, not now." That person is living in fear that God will return.

Is that the way sons should live? That's why you have to love them and go and say something and restore them. Pick them up. Lift their head. Remind them of what is true. Not only that, but it hurts the Father. It says the Father has no greater joy than to see his children walking in the truth.

I can tell you as a daddy when I see my kids suffering because they're giving themselves to the foolishness of their age, the foolishness of this world and their peer group, it kills me. When I see them being insecure about their body image, their athletic ability, their worth because they're not great in the things the world says they should be great in, it kills me. It kills me when they give themselves and make themselves a slave to those ideas. I want to call them to life. It hurts me.

Scripture says it grieves the Spirit of God. Do you know what else it does? It hurts the body. When a certain part of my body isn't functioning the way it should, all of me suffers. My entire life is limited because some piece is not operating the way the body should in health. So that little piece can lay the whole thing out.

Somebody committed to using their resources in a selfish way makes us all wait for what God has already resourced us with. Somebody not caring and loving means somebody lives a broken, hurting, isolated life because you're not caring and love them. We all suffer. Then you know what happens?

The lost person who matters to God suffers because the saltiness is gone, the light isn't there, and it's dark. They go, "You're just as dysfunctional as I am. So I don't know where my Father is, I don't know where my Shepherd is, but he must not be your Father or your Shepherd, so I can scratch Jesus off the list." They're confused. Do you see what's at stake?

That's why we're told right here you have to get after it. You have to be people. You have to remember you could be tempted. You could be tempted in one of two ways: to ignore or to impale. You can also be tempted to join. But you should be so humble, and you should be a person who understands, "There but by the grace of God goes I, but I love you, and I know who you are."

Watch what it says in verse 2. "Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ." How does Christ treat lost hurting people? How did Christ treat sinners? How did Christ treat Peter? He called Peter out and said, "Peter, that isn't right, but I pray for you. The Enemy wants to sift you like wheat, but I pray for you." When Peter failed him miserably, God came back from the grave to whisper words of hope to Peter. "Go tell the disciples and Peter," and then he sought Peter out.

He said, "Peter, I know you love me. This is how we can go forward together. You're my man. You're the rock on which I'll build my church. I love you. I have hope in you. I'm going to endure with you. I believe in you. I'm going to bear your shortcomings, and I'm going to complete them one day through my power. That power in my Spirit right now woos you to greatness today. Don't you want to be a part of that?" Yes.

Look what it says in verse 3. "For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself." In other words, when you see somebody struggling like that, you have to remember where you came from. Don't compare yourself to other churches. Don't compare yourself to other people who say they love Christ. Do you want to compare yourself to something? Compare yourself to Jesus. Then if you still think you're something, then speak up.

Do you know you will never be more patient with a spouse who has been unfaithful to you then Jesus will be patient towards you in your unfaithfulness to him? Ever. Do you know you will never be needing more grace to a child, to a coworker, to a betrayer than you'll need grace from God in your betrayal to him? So he's saying, "Hey, if you've been forgiven much, why don't you start to learn to forgive others?"

"But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another." Right here, Paul is saying, "Here's your work. You're a sinner, and you have a Savior. That's all you can boast in." That was the whole idea that we read in Galatians 6:14. I boast in nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified. That's what I have. He says, "Each one of you is going to stand before the Lord and give an account for who he is, so you need a body."

** "For each one shall bear his own load."** The idea there is each one is going to carry forward who they've been in life. That's why you need others who can help you excel still more, who will admonish you, encourage you, help you, and be patient with you. If we love each other, that's who we are.

It is a scary thing to walk into a group of people who say, "I know who you are. You're a child of God who wants to rule and walk in righteousness and say no to impurity, sensuality, greed, idolatry, sorcery, malice, anger, and wrath. You want to say no to that, so when I see you trespass that way, I'm going to look to you."

If you go, "You missed it there," I'm going to go, "I know. Aren't we glad for Jesus? Come on. Step back over here in the Spirit with me. Make amends. Let's love God together. Let's sing about our Savior." Isn't that awesome? I'll just stick this last little verse in here, and then we'll shut it down. In Galatians 6:6, there's a little passage right here. It's one that's often used, sometimes by guys who do what I do for a living to obligate others sometimes to do some things.

This is what it says. "And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches." That's often used to tell people, "Look, you have lake houses, you have cash, you have disposable income. Frankly, if you had disposable income or not, you should give it to me because you're being taught the Word by guys like me and small group leaders and others. Since you're being taught that you should share all good things with those who teach him."

That's not the idea here. Luke 10 has that idea. First Corinthians 9 speaks to the fact that God expects us to help and care and share resources in that way. But let me tell you what this passage right here really means. The one who is taught the Word, which I am when you're teaching me, and you're spurring me on, and you're restoring me, or you when I'm teaching you God's Word, or you have a friend in community who is around you, is to share.

The word for share is koinōneō. It means to do business together. "…all good things…" There are two words in Greek for good. One is material good things. The other one is agathos. It's the word that basically means moral excellence. That's the word here. So let me look at it again. The one who taught the purpose of being taught restored in a spirit of gentleness._

The goal is that as you are picked up, held up, built up, you will be able to become a partner and live in moral excellence and spiritual glory and rightness and Christ-followership with me, the one who is teaching you. My goal is to help you experience the joy of walking with Christ so we can be co-laborers, we can be partners, we can be salt together, light together, and the world can see a community of believers who care for one another._

The point is, as Paul says, I teach you so you might share with me the privilege of calling others into life with Christ. You are to share with me in this. One of the things we said at Watermark from the beginning is we're not going to do ministry to you. We're going to do it through you, with you. Those who are being taught and admonished and encouraged are to share in this with us. It will be good, and moral excellence will abound. Not just in the clergy (whatever the heck that is) but in the body, in the community. Amen?_

Do you want to share in that with me? That is not a convincing response, by the way. Get a little bit African American for me for a second. Do you want to share in moral excellence, Christlikeness, in a spiritual way with me? I'll tell you what will happen. The Father will be pleased. You will have joy. You will have peace. You will be holy. Lost people will long to participate with us._

Then we will do this. I close with this, and we're out of here. I went through, and I looked at all the "one anothers" of Scripture, and I pulled them together. This is what will happen when we share in biblical community together and we encourage each other in that way. We'll love one another, care for one another, serve one another, admonish one another, show forbearance to one another where we employ our gifts in serving one another as good stewards of all that God has given us._

It's where we'll greet one another, have the same mind toward one another, are kind to each other, speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. It's where we build up one another, comfort, pray for, encourage, live in peace with and seek after what is good for one another. It is where we clothe ourselves in humility towards one another, where we live in subjection to one another, stimulate one another into love and good deeds._

We'll confess our sins to one another. We'll live in peace with one another. We'll give preference to one another in honor. We encourage one another day after day lest any of us will become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. It's where we'll love one another just as he commanded us, and in doing so, we'll become an irresistible testimony to a watching world that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Amen? We have to be those people, so we have to flesh out Galatians 6._

May you have a great week of worship, living a life led by the Spirit. Go in peace._

About 'Galatians: The Longer Reach of Freedom'

Performance-based acceptance vs. acceptance-based performance. Galatians, more than in any other in the Bible, explains the difference between the two. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul makes it clear that we can never perform our way into a relationship with Christ, and that the law was in place as a demonstration of God?s standards, rather than a means for us to earn our salvation. In short, Galatians paints a vivid picture of why we all are in need of a Savior.<br /> &nbsp;Examining chapters 5 and 6 of Galatians, Todd Wagner explains why bondage to legalism and performance is so dangerous to the Christian life. And what being truly free from the need to earn God's love looks like, how we live it out, and how it will ultimately bless us and honor Christ.