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Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. (NKJV)

The Apostle Paul was a master teacher, not only plumbing the depths of theology and doctrine, but also laying out for us practical, simple ways to live the Christian life. In Galatians, chapter six, Paul finishes up his letter with a burst of practical commands on daily living. In this series, “Practical Paul”, we will cover several aspects of how to live the Christian life that does not involve an understanding of doctrine, or the interpretation of difficult Bible verses. They are simply basic commands on how to live out our faith in a way that is pleasing to God.

Restore One Another

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. (NKJV)

Without explanation or apology, Paul says “if this, then do that”. Yet this particular command is routinely neglected today because we live in a world of increasing moral cowardice and the ever present “don’t judge me” mentality. What is Paul saying to do, and to whom?

First of all, he is talking to “brethren”, believers, Christians. So this command is not applicable outside of your Christian family. We have no need nor right to confront the unsaved about their sin because they are only doing what they are capable of doing. The word “trespass” simply means sin, something that is obviously contrary to God’s Word.

“Overtaken” literally means “caught”, implying a sin that is seen being committed, or public in some nature. This is practical because 1) we cannot accurately discern the private sins in another person’s life, only God can; and 2) public sin brings public shame to Christ’s name, and should be corrected and dealt with publicly to demonstrate the holiness of God and the consequences of unrighteousness. It is a picture for the Church to see how God is not mocked and that sin always has its consequence, and it is a picture for the world to see that God’s judgment is forthcoming and should not be ignored. “Overtaken” also implies a sin that is more than just a one time mistake, and is something that is being engaged routinely, or without repentance.

So the first part of the verse is saying, “Fellow Christians, if you see another Believer caught up in obvious recurring sin….” then… what? “You who are spiritual”… should do what? “Restore in gentleness”… how? Carefully, in such a way that doesn’t cause you to be tempted.

Who are the “spiritual”? They are mature Christians who have demonstrated a history of faithfulness, repentance of sin, hatred for sin, and who actively and routinely study God’s Word so that they can know what God considers to be sinful. They are the Christians who live consistent and predictably holy lives, quick to recognize their own sin, patient and loving (but uncompromising) with other’s sin. They are the Christians who are walking “in the Spirit” and “filled with the Spirit”:

Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. (NKJV)

Ephesians 5:17-19 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, (NKJV)

The “spiritual” are to “restore”. Restoration is the process of returning something to a previous state; mending or repairing what has become damaged. Nowadays, any time we speak of confronting or exposing sin, we are barraged with the “don’t judge” clich├ęs. The Bible most certainly commands us not to judge in a way that is hypocritical or unloving, but to declare that we are not to judge is both illogical and unBiblical. It is illogical because we “judge” things every day to be right or wrong. Rape, murder, child molestation… we have no problem “judging” those as wrong because it doesn’t apply to most of us. However, when we start “judging” lust, covetousness, gossip, laziness or stealing, that starts to step on too many toes, so the cries of “judgmental” start ringing loud and clear.

“Judging” is not about what occurs in our private thoughts
(because every human instinctively and continually judges
what they observe moment to moment),
but more about how we ACT on that judgment.

In reality, the whole argument about judging is insincere and misplaced to start with. The fact is, that EVERY ONE, in the privacy of their own minds and thoughts constantly judges the behavior, decisions and actions of others as “right or wrong” instinctively. We call it “opinions” to make it more palatable to our politically correct and “tolerance-first” culture. The real argument about “judging” does not actually pertain to the judging that occurs in the privacy of our minds, but whether or not we are willing (or obligated) to act on that judgment. What people are really saying when they say “don’t judge” is “don’t act on your judgment, just let me do what I want and don’t interfere in any way”.

Paul disagrees. And so did Jesus (Matt 7.1-5). Believer to Believer, we are commanded to judge sin, and to act on it. However, we are not to act out of our own sense of righteous indignation, nor for personal reasons. We are to act on our judgment of sin to 1) restore the sinner to holiness, 2) keep the Lord’s family pure and free from sin, and 3) to guard and protect the reputation and name of our Savior.

The spiritual Christians are to restore the person caught up in sin; the motive behind judging and confronting the sin is love for the sinner, and the desire to repair and make whole their relationship with God. This restoration is to be done in a “spirit of gentleness”… in other words it is to be done in love, and on God’s behalf, not for personal reasons of self-righteousness or control. As the restoration occurs, the spiritual Christian is to be careful how they proceed so that they themselves are not tempted. Tempted with what?

Judging sin, confronting sin and restoring the sinner involves the possible temptation of spiritual pride, and even the possibility of being caught up in the very same sin. For example, if I were confronting and restoring another Brother over some sin he is committing that I personally am not prone to commit, I could be tempted to become spiritually proud, and have a “look at how good I am” attitude. Or, I could be tempted into the very same sin. For example, if I was attempting to restore someone who had been “caught up” in pornography, I would need to be very careful about what I allowed my eyes to see, and ears to hear, lest I be tempted by the very same thing.

Taken all together, Paul is commanding us, without apology/explanation/excuse: “If you are discover a fellow Christian who is caught up in sinful behavior, then the spiritually mature Believers should gently confront them with the idea of restoring their relationship with God, and their place in the Body of Christ; but be careful and alert when you do it so that you will not be tempted to sin yourself in some way, whether in attitude or action.”

“I don’t want to get involved” and “I don’t want to judge others”
is not only unBiblical, it has caused us to lose
valuable accountability and purity.

“Gentle restoration” should be a basic practice among Christians. It’s how we look out for each other, and maintain the purity of the Church body. It’s a shame we don’t practice it more, and that we bow to the pressure of “tolerance” and the cries of “don’t judge.” No doubt the Church would minister with much more effectiveness, and individually we would not be as engaged in sinful behavior if we had the GOOD peer pressure of mutual accountability. How much deterrence and assistance would it be if we all knew that our fellow Christians would not hesitate to “gently restore us” if they saw us engaging in sinful behavior? But all to often we hear “I don’t want to get involved”, “it’s none of my business”, “I don’t want to be judgmental”, “well I’m not perfect, who am I to say anything?”.

The purpose is the gentle restoration of someone who has fallen into sin. We should NOT be hypocritical about it, but neither should we go to the other extreme and wait until we are “perfect” before practicing this loving confrontation and restoration. Gentle restoration is a blessing that we are robbing ourselves of. This also answers the question 99% of time of how we are to respond when we are personally wronged by other Believers. Our first inclination is to punish, teach a lesson and get even. Our spiritual duty is to “gently restore” placing the care of their soul above our need for personal satisfaction.

Are you a Believer? Then you are commanded to participate as, or with, the “spiritual” Christians in gently restoring a fellow Believer who has been “caught” in sin. Paul said it, not me.

Lord God, Help us to learn the benefit of gentle restoration of those caught in sin. Help us to be on of those who are spiritual that can cautiously confront and gently restore. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Contemplation: Have you ever confronted another Believer about sin they were caught up in? Have you ever been confronted? Do you see it as beneficial or “judgmental”? Could you explain to others the concept of “gentle restoration” and why Christian should practice it?

Application: Paul is commanding us, without apology/explanation/excuse: “If you are discover a fellow Christian who is caught up in sinful behavior, then the spiritually mature Believers should gently confront them with the idea of restoring their relationship with God, and their place in the Body of Christ; but be careful and alert when you do it so that you will not be tempted to sin yourself in some way, whether in attitude or action.”

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?



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