Chapter division is manmade, for our use, to make it easier to find something that was written. The separation between 5 and 6 is a break in the context, or thought, which should have continued to 6:10. Chapter 5 starts with a warning to the church not to again return to slavery to the law: what we call “legalism” today. Nor can the church fall into the trap of self-indulgence, immorality, and disobedience under the guise of freedom: that is liberalism.
We cannot just go through the motions, lackadaisical in worship. Whether that is attendance or participation with and in our relationship with God and His Church. If we have not surrendered ourselves to the Spirit, are not “Spirit-led”, and are not walking with the Spirit, then, are we a part of God’s Church? How can we be? The Spirit inspired Word tells us to forgive one another, to be devoted to one another, and Jesus Himself said, “love one another like I have loved you.” How can you say you are a part of something when you are not active in what God’s Church is supposed be? Loving and forgiving. Have we, as Jesus told the Church of Ephesus in Revelation, “abandoned the Love we had at first?”
Are our priorities God’s or our own? Is our faith in what we can accomplish (works) or in what was accomplished for us on the cross out of God’s love?
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working (expressing itself) through love. In Christ, what counts is our faith working through Love (God’s for us). How is your faith working through God’s love for you?
Through love, serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
In order to be God’s Church we must live the crucified life! That will only work as we walk in God’s love for us – and that life lived in God’s love will only work out of growing faith in God to provide for us and show us how to love our neighbor as He loves us. This is when we, in 5:16, walk by the Spirit, in 5:18, are led by the Spirit, in 5:25, live by the Spirit, and keep in step with the Spirit or, again, walk by the Spirit, depending on your translation. The works of the flesh must be crucified, put to death, as we are told in Colossians 3. That is the only way we can bear the fruit of the Spirit. Spiritual fruit is only born as we live the crucified life.
The first thing we are told in chapter 6 is that those who are spiritual within the congregation should restore anyone caught in a transgression (sin). Again, those who are spiritual are those who walk by, are led by, live by, keep in step with, and are bearing the fruit of the Spirit! These are the ones who are living out the crucified life. We must be able to say as Paul did, “my old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NLT).
Those same spiritual people are to keep watch as they to may fall to temptation, this is a warning and a reminder that all of us, any one of us, can fall into sin.
As for those “caught” in a transgression, in the original language it implies that a person was suddenly entrapped, overtaken, or surprised. This is a general warning for all in dealing with a moral lapse that can, and unfortunately does, happen within the community of faith. That is why in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 we are told to forgive the sinner.
The flesh, even in the crucified lif,e is not completely dead, that is the problem with a living sacrifice – it still squirms and kicks and fights to have its way and it must be dealt with as it tries to rise up. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Spiritual people cannot become complacent, there is no one who should be satisfied with where they are spiritually. No one living is safe from temptation or, through that temptation, the possibility of falling to sin. There is not a person who is so spiritually strong, who is so spiritually mature, that they do not need to heed this warning.
The Church is to restore that person with gentleness. Knowing, “that but for the grace of God go I,” with that knowledge we should humbly and without contempt, without a hint of superiority, or arrogance seek to restore this person to a right relationship with God, the congregation, and the Church at large without causing further damage to that person or others that may have been involved. And we are to come alongside them as they seek reconciliation and restoration.
This is one of the ways God’s Church fulfills the obligation to bear one another’s burdens. Jesus bore the burden of our sin, of yours and mine, on the cross. In one of the commentaries it said that a congregation of “God’s Church is family, not a civic or social club. As family we are knit together supernaturally by the Spirit in the common fellowship of love.” It is in the context of love that we are carry one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ. Which is to love one another as He loved us. How can we be knit together if we are not with one another?
How can we help you when you are caught in sin, if we don’t even know? How can we help you bear the burden of the death you experienced, the sickness of your child, the loneliness of your loss or anything else you are going through if you are not active with our congregation? How can we hold each other accountable, how can we be responsible and love as Christ loved if we are not with one another on a regular basis? If we are not family, of one mind and purpose?
- How are you walking in love (God’s love for you)?
- Have you truly crucified the flesh? Can you say: “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NLT).
“We’re taking back our freedom. Our battle has been won. We have been liberated. Back from the dead we’ve come.” – Crowder, Crushing Snakes