In Paul’s explanation of the Spirit-led life, a key distinction of one who is walking in the Spirit is that they are seeking to destroy the desires and influence of sin in their lives. In a church, where there should be multitudes of people walking in the Spirit with one another, Paul further explains in Galatians 5:26 that there should be no desire to be seen as greater than one another. Paul’s point was that perhaps in the church there were those who are following the Spirit who were spiritually mature and strong in the faith. They are only strong because of the work of the Spirit in them, they have nothing that they should be bragging about or using to provoke other people with. Rather in humility, they should seek to serve those around them. And those who are weak should not exhaust themselves obsessing about the spiritual maturity of another believer, instead, they should seek to walk in the Spirit and kill the sin in their own life.
When everyone in the body is coexisting in a loving meekness, the tensions between brothers and sisters will melt away. Paul’s point here in this text is merely a continuation of the rest of Galatians. All along, there were those who claimed to be spiritually strong, and told the rest of the church that they had believed an inadequate gospel. They said that in their spiritual maturity, they knew they were supposed to add the Law of Moses to the work of Jesus so that God would offer them grace enough to be saved. Seeing the “super-spiritual” Judaizers, the Galatians began to desire to be spiritual like them, but only ended up confused. The spirituality that the Judaizers were teaching about was in addition to the gospel and the work of the Spirit, and made the Christian life so complicated that they were left frustrated.
The model purported by the Judaizers was not the model of a Spirit-led church. The Judaizers model had those who were super-spiritual lording over everyone else. A spiritual hierarchy was devised giving vain prestige to those who “got it” while everyone else groveled at their feet hoping to someday understand the truths that were perceived by the spiritually elite. Paul argued that the role of those who were spiritual was not the role of master and lord, rather, those who are spiritual are supposed to look out for and help and lift up those who are not. As a strong brother sees a weak brother who is struggling in sin, the strong brother intercedes and helps the weak brother out of sin.
The truly Spirit-led church cares for its own. It does not abuse and abandon in the times of need, it surrounds and equips and assists those who are falling and have fallen. In Paul’s estimation, this is the ministry of Christ Himself. He came and saw the weakened and helpless and then he humbly stooped himself to assist. He could have come as dominating commander of all, but instead he came as the servant of all. Every believer should seek to live this way. They should be constantly serving and constantly loving others. And this selfless service is not without reward. At the end of the day, those who have labored tirelessly in the Spirit, restoring others and bearing their burdens, they will find themselves enriched with true lasting joy.
As a final thought, restoration is the desired outcome in this scenario, but Matthew 18 makes it clear that if a brother is unrepentant of their sin, then restoration is impossible. Only when a person is following the Spirit and killing the sin in their life can they be restored to the fellowship of those who are walking in the Spirit. Repentance must predicate restoration.
Food for Thought: Read Matthew 18:15-19. In your own words describe the path to restoration according to Jesus.