Be good by doing good! – Galatians 6:7-18
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 25, 2016
There are those in our world who actually think that by simply trying we can become good or that everyone is born good and only learn evil by the influence of others or society. This is insanity and has been proven wrong by thousands of years of human history. No matter how one meditates, concentrates, or venerates human wisdom, knowledge or achievement being good will never solve mankind’s inherent propensity towards evil.
However, the Bible teaches us that there is a way for mankind to be good by being good. Not in the way the world teaches but in the person of Jesus. No matter how good a person feels and no matter how good something sounds it is all infected by the inherent sin condition of creation. Our rebirth in Jesus solves this issue and our being good does not come from our trying but rather from a life lived for him alone. Paul relates how we are to be good by doing good; let’s discover how…
The notion of life’s reciprocity is addressed throughout the Bible. In fact, Paul teaches us that…
I. Goodness is to be a way of life for the believer! (Vv. 7-10)
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
1. Paul writes, “Do not be deceived” to the Galatians. They were not to fool themselves into thinking that they could thumb their noses at God and get away with it. Snubbing God has become a fulltime pastime in our day and age. Like Paul, I believe folks are just fooling themselves because “God cannot be mocked” in this way for very long – like instantly! The reason was obvious: “A [person] man reaps what he sows.” For Paul it was very simple “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” The Christian does this to mature spiritually. Paul may have been dealing with how believers were to financially support their pastors but it also applies to our entire lives. In doing so we “reap eternal life”. Our first seed we sow is to trust Jesus and then everything else we do in life contributes to that ongoing maturity. However, as we live good for Jesus we should “not grow weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”! In our lives as believers we are to sow in order to please the Holy Spirit. Our reward may be long in coming but it is certain and sure. Paul would write the Corinthian church, “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. (1 Corinthians 3:12-14 NIV) “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Christians have a responsibility to do good to all people but especially to fellow believers! As live for Jesus we are to live good lives for him! Goodness is to be a way of life for the believer!
EXAMPLE: Much of the world has not come to Christ not because they do not know there is a Jesus, who is the Savior of the world but because they do not see Jesus in the lives of those who say they believe in him! Remember those “fruits” of the Spirit Christians are to display? How often do others see Jesus in us? It is a good question to ask ourselves. We are not to be good in order to earn brownie points from God as believers, we are good because the goodness of God lives in us! Therefore, goodness is to be a way of life for the believer!
I remember my Mom asking us that if so-and-so “jumped off a bridge would we jump to?” She knew that sometimes even those whom we think of as “friends” do things for ulterior motives. This is what was happening with the Galatians. Paul reminded them that…
II. A believer’s goodness comes from Jesus! (Vv. 11-14)
See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
1. Just like when a parent asks their child, “Are you listening to me?” Paul writes the Galatians, “See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!” This is not a question but a statement for Paul. No secretary was writing this for Paul and he wanted the Galatians to understand he meant what he was writing to them. Those who wanted the Galatians to backtrack on their faith in Jesus alone did not have their best interests at heart and so he tells them, “Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised.” Paul wanted them to fully understand that it was faith alone in Jesus alone and there was absolutely no personal profit in their going backwards in their faith. “The only reason” these ungodly people “do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ”! They were spiritual cowards! They feared the world more than they feared God! Paul reminds them of these false teacher’s hypocrisy: “Not even those who are circumcised obey the law”, because they only followed what they thought was best for themselves for the moment and “yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh.” Like the deplorable practice of scalp hunters who kept personal trophies of the humans they murdered, these spiritual hypocrites kept “score” by boasting about how they confused the spiritually weak to be circumcised. Paul was not anything like these ungodly men and he bluntly tells the Galatians, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Paul was not a people pleaser, the life he lived he lived for Jesus! “For the Judaizers the Cross was an object of shame; for Paul it was the object of glorying. They gloried in the flesh; he gloried in the Savior.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary) A believer’s goodness comes from Jesus!
EXAMPLE: I asked a little boy on the playground the other day, “Can you be good for recess?” He responded, “I’m not sure I have it in me!” Another little girl nearby remarked, “He just doesn’t feel good today.” She did not mean he was sick but rather that he just did not feel like being good. At least they were honest. We live in a world that actually believes that if they just feel good about themselves or if they do good things once in a while then they are safe as far as eternity is concerned. Of course nothing could be further from the truth! If this were so, then Jesus did not have to die for our sins and then rise form the dead to prove to the world who he was. A believer’s goodness comes from Jesus!
Unlike the Christmas ditty that says we are to be “good for goodness’ sake” the believer is not to do so. We to live such good lives that people see Jesus in everything we do! Therefore, Paul writes that…
III. Only the goodness of Jesus matters! (Vv. 15-18)
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God. Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
1. For Paul there was nothing else in life that mattered; only living for Jesus did. We hold onto such foolish things in our lives; beauty, material stuff, ungodly relationships, or financial gain. None of it matters for eternity. We have forgotten in our day and age that nothing in this life truly matters except Jesus. For Paul the same was true and so he reminds them, “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.” Paul would write the Corinthian church, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) So, where does the sinner receive the grace of God? Only through Jesus himself. Paul concludes then, “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule” and what “rule” was this; that the only thing that matters in life or in all creation is the “new creation”! Paul wanted everyone he wrote to or spoke to, to come to this “peace and mercy” and so he literally writes for “peace and mercy” to be “upon them and upon the Israel of God.” (Modern KJV) Some think that Paul meant that the church is now the Israel of God which is true however here he is referring to Israel and his desire that they come to know Jesus and be blessed by doing so! And so his letter to the Galatians comes to an end when he finishes it by not wanting to stir up any more controversy, “Finally, let no one cause me trouble”, and he reminds them that he also bore on his “body the marks of Jesus.” He had suffered for his stand of faith alone in Jesus alone. Paul only wanted them to know this glorious truth as well and finishes by giving them the blessing: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.” Let it be so as I have declared to you that only the goodness of Jesus matters!
EXAMPLE: Most everyone would like to be remembered for something. I honestly believe this is why Facebook or YouTube and the internet itself are so popular for some folks. You can write in your blog or post on your Facebook or on YouTube and have some notoriety with thousands of hits or likes. However as good as that might feel it is only pixels and Ethernet and only last until your deleted. All of life is actually like that for most of us. Paul would remind us that life it is not to be based on how we feel nor is it based on what we do; only the goodness of Jesus matters!
Goodness is to be a way of life for the believer! A believer’s goodness comes from Jesus! Only the goodness of Jesus matters!
This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.