Galatians--Part 25--Restoration is the Law of Christ
Sep 04, 2010
Having concluded his passionate appeal to cast out the Judaizing "bondwoman and her son," Paul shows the contrast between the fruit of the Spirit and the desire of the flesh. These are the natural results of following either "Sarah" or "Hagar." Then he shows how to restore a brother who has stumbled, where he obviously has in mind the Galatians themselves who had stumbled in regard to Judaism.
Galatians 6:1 says,
(1) Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.
The desire of the flesh is to correct someone harshly and self-righteously, as if "I would never do such a thing." But when we understand ourselves and how easily we are tempted, we will restore others in the same spirit that we would want to be corrected.
(2) Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the Law of Christ.
Paul's use of the term, "Law of Christ," is unusual. I believe he had in mind the revelation found in 2 Samuel 7:19, (Septuagint translation) where David prays,
(19) Whereas I was very little before Thee, O Lord my Lord, yet Thou spokest concerning the house of Thy servant for a long time to come. And is this the law of man, O Lord my Lord?
The Hebrew text reads, "is this the law of ha-adam." Dr. Bullinger points out that adam means "man," while ha-adam means "THE man," speaking of Adam himself. And so David was inquiring of God, "Is this the Law of Adam?
The Law of Adam is also the Law of Christ, because Christ is the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45). So what Law is this, which was established in Adam, but yet applied to David's house? We see the answer from the context.
God had just promised David that his throne would be established forever. 2 Sam. 7:16 says,
(16) And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.
Yet this in itself was not the Law of Adam, but its result. The Law of Adam is seen a few verses earlier, where God tells David,
(12) When your days are complete, and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his Kingdom forever. (13) I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, (15) but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
This promise has more than one meaning. It applied first to Solomon, the son of David, who would indeed "commit iniquity" in the latter part of his reign. But his throne would not pass away, for Christ Himself was to occupy that throne in the future. Hence, the promise to David was that an earlier Law, the Law of Adam, would apply to this case. It was the Law that God's judgments are corrective in nature and are designed to restore men rather than to destroy them. This, in turn, is based upon the Law of Sonship, for Adam was called a "son of God" (Luke 3:38). God told David that He would treat Solomon as a "son" (vs. 12). Sons are disciplined, but not destroyed, for they are also heirs of God.
This is the great Law of Universal Reconciliation going back to Adam. It is the Law of Christ, not lacking in grace, but leading to grace.
Hence, when Paul says in Gal. 6:2, "bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the Law of Christ," he was telling them to follow the example laid down from the beginning. God's judgments were not pronounced in the spirit of flesh, nor of Ishmael, nor of the Pharisee, but in a "spirit of gentleness." Not only did God judge with a view to correct, but in the end He took upon Himself the judgment of the Law to pay the entire debt to sin.
This act of Christ showed the full extent of the Law of Adam/Christ. The whole world has committed iniquity, and appears to be hopelessly entrenched in it. The "rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men" were insufficient to turn most hearts to Him. And so He came to restore us by paying the full price of our iniquity, as Scripture shows.
Jesus revealed the Law of Christ to His disciples in John 13:34,
(34) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Such great "Love never fails" (1 Cor. 13:8). It will break the hardest heart, once their eyes are enlightened to see the full extent of its scope and power. There is no greater force on earth that might overcome its effectiveness.
By that same "spirit of gentleness," we are to restore our brethren who have stumbled and who have committed iniquity. Paul's letter does not often appear to be gentle. He was, in fact, applying the "rod of men" to their backsides, according to the same Law of Christ. But this was done out of a right spirit and motive. God, too, has appeared to be quite harsh in His judgments over the millennia, but He never lost sight of the Law of Adam, by which He intended to restore all mankind back to Himself.
Romans 11:36 says, "For out of Him and through Him and to Him are all things." All came out of Him, all go through Him (Christ and the cross), and all go back to Him.
No sin or iniquity can overpower or overwhelm the power of the cross. There is no debt too great that it would exceed the price of His blood and His life.
This is the twenty-fifth part of a series titled "Galatians." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones