Treatment of The Fallen
Pastor Jack Hyles
Galatians 6:1, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
Galatians 5:19-24, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."
In order to fully understand Galatians 6:1, one must connect it with Galatians 5:19-24. The one overtaken in a fault in Galatians 6:1 is no doubt one overtaken in one of the faults mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21. The one who is spiritual in Galatians 6:1 is the one who possesses the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, 23. In other words, when the one who has the fruit of the Spirit overtakes one who has the works of the flesh in committing one of these works, he receives instructions in Galatians 6:1 as to what he is to do. Care must be taken that one who commits some of the works of the flesh does not take it upon himself to correct one who commits others of the works of the flesh. In other words, the one who is guilty of wrath is not qualified to lift the one who is guilty of fornication. One who is guilty of strife is not qualified to lift the one who is guilty of lasciviousness. In such a case the blind leads the blind, the fallen lifts the fallen, and the flesh attempts to make the flesh spiritual, which, of course, is impossible.
We must be careful, therefore, to address Galatians 6:1 only to the spiritual, to those who walk according to the fruit of the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22, 23, and do not walk according to any of the works of the flesh as listed in Galatians 5:19-21.
1. The word, "overtaken, "implies a witness. When someone who is spiritual witnesses the fleshly acts of someone who walks according to the flesh, he then may attempt to restore the fallen one. This verse does not say, "If one who is spiritual hears about someone being overtaken in a fault, he is to restore him." It does not say, "If one who is spiritual suspicions that a brother has been overtaken in a fault, he is to restore him." It is very plain that before the guilt is assumed, it must be proved. Before one is assumed guilty, he must be "overtaken" in a fault.
2. The word, "fault," would include any of the works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21.
3. The word, "spiritual," is one who embraces all of Galatians 5:22 and 23.
4. The word, "restore," means "to give back." It is the same word used concerning Zacchaeus, who, when he was converted, restored fourfold to all of those against whom he had sinned. The word means to bring one back where he was. This does not mean that a person who is fallen is still qualified to do everything that he used to do without a time of proving and testing. It DOES mean, however, that the one who is fallen should be brought back where he was as far as his relationship with the brethren are concerned. He should be accepted with the same open arms as before, with the same love as before, with the same compassion as before, with the same tenderness as before, with the same grace as before, with the same mercy as before and with the same fellowship as before.
5. The word, "meekness," is a very interesting word. It implies an evenness. It is often used concerning objects which are the same all the way through, such as homogenized milk in contrast to milk where the cream rises to the top. When the Lord Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek," He was saying in a sense, "Blessed are the equal ones," or "Blessed are the ones who look up to no one and down to no one," but "Blessed are the ones who look with a level eye to everyone." "Blessed are the ones who think themselves no worse than anyone and no better than anyone."
The story is told about a Baptist church in Washington, D.C. Many years ago Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, it is said, joined this particular Baptist church. Many others joined this particular Baptist church that same morning. As the names were read, Chief Justice Hughes was on one end of the line and a poor young man from a minority race was on the other end of the line. Of course, the pastor started off with the name of Chief Justice Hughes, when immediately Mr. Hughes interrupted the pastor and said, "Pastor, start at the other end of the line. The ground is level at the foot of the cross!" This is what our Lord is saying in Galatians 6:1. He is reminding us that we are to look down on no one, and even as we restore a fallen one, we are not to feel or act in a superior way. We are no better than he.
Neath the light of a kerosene lamp, beside the heat of a wood stove, with windows stuffed with newspapers to stop the howling wind from entering, with an outhouse in the backyard and a well off the back porch, my little mother used to point to me with a poverty stricken finger and say, "Son, you are better than nobody, and you are as good as anybody! Look down to none; look up to none! Look everybody square in the eye! We don't wear the clothes that others wear, and we can't afford the house that others can afford, and we can't drive a car like others drive, but you are as good as anybody But son, never let the day come when you feel that you are better than anybody!" This is what God is telling us here. The restorer is not to look down on the restored.
6. The word, "considering," means "watching." This means watching yourself, not watching the restored one! We must realize the possibility of the restorer entering into the same sin that was committed by the restored, and one of the easiest ways to commit such a sin is to keep our eyes on the sinner rather than on the Saviour, and to be watching the life of the restored one rather than our own.
We are reminded by the Apostle that all of us are capable of committing the sins of the rest of us, and that there is no temptation given to one of us that is not given to all of us. I Corinthians 10:13, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." God is telling us in Galatians 6:1 that one of the main reasons we are to look everybody square in the eye as equals and look down on none is that if we do feel superior to the restored, we may ourselves be tempted by the same temptation he faced and enter into the same sin that he committed.
7. The words, "also be tempted," are noteworthy. This takes us back to Galatians 5:19-21. God is telling us here that those of us who live in the Spirit as in Galatians 5:22 and 23 possess the potential of committing any or all of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21.
8. The word, "bear," in Galatians 6:2 implies that we are to bear the guilt of the fallen and restored one. Then the word "burdens" in Galatians 6:2 teaches us that we are to enter into the yoke with them and to pull with them in order to help them to win the victory and gain strength. God is telling us here that when one sins, all have sinned. It would be a wonderful day for churches when every member takes the blame for the sin of one and realizes that the sin of one is really the sin of all.
When Achan took the forbidden gold, silver and garment from Jericho, God said, "Israel hath sinned." Oh, yes, Achan actually committed the sin, but all of Israel had a part in it. It will be a wonderful day in our churches when, if a young person goes into sin, the Pastor will say, "I have sinned." The Sunday school teacher will say, "I have sinned." The departmental superintendent will say, "I have sinned." The youth director will say, "I have sinned." The director of the youth choir will say, "I have sinned." The teacher in the Christian school will say, "I have sinned." The coach will say, "I have sinned." The parents will say, "I have sinned." The teaching is very plain. An individual's sin is a corporate sin, for had we not failed in some way, the fallen would not have failed. Since we all have sinned when one has fallen, then we all should bear his burden, as in Galatians 6:2, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." We all should lift him up. We all should accept him back. We all should love him. Since the sin was a corporate one, then the work of restoration should be a corporate one, and the grace of restoration should be a corporate grace.
9. The words in Galatians 6:2, "fulfil the law of Christ," can be accomplished and completed only when we have restored the fallen, have realized that we too have fallen in him, and we all have joined in the act of restoration and in the grace of forgiveness.
Now what is this law of Christ? I think it deals with I John 2:1, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." What a beautiful passage! It is addressed to little children, perhaps babes in Christ, those to whom it would be easy to fall. The first admonition is that they sin not. God hates sin, and God does not want us to sin.
Then He immediately tells us what His law of behavior is when we do sin. He does not say, "If any man sin, he loses his salvation." He does not say, "If any man sin, he is the object of God's disgust." He says, "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father." Notice the first person plural, "we." The Apostle was including himself as a sinner and as potentially in need of the reclamation mentioned in the following words of the verse.
Now notice the word, "advocate." This is the word, "Paraclete," which is translated "comforter" elsewhere in the Scripture. It means "someone to run to another's side." God is saying here that He does not want us to sin, but that if we do sin, we have someone to run to our side, and who is that someone? Praise the Lord, it is Jesus Christ the righteous! When a Christian falls, Jesus runs to his side to pick him up.
When I was a little boy, nearly all the streets we lived on were dirt or gravel roads. I would often run to Mother and ask if I could go across the street and play with a friend. She would say, "Why, of course, son, but be careful crossing the street. Stop before you cross, look both ways, and don't run! You may fall on the gravel." I assured her that I would obey, but as I got closer to the street, my little boyfriend would scream and say, "Hurry up, Jack! Hurry!" so I would run across the street, lose my footing in the gravel, fall, and skin my little knee. My mother would immediately come running to my side. She was disappointed in me, but she did not spank me. She took me back into the house, wiped off my knee and cleaned me up, put some medicine on the knee and perhaps a bandage. I said, "Mommy, can I still go across the street and play?"
She said, "Yes, you may, but son, I am telling you again: Don't disobey Mother and run. If you do disobey Mother, I'm going to have to bring you in the house and make you sit beside me while I iron so I can keep my eyes on you." I would go to the yard and start for the street. Then I would get excited again and rush across the street, only to fall the second time. Mother would rush to my side the second time and repeat the care. She would lift me up, take me into the house, wash me off, care for whatever scratch or cut I may have and then she would say, "Son, now if you run across that street this time, I'm not going to let you go across the street to play. You will have to come in and sit beside me while I iron so I can keep my eyes on you." I promised that I would walk across the street, but I forgot the promise, and in the excitement of getting to my little friend, I stumbled and fell again. Mother ran to my side, picked me up and very kindly took me into the house and sat me on a chair beside the ironing board so she could keep her eyes on me.
This is exactly what our blessed Saviour does. When we fall, He runs to our side to pick us up. He takes care of our wounds and reminds us not to sin again. When we sin again, He runs to our side to pick us up and takes care of our wounds and once again reminds us not to sin. When we keep on sinning, He finally says, "Okay, I can't let you stay down there any more. I must bring you up to Heaven so I can keep My eyes on you." This He does. He is taking us to Heaven, which is basically called "the sin unto death," and is not an act of wrath or violence; it is another act of love. He does not want us to continue in sin, so in His mercy He brings us to Heaven so we can be with Him, and He can keep His eye on us.
This is what I think God means when He tells us to bear one another's burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ. When a brother falls, we are to join Jesus in running to him. In fact, in some cases, we are to be Jesus running to him, for as much as we have done it unto one of the least of these His brethren, we have done it unto Him.
Far too many of us would translate this Scripture in Galatians 6:1, "If a brother be overtaken in a fault, criticize him," or "If a brother be overtaken in a fault, slander him," or "If a brother be overtaken in a fault, try to ruin him," or "If a brother be overtaken in a fault, try to destroy him. " In far too many cases, this is our manner of treatment to the fallen. Thank God, it is not His manner and it is not His desire for us to treat them in such a way.
Mark 16:7, "But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you." Notice the two words, "and Peter." What a blessed statement! The ladies have come to the tomb. They find the stone rolled away and a man dressed in white at the sepulchre. He is a messenger from God, and what is that message? "Go tell the disciples and Peter that Jesus is risen." Why did he single out Peter? We know why At our Lord's crucifixion, Peter had joined himself with the wrong crowd. He had warmed himself by the Devil's fire, had walked afar off, and had denied the faith, the church and his Lord. He had even cursed. He was a fallen saint, not fallen from grace, but fallen in grace. Nevertheless, he was fallen. How sweet it is and how tender it is that God's messenger brought God's message that the ladies go and announce the resurrection of Christ to the disciples "and Peter." God was reminding us that He has a special love for the fallen. God loves all of us, but He has a special unique love for some. He says, "Go tell the disciples and the burdened," "Go tell the disciples and the lonely," "Go tell the disciples and the fallen."
I do not know all that is behind these two little words, "and Peter." Perhaps if he had not said "and Peter," they would not have told Peter, because perhaps they would not have thought of him as still being a disciple, or maybe God wanted Peter to know in a special way that He still loved him and that Peter still belonged to Him.
These two little words not only show His love for the fallen, but they show His care for the fallen and for each individual. God is saying, "Peter, the Christians may not care any more, but I do!" "The Christians may not be concerned about your restoration, but I am." "The Christians may have given up on you, but I haven't." So He gives the message to the angel to give: "Tell His disciples and Peter. "
There is something else that God is saying with these two precious words, "and Peter." He is letting Peter know of His forgiveness. Can you imagine Peter getting the message that God had sent to him a special word? God was saying to Peter, "You are forgiven. I want you where you were. I love you as I loved you before. I need you as I needed you before. I care as much as I ever cared, and Peter, you are forgiven!"
At this moment this author is that messenger. He says to that person who has fallen whose eyes are scanning these pages: God said, "Go tell the disciples and you. " And he says to the members of the church who have not fallen, "When you tell the good news, tell the fallen too. Include the fallen!"
Then God is also reminding us of His awareness. He was saying to Peter, "I know you are there. You may think you have gone so far that I cannot see you, but you haven't! I know your address! I know where you live! I know where you work! I know your motives! I am aware of you, Peter, and you won't get beyond that awareness!"
How beautiful! How wonderfully sweet that God sent His messenger to tell of His resurrection, and to send the ladies to tell the disciples . . . and Peter!
May God help His churches to love the fallen, to pray for the fallen, to run to the fallen, to lift up the fallen, to welcome the fallen, to strengthen the fallen, to carry the burden of the fallen, to share the guilt of the fallen and, by God's grace, to reclaim and restore the fallen!
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