CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER SIX (Lesson CXXXVIII)

Having had the privilege and joy of pastoring one church in Germany and two churches in the USA, I often found myself explaining to some of the members why I didn’t do this or do that they felt every pastor should do. Not being a politician, I explained to them how I saw my role as pastor. First and foremost, I gave myself to the study of God’s Word. When I stepped into the pulpit, I wanted them to hear and feel that the sermon outline I was using was my own, but the message carried to their hearts belonged to God. In other words, I was the messenger, but the message was from God.

Tim Hegg also touches on the responsibility of those who teach others to be well versed themselves.[1] But for me, on Tuesday, I would give myself to prayer and reading so that the Holy Spirit could bring to my attention what God wanted His people to hear. That generally took all morning. Then on Wednesday, I began to research the subject and build an outline so that I was able to deliver the main points for a good effect. On Thursday, I began to add my commentary to help expand the main points, which often had several sub-points. Then on Friday, I would go over the whole outline while I prayed for the Holy Spirit to give me insights that I could not supply on my own. On Saturday, I would make sure all the significant activities for the church in the coming week appeared in the bulletin. Then on Sunday, I would go in early and pray for God’s anointing to preach the message He gave me with assurance and conviction.

The afternoons were open for visitation and other duties. For me, if I did not prove to be a man of God sent by God to bring them His word, then all my other activities would be like building on sand. It would have been so easy to abandon such intense and detailed preparation for two sermons on Sunday and a Bible class on Wednesday. But I knew God called me to carry the Gospel. But how could I be a competent minister if I didn’t understand the Gospel? I had no interest in preaching someone else’s sermons (even though I often found stimulating ideas in those outlines). To be told that I didn’t visit enough, or that my bedside manners sorely needed improvement, or that I preached too long, was not pleasant, but tolerable because I was more interested in pleasing the One who sent me than the one’s He sent me to.

6:7 Another thing, don’t become conceited; don’t try to outsmart God. You will always reap the same crop as the seed you sow.

 EXPOSITION

Now Paul starts another paragraph that deals with the same topic only from a different angle. There is an old saying traced back to Jacques Abbadie (1654-1727), a French Protestant, who published a work called, “Traité de la Vérité de la Religion Chrétienne” (“Treatise on the Truth of the Christian Religion”). There, we find the following line: “One can fool some men, or fool all men in some places and times, but one cannot fool all men in all places and ages.” President Abraham Lincoln later is quoted as phrasing it this way: “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” I’m sure the Apostle Paul would agree with this, but he added one line here in verse seven we always need to keep in mind: If you think you can fool God only once, you are only deceiving yourselves. You will harvest what you plant.

When Paul wrote the Ephesians, he tied this motto to not only a person who attempts to hide their sins from God but those who play along with them under the guise of offering the Church’s forgiveness. Paul told them with no hesitation not to be fooled by those who try to excuse sins, for the displeasure of God will be felt by all who disobey Him.[2] Also, the Apostle James makes a point on trying to forget wrongdoing, hoping God will overlook it as well. He told his readers to do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves. Hearing God’s instructions and doing nothing is like a person who looks at their face in the mirror and doing nothing about what they saw. They immediately go away and forget how bad they looked.[3]

The Apostle John puts it another way; He says that if we claim we have never sinned, we are only fooling ourselves and owning up to the truth. But if we are living in the light of the Gospel, as God is in that light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.[4] As the wise man, Job asked, does God want your help if you are going to twist the truth to suit yourself? Be careful because He already knows what you are doing! Do you think you can fool God the same way you can fool those around you?[5]

It was Paul’s way of saying that if you plant a sour lemon tree, don’t expect to grow Red Delicious apples. Wise man Job put it another way: My experience, says Job, shows that those who sow trouble are cultivating evil, and will harvest the same fruit.[6] And King Solomon wrote that if you close your eyes to the facts and do not have respect for the Lord’s Word, turning your back on wisdom and spurning any advice, you will undoubtedly eat the bitter fruit of doing things your way and will have to endure the pain of your choosing.[7] However, the prophet Hosea said that if you plant goodness, you will harvest faithful love. Plow the hard ground of your heart, and you will reap harmony with the Lord. He will come, and He will make goodness fall on you like rain.[8]

COMMENTARY

Early church scholar Marius Victorinus (280-355 AD) notes that Paul adds another principle that harmonizes with what he said so far to prevent the Galatians from following anything besides the Gospel by coupling it with a legalistic way of life and works. Do not err, he says, for all those things which are established apart from the Gospel are error-prone. And he adds to this the necessary force to his precept with: “God,” he says, “is not mocked.” He does not say, “God knows all,” lest they should hope for some sort of cheap pardon for their error or some hidden sin. Instead, “God is not mocked,” and Paul clarifies what will happen to those who err and those who hold fast to worldly living.[9]

John Flavel (1627-1691) writes about people who feel they are too important to be bothered by other people’s troubles. He asks them to consider that the seed they are sowing now in the lives of others is the seed planted for eternity, and will spring up again with the appropriate effects, rewards, and punishments, when you do that to them, are turned to dust, as Paul says here in verse seven. “What a person sows, they will also reap.” And as sure as the harvest follows the seed-time, so surely will shame, fear, and horror, follow sin.[10] What Zeuxis, the famous Greek painter, said of his work when someone asked him why he was so peculiar in his work, we can confidently speak of ours, “I paint for eternity.” Oh my! how bitter will those things be before the Judgment Seat of the Anointed One, says Flavel. All will be judged based on what they did and how they did it. It is true; our physical actions are short-lived; how soon is a word or action spoken or done, and then that’s the end of it? But morally and spiritually speaking, they are permanent, written down in God’s book of account. Oh! Therefore, be careful in what you do, articulate, and act as a person who knows they must give an account.[11]

American Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) feels that it is absurd, and even ridiculous, for any person to pretend that they have a good heart, while they live a sinful life, or do not produce the fruit of holiness in their lifestyle. Time has proven that such individuals do not love God above all. It is foolish to dismiss plain facts and experience. You will find people walking down the broadway of sin and yet flatter themselves thinking they will still go to heaven. There they will be greeted as blessed beings. Or, expect to be welcomed as sacred saints without sanctified lives. In doing so, they hope to fool of the Judge of all Judges. Edwards says we find this implied in what the Apostle Paul says here in verse seven. Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.

This is just another way of saying, says Edwards, that you are deceiving yourselves if you think you can expect to reap everlasting life in the hereafter if you do not sow to the Spirit here in this life. It is hopeless to imagine that God can be fooled by you, that He can be treated like a dummy and baffled with shadows instead of substances, and with imitation fruit instead of the excellent fruit which He expects. Not only that, but you who pretend to be real will openly be seen as false in your life before His face.[12]

Cyril W. Emmit (1820-1903) takes the word “mocked” to mean “to turn up one’s nose at.” Archibald Robertson (1863-1934) agrees. He tells us that this rare Greek verb myktērizō is used only once in the Final Covenant, even though commonly used in the Greek Septuagint Version of the First Covenant. It comes from the root word for “nose,” and as used in verse seven, it means “turning the nose up at someone or something.” When God is the object of such scorn, it is never without punishment. Not by receiving something hurtful from God but not receiving something beneficial. Robertson believes that Paul means to say that this is “evading God’s laws which people think they can accomplish, but cannot.” [13]

Edward Huxtable (1833-1893), believes that rather than taking the word “sows” to imply this present life, and the word “reap” signaling the afterlife, we accept them as a reference to the present. What farmer sows a crop that he doesn’t expect to harvest until after he dies? On the Day of Judgment, each person will be judged not just by what they sowed in this life, but what they reaped. That’s why some will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” while others will receive, “Depart from me.” We see in verse eight that Paul was no doubt thinking of that sown to our body’s passions being in the present. After all, we can only harvest sinful things planted in our hearts and minds while we are alive in our bodies. And then, in verse nine, Paul tells them that sowing in the spirit should never make them want to give up because they will see a harvest as long as they keep doing good.[14]

[1] Tim Hegg: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 259

[2] Ephesians 5:6

[3] James 1:22-24

[4] 1 John 1:8, 7

[5] Job 13:8-9

[6] Ibid. 4:8

[7] Proverbs 1:29-31

[8] Hosea 10:12

[9] Victorinus, Marius: Edwards, M. J. (Ed.). On Galatians, op. cit., pp. 96–97

[10] Daniel 12:2

[11] Flavel, John: Sermon 24, p. 293

[12] Jonathan Edwards: Religious Affections, Part 3, p 1022

[13] Archibald Robertson: Word Pictures, op. cit., p. 1474

[14] Pulpit Commentary: op. cit., Galatians, Exposition, Edward Huxtable, pp. 319-320

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s