A Believers New Life in Christ
by Stephen Stillman
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When we become Christians we enter a New Life. Some people believe this New Life comes about by obtaining a new character. This is far from being true. A new character can be a change in moral or legal correctness brought about by one’s own efforts. A person can change his/her moral character by treating others differently and getting rid of bad habits. A person can change his/her legal character by obeying the laws when they have been negligent in obeying them in the past. The New Life the Apostle Paul writes about in Galatians chapter five does not come about by self-efforts, but is produced by the Holy Spirit. This New Life comes about because the believer has done to his old nature the same thing that was done to Jesus Christ on the cross, Gal 5:24, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts”. In other words, every one is born into sin and remain dead in trespasses and sin until they express faith in Jesus Christ. At that time we are crucified with our sins and trespasses and made alive in Christ. Ephesians 2:1 says “We were dead in trespasses and sins but Christ has quickened us” (made us alive).
As a Christian, since we have chosen this New Life we need not just hold it as an idea in our heads, or a sentiment in our hearts. We must work out the implications of the New Life in every detail in our lives.
We must first work out the implications of the New Life in our body.
The New Life has been produced by the Holy Spirit and must be carried out in the Spirit. Gal 5:25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit”. The Holy Spirit must direct our steps as we move toward Christian maturity. If we are living and walking in the Spirit our lives will show it. Gal 5:26 says, “Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another”. Christians living the New Life will no longer seek the glory of men. The glory of men is vain glory because it will not profit the Christian anything. Christians living the New Life will not provoke others. They will not look upon others with contempt, or cause hatred to produce a desire for them to take revenge. Christians living the New Life will not envy others. They will not compare themselves with others as if they were better or worse.
The New Life calls for cooperative attitudes and actions with all people. In Galatians chapter 6 the Apostle Paul puts all Christians in one of three classes.
The Case of the Sinning Brother: Gal 6:1, “if a man be overtaken by a fault”. In these words, Paul recognizes that even one whose life is guided by the Spirit may stumble and fall into wrong doing. One who is born again does not deliberately plan to sin, but may be tempted by Satan and yield to the temptations because of head strong passions or lack of thought. The idea of Paul’s message here is the picture of one who is a victim of sudden temptation which has produced an unexpected lapse in the brother’s spiritual growth.
The cooperative action and attitude called for regarding the sinning brother is described in the next words of Gal 6:1, “restore such a one in the spirit of meekness”. Restore means to repair and to bring back into a useful condition. Paul was meaning here to set the sinning brother to rights; to bring him back into line; to put him back on the road of right living. The restoring must be done in the spirit of meekness. The quality most needed to be a restorer is meekness. Religious zeal need not be harsh and overbearing. We must always consider Jesus’ treatment of sinners when helping a sinning brother. Many useful reproofs loose their effectiveness if given in wrath. When reproof is managed with calmness and appear to come from sincere affection and concern for the welfare of those whom the reproof is given, it is likely to make a good impression. Another reason for restoring in the spirit of meekness is also given in Gal 6:1, “lest thou also be tempted”. We need to deal tenderly with brothers who have been overtaken in sin, because we don’t know that sometime it might be our own case.
The Case of the Burdened Brother: Gal 6:2-5. Paul not only recognizes that even one whose life is guided by the Spirit may stumble and fall into wrong doing, Paul also recognizes he will also find himself burdened down from time to time.
The cooperative action and attitude called for regarding the burdened brother is described in Gal 6:2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens”. In dealing with the sinning brother Paul’s emphasis was on tolerance. In dealing with the burdened brother Paul’s emphasis shifts to action. Christians must do more than set a fallen brother on his feet. We should lend a helping hand so the brother won’t fall again. There are many burdens which press a person down. A person is often pressed down under the weight of disappointment, anxiety, tension, weariness, and the plain pressures of every day living. If we leave our brother to stagger alone and eventually sink under his load when we could have helped him by shouldering part of his burden we are doing less than is expected of us, and we deserve reproach. The result of our 0utworking here when helping a burdened brother is found in the next words of Gal 6:2, “and so fulfill the law of Christ”. Paul was not speaking in legalistic terms. He is referring to a life-principle of a much greater and deeper meaning than merely following a set of rules. The law of Christ is to love, help, and give comfort. We can only satisfy the requirements of Christlikeness by showing concern for all those who face the ravages of a cold and heartless world. The greatest hindrance to this cooperative action is self-importance based on self-ignorance. Gal 6:3, “For when a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” If a person imagines himself free of burdens or so above weakness, sorrow, or short-comings that he shall never need help, he will completely be disinterested in helping others bear their burdens. Paul does not mean we should belittle ourselves or that our attitude should be that we are unfit to perform any work for the burdened brother. We must maintain a worthy opinion of ourselves, yet we must also realize that any ability we possess has been given by God and conveyed to us through Jesus who infuses strength within us.
The Case of the Teaching Brother: Gal 6:6, “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things”.
The cooperative action and attitude called for regarding the teaching brother applies to our treatment of teachers. Paul had been speaking about our attitude toward inferiors, those who had fallen, whom we are tempted to despise. Then he spoke about those who had fallen under the burdens of this world, those whom we are expected to help. He is now speaking about our attitude toward superiors whom we are tempted to neglect. If a person is harsh in treating the weak, he is likely to show rudeness and insubordination toward the strong. When a person is self-centered and self-sufficient, he is likely to show a cold contempt toward his inferiors and a jealous independence of those above him. A proper realization of our weaknesses will make us treat our inferiors correctly, and a proper realization of our obligation to God will make us deal properly with those who teach us. It is proper duty of those who are taught in the Word to support those who are appointed to teach them.
Questions to challenge us.
How are we working out the implications of our New Life in Jesus Christ?
Are we living and walking in the Spirit?
Do we have a cooperative attitude toward all our brothers and sisters in Christ?
To the sinning brother – an attitude of meekness that will help restore him and bring him back into a useful condition for God.
To the burdened brother – an attitude to help him bear his burdens in order to fulfill the law of Christ.
To the teaching brother – an attitude of support to those appointed to teach and to communicate to them in all good things.
Remember, the New Life is much more than self-efforts to change our character. The New Life is just what it says it is: A New Life because the old life if gone.
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