“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

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We live in a time when so many Christians have given their lives to a Jesus Christ who differs so vastly, from believer to believer, which is evidenced by the amount of disagreement over even simple biblical truths. No wonder we’re frequently so hesitant to rebuke when we encounter a brother or sister caught in sin, and consequently, we make ourselves unavailable for God to use us to restore them. We also make ourselves unavailable to be restored, for restoration can be a two-way street when the Holy Spirit is at work.

Paul ministered to the Galatians about godly admonishment and the good fruits it can achieve, but he also warns that such situations are full of traps waiting to ensnare the one who lives by the Spirit. Why did Paul instruct the Galatians, who live by the Spirit, to admonish the brother or sister caught up in sin? To crush that person, overburden them with guilt, or to puff themselves up? Of course not. Paul didn’t give this instruction for any of these reasons. Paul gave this instruction out of love with the fervent desire to see the ensnared person be restored, and to be restored gently no less. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). Yes, a rebuke can drive people away, but a godly rebuke is a loving act of kindness and mercy intended to convict (i.e. it may sting a bit) and lead to restoration. Especially in our “Don’t judge me” culture, where people prefer their ears to be tickled, and their Jesus an idol of their own design, I don’t recognize the Jesus they follow. I don’t know him anymore. I find the real Jesus is still revealing himself to me each day. Like us today, the Galatians drifted away from the true gospel; they drifted away from the true Jesus. Perhaps, this is, at least in part, why Jesus tells those, in Matthew 7:23, plainly that he never knew them.

If God finds fault with nothing, and accepts everything, then Jesus is irrelevant, because there is no need for a savior where there is no trespass. On the other hand, if God condemns as the result of any single trespass, then, again, Christ is irrelevant, because a savior is unnecessary where grace does not abound. Finally, a god that finds fault with nothing, except for acts reserved as especially grievous by a society, is nothing more than an idol created out of its collective norms. The human incarnation of God, Christ Jesus, demonstrates the true manifestation of the character and love of God. So, tell me more about the Jesus you serve. Tell me more about the Jesus to whom you’ve surrendered your life. Is he really Jesus? In my case, once upon a time, and this is not easy to admit, the Holy Spirit showed me that the Jesus I was worshiping wasn’t Jesus at all. Thank God for his kindness and mercy. Thank God for his gentle rebuke.

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