by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5 September 29, 2013 Dayton, Texas
5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
1901 ASV Translation:
5 For each man shall bear his own burden.
I. The Final Reality.
A. When it comes to "works", every man has his own liability.
B. When it comes to "exulting", every man has his own "basis".
1. Paul's "basis" is as clear as it can be from 6:14.
2. The legalists' "basis" is also just as clear from 6:4: their own works.
C. But Paul concludes this segment of his instruction with the cryptic comment, "...each man shall bear his own burden".
1. He switched his nouns. In 6:2 the Authorized Version translators opted for "burdens" and then refused to switch with Paul in 6:5. This is translators doing us a disservice.
2. The noun translated "burden" in 6:5 is only used in four contexts in the New Testament.
a. Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon says the word is used when the "burden" is "heavy" and/or "distasteful".
b. In the New Testament, Jesus used this particular word to declare that the "burden" that He laid upon the backs of those who "come to Him" is "light" (Matthew 11:30), but when castigating the scribes and Pharisees He used the same term to declare that they laid "heavy" and "grievous" burdens upon the backs of their disciples (Matthew 23:4). Luke echoes Matthew in 11:46. In the Matthean text regarding Jesus' description of the "load" He imposes upon His followers, there is the invitation: "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden..." (11:28). The verb translated "heavy laden" is the verb form of the noun under our scrutiny and it is only found twice in the New Testament so that, in all, we have six contexts that address the issue of "loads" by means of this word group.
c. The question is why Paul would switch terms and, particularly, why switch to a word noted for its association with grievous and difficult loads.
1) The context is heavily slanted toward men who think they are "something" because they hold their own works to be superior to those of their "brethren", especially those "brethren" who have fallen by way of temptation.
2) This "slant" implies that he is as interested in blocking the legal mind from any attempts to "restore" a fallen brother as he is in getting that brother some real help.
3) This "slant" also makes Paul's switch in nouns a bit more obvious: "you who think you are 'something' are going to wake up some day to a reckoning in which the grievous load you created for yourself with your 'self-superior' thinking will be laid upon your own back".
3. The bottom line is this: there is coming an ultimate reckoning; no man escapes it.
a. There is this question: is Paul addressing the "ultimate" reckoning, or is he simply saying that everyone gets caught by the load he/she is moving toward and must "bear" it?
b. The future tense implies a future inevitability. This suggests that Paul has a "final" reality in mind though that "final" reality may simply be the last stage of a lifetime of stacking up a load that has been more and more difficult to bear. This specifically identifies the "load": moral failures existing under the reality of "judgment".
c. The Scriptures are clear that each individual will be examined as to the kind and root of each "work" done by their own bodies with special regard for the "spirit" behind it. Because every "work" done by every human being on the planet has two specific elements in its root (the "love" that empowered it and the "faith" that directed it), the examination will bring three things to light: the "work" itself; the driving motivation for it; and the guiding understanding that determined how it was to be executed. Additionally, there is no "work" done by a physical body that does not have an empowering "spirit" behind it. This means that the "works" will be examined for the "spirit" that was behind the scenes. God has given His Spirit to those who are His children so that they may do "the works of God". It is for this cause that nothing will pass muster in the coming day of evaluation that does not have the Spirit of God at its roots.
d. The major issue that this concept surfaces is one: How does one handle the demands of the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years so that God's Spirit is found to be the empowering Force of our works?
1) Paul's answer is that the Spirit must be "counted upon" according to the principles involved in Promise/Faith.
2) The legalist's answer is that every work must be premeditated and cautiously pursued; a "burden" that no man can handle.
4. The issue of the coming reckoning is determined by the condition of the one under examination.
a. Those who are outside of the grace of God in Christ will stand in the judgment of the Great White Throne of Revelation 20:11 and are examined as to two questions: for what do their works "qualify" them?; and where shall they be placed in order to be subject to that for which their works qualified them? The "books of works" address the "qualification" issue; the Book of Life addresses the "where" issue.
b. Those who are within the grace of God in Christ will stand at another judgment, generally called "the judgment seat of Christ" (Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10). This "judgment" is an examination of the deeds done in the body whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10) for the purpose of "receiving" the things done in the body. Paul calls this a doctrine that establishes "the fear of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:11). Since the blood of Christ has eliminated the condemnation that justice pronounces upon failure, this "day of reckoning" will not be a day of condemnation. But, that is not to say that it will be a day of commendation. The point of the day is to determine one's eternal status in the Kingdom of the Christ in respect to one's "spiritual" service. The question of the day will be, "what has your life on earth prepared you to faithfully do in My kingdom?" (Luke 19:17). It will be a day of tears (Revelation 21:4), humiliation (1 John 2:28), and high joy (1 Thessalonians 2:19).
c. The Gospel offers "a clean slate" to those outside of the grace of God if they will embrace His promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ so that there will be no "judicial" review of the works done in the flesh prior to faith. There is no such promise to those within the grace of God in respect to the Judgment Seat of Christ: all will stand there; all will be judged according to the deeds done in their bodies; all will be assigned a place of service in the Kingdom of the Christ based upon the outcome of the judgment; and all will "carry their own load".