Why Bumbling Believers Are Yet Part of the Family of God

The Epistle to the Galatians

In today’s post, I want to address the issue of ‘bumbling believers’. I use the term with respect as I have visited the ‘Bumbling Believers Club’ many times throughout over forty years of walking with God. Have you ever bumbled things in God? Have you ever stumbled, mishandled, and generally messed things up? I know I have. Is there any help for us bumblers? Thank God there is. When all the dust settles, there is Jesus standing right there to help pick us up. All we can do then is raise our hands and say, ‘Thank God for Jesus. Thank God for His mercy. Thank God for His blood which cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

Galatians 1:11–12 (KJV) — 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

  • Paul uses the word ‘carnal’ to describe immature believers in Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:1 (NKJV) — 1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.

  • The Greek word for ‘carnal means ‘flesh ruled’ or taking on characteristics of this world.
  • The ‘ESV’ translates the word ‘carnal’ as ‘people of the flesh’.
  • The word ‘bumbling’ in the title of this post is used to describe this flesh ruled believer who continually stumbles over themselves.
  • Sometimes we are our own greatest enemy.
  • The English dictionary defines the word ‘bumbling’ as the act or practice of making blunders.
  • You can make a choice to be ‘spirit-ruled’ or ‘flesh-ruled’, ‘Bible-led’ or ‘head-led’.
  • If you are led only by the flesh, if you don’t allow the Lord into your counsels, you will make blunders in life.
  • The flesh is just not that good.
  • We’ve already made note, in some of the previous blogs on Galatians one, that Paul was championing a pure gospel over and above the eclectic gospel the Galatians were gravitating to.
  • The Galatians were bumbling and stumbling all over the gospel which Paul received directly from Jesus.
  • Paul points out three areas where the Galatians were ‘bumbling and stumbling.’
  • First, the Galatians were observing days and years.

Galatians 4:9–11 (NKJV) — 9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.

  • Observing days, months, seasons and years is a reference to the Jewish Mosaic calender.
  • The Galatians were holding to the feast schedule under the law.
  • This was a mistake.
  • Secondly, they were being sucked into the circumcision rite in order to gain entrance into the family of God.

Galatians 6:12–13 (NKJV) — 12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.

  • That was also a grave error.
  • Entrance into God is by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus.
  • Thirdly, the Galatians were trying to finish their Christian race in the flesh as opposed to living by faith.

Galatians 3:1–3 (NKJV) — 1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

  • Three strikes and you’re out, as the saying goes.
  • But notice despite the bumbling of the Galatians, despite the fact that they ‘swung and missed’ three times Paul still refers to them as brethren.
  • Bumbling saints are brethren none the less.
  • Even though they are messed up in their doctrine, they are yet family.
  • Even though they may be acting like the black sheep of the body of Christ, they are yet royal children of the Most High.
  • How many times have we walked off from people because their understanding of doctrine was not on par with ours?
  • How many times have we, in irritation, shunned and ostracized other believer’s over doctrinal issues?
  • Paul didn’t do that, he called them brethren.
  • The word ‘brethren’ means a male from the same womb.
  • Bumbling saints are not false prophets.
  • Stumbling saints are not wolves in sheep’s clothing.
  • They just don’t quite see the truth as you are seeing it.
  • That’s why Paul wrote a letter.
  • That’s why Paul engaged in doctrinal discussion.
  • Some applied ‘sound doctrinal bleach’ can turn any black sheep into a white sheep as long as they are teachable.

Call to Action:

Exhibiting an air of superiority is not the Jesus way. One of the very first truths I learned when I gave my heart to God is that you can never get any higher than a brother. And that’s why even stumbling saints are still saints none the less.

Question: What are your thoughts on this topic? Please share your insights in the comments section below.