“For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself”
The “for” gives further qualification to someone who attempts to restore a fallen believer. Not only should spiritual Christians take caution not to fall into the same temptation when restoring others, but also they should beware of pride creeping into their thinking.
if anyone thinks himself to be something,
The “if” here assumes a fact. Some Galatians actually thought that they were something. They had an ego problem. In their legalism, they had come to a conclusion, as the word “thinks “clearly implies that they were a cut above other people.
when he is nothing,
We are not sufficient in ourselves, so why should we assume that we are above Christians who fall? Arrogance will keep us from assessing our true place. None of us have the right to imagine ourselves as a cut above other Christians.
Legalists constantly overestimate their spiritual capital. They do not value their debt to God or others. This is a problem with the overestimation of self. It is the polar opposite of a grace perspective on the self. We cannot take the credit for who and what we are, but we give the credit to God. From God’s perspective, we get a more realistic view of our worth.
“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).
he deceives himself
An intolerant attitude toward others makes us assume that we are beyond spiritual bankruptcy. We can test ourselves against this by examining ourselves (Galatians 6:4). All of us are susceptible to sin. If we think that we are without sin, we cheat ourselves. This will put us in a very vulnerable position toward sin by making us susceptible to sin. There is a surprise coming to such a person one day.
The word “deceives” means to lead one’s mind astray. It comes from two words: mind and deceive. The idea is that such people are very subjective about themselves, for they can deceive their own minds. We lead ourselves astray with our pride. Arrogance is a sin against common sense. It is sheer folly to think that we can stand in our own self-assurance. This is why it is imperative that we carefully scrutinize ourselves to see how truly corrupt our heart really is. Rationalization of sin always misleads us into further self-deception.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
Grace eradicates any basis for bragging, for God’s grace, provides everything for us. Legalism puts value on how we measure up to God. It emphasizes what we do rather than what God has done for us. Self-righteousness is always arrogant.
“For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise”. (2 Corinthians 10:12)
Grace-oriented believers do not condemn fallen Christians because they know all too well their own vulnerability to sin. They realize they must depend on God’s grace to deal with it. We are not beyond a fall ourselves. To compare ourselves with others and think that we cannot do what they do is a fatal error.
“For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7 )
It is folly to stand aloof from fallen believers in our own self-sufficiency.
The one thing that will keep us from bearing the burdens of other people is pride. We entertain wonderful thoughts about our own sufficiency. We think we are beyond the sin of others. This is an arrogant attitude that we are above failure.
Some of us have exaggerated estimations of ourselves. No one else seems to hold that opinion of us. We deceive no one but ourselves. Self-conceit blunts our care for others.
“Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).
Some Christians are so deluded that they think that they cannot fall. They look down their nose at those who do. They look down on others as less spiritual than themselves. This attitude does not show any need for anything from fellow Christians or any desire to help others. It is undiluted self-satisfaction.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
“I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing” (2 Corinthians 12:11).
Christians tend to explain away carnality in their lives (1 John 1:8,10). The energy of the flesh distorts accurate self-appraisal (1 Corinthians 3:18). Deception distorts our application of the Word of God to our circumstances (James 1:22) and causes us to commit sins of the tongue (James 1:26).