For His Glory

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Gospel and Us

Gal 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

Gal 2:12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

Gal 2:13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

Gal 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

Gal 2:15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

This Passage is talking about Peter. I stuggled at first with what the problem was with Peter here. I knew he was being a hypocrite but didnt know how. I have studied it out and realized what the problem was. Peter had just realized his new freedom because of the Gospel of Christ. Peter was a Jew. The Jews thought that they were bound by the old law. The law forbade the Jews to associate with unclean Gentiles. Peter had a vision though. You can read about that in Acts 10. Anyway, this vision came to him and he saw many unclean animals and a voice told him to kill and eat. God told him that what God has cleaned is ok to eat. This also means that the Jews could associate with Gentiles. It is actually kind of interesting because Paul and Peter were both realizing this new freedom in Christ even though they were kind of independent of each other. After Peter's vision, he went and met a man named Cornelius. While Peter was there, He saw how God had answered Cornelius' prayer and told him, " You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean." Peter preached to them and as he was preaching, the Holy Spirit fell on them. So now, Peter has realy realized that God is not a respecter persons. So here comes the problem. Everything is going great. Peter is in good fellowship with the Gentiles until some of the Jews cam to Antioch. The Jews are questioning him about eating with the Gentiles. Peter feared these Jews. Now because of this, Peter cut off his fellowship with the christian Gentiles. Imagine being one of those Gentile Christians! Your "leader" has just forsaken you. The man that had a part in your salvation now shunning you because of the fear of man. This is where Peter falls into hypocrisy. He is not living the truth of the Gospel.

I notice two things that is out of step with the Gospel out of this passage.

1. The fear of man does not align with the Gospel.

The Gospel produces hope and boldness in Christ. Romans 8:31 tells us that if God be for us, who can be against us? The God of the universe is on our side. I think of David. He always went to war with confidence that God would be on his side and give him the victory. God was faithful. As Christians, sometimes we may have a temporary lack in faith as Peter did here, but God will bring us back. God sent Paul to confront Peter. Isnt God amazing in how he uses others to bring us to him!

2. Hypocrisy does not align with the Gospel.

Peter was being a hypocrite when he withdrew himself from the Gentiles. He was saying one thing with his actions and believeing another with his heart. I confess that I have been guilty of this. This quote from Piper is very convicting, " When you feel insecure or frightened and are tempted to put up a front and avoid taking a stand for what you believe is right, the battle you are fighting is a battle to believe the gospel." Whoa! I think the only way we can overcome this is to center our lives on Christ and the Gospel. Make it the roots that keep us alive. I hope God uses this in everyone who reads this as He has in my life.


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