“But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions? “You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”” Galatians 2:11-16 NLT
Paul had to confront Peter for his hypocrisy. Peter had allowed the Judaizers (those who taught that one must adhere to the law of Moses and be circumcised) to influence him to no longer eat with the Gentiles (non-Jewish people). For fear of being criticized by the Judaizers and the Jewish community, Peter played the role of chameleon (one who changes behavior and/or opinion according to the situation). Peter wasn't alone in his conduct. Even Barnabas and other Jewish believers got caught up in this behavior. This disgusted Paul. These leaders were supposed to hold the line with consistent conduct of the new life in Christ. It didn't matter whether you were Jew or Gentile. All had sinned and fallen short of God's grace (see Romans 3:23). All needed God's grace.
Peter knew better and so did Barnabas. Their behavior influenced others. This had to be rebuked. Paul, with unabated determination, withstood Peter to his face concerning the matter. Paul wasn't trying to humiliate him, he was confronting him for the sake of the truth (the gospel of grace). The fact was, and still is, that we cannot, and will not save ourselves by observing any religious law!
When false doctrine infiltrates the ranks of the New Testament Church, it is time for rebuke and reproof. We must never abandon the true gospel. Only Jesus can save us. We will never be saved by keeping any regulation. Not matter what our affiliations are with respect to the traditions we were raised in, the religious background we have, or what our personal ideology may be, the scriptures teach that there is only One way of salvation- JESUS!!!
Let us dispense of any nonsense that would try to influence us otherwise.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, solidify me in the simple, but yet profound, truth that Jesus is the only way of salvation. Help me to never allow any other doctrine to influence me. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand!!
Rev. Curtis Norris