So Paul went to the Temple the next day with the other men. They had already started the purification ritual, so he publicly announced the date when their vows would end and sacrifices would be offered for each of them. The seven days were almost ended when some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the Temple and roused a mob against him. They grabbed him, yelling, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who preaches against our people everywhere and tells everybody to disobey the Jewish laws. He speaks against the Temple—and even defiles this holy place by bringing in Gentiles. ” (For earlier that day they had seen him in the city with Trophimus, a Gentile from Ephesus, and they assumed Paul had taken him into the Temple.) The whole city was rocked by these accusations, and a great riot followed. Paul was grabbed and dragged out of the Temple, and immediately the gates were closed behind him. As they were trying to kill him, word reached the commander of the Roman regiment that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. He immediately called out his soldiers and officers and ran down among the crowd. When the mob saw the commander and the troops coming, they stopped beating Paul.
(Acts of the Apostles 21:26-32 NLT)
Paul had tried to comply with the request made of him to take a vow and show his fellow Jewish people that he wasn't preaching that Jews didn't have to follow the Jewish customs. Paul had, himself, been circumcised the eighth day after birth just like every other authentic Jewish male (see Philippians 3:1-11). The Jerusalem council, in Acts 15, had met and determined that the Gentiles were not bound to Jewish law and custom. Jewish believers could still practice their faith in conscientiousness of their heritage and tradition. However, Paul did, indeed, preach that Jesus was our circumcision and that dependence on our outward practices, rather than His work of grace in our lives, was void and empty. No traditional practice or religious expectation can save us. Jesus Christ is the complete fulfillment of our salvation. He alone can save! If we choose to consecrate our lives by personal convictions of conduct, that is, indeed, commendable. We need to be aware of the fact that others are being affected by our conduct and we should walk in honor. We should be careful not to, unnecessarily, disrespect traditions and customs of others. It is important for us to walk in love toward others even when we disagree with their practices. This does not, however, mean that we compromise the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must be absolutely dependent upon the sufficient work of Jesus on the cross as our circumcision. He is the One who has cut away our flesh and has given us His Spirit (see the book of Galatians for an exhaustive explanation of the issue).
When we preach and teach the truth of Jesus, we will rub against some customs and traditions of men. We do not intentionally attack those practices but preaching the truth of Jesus will, and should, challenge any practice we have.
Everything we are and become should be based upon One - Jesus. Nothing more or less. Let's stop adding things to the gift of salvation. Either you have been saved by Jesus Christ and have a new life in Him or you are lost (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). If we have truly been born again then our lives will be changed. Discipleship is what some confuse with earning salvation. We are like babies when we accept Jesus. We must be discipled in order to grow in Christ and become mature in the faith (see 2 Peter 3:18). The one thing we must not do in any situation is try to make a believer like us. We must teach them to be like Jesus! In Matthew 23:15 Jesus said "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves."(KJV). Religion has often turned people into children of hell rather than children of heaven. A relationship with Jesus will make us like God. Religion, by itself, will make us like Satan. This is why so many who claim to be religious can turn violent when they don't agree with something. This is what happened to Paul in this passage. His own countrymen were turning on him for his preaching of Jesus.
Of course, we should know what we believe and why. We should be able to defend our beliefs (this is called apologetics). We must never be ashamed of Jesus! When we are attacked for our faith, we must not retaliate with violence, rioting, or any other ungodly activity. The battle belongs to the Lord!!!
Rev. Curtis Norris