This is the sermon for Sunday, July 25, 2010.

Galatians part 4

In your face!

Galatians 2:11-16.

Galatians 2:11-16 ESV – 11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” 15We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

INTRODUCTION: Last time we looked at the wonderful truth of being accepted by God.  We’ve been accepted by Him, not on the basis of who we are or our good works, but based on the finished work of Christ on the cross and our faith and complete trust for salvation in Him.

Now we are going to look at the confronting of Peter that Paul has to do.  He literally gets in Peter’s face and confronts Him in front of others.  There are some great truths that we can learn from today’s passage.

Every one of us at times will wonder astray.  Now I’m not taking about waking away from God, but wandering into error or some other aspect of the flesh.  Christ, like the Good Shepherd He is, leads us back to Him in repentance leading to forgiveness.  He will use other believers many times.

Let’s begin unpacking our text.

The ease of being led astray by Hypocrisy.

Galatians 2:11-13 ESV – 11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

Peter is ministering before this primarily Gentile congregation in Galatia.  He is basically living like a Gentile: fellowshipping with them, eating the same food, and things of that nature.  And God was honored and pleased.  Why?  Because Christ Jesus did what the Law, humans, and religion could not do – bring Jew and Gentile to the fellowship table and unite them before God.  What a wondrous thing.

It is still a wondrous thing when God unites those who are from different backgrounds and cultures, all under Jesus Christ.

Well, men came from Jerusalem from James, and when Peter saw them, he withdrew and separated himself from the Gentile Christians.  It so affected the people that the Jewish Christians who were with Peter separated themselves as well.  Even Paul’s co-laborer Barnabas go led astray by the hypocrisy.  And what was once united, became divided.  At this moment Peter had a decision to make: either please God by fellowshipping with the Gentile Christians, or please man by withdrawing and thereby breaking fellowship.  Peter sinned and made the wrong choice.  Now why was this an act of hypocrisy?  Well, Peter knew the truth of God in Jesus Christ and he turned his back on it, and because he was a leader, m any Jewish believers followed.

Church, let none of us think that we cannot be led astray into hypocrisy.  That is why it is so important to listen intentionally as the Word of God is preached and test everything with the clear reading of Scripture.

Paul deals with Peter and the issue.

Galatians 2:14 ESV – But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Paul saw the hypocrisy and how it spread and the danger it represented.  He knew he had to confront it and he knew since Peter was a leader in the church, he must be publicly confronted.

Let me say this: not all sin must be exposed publicly.  But when a leader sins, and the sin has been made public, or before the public, then the leader who sinned must be publicly rebuked with the hope of public repentance.

Paul now gets to the issue – hypocrisy: “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Evidently, Peter’s decision to draw back and observe Jewish food laws was leading some of the Gentile believers to do the same thing.

If hypocrisy only affected the person walking in it; it would be different.  But unfortunately, hypocrisy affects others and presents dangers of leading others astray.  That is why we must guard ourselves against it.

Paul uses this episode to support justification by faith in Jesus Christ.

Galatians 2:15-16 ESV – 15We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Paul, Peter, and other Jewish Christians weren’t born Gentiles, yet their justification before God was not based on birth or works, but faith in Christ.

The same is true with all of us.  We are not justified before God by birth, church attendance, or any other thing we will hold up to God – that’s hypocrisy.  We are all justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

CONCLUSION: If you’ve been led astray by hypocrisy, it is my prayer that this sermon has, “got in your face,” for the purpose of leading you to repentance and forgiveness.  We are not justified by prideful rule-keeping, but in faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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