So last week we started to look into Paul’s confrontation of Peter Galatians 2 before we got sidetracked. It is basically broken down into 2 sections. It lays out Peter’s offense. And then it lays out how Paul deals with Peter’s offense. vs. 11-13 lay out the offense …. vs. 14-16, lay out Paul’s response to the offense. Now actually Paul’s response goes unto vs. 21, but the heart of his response is verse 14, 15, 16 though he unpacks greater implications of his response in vs. 17-21. What was Peter’s offense? vs. 11-13 … He was being a hypocrite. Because he was being two-faced. But also if you see, he is causing others to sin in this way as well. Peter’s sin of hypocrisy is spreading. Others are seeing it. Being influenced by it. Sin never happens in a vacuum. Never, ever does it. But especially in a church. 1 Corinthians 5:8 says, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump” In other words, sin spreads quickly or at the very least effects things quickly. It doesn’t always result in causing others to sin in such a way, but it does always affect others. Even secret sin affects others.
I think of the story of Achan in Joshua 7. No one was supposed to take the devoted things or treasure when the Israelites defeated Jericho. But Achan did. He stole some things, that no one knew about. And it caused the Israelites to be defeated in their next battle. But here, this is public sin, that everyone sees happening. And it leads others into it. But let’s look at Peter for a second. Why is it you think, that Peter acted the way he did? First of all, what does it tell us that even an Apostle can sin? I think it tells us that sin is powerful and that no one is immune to it. And that we need to be constantly vigilant against sin in our lives. The biggest war against sin, should not be against sin out there, outside of us, but should be the sin in our own lives. But what do you think the root of Peter’s sin is here? Fear of man, or the opposite, the desire to please. Both opposite sides of the same coin. Fear of man, is a fear of being laughed at, or scorned, or have bad things said or thought about you. The desire to please man is the desire to be approved of. And then we get our self worth or affirmation, our identity according to what people think. And this is a dangerous thing. The the idea of trying to look good in front of people for the sake of their approval will cause us to do stupid things or not do the right things. Now obviously, we don’t want to be offensive for no reason but the bottom line is, we need to know our approval comes from God not man. please God. And that’s where our identity and affirmation and approval needs to come from. What is Peter’s biggest problem here? At the root of all? He forgot who he is in Christ. He forgot who he was in Christ is way better than what the world has to offer. The promises of Christ and the approval of God in Christ is way better than the promises of this world and the approval of man. Now it is great when brothers and sister dwell in gospel unity, but never forget it is because we are all then in one accord seeking to please God not man. But at the end of the day if you have to be, it always better to have to be wrong with men, to be at odds with men and to be right with God and in union with him. So Peter’s biggest problem here is he forgot the gospel. He had a little gospel amnesia, so to say. Fell into unbelief, which led to living in unbelief. Oh yes. Believers can do that. And right here we see the danger. Galatians 2:11 - We don’t know what the certain men who came from James said or even if they said anything. We don’t know if Peter thought he was doing a good thing by drawing back because he was worried about damaging the Jewish believers conscience. Or if it was fear of persecution from non-christian Jews. Or if maybe Peter thought his mission amongst the Jews would be jeopardized if word got out that he had eaten with Gentiles. We don’t know. We just know when they came as vs. 12 "he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.” Paul doesn’t go into detail why Peter was afraid. Just that he was afraid. Peter had been on-goingly regularly eating with Gentiles. I don’t know greek myself. Other than how to look up words and there meanings in the Lexicon. But I am told that the phrase there “he was eating with” or “he did eat with” is an imperfect verb, meaning, it was on ongoing thing. It was something he was doing quite frequently. And now he draws back in fear. Peter who was told by Jesus that they would be witnesses to the whole world just before he ascended back to the Father in Acts chapter 1. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Very similar to what Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Maybe even recollecting what Jesus had told him at an earlier date, that upon your confession Peter, that upon confessors just like you Peter, that I am the Christ, I will build my church. To the hated Samaritans. All nations. To the uttermost parts of the world. And then he receives a vision from God about no food, nor person being unclean before God. And goes on to share the gospel with Cornelius and a house full of Gentiles. Very much hit home today while studying Galatians 2:11-21, that part of walking in love is also speaking the truth in love The message and mission of the gospel is at stake here. That it is for all people. God so loved the world. Jew and Gentile alike. And for that the Apostle Paul, who is a Jew himself remember, makes a stand and confronts Peter for his hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is believing one thing and living like another. And Peter believes one thing. He has God given reasons for believing one thing but for another reason he is shrinking back in fear. And Paul does the most right and most loving thing here. We should learn from him.
Ignoring, overlooking, or being indifferent to other brother’s sins is not a good thing. How is that any better than hating someone. If I were hanging out with you at the mall and you had ketchup all over your face and never said anything to you about it as we walked around, that would not be too loving. And same with sin. Yet on a much deeper level. Caring for others often requires us to be willing to be not liked by the one we are caring for. We have to love God and love that other person enough to be willing to be not liked by them. To say hard things. You see what knowing you are approved by God as the most important thing in the world will do? It will cause people like the Apostle Paul to write letters like the book of Galatians and tell them of the time he confronted the Apostle Peter over the issue of gospel unity taking a stand on the doctrine of justification by faith apart from works of the law.
And it will also cause us to do the most loving thing for people as well. The hardest thing in the world to do is to confront someone. At least it should be. If not, we are probably doing it wrong. Why? Because relationships matter. And they should. And we fear the relationship being destroyed. But what we should fear more is that person being destroyed or that person destroying others. It says in verse 11, that Peter stood condemned. That’s not a good thing. Paul doesn’t want Peter to stand condemned. He’s a brother. So he confronts. It doesn’t mean we confront about every little thing. Otherwise it would be impossible. Sometimes love covers little things. But there are things that need to be confronted. And it probably should be more of the norm. Listen to what the Bible says some of the fruits of Godly confrontation is. I know this a detour but I believe it is important and it will help us understood more of the heart issue of what is going on in Galatians 2 as Paul is telling the Galatians what transpired between him and Peter. James 5:19-20 says, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” Or even our very own Galatians: chapter 6:1, Restore one. Bring one back who is wandering. Wow. That is awesome. Listen to what Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." Do you want to be a friend or an enemy? And then one other thing before we get to how Paul confronted. Why did Paul confront Peter publicly? Shouldn’t he have to done it one on one somewhere privately? Well, this was a public sin. It was causing others to sin. It was affecting others. You can see this in vs. 13… Even Barnabas was being led astray. Something needs to be done. And it needs to be done publicly. And so for the good of all involved. Paul publicly corrects Peter. vs. 14, “But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all” A public confrontation is not pleasant. It can easily degenerate into a no-win situation. Usually there is a loss of face for all concerned. For that reason it is natural to avoid public confrontation at all costs. But when a leader avoids public confrontation with one who is causing others to lose their faith in the completeness of God's grace expressed in the gospel of Christ, the cost is the loss of their experience of God's grace. Paul was not willing for the church of Antioch to suffer that terrible loss. The most important thing of all is how Paul confronts him. Oh, that this would be our model. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” And Paul is a real brother. Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Paul leads Peter back to his own deepest convictions by asking him a question: "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" (v. 14) What do you mean force Gentiles to live like Jews? Don’t actions often speak louder than words? When as an apostle, Peter cuts off table fellowship with Gentile brothers and sisters because they don't keep dietary laws, and he takes Barnabas and all the Jews with him, the Gentile believers cannot escape the impression that they are not fully Christians unless they become Jews. Not only is it racism but it is legalism—requiring that a person do some works of law to be accepted by God and by the church. It is out of sync with the gospel. Notice 2:21, "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose."
But notice, Paul doesn’t primarily attack his behavior. He rather says, Hey Pete - you’ve forgotten the gospel. Paul did not focus so much on the sinful behavior of racial superiority as on the sinful attitude of self-righteousness that lay beneath it. Listen. vs. 15, “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; The ‘we’ represents Peter and Paul, thus we have good reason to think that Paul continues to address Peter here. There is no quotations in the original Greek. If this is still not Paul addressing Peter, it is at least him tying it to the interaction with him and making his point to the Galatians based on that interaction. Peter and Paul were Jews by birth. Born as Jews and thus were part of God’s covenant people and recipients of his covenant promises. Paul does not deny they were sinners. Only not sinners in the same way as Gentiles, for Gentiles were not part of God’s covenant people (Eph. 2:11-12) Paul focuses on the great privileges he and Peter enjoyed as part of Israel. vs. 16 …. “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law
Paul argues that no human being, whether Jew or Gentile is declared to be in the right before God by virtue of keeping what the law requires. but through faith in Jesus Christ” … Even though Peter and Paul were part of God’s covenant people as Jews, they know that a person, any person anywhere, is justified not by works of the law but only 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” … Paul now applies what they know in general about all people everywhere to himself and Peter as Jews. They as Jews also believed in Christ Jesus, and hence even as Jews they could only be right with God by trusting in Jesus Christ and not through there observance of the law. because by works of the law no one will be justified.” … Paul grounds the claim right were he started. No one anywhere, including Peter and Paul can be righteous before God by doing the law. Why? Because of sin. Sin has so marred and infected humans everywhere falls short. Clearly Galatians 2:16 is one of the most important verses in all of Galatians. 3 times Paul asserts that right standing with God does not come by keeping the law but only through faith in Christ. The redundancy of verse should be seen as an exclamation point. Neither Peter, nor him, nor anyone else can stand before God on the basis of what they have done. Salvation is of the Lord, and it is received by faith alone. In other words, Paul is saying to Peter. Hey Pete … straighten up … you know are not living according to what you know you believe. The problem was they were not living ‘in step with the truth of the gospel’. That’s what the end of vs. 13 says. So Paul preaches the gospel to them. To Peter and to all publicly. He incorporates the gospel into his rebuke. He doesn’t ignore the situation because it will defame the gospel. And then he remedies the situation by applying the gospel. In other words. You are this, This is who you are in Christ. Now live like who you are. You are that. Now be that. Almost all of Satans attacks and sins attempts will assault us at the level of identity and unbelief. Unbelief of who we really are in Christ will cause us to live very un-Christ like. Peter sins. But Paul uses it as an opportunity for gospel centered application. Grace doesn’t excuse sin. If there was no wrong, there would be no need for grace. Grace is merely a way to deal with wrong. And God dealt with it at the cross. So now you are free from not only the penalty of your sin. But also free from the life draining affects of sin. You are now able to live your life for God, accepted by him, and even actually have the power to do so because of the cross. A way to speak to people’s hearts. Paul could have just hollered at Peter, or made him seem foolish. But instead he spoke to his heart with the one thing he knew had captured Peter’s heart the most. The gospel.