Galatians 2:11-14 – But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For 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. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 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?”
One of the reasons the Bible tells us the life stories of so many people is so that we can learn from them. Positively, we can learn the benefits of wisdom, obedience, and faith. Negatively, we can learn the burdens of foolishness, rebellion, and disbelief. In the conflict between Peter and Paul, there are at least six lessons for all Christians:
- Your behavior can change your beliefs. As God’s Word confronts your behavior, if you do not change your behavior, eventually you will change your beliefs to justify your behavior. This is what Peter was doing by negating his own teaching.
- Christ displaces all other allegiances. Once you surrender Jesus, your nation, race, culture, gender, political party, etc. are all distant secondary issues expected to bow to the Lordship of Christ.
- Mature Christians are not perfect Christians and need to change too. Peter is, at this point in his life’s journey, among the most mature Christians on earth and he blew it. This should be an encouragement for us, that there is not just grace to save us but to keep us saved. Later, Peter publicly defends Paul and declares his writings to be Scripture, which showed that Peter changed and grew (2 Peter 3:15-16).
- To disapprove of people God has approved of is sinful. God approved of the Gentiles,but the religious leaders did not which was sin.
- God is not just saving individuals but making a family. For the family to not love one another breaks the heart of the Father.
- Grace is not just or your relationship with God, but your relationships with others as well. There was grace for Paul and Peter’s strained relationship. There was grace for Peter’s strained relationship with Gentile Christians. And, there is grace for your relationship with God and relationships with others.
Which of these lessons is God teaching you recently?