November 24: Galatians 1-3
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 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. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 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, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Galatians 2:11-14, ESV
Much of the New Testament is filled with letters written by Paul to the churches in Asia. Paul was not one to mince words; when he perceived sin in the hearts of other believers he was not afraid to call them on it. That is exactly what we see in chapter 2 of Galatians.
Observing the actions of Peter, Paul was dismayed when Peter acted hypocritically when some Jewish visitors arrived. Before that time, Peter ate freely with the Gentiles, but when the visitors arrived, he separated himself from the Gentiles and ate only with the Jews. Seeing his actions, the other Jews, even Barnabas, began to follow his example.
One of the great conflicts of that time was caused by Jewish Christians thinking that the new Gentile believers should adopt Jewish customs, including circumcision. Yet, in this example, Peter and the other Jews had lived with the Gentiles as brothers until other Jews arrived.
Who are we to obey? That really is the question at the heart of this matter. Are we to be more concerned about our actions before men or before God? As Christians, like the Gentile believers of that day, we have the freedom to live before God alone, and not to be driven under the yoke of men.
Sadly, this lesson is largely forgotten among many Christians of our day. We tend to focus more on outward actions and appearances while ignoring our heart relationship with the Lord. The Bible tells us that our outward actions spring from our heart!
I think often of my children who are prone to disobey as soon as my back is turned. How I pray that their actions would spring from a heart of love toward God, knowing that He sees everything that they do.
When our hearts yearn for Christ, and our desire is to please Him alone, we are suddenly freed from the yokes of men. Pray, today, that you would not live as hypocrites, but would seek to please God alone, rather than live under the do's and dont's of well-meaning Christians around you.
When we live under the yoke of Christ, we are freed from the yoke of men!
God Bless You,