- Grace Wins! Good morning. Thanks for being here. My name’s David Hardy, and I’m going to continue our passage by passage walk through the book of Galatians today as we continue our Living Free
- We’ll be in Galatians 2:11-21 in the New Testament, and I’ll be using the New Living Translation of the Bible that we make available here, which you can also find on the Brookwood App, or we’ll have verses on the screens.
- What if we chose you today to show a movie of your life, including everything you’ve said or thought, I’m guessing you would want to edit portions of that! Maybe you’d feel a little guilty after that showing? I would!
- Regardless of who you look to as your god, or your higher power, or the force in the universe, there’s this feeling inside that we need to do something to alleviate our guilt and be right with our God.
- That’s the issue Paul is addressing with the Galatian church.
- Do I trust in what God has done to alleviate my guilt, or do I trust in what I can do to alleviate my guilt?
- Do I put my faith in Jesus Christ to make me right with God, or do I put my trust in my ability to follow some rules to make me right with God?
- Do you think it’s important that we’re unified with other believers? Why?
- Jesus prayed that we would all be one. (John 17:20-21), yet what if one of our fellow believers is not holding to the same truth we are?
- What if I said, in order for us to be right with God, we all need to eat a handful of peanuts. Many of you would say, ok no problem. I don’t know if the Bible says it, but I like peanuts. But some of you would say, no way. Why? For some of you, eating peanuts might literally end your life if you’re allergic. And second, it’s not necessary because it’s not Biblical.
- Unity matters, but what unifies us matters as well.
- Unity without truth is not real unity.
- In the early church, especially in Jerusalem, there were Jewish believers called Judaizers.
- The Judaizers were legalistic Jews who claimed to follow Christ, believing He was Messiah, but teaching that a Gentile had to be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses before he could be saved, and had to continue to observe the Old Testament Law in order to maintain relationship with God.
- So there was some disagreement over whether we rely on faith in Christ alone to make us right with God, or whether we have to do something in addition to that to be right with God.
- In Galatians 2:11-21, Paul is seeking to maintain unity while upholding the truth regarding how we are made right with God.
- Paul’s steps for maintaining unity in the truth are also good steps for maintaining unity through any disagreement.
Maintain unity in the truth by:
- Confronting face to face.
- In the previous passages that J.C. taught from the last couple of weeks, Paul affirmed his authority as an apostle – one who had direct contact with Jesus, and was continuing to hear from Jesus, and who was appointed by Jesus to spread the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.
- Paul had also noted his unity with the other apostles, specifically Peter, James and John who were leaders of the church in Jerusalem.
- They all agreed that there was no need to ask the Gentiles who were becoming Christians to live like a Jew, or to add an expectation that the Gentiles follow the Jewish laws, but that becoming right with God only required faith in Jesus Christ. Acts 15. Which was also saying to the Gentiles, you don’t have to be circumcised to be a Christian. More good news!
- In today’s passage, Paul tells what happened when Peter came to visit the church in Antioch, where Paul and Barnabas co-pastored the first church established in a Gentile area. Verse 11:
11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. Galatians 2:11 (NLT)
- Peter’s actions showed a different philosophy than what Paul had agreed on with Peter and the other apostles, and it’s likely that others could see that there was a philosophy difference between Paul, leader of the Antioch church, and Peter, one of the key leaders of the early Christian church.
- This issue is so important that Paul is saying that he even had to address Peter on this issue, it would be like me addressing Perry on an issue.
- So what options does Paul have?
- One option is avoidance. Paul could have said, let’s arrange for Peter to get transferred out of here, and that will take care of that problem.
- But how does that maintain unity – the disagreement is still there.
- How does that uphold truth – the people are still unsure what the right philosophy is because the truth hasn’t been clarified.
- Another option is gather an army. Paul could have talked with everyone else about the issue before talking with Peter and tried to get others on his side.
- But that doesn’t bring unity, it brings more division.
- It doesn’t show dignity to the person you have the disagreement with. It doesn’t help us reach agreement on the truth.
- But when I address an issue face to face, I honor the other person by entering into a process of seeking to bring us together. We are seeking to come to some type of agreement regarding that issue.
In Matthew 18:15 Jesus said,
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” Matthew 18:15 (NLT)
- Paul wanted to maintain unity, so he went to Peter and got face to face.
- Face to face doesn’t mean Facebook, it doesn’t mean text or email, it means face to face.
- Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus suggests that seeking this unity is even a higher priority than coming to worship.
- Is there an issue you have with someone today? What is your best next step to addressing it so that you can maintain unity, but also uphold truth? I would suggest get face to face with them. Then:
Maintain unity in the truth by:
- Clarifying the issue.
- What’s the issue we’re dealing with, and why is it so important?
- If the issue is more about my preferences, then maybe I need to chill, swallow my pride and forgive. Colossians 3:13 says,
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13 (NLT)
- Try rating the issue on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being more about preference, 10 being more about truth. If more about preference, If more about truth, confront.
- Paul’s issue is a matter of truth, so he clarifies the issue he has with Peter in verse 12 of Galatians 2.
12 When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who were not circumcised. Galatians 2:12a (NLT)
- Paul starts by affirming the initial behavior of Peter. Excellent way to enter confrontation. Look for something to affirm. I appreciate this about you.
- Peter initially was treating the Gentiles as equals, as fellow believers, likely eating whatever the Gentiles ate, regardless of whether it adhered to the Jewish laws regarding diet.
- Peter had significant background with this.
- He heard Jesus in Mark 7:18-21 say that what you eat doesn’t defile you, but what comes out of the heart is what defiles you.
- God had spoken to Peter in a dream in Acts 10 not to call unclean what God had made clean, and He guided Peter to share the gospel with Cornelius who was a Gentile.
- In Acts 15:8-11 Peter had spoken against the Judaizers claim that Gentiles had to follow the Jewish laws in order to be fully Christians.
- So Peter was all in with the Gentiles as Christian brothers and sisters. However, back to verse 12, Paul says,
But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. Galatians 2:12b (NLT)
- These friends of James were Judaizers, from the church in Jerusalem, where James, the brother of Jesus, was a leader.
- Just because these Judaizers were friends of James doesn’t mean that James held to their way of thinking. In Acts 15:19 James confirmed that they should not add unnecessary rules and expectations on the Gentiles who were becoming believers.
- So when these Jewish Christians, these Judaizers came around, Peter began to hang around with them and stopped eating with the Gentiles. He stopped eating the unclean foods. Why?
- Because he was afraid of criticism. Not fearing for his life. Just criticism.
- Who can identify with Peter? Unfortunately many of us, including me.
- Can you imagine how the Gentiles felt? Confused, hurt, as if they didn’t measure up.
- Yeah they became Christians, but they still aren’t as spiritual, not as holy, as those of us who carry out the old Jewish laws. Who are circumcised and eat the clean foods.
- Before salvation every person is equally separated from God, and after salvation every person is equally reconciled to God.
- What was the result of Peter’s actions? Why was it so important this issue be addressed? Verse 13:
13 As a result, other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. Galatians 2:13 (NLT)
- By his actions Peter caused others to follow his example. He may not have been speaking the doctrine that the Gentile Christians needed to be circumcised, but by his actions, he was promoting that belief. True faith is expressed in how we live in addition to what we express with our mouths or thoughts.
- Even Barnabas, who was a fellow pastor of that Antioch church, joined in by hanging out with those who held to the Law of Moses, and avoiding the Gentiles who weren’t circumcised or didn’t practice the Law of Moses. What kind of rift do you think that caused? You think maybe some heartache and division in that church?
- Neither unity nor truth were being upheld. The unity of the church was at stake, the true message of the Gospel was at stake.
- Someone had to speak up, confront Peter, and clarify the issue.
- For those of us who trust Christ, do we ever act like we don’t really trust Christ? Why do we do that? Why do we sometimes put more stock in what others think or in what we want, than in what Christ tells us? What does that show us? (We may not trust Christ as much as we think)
- How can we avoid living like we don’t trust Christ? We all need people in our lives who can point us back to the truth. A mentor, a buddy, a small group.
- After Paul clarifies the issue, he seeks to . . .
Maintain unity in the truth by:
- Continuing in the Word of God.
- If you’re having a disagreement, after you clarify the issue, go to a separate source of authority other than yourself, go to the Word of God.
- Paul clarifies the issue again, and shows that his issue is not a matter of preference, but a matter of distortion of the truth of the gospel. Verse 14:
14 When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions? Galatians 2:14 (NLT)
- Paul based his issue on the anchor of the gospel message, not on his opinions or preferences.
- The gospel message is that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Jesus said,
… “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 (NLT)
- In withdrawing from the Gentiles, Peter and the Jewish believers were not living according to the truth of this Gospel message that salvation is through faith in Christ alone. There is no other way to the Father except through Jesus.
- Since Peter had not renounced his actions in front of everyone, Paul had to address the issue to Peter’s face in public. So that the Word of God would be upheld as our basis for truth and unity.
- Paul affirmed that Peter was no longer living as bound by the Jewish law – that’s good, so why was he trying to make the Gentiles follow Jewish traditions, if he wasn’t following the Jewish traditions?
- Then Paul continues with an explanation of truth based on Scripture that levels the playing field between Jews and Gentiles. Verse 15:
15 “You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. Galatians 2:15 (NLT)
- Paul is saying that we Jews have been born into a classification of people who are the chosen people of God with a system of laws that should move us toward righteousness. The Gentiles have been classified differently since they are neither born as people of God, nor do they have a system to move them toward righteousness. However, verse 16:
16 Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” Galatians 2:16 (NLT)
- Either way, whether Jew or Gentile, regardless of the classification you have been born into, none of us can be made right with God by obeying the Law. We are made right with God by placing our faith, our trust, in Jesus Christ.
- Paul states the same thing in three different ways:
- General statement speaking as an apostle of Jesus: A person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law.
- A personal statement from his own experience: And we have believed in Christ Jesus (you and me Peter, Galatians) so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the Law.
- A universal statement based on Scripture:For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the Law.
- Paul bases his statements on the truth of Scripture and his revelations from Jesus.
- In Romans 4:13, Paul states this was true even back in the days of Abraham when the Jewish nation first began:
13 Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. Romans 4:13 (NLT)
- What is faith in Christ? Why would I care about being made right with God?
- You have life as it is, but you could enjoy life as it could be.
- Who will I put my trust in to enjoy life as it could be? Will I trust my own desires, my own abilities to do the right thing?
- Years ago when my in-laws Fenton and Mary Moorhead lived in Houston, they were friends with a lady who worked in the front office for the Houston Rockets basketball team. I wanted to go to a game. I had a choice. I could rely on myself, my limited funds, and go buy a ticket to sit in the nosebleed section of the basketball arena, spend more money for snacks, then wait in line for an hour to get out of the parking lot. Trusting in my own means to have life as it is. Or I could go with Fenton, place my trust in him and his inside connection, get VIP parking, no wait in or out, have access to the hospitality suite with food included, and have seats on the floor to watch the game up close where I could recognize the players’ faces. All for no cost to me.
- I could have life as it is on my own power, or life as it could be by trusting in someone else.
- Life as it is includes trusting in my own judgment and abilities to gain happiness. I can even be a pretty good person who doesn’t kill others, or steal, or lie, or commit adultery. But will that give me the inner peace of life as it could be? Will I have joy? Will I have contentment? Will I experience real love? And will I enjoy eternal life?
- I don’t believe I can experience life as it could and should be on my own power, even if I try to be a good person. So who do I trust to give me life as it could and should be? I put my faith in Christ. That He died to take the penalty of my sin – the penalty of separation from God, and now offers me total forgiveness, peace, love and eternal life. And He sends His Spirit to change me from within.
- Who are you going to trust for life as it could and should be?
Maintain unity in the truth by:
- Counting on the work of Jesus Christ. (not on self)
- If you’re in a disagreement, don’t count on your ability to persuade the other person. Count on the work of Jesus Christ.
- Paul is emphasizing that we must count on the work of Jesus for salvation. Verse 17:
17 But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! 18 Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. Galatians 2:17-18 (NLT)
- What if we are placing our trust in Christ for salvation, and have abandoned the law, are we now sinners too? Are we now guilty before God? Has Christ deceived us and led us into a life of sin, a life that God is displeased with?
- No! On the contrary, I am a sinner if I try to rebuild the system of Law. A system of trying to prove my worth to God. A system of trying to earn God’s favor.
- The Old Testament Law is good and gives us examples of how our behavior should be when we are trusting Jesus, but the Law shows us how far short we fall from the goodness and perfection of God, and how much we need the sacrifice of Jesus to be the substitute for what we deserve. Verse 19:
19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. Galatians 2:19 (NLT)
- I no longer live to keep the Old Testament law, I live for God. How do I live for God? He answers this in verse 20.
20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (NLT)
- My old self has been crucified with Christ. In other words, I surrender. My body, my flesh, who I am, I surrender to God. My flesh is not the king who decides what’s best for me. I have surrendered control to Jesus Christ. So the effort and work of my life is now to know Him, and grow closer to Him.
- I no longer trust in self, I place my trust in Jesus. Why did I do that?
- Look at the last phrase of verse 20. “Who loved me and gave Himself for me.” He loved me and gave Himself for me. I can still remember, almost 50 years ago now, when that truth penetrated my mind. I remember a pastor talking about the fact that God was holy, perfect, and that His perfection could not relate with sin. My sin, my selfishness, even my thoughts, caused me to be separated from God. The penalty of sin is death, separation from God forever. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He was taking the punishment I deserved. I still remember thinking, I know I deserve that punishment, and I don’t want to receive that punishment, how could Jesus love me enough to take that punishment for me? Jesus became my new hero because He loved me and gave Himself for me. Not long after that I admitted my sin to God, I believed that when Jesus died on a cross, He was taking the punishment I deserved, and I believed that God raised Him from the dead, and I surrendered the control of my life to Jesus as my Lord, my King, my Master.
- And I began learning how to trust Jesus. I began reading the words He wrote to me in the Bible, and I began asking Him about everything. John 17:3 says,
“And this is the way to have eternal life—to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You sent to earth.” John 17:3 (NLT)
- The way to eternal life is to know Jesus. To know Him. Verse 21, Paul says:
21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. Galatians 2:21 (NLT)
- Either we depend on Christ or we don’t. If keeping the law could make us right with God, there was no need for Christ to die. If you try to add your own works to justify yourself before God, then you are saying that the death of Christ was not enough.
- I’m sure by now Peter was thinking, I get it. We trust in the sacrifice of Jesus, and the grace of God to allow that sacrifice to be sufficient to atone for our sins.
- Though we don’t see Peter’s response to Paul’s rebuke, it seems that Peter heeded Paul’s words and repented of his actions. In 2 Peter 3:15 he refers to Paul as a beloved brother who has wisdom from God.
- Paul was combatting the lie of Satan from the beginning, “You don’t need to depend on God, you can depend on self and take steps to be equal with Him.”
- Are you trusting in your own wisdom, your own performance, your methods to find life on this earth, and to enjoy eternal life? Or are you trusting the grace of God shown to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ?
- For the wages of sin is death: All you can earn on your own power is death – separation from God.
- But the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. You can receive the free gift of God, and that’s the only way to get it is to receive it, you can’t earn it. The free gift of God is eternal life.
- Our Care Volunteers are coming now and will be in front of the stage, or in the Care Connection room in the concourse to talk with you if you have questions, or pray with you. Let’s pray.