Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fearing the Party of the Circumcision

Paul told the Galatians about the occasion when he had to confront his fellow apostle Peter about his sin (Galatians 2:11-14). This public rebuke occurred in Antioch. Paul explained why Peter "stood condemned" (v. 11):

"For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision" (v. 12). Paul goes on the explain that the rest of the Jews, even Barnabas, followed him in his hypocrisy (v. 13). Paul condemned Peter for not being "straightforward about the truth of the gospel" (v. 14).

Everything began with Peter "fearing the party of the circumcision." He thought too highly of these men. He wanted to be accepted among their sect. He was loyal to the party line. As a result, "he stood condemned" (v. 11).

Christians today sometimes make the same mistake as Peter. They fear the party of _____. This could be a college, magazine, or publishing company. It might be those who hold a certain doctrine. Whatever the party, some Christians, like Peter, want to be accepted by these brethren because they think too highly of them, and so they speak and act by the party's standards.

The results are the same as they were with Peter. They refuse to associate with ones that wouldn't be accepted by the party. They act hypocritically, preaching the gospel of Christ and following Jesus as Lord, yet following the message of these men and elevating them above others. They are not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, because that would lead them to condemn the sects they so look up to.

Let us learn from Peter's example. Do not think so highly of men, even brethren, that you will compromise the truth in order to be accepted by them. Our allegiance must be to Christ, and Christ alone.

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