And when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews [also] acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.
It is clear that it can be easy to fall into the trap of attempting to please man instead of God. Peter (Cephas) had been used by God, after his BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, to use his newly acquired GIFTS of apostolic preaching with boldness. The book of Acts tells us that thousands were converted when he preached. Despite the NEW LIFE he lived and preached, when some who preached Judaism as the foundation for the kingdom of God that Jesus instituted, Peter “…separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised.” This fear caused him and others of Jewish ancestry to become exclusive, and they began to add to the gospel message a platform of works oriented, man-made religion.
The gospel of SALVATION declares that Jesus paid the price once, for all. It is a gift of grace to all who will receive and does not require circumcision (or any other works) to gain it. We are only asked to acknowledge our sinfulness, and take responsibility for our own actions. We must have faith that Jesus is enough and we need to trust that He knows what is best for us and surrender to His will in our lives. This is the process of repentance and reconciliation that is a response to the saving grace, and not a work (lest we boast). GOD’S LOVE makes provision.
But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Father, TRANSFORM us by the power of the Holy Spirit whom Christ gave to us to guide us in our GROWING process. May we always stand for the truth of the gospel message and remember who we are in the face of any deception. May we, like Paul, oppose any who preach a different gospel than the one begun by Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior. You desire that ALL will come to know Your saving grace; may we be vessels which pour out Your truth and Your love and forgiveness.