Walking “Not Uprightly” Under The New Covenant.
11″But when Peter was come to Antioch, I (Paul) withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, (senior pastor of the Church of Jerusalem) he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they (the Jerusalem Jews) were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. (other Jews) 13 And the other Jews dissembled (withdrew) likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. (hypocrisy) 14 But when I saw that they WALKED NOT UPRIGHTLY ACCORDING TO THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL, I (Paul) said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
Peter had been laughing, joking around, feasting and fellowshipping with the Gentiles. He was having himself a good ol’ time with his new brethren in Christ.
Quite suddenly, however, he withdrew himself from their company when word reached him that men from the Church in Jerusalem, sent by their senior pastor, James, were coming to town. “They” were those of “THE CIRCUMCISION,” the text says, meaning “fellow Jews.”
James, in case you were unaware, was Jesus brother. This may come as a shock to some but Mary did not remain a virgin. She had other children, both sons and daughters. (See Matthew 13:55)
Why did Peter do this? Because according to the Law of Moses, Jewish people were strictly forbidden from fraternizing with Gentiles and from eating certain foods. They were also expected to obey the Ten Commandments. None of those things are forbidden under the New Covenant, of course. But that is why this story is recorded for us.
Paul Calls Peter Out.
Bear in mind, now, that these Jerusalem Jews were born again believers. But, like many Christians today, they were still adhering to the law of Moses. Trying to obey the laws of the Ten, under the New Covenant, is “NOT WALKING UPRIGHTYLY,” as Paul declares in no uncertain terms.
He had been sitting back, keenly observing all of Peter’s hypocritical behavior and those of others who followed him. Finally, he had quite enough and called him out in a very PUBLIC way. Ouch!
This is the very same Peter who walked and talked with Jesus, ate and slept with Him, heard Him preach and observed Him up close and personal for three and a half years. He saw miracles too numerous to count, not to mention, incredible in nature. He saw Jesus transfigured on the mountain, glorified before his wondering eyes. He even walked on water with Him and became a Christian when Paul was, well, NOWHERE.
Curious, isn’t it, that the full revelation of the Gospel wasn’t given to Peter. It was given to the Paul, someone who had NEVER even met Jesus in person. In fact, he was an ultra Pharisee; someone who actively persecuted the Church, imprisoned believers, and even had some killed. He was the one who stood by, guarding the coats of those who stoned righteous Stephen, consenting to his death!
“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the law, THEN CHRIST IS DEAD IN VAIN.” (Galatians 2:21)
So what, then, is “THE (definite article) truth of the Gospel?” “Not by works of righteousness,” our law-keeping, (Titus 3:5) are we justified but by faith in the sacrifice of THE ONE, Jesus Christ.
Our right doing is a FRUIT of our RIGHT BELIEVING that we are forever made righteous by Jesus. Notice the “passive voice?” It s done TO US, not performed BY US. We love…why?…BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US. (1 John 4:19) It’s a response.
Our holy living is a grateful, effortless, loving response to the love of The One Who first loved us. If we could “DO” good enough then Christ didn’t have to come and die for us.
If we act as if we can become acceptable to God by our good doing, we are, in effect, TRAMPLING UNDERFOOT THE BLOOD OF JESUS. It’s like saying He never died, or His death was in vain.
Many today, though they believe we are saved by grace through faith, are still looking at what they are doing to make sure they measure up to some standard of right conduct. NEWS FLASH: GOD IS NOT LOOKING FOR BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION; HE IS AFTER HEART TRANSFORMATION. That is the only thing that produces right behavior. Believe right and you will live right.
Correct me if I’m wrong but if we are transformed by beholding Jesus, then beholding ourselves and our performance is LOOKING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.
But if all you ever hear in Church is how you need to “live holy” by doing this or not doing this or that and Jesus’ Name is hardly even mentioned, then the Holy Spirit has no material to work with to transform.
Of ourselves, we can do NOTHING; but we don’t really believe that. We really believe we can do some things on our own. Only when we crash and burn do we see how bankrupt we are on our own.
WE ARE TRANSFORMED BY BEHOLDING, NOT SCOLDING. It is by seeing Jesus in His beauty, His Glory, His love for us and our right standing with Him that transforms! HOW CAN ANYONE BE TRANSFORMED IF THAY ARE NOT SEEING JESUS?? The answer is…..
“20 I have been crucified with Christ; IT IS NO LONGER I WHO LIVE, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
New Covenant Hypocrisy.
As Peter was so publicly told: TRYING TO OBEY THE LAW IS HYPOCRISY UNDER THE NEW COVENANT. 1 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If MY PEOPLE, (the Church) who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways…..,”
Let’s be clear about what those “wicked ways” are: TRYING TO OBEY THE LAW, as Peter tried to do.