Scripture: Deuteronomy 16-18, Psalm 38, Galatians 2
Galatians 2:14 When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews?”
When Peter veered from the truth of the gospel, Paul called him out in front of everyone.
While Peter was visiting the church in Antioch (Syria), he ate with the Gentile Christians. But when Jewish Christians arrived from Jerusalem, he withdrew and wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles any more. Peter was a leader, and so many other Jewish Christians followed his example, including Barnabas. While not associating with Gentiles was not part of Jewish law, it was part of Jewish custom, and some of these Jewish Christians were still practicing Jews.
Paul saw what was at stake: the gospel. We are saved by faith in Jesus, not by keeping the Jewish law or customs. Peter’s cave-in could ruin the new church in Antioch, so Paul boldly confronts him.
Two thoughts on ways we may deviate from “a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel.”
First, any time we withdraw from people based on standards of religious acceptability, we have deviated from the gospel. This was religious based racism—something that was alive and well in the US for many years—and was alive and well in Bible times. It is contrary to the gospel. In the next chapter, Paul says that in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek—the old racial distinctions are unimportant. We are one in Christ. Any racial division is not in line with the truth of the gospel.
Second, any time we require something other than faith in Jesus for salvation, we have deviated from the gospel. Paul clearly says that, “we are put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires.” (v. 15) It is Do vs Done. We are put right with God by what Jesus has done for us, not by what we do for him. It is Jesus plus nothing for salvation. We trust entirely in what He has done for us—He is enough. Any works-based salvation is not in line with the truth of the gospel.
Like Paul, I want to be a bulldog when it comes to “keeping the truth of the gospel safe” (v. 5). I want to live and teach in line with the truth of the gospel.
Prayer: Lord, thanks for Paul who protected the gospel and our freedom in Christ. Help me to live in it, and teach it straight!