Freedom in Christ
Fall 2005 SS Class Notes
Week 4: Oct 2, 2005
The Great Confrontation: (2:11-14)
Before continuing in
Galatians, there are a few basics of which we should be reminded. The first is that sin is really, really
horrible. We all admit this openly to
others, and likely even to ourselves, but the way we live tells
a different story. Despite the warning
in 1 Jn. 2:15-16, we continue an attempt to .wed.
There is no doubt that the world will make valiant efforts at winning us to its kingdoms. A day doesn.t go by for anyone without great temptation to lust with our eyes, lust with our flesh, or boast about what we have or what we.ve done. Yet these are the very things from which children of God must set themselves apart. I am convinced that we are deceived, both by ourselves, and by Satan, that these sinful ways are acceptable and right.
This is precisely why John urges us to .walk in the light.. When we are born, we come plagued with a wicked, rebellious soul. This .flesh., as Paul calls it, must be put to death if we are to live. Walking in the light exposes the flesh that is still present on a believer. Once exposed, like a shadow, the darkness is quickly expelled.
If deception could only come from the outside . from Satan and his world . then we would have a clear understanding of our present state and be able, with God.s help, to rid our lives of sin. Unfortunately, we are so permeated with wickedness, we are even unable to see the very sinful acts we are performing. Because of this, God gave us help. He gave us the Church, which is to encourage godliness and righteousness, and he gave us confrontation, which we must use to expel deceit.
Purpose of Confrontation
In today's world, we use confrontation for very selfish reasons:
>> Defense against others. confrontation
>> Desire to look better than we are
>> To cover up our own sin by painting someone else.s as .worse.
The purpose of godly confrontation, however, is to rid the camp of vileness. Consider a godly parent. He learns that his son has cheated on a math test. He must confront his son not to make him feel bad, nor to make the parent feel more powerful, but because the parent is very concerned that his son not grow into a liar and a cheat. So it is in the Church. We must confront all kinds of wickedness! But not for the sake of tearing someone down or raising ourselves up. It must be our highest passion to grow and glorify the Body of Christ.
Why is confrontation necessary? Because bits of our flesh remain embedded in our wills and must be destroyed. Because we don.t always see our own sin as clearly as someone else might. Because we get lazy, scared, shy, etc.
Paul vs. Peter
Paul.s last defense of his authority as an apostle comes in his telling us of a time when he called Peter to the carpet. Peter knew that Gentiles and Jews were now equal in the Body of Christ, but he had slipped back into hypocrisy, separating himself from the Gentiles. Remember that Peter defended Gentile reception of the Gospel in Acts 11 with Cornelius. conversion, and he defended the same thing in the Jerusalem Council. He knew what he was doing was wrong, but fear and rejection loomed over his head.
Peter was a compulsive man. He had the guts to get out of a boat and walk on water when Jesus called him, but he quickly lost faith in himself and started to drown. Peter told Jesus at the Last Supper that he would die before leaving Jesus, yet the same night denied his Master three times. Now he shifts from accepting the Gentiles (the very people to whom Paul was sent) to rejecting them.
There are a number of significances in this. First, Peter is the .Rock. on whom Jesus was building his church (cf. Mt. 16:18). He was also reputed to be a pillar of the Church (cf. Gal. 2:9). Therefore, Peter.s actions carried a great deal of weight. He could have easily led the entire Church back into legalism and snuffed out the Gospel for the entire world. This is huge.
Today, the Gospel is not threatened so much by legalism (though legalism is certainly doing its damage) as it is by licentiousness. Today.s .other gospel. says that you can marry the sinful world and God.s Kingdom and have everything you ever wanted for free. Though God.s gift of Sonship is certainly free, it came at a huge cost, and it is not to be perverted by the whore of the world. Christ is returning for a spotless Bride, not for a prostitute who.s been sleeping around.
Peter.s rejection of the Gentiles denies several doctrines, and Paul called him out because of these very issues:
1) Unity of the Church
2) Justification by faith
3) Freedom from the Law
4) The Gospel itself
We don.t have any record of how Peter responded to Paul.s confrontation, but we can make an educated guess. We can assume that Peter repented, welcomed again fellowship with the Gentiles, and continued his ministry with Paul.s full support. This is precisely how Christians ought to respond to confrontation, if that confrontation is done appropriately. It must be a collective goal to build all members of the Body into godly, blameless, pure men and women of God. If we understand that we may still be self-deceived, and that our friends have a pure motive and God-created desire toward godliness, then confrontation becomes a blessed gift from above by which the Spirit will cleanse Christ.s holy Bride. Paul (contrasted with Jonah) would be overjoyed to have Peter back in the fellowship not because he .won the argument. and gained respect, but because Christ was exalted and honored.