Galatians 2:11-16 “Walking In Line With The Gospel” February 5, 2006
SI: The half chapter 1 and most of chapter 2 called auto-biographical section.
Paul recounts his conversion and early Christian experience.
Visit he made to
Visit Peter made to
Purpose of these stories to disprove the accusations of some people
in Galatian churches who were saying that that Paul out of step with other
apostles—that he had a different message from them.
Also using these stories to illustrate the gospel in number of important ways.
Last week looked at the visit
Paul made to
leaders of the
Remember, to make sure all understand that message is faith in Jesus plus nothing,
brought with him Greek Christian Titus.
Was not compelled to be circumcised.
Some time later, Peter
visited the church in
Large Gentile city. Church mostly Gentiles.
Was there for a time when the following incident occurred.
INTRO: I’m sure most of you know the Johnny Cash song that goes like this:
I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine, I walk the line
As sure as night is dark and day is light
I keep you on my mind both day and night
And happiness I've known proves that it's right
Because you're mine, I walk the line
You've got a way to keep me on your side
You give me cause for love that I can't hide
For you I know I'd even try to turn the tide
Because you're mine, I walk the line
You know what he means by walking the line. Singing to June, I guess.
His walk is the way he is towards her.
It’s what’s in his heart. What’s in his eye.
It’s his plans. It’s what makes him happy.
Walk is everything about his life.
Walking the line means he’s straight—consistent in promise to be true to her.
Another example: When a policeman pulls over a person suspected of drinking.
He makes him get out of the car and walk the line.
If he walks straight—doesn’t just mean sober, means he is consistent with rules.
There is an important phrase in verse 14 going to focus on this morning—
use as a lens to study this passage.
Paul says that Peter and some of the others
“were not acting in line with the truth of the Gospel.” That’s the NIV
Let me read you some other Bible translations.
ESV “Not in step with the truth of the Gospel.”
KJV “they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel.”
The word that is translated “acting in line” “in step with” “walking uprightly”
is the Greek word ortho-podeo.
Ortho means straight (we use it today in the word ortho-dontist)
Podeo means walking (you can hear that in the modern word podiatrist)
In the Bible a person’s walk is their way of life.
It includes their behavior—but also attitudes, thoughts, values, feelings.
Paul confronted Peter because he saw that his walk was not in line with Gospel.
The reason this passage is important is because it show us that believing
the Gospel is not
just the way you get into the
Believing the Gospel is also the way you live and make progress in the Kingdom.
The Gospel is not just for unbelievers and baby Christians—
it’s for Peter’s and Paul’s—it’s for everyone. It’s the way every Christian lives.
You are called to bring every part of your life in line with the truth of Gospel.
Do you believe that you are a sinner saved by grace?
Of course you believe that.
You believe that in yourself you are a hopeless sinner, condemned under God’s law.
But that in Christ, because of what he has done, God sees you as absolutely
perfect—as righteous as Christ himself.
Every part of your life has to be brought into line with that.
Do you ever look down on people for any reason at all?
Of course you do. You look down on people because not successful,
ugly, or uneducated. Or because they have made bad, stupid choices.
Or because they have irritating personality flaws.
But how can you, a sinner destined for hell, saved by grace, called son of God—
how can you ever indulge in any prideful judgment of another person?
And that is totally out of line with the Gospel. Not walking the line.
Pride—pride that leads you to look down nose at other people—
just one example of not walking in line with the Gospel.
There are other things: fear, bitterness, anger, boredom, anxiety, discontent, lust
and all the things you do in response to those attitudes.
What Lord wants you to see is not just that those things are wrong—
of course they are wrong—but more importantly—out of line with Gospel.
Tim Keller: “All our problems come from a lack of orientation to the Gospel. Put positively, the Gospel transforms our hearts, our thinking, and our approach to absolutely everything.”
Let’s see how that is demonstrated in this passage. Two stages for note takers.
First: A case study of not walking in line with the Gospel.
Second: Three applications from the case study.
A CASE STUDY of not walking in line with the Gospel
This is one of the most tense and dramatic episodes in the New Testament.
It was a fight in the
mentioned earlier—most growing, dynamic church outside
The majority of the congregation were Gentiles.
Church fights are never pretty. This one particularly tense—
for one thing it appears to have happened at a church fellowship supper—
where everybody was supposed to be having a good time.
And it was right out in the open, right in front of everybody.
Nothing private about it.
But even worse—it was between two leading apostles of Christ—Peter and Paul.
Both Peter and Paul were Christians.
Knew what it is to be forgiven by Christ, and to have received Holy Spirit.
They were both apostles—specially called by Christ, invested with authority.
They were both honored for their leadership.
Had both been used mightily by God.
Book of Acts divided in half—first part the story of Peter, second story of Paul.
But here the apostle Paul opposed the apostle Peter to his face—
contradicted him, rebuked him—because had separated from Gentle Christians,
and would no longer eat with them.
It wasn’t that Peter denied the Gospel in his teaching—
Paul is careful to show that they believe the very same thing.
But Peter was not walking in line with the Gospel in his conduct.
His behavior and attitude in contradiction with the Gospel.
Let’s get more specific.
When Peter first got to
He did not consider himself in any way defiled or contaminated by contact
with uncircumcised Gentile Christians.
He welcomed them to eat with him. He ate with them.
Then one day a group arrived
They were all professing Christians and they were all Jewish in origin.
They were very conservative, very traditional. Kept all Jewish customs.
They said that they came from James—who was
Learn from Acts 15 that James denied had ever sent these people—they claimed.
When they got to
began to say that Gentiles who professed faith in Jesus also had to be circumcised.
They had to watch their diet. Had to become culturally Jewish.
Wrong for circumcised Jewish believers to eat with uncircumcised Gentile.
They had an influence on Peter:
“he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles.”
Most visible evidence—stopped eating with them.
Practice of church to gather in homes for meals.
Seems that they would have fellowship suppers in conjunction with communion.
Would only sit at the tables with other Jews. There was a message in that.
I ran across a story while preparing for this sermon.
Told by Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson—a black man.
When he made it to the big leagues, got on team bus, white player, orange drink.
Said to his teammate: “That looks really good. Can I have a swig?”
Teammate looked down at his drink, looked back at Gibson and said,
“I’ll save you some.”
There was a message in that. I don’t want to drink after you because you’re black.
Deeper message was—your uniform not enough, you’re not part of the team.
That was Peter’s message: Faith in Christ is not enough to be my brother.
Why did Peter give in to the circumcision group?
Did they really convince him that it was wrong to eat with Gentiles?
No. Peter’s convictions hadn’t changed.
He still believed and knew that Gentiles saved by faith in Christ.
Why did he separate himself?
“He was afraid of the circumcision party.”
He knew how traditional they were, didn’t want to offend them.
He craved their approval and was fearful of their disapproval.
So it wasn’t a change in convictions.
It was hypocrisy. Lacked the courage of his convictions.
He still believed the Gospel, but failed to practice it.
Other’s followed him—even Barnabas.
Paul saw this for what it was and confronted Peter in front of everybody.
Will look at Paul’s confrontation in more detail next week.
But in essence he said to Peter:
Peter, God did accept you and save you because circumcised.
He doesn’t base his fellowship with you now on Jewish customs—
haven’t kept those perfectly for years now.
You know that God accepted you completely through faith in His Son.
So how dare you turn around and require these Gentile Christians to be circumcised
before you will accept them and have fellowship with them?
If God has accepted them, how can we reject them?
If He receives them into His fellowship, how can we deny them ours?
Peter, you are not walking in line with the Gospel.
Aren’t told explicitly in Galatians—but know from Acts—
Peter and Barnabas overcame their fear of circumcision group
and once again were walking in line with the Gospel—
free of fear of man, free of their craving of approval by men.
Now—a dispute in a church a long time ago over an issue that doesn’t bother us.
What does this case study have to do with us today?
1. You can be a real Christian but live like a legalist.
Paul called the circumcision group “false brothers.”
He said that if people teach salvation is faith in Jesus plus works of obedience—
then they should be eternally condemned.
Churches that teach salvation by faith + works as matter of official doctrine.
“You must be baptized to be saved.”
They are legalists in the true sense. Trusting law-keeping for salvation.
There are people who believe they are Christians—
believe many right things about Jesus—Son of God, died for our sins—
but they are not really Christians, eternally condemned false brothers—
because they believe and teach that you are saved by faith plus works.
But Peter’s stumble shows us that a real Christian,
who really knows the Gospel,
and trusts Jesus only, can live like a legalist.
You can be saved but in bondage to legalism.
Tim Keller calls this functional legalism. Very helpful term.
It’s not part of your doctrine or belief—doctrine sound, trust in Christ.
But it’s the way you function.
Functional legalism is often focused on particular parts of your life—
marriage, children, money, religion, sex, work.
In those particular parts of your life you living as if Jesus Christ is not enough,
but that it really depends on you.
The key is that you are being driven along by ungodly passions like
fear, pride, bitterness, anger, discontent, boredom.
Peter’s legalism was in the area of religion, to a degree his work.
He was driven by fear of people, and desire for their approval.
Functionally, he was a legalist, not trusting Christ.
Let’s apply this to another area where some Christians struggle with legalism.
Suffering. Some of you live like legalists when it comes to suffering.
Deep down you are trusting in Christ for your salvation.
But when you suffer, you stop trusting Christ, turn to your works.
The key is your anger and bitterness.
You get angry with God when you suffer.
That’s because you think that God owes you a better life because
you have done your best to live according to his standards.
Or, maybe you don’t get angry at God, you get angry at yourself.
The reason I’m suffering is because I haven’t lived up to God’s rules.
If only I had, then God would have given me a better life, wouldn’t be here.
So you suffer and you are mad at God—
because you’ve lived right and God hasn’t given you what you want.
Or you are mad at yourself—
or because you know you haven’t lived to his standards, must be punishing.
Do you see how that is functional legalism?
What are you trusting in the midst of your suffering?
Yourself. Your ability to keep God’s law.
You are not walking in line with the Gospel.
That is misery and bondage for a Christian.
This takes thought. This takes pondering and prayer.
Is the trouble I am experiencing—
Is the wall I have hit—
Are these ungodly passions swirling around me—
Because I am in some way trusting my works instead of Christ?
Am I not straight walking according to the Gospel?
You can be a Christian but live like a legalist.
But that’s not what the Lord wants for you.
Brings us to our second application.
2. Legalism is cured by the Gospel, not demands to keep the rules.
How did Paul confront Peter?
Did he just say: Peter, you are tearing the church in half—stop!
God’s law forbids favoritism in the church. You are breaking that law.
No, that’s not how he confronted him.
He reminded him of the Gospel.
Peter—we have been justified by faith in Jesus alone.
You know that, Peter. You know our salvation is by God’s grace alone.
You know God did not have fellowship with you because of your circumcision.
How can you pull away from Gentile believers after Lord has accepted them?
It was not gentle, but it was not a bare demand to keep the rules.
It was a Gospel presentation.
He reminded Peter of the Gospel.
Because Paul knew changing Peter’s behavior was not the most important thing.
Peter had to be reminded that he was accepted by God by faith plus nothing.
He had to bring his walk back in line with the Gospel.
And that not only gave him a reason to accept these Gentiles—
It also cut the bond of fear he had toward the circumcision group.
He didn’t have to fear their disapproval if he knew he had Christ’s approval.
The Gospel is the cure, the rules are not the cure.
Let’s get back to the Christian who is angry at God because of his suffering.
It’s a sin to be mad at God for your suffering. Stop it.
That doesn’t help, does it?
You have to come back to the Gospel.
The Gospel humbles you out of being angry at God.
Jesus was the best person who ever lived, but he suffered terribly.
That demolishes the idea that good people get good lives, bad people bad lives.
If the Son of God was willing to get involved in terrible suffering out of love,
then should you, one of his followers think that you are exempt?
Jesus Christ died in agony for your sins, all for love.
Bring your anger at God to the suffering of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel also affirms you out of being angry or bitter at yourself.
Jesus suffered for you while you were a sinner.
The suffering you are experiencing might be designed to wake you up to something
that the Lord wants to change in your life.
It might be temporal consequences for things you have done.
But your suffering cannot be tit for tat punishment for your sins.
Because the Gospel says that Jesus got the punishment for your sins.
And that punishment was so great that it made the holy Son of God
sweat drops of blood in the Garden and cry in agony on the cross.
When you start to realize that, get suffering in line with Gospel—
then it humbles and strengthens you, rather than embitters and weakens you.
You might be able to say
“Jesus suffered not that I might not suffer,
but that when I suffer I may become like him.”
Is there legalism in your home? Parents, how do you motivate your children?
Do you use fear, guilt, or shame?
That might control their behavior for a time, but you are teaching your children
to trust in their works to earn approval, forgiveness, or reward.
You must guide their feet to walk in line with the Gospel.
Don’t misunderstand me. The rules don’t change.
But in the Gospel, the motivation does.
Is there legalism in our church?
Healthy church is one that is seeking to walk in line with the Gospel.
Jesus Christ, his work, the grace of God for sinners undergirds everything.
And yes, we confront sin, and yes, we exercise church discipline,
and yes, we call people to commitment.
But those things alone are powerless. Alone they become legalistic.
You can’t make church members committed by criticizing lack of commitment.
You have to preach the Gospel. And live it. Treat each other in accord with it.
Could go on and on. Gospel is the way that anything is renewed and transformed
by Christ—families, churches, relationships, your own heart.
CONC: Walk the line.
In your challenges this week—imagine a the Apostle Paul saying
in a Johnny Cash voice:
“Walk the line.”
Walk in line with the truth of the Gospel. Ortho-podeo.
This is the line.
“A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”
This is the line.
In yourself you are still sinful and sinning—
but in Christ, in God’s sight, you are accepted and righteous.
Walk it in every area, especially those where you are
afraid, angry, proud, anxious, bored and discontent.