GETTING STARTED (115 words)
Several years ago, we had a small group of close friends—much like family. Over time, boundary lines became blurred, and truth was spoken less and less. The lull of complacency led to a loss of perspective and proportion. When something went terribly wrong and the veil of trust came crashing down, we were abruptly reminded that the gospel can be easily compromised when we let our guard down and fail to surround ourselves with those who hold us accountable to the truths of God’s Word.
- Can you remember a time when you acted in a way that contradicted your beliefs or values? Within your circle of friends, what were the consequences of this, if any?
READ THE WORD: GALATIANS 2:11-14 (ESV)
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
- What did Peter (Cephas) do that caused Paul to confront him (vs. 12)?
- “The circumcision party” believed that Gentile Christians needed to live according to Jewish customs. Why might Peter have been afraid of these people?
- What did Paul mean by the charge, “their conduct was not in step with the gospel”?
- What does this show us as it relates to our responsibility to each other in areas of sin and accountability?
- When your actions are not in step with the gospel, who in your life would be bold enough to confront you? Would you be bold enough to confront them?
Respond to God (115 words)
Peter had a history of showing great courage, followed by episodes of acting out of fear rather than faith. He never lacked belief in Jesus, but at times he lacked the courage to act in accordance with that belief. What is unique about this situation is that Paul was there to bring him back to reality and help him see his error; Peter didn’t live his Christian life alone. As we find ourselves in situations that require not only courage, but a keen understanding of and belief in the truth of the gospel as well, we need others who will hold us accountable and be bold enough to call us to change.
- Pray that God will provide you with trusted friends and an openness to accountability.
- Thank God for the truth of his Word and the ability to stand firm with confidence to proclaim that truth to others.