Conduct Unbecoming: When Our Actions Counteract God's Gospel

Brian Mahon - 10/1/2023


Call to worship: Isaiah 55:1-7

Text: 2:11-14


Gospel truth is for living that commends the Gospel. Continuing to advance the truth that his Gospel is the Gospel, Paul recounts an instance in which Peter's actions, and those of others, including Barnabas, counteracted the truth of the Gospel. Fear of disapproval with the circumcision party leads Peter to withdraw from table fellowship with Christians in Antioch. It's hardly an immaterial action. In it, Paul sees a public act of hypocrisy with the power to spread abroad against the Gospel truth of justification. Peter has effectively made living the Jewish life mandatory for these Gentiles in order to be justified, adopted, accepted fully by God. By his action, he's introduced a lie: faith in Christ isn't enough for equal standing with God; and just there, he stands condemned as a hypocrite out of step with the truth. Peter must repent. And for the Gospel, Paul makes sure that he and everybody else knows it.

Sermon Outline:

  1. Conduct out of step with the truth of the Gospel: hearing the account. (2:11-14)
  2. Conduct out of step with the truth of the Gospel: heeding the lessons. (2:11-14)


Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Galatians 2:11-14. Compare with the texts given for our call to worship and intermediate reading above.
  2. How can a Christian, like Peter, be said to stand condemned? How does Paul explain what he means by 'condemned'? What's the difference between Peter, Barnabas, etc., and the 'false brothers' of 2:4-5?
  3. What was Peter doing in Antioch prior to the arrival of James' men? Why does Peter draw back from table fellowship with them? Why would eating with Gentiles be a problem to the circumcision party? In fearing the circumcision party, what is Peter really fearing? How does the fear of man cancel out fidelity to the Gospel in this scenario? What would the fear of God look like here? Return to 1:10.
  4. Does Peter's hypocrisy keep to himself? What does that teach us about the nature of sin and the appetite of Satan? Are even the most mature Christians always and entirely above reproach or the need to be watchful of their steps? How does their disfellowshipping over the presence of the circumcision party counteract and smear the truth of the Gospel? How does this occasion 'teach' something false about justification? What is the truth of the Gospel here, and what would be conduct in step with it?
  5. When it comes to Christian fellowship, what is the single greatest requirement? Should anything be required beyond faith in Jesus? Is there anything you might've added to faith in Jesus that, if a person doesn't have it, you've counted them second-class Christians, or not even a Christian at all? How does Paul reprove Peter? Are there any ways that you have acted hypocritically, saying one thing, only to do another, believing the truth, only to live against it, living truly one moment, only to stand condemned the next for living in a way that implies an insufficiency in the cross of Christ, that another's faith in Him is not enough, not saving? Beyond the event in this passage, what might that look like today? How does this section continue to advance Paul's purpose in the letter?
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