By Edwin Christiaan
Many heretical churches and groups sound very Christian as they tell you that they believe in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. But upon further investigation, you often find that they add additional requirements for salvation. They also add additional rules, regulations, and traditions on how you are supposed to follow God, such as membership and favoritism in their special church, and obedience to certain Old Testament laws, like tithing and Sabbath.
Here is a clear example from the Bible of the apostle Paul, who openly had to confront the apostle Peter, who was hypocritically leading Gentile Christians astray, by making them follow Jewish traditions.
“When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions?”Galatians 2:14 NLT
It was out of fear of what others might say of him that Peter acted hypocritically by stopping eating with the Gentile believers.
“When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.”Galatians 2:12-13 NLT
God previously revealed to Peter through a vision of clean and unclean animals, that the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was intended for the Gentiles as well for the Jews. In doing so, God was removing the racial and spiritual barriers there existed in Peter’s mind, teaching him that God did not show favoritism to any one particular nation, but that God indeed is Lord of the entire world. In other words, there is nothing unclean in Jesus Christ!
Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.” “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.” But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.”Acts 10:9-15 NLT
Paul went further on to say to Peter, as he was confronting him:
“You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”Galatians 2:15-16 NLT
Peter was motivated by fear and was consumed by what people would think and say about him. He would rather change the meaning of the Gospel than face persecution for Jesus Christ. Peter’s actions were clearly hypocritical, and needing Paul’s rebuke and advice. Paul’s position was very clear, as he summed it up in his letter to the Galatians:
“Notice What Large Letters I Use As I Write These Closing Words In My Own Handwriting.
Those who are trying to force you to be circumcised (Meaning to follow the Law) want to look good to others. They don’t want to be persecuted for teaching that the cross of Christ alone can save. And even those who advocate circumcision don’t keep the whole law themselves. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast about it and claim you as their disciples.
As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”Galatians 6:11-14 NLT