by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3 June 26, 2011 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(095)Thesis:When is "separating from brethren" hypocrisy and when is it required behavior?
Introduction:Last week we looked into Paul's description of the motives, cause, and actions of Cephas as a basis for understanding Paul's public confrontation of him. On the face of it, before the "moral police" from James arrived, Peter was treating fellow believers who were Gentiles as if they were fellow believers. Then, after those "moral police" showed up, he began to treat those fellow believers as if they were not fellow believers.
This evening we are going to look a bit further into why Paul took offense when he, himself, insisted that all believers be "moral police" on some occasions.
I. Paul's Counsel Regarding "Separating From Brethren".
A. In 1 Corinthians 5:11 Paul commands believers to refuse to even eat with one who is called a brother, but is "a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner."
B. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6 he wrote, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."
C. In 2 Thessalonians 3:14 he wrote, "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed."
D. In Titus 3:10 he commanded separation according to Jesus' instruction in Matthew 18.
II. Paul's "Case" Against Cephas.
A. The issue was absolutely not an issue of "moral failure" on the part of the Gentile brethren.
1. It is not a "moral failure" to act within the boundaries of those laws which are set over us.
2. Nor is it a "moral failure" to act outside of the boundaries of those laws which have never been set over us.
3. The only actions that are "moral failures" are those which violate those laws which have been set over us.
a. There are two kinds of laws which have been set over us.
1) There are those laws which have their origin in the character of God Himself, any violation of which is called "ungodly".
2) There are those laws which have their origin in the application of the character of God to temporary situations in respect to both means and ends, any violation of which is "ungodly" as long as God is attempting to achieve a given end by the means involved in the particular law in view.
b. The issue of "moral failure" in both objective and subjective.
1) It is a "moral failure" to violate the character of God in any way at any time.
2) It is also a "moral failure" of a higher degree to deliberately violate the character of God at any time.
a) This failure assumes "knowledge" of what the character of God requires.
b) This is the greater failure because it kills the ability of the one failing to trust in God (Note 1 Timothy 1:19).
B. The issue was absolutely a case of moral failure on the part of Cephas.
1. He knew that the Gentiles had never been placed under God's commands for circumcision and the Jewish theocracy.
2. He also knew that the days of the application of those commands had ended, even for Jews (Note Mark 7:19 in the ASV).
3. He had also been given a divine imperative to cease treating Gentiles as "unclean" just because they had never been included in the theocracy (Acts 10:28).
4. He was motivated by two flawed motivations as Paul pointed out in our context.
III. The Bottom Line.
A. Peter had been exercising his freedom in Christ and treating his brethren as his brethren.
B. His change of behavior was not simply pulling back into his Jewishness; it was making a set of demands upon his brethren which he himself did not live up to.