but when cephas came to antioch, i opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. [galatians 2:11]
peter the apostle. a patriarch of the church, who had seen thousands come to faith in Christ Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit with power, who had seen countless signs and wonders, from healing cripples to casting out demons, done in the name of his Teacher and Savior, who had seen the heavens opened, spoken with those of the invisible realm and received visible and audible guidance and instruction from God himself… stood condemned. how? God’s answer through peter himself is this:
be sober-minded; be watchful. your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. [1 peter 5:8]
we have an enemy who is minute by minute declaring falsehoods in our ear, seeking to lead us away from the truth of the gospel. away from the truth of freedom in Jesus. while this tempting is allowed for now by God to strengthen and confirm us, satan means it to destroy us. to destroy others through us. to lead our hearts to a false sense of satisfaction in earthly things and a false sense of righteousness in works of the flesh. but in case we think our giving in to this temptation is the fault of the enemy or even the fault of God himself for allowing it, or that we bear no responsibility:
let no one say when he is tempted, “i am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. [james 1:13-15]
our flesh is constantly crying out for control over our own rightness before God. at the same time, our flesh is constantly crying out for satisfaction in earthly things. this leads to a vicious cycle of striving, stumbling, sitting in shame, resolving to strive harder, and so on. and this is why peter stood condemned. he slipped into this cycle of striving rather than resting in the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross. his temptation was the approval of man. he wanted to appear more righteous by his following the jewish laws and traditions in public, when he had already been living in and teaching and exemplifying freedom from the law in Christ. think about your own tendencies to stand condemned. in what ways are you tempted? if this is a strong struggle for you, i encourage you to sit in romans 8 today, or this whole week, or this whole month! ask for open eyes! Father, help our unbelief!
so how do we combat this tendency to stand condemned ourselves? we’ve got to keep coming back to the truth of the gospel of grace through Christ by faith in Christ. daily. more than daily. we preach it to ourselves. we speak it to others the way paul does here for peter. we read it. we pray it. we beg for it. we reject anything not in alignment with it. we confess and repent of anything not in alignment with it. and we rest in the grace of Christ.
take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. but exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. for we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. [hebrews 3:12-14]
what good news that we no longer have to strive to be right with our Creator. we are fully redeemed by the blood of the Lamb! free from our bondage to sin, free from death and hell, free to know and love the God who rescued you. celebrate your freedom in him to the praise of his glorious grace!
there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. for the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. [romans 8:1-2]