Saturday, April 9, 2011

Touching Base! Part 121

Old Habits Die Hard - Galatians 2:11-21

(This article can also we found on our website
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This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

How many of us know the key verse in our text this week? Galatians 2:20:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
For those of you who grew up in Sunday school, I imagine this verse was one you had to memorize. But because of that, some of us have never considered the context - it was just one verse we extrapolated from the text.


On Sunday we talked about how Old Habits Die Hard! What Paul is saying in v.20 is that he no longer lives in accordance with the old way - namely the “works” plan: Paul had, at one time, tried to use the law to impress and earn points with God. But Paul got turned around on the Damascus road and now he lives according to the “grace” plan (Eph. 2:8, 9). The new operating principle is faith in Christ’s work on the cross for Paul and all who come to Jesus. This, specifically, is what he has been crucified to. He no longer tries to earn it!

William Barclay defines faith well:
“[F]aith is complete trust and complete surrender to Jesus Christ. It is the total acceptance of all that He said, of all that He offered, and of all that He is.” (The NIV Application Commentary, p.121)
Paul is talking about a very specific issue – the “works” plan vs. the “grace” plan, in this context. This is the way he used to live, but no longer. What is an old “habit” that you have laid aside as you have surrendered your life to Christ? Remember “crucify” and “faith” refer to an ongoing process in the believer’s life, so think of issues that have surfaced in your journey with Him. Are any of them harder to lay down than others? Have you ever been tempted to pick up something that you at one time did lay down?

I believe the reason Paul says what he does in v.20 is because his friend Peter is experiencing that Old Habits Die Hard.

v. 11-12 - What is at issue? Simply put, Peter, a Jew, is celebrating his freedom in Christ to eat, drink and dance with Gentiles. He is living like Jesus! But when certain men showed up (these were Judaizers, saying you had to be circumcised and follow certain food laws to follow Jesus) Peter drew back. When you look into the background, you discover they weren’t really representing James, but rather said that they were.
“[T]he words (draw back) describe forcibly the cautious withdrawal of a timid person who shrinks from observation.” (The Message of Galatians, p.51)
Peter had yielded himself to Christ, he could say exactly what Paul says in v.20. BUT when the pressure came, the circumstances changed, the fear of man drove Peter to pick something back up, that he had laid down. What he picked back up was living according to Jewish customs and essentially denying Jesus’ Lordship in his life. He was in fact reverting back to an old way of living. Now before you jump all over Peter… realize we have all done the same. We have all been guilty of falling back into old patterns, picking back up bad attitudes, wrong ways of thinking… the list is endless. Old Habits Die Hard!

Notice what the driver is in Peter’s life. The text tells us in v.12 – fear. Think of whatever your issue is that you are tempted to pick back up - what is the driver? I personally think that sometimes it is easier to go back to an old way because the ruts in the road are so deeply worn that way. We have lived a certain way for so long, that to live a new way is going against the ruts!

I like this quote, “we can never forget that being crucified with Christ means sharing the way of life that led Jesus to the Cross, living by His purposes and being impelled by His motives.” This is exactly what Peter failed to do in this moment. It has happened to all of us, yes even pastors!

Notice Paul’s commentary in v.13. Peter’s blunder caused others to stumble. What eyes watch you as you follow Christ? Who would be most deeply impacted if you trip up?

For some of us this truth, Old Habits Die Hard, resonates deeply because we know of our own struggles. However, another reason it resonates could be because we ourselves have been hurt because we looked up to, fell. Their actions may have directly impacted our lives. How do you think the Gentiles felt when, one day, Peter is their best friend, and the next day, he is pulling away and in fact forcing them to adhere to old ways of thinking and living?

Finally, notice v.14. Much could be said about Paul here, but suffice to say that great teams have these kinds of conversations. Great teams and great friendships allow for hard words to be said that are meant for a person’s betterment.

Ever had anyone kick your butt, box your ears, or rattle your cage… because of how stupidly you were behaving? We won’t take time in this TB like we did on Sunday, but notice vs.15-21. Paul is reasoning with Peter and showing him how insane his behaviour is. It is so inconsistent with what Peter knows to be the truth. As Paul says, Peter is not acting in line with the truth… the truth that Peter knows!

Have you ever lost sleep over being the person God wants to use to confront someone that needs a little tough love like Peter needed?

What is impressive is that this confrontation made Peter better, not bitter. Note the tone and words of 2 Peter 3:14, 15.
“So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this [Christ’s second coming], make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.”
This team soared higher because they allowed each other to speak truth into each others lives.

Take some time to pray for God’s protection over leaders. Peter is a leader and he falls. When leadership falls, others fall with them. We always need to be upholding our leaders. Pray also for your group members. Everyone has that one issue in their life that reminds them of this truth - Old Habits Die Hard!

Pray that God would enable people by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16) to be conformed to His image. Law is powerless to change a life. What the law could not do, God did by sending his Son!

Old Habits Die Hard, but Jesus came so that we could stand firm!


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