Paul proved he was a true apostle because he even confronted Peter (Cephas) who had withdrawn from eating and fellowshipping with Gentiles, something God had already told Peter he could do (Acts 10:9-15, 28).
Peter had withdrawn from the "Gentile sinners" because he did not want to offend the Judaizers (the circumcision party). Paul emphasized that Peter was identifying with the Judaizers and promoting their false, legalistic beliefs by doing this. Other Jews, even Barnabas, were following Peter too. Paul accused them all of hypocrisy and dividing the Jews and Gentiles.
The Law is not bad (Romans 7:12), but a man is not justified by it (review Romans if you do not have that down). Only Christ justifies! No amount of "goodness" on our own power can ever make our standing right before God.
Paul tried to be good and worked hard to please God, but it did not work. This is what he did instead:
So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
(Galatians 2:19-21 The Message)
What freedom! Can you say AMEN to that?
The fear of human opinion disables;
trusting in GOD protects you from that.
(Proverbs 29:25, The Message)
I think my biggest sin is fear of man. Therefore, I could identify with Peter's dilemma. He thought he was "keeping the peace" by appeasing the Judaizers and did not realize he was creating more problems than he was trying to solve.
I have never had a situation turn out well when I was seeking to "keep the peace." I was really "faking the peace" because I knew in my heart I was not pleasing God by going back on what He had told me to do.
The biggest area where I used to do this was in saying "Yes" when God had told me to say "No" because the thing I was saying "Yes" to was a GOOD thing. I would appear selfish if I said, "No". I know that God's best is the ONLY way to go, and you need to say "no" to everything else. God KNOWS so say "NO"!
Now I just say what God wants me to say, and my life is TRULY more peaceful! I do not care what others think of me when I say it either. I get up every morning and ask God what He would have me do, and I just do that. No more and no less. I do not live for the approval of man anymore. YIPPEE!
Update 2015: Last year, I did not say "No" when God told me to because I was afraid, and it was the hardest situation of the year for me. Thankfully, it does not happen much anymore, but last year reminded me of what it used to be like all the time!
Do you live for the approval of man or the approval of God? Dialogue with Him about it and cultivate a heart that listens to His voice!
Lord, what would you have us do today? (PAUSE AND LISTEN) Amen.