I. BY DIRECT COMMANDMENT FROM JESUS, PETER HAD VIOLATED THE TRADITIONS OF THE JEWS BY GOING INTO THE HOUSE OF A GENTILE AND EATING WITH HIM.
A. At the commandment of Jesus, he had gone to the house of Cornelius a Roman Centurion in Caesarea.
1. While Peter was sharing the gospel with the Gentiles who had gathered in the house of Cornelius, suddenly they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in tongues and glorify God.
2. It was then decided by Peter that it would be proper to baptize them in water seeing that the Lord had already baptized them with the Holy Spirit.
3. Peter because of his vision probably figured that the Lord was going to do something among the Gentiles so he took 6 Jews with him as witnesses.
B. Now Peter has returned to Jerusalem and those who Luke refers to as of the circumcision began to contend with him.
1. This refers to those who believed that only a Jew could be saved.
a. They taught that as a Gentile, your only hope for salvation was to become a Jew, and that was accomplished by the rite of circumcision, and baptism, and obedience to the Mosaic law.
b. In the early church there were those radicals who insisted that the Gentiles had to be circumcised. They caused real confusion and division among the new believers.
c. Jesus did not look kindly upon those who would offend the faith of a babe that had come to trust in Him. He said it would be better for that man, that a mill stone be tied around his neck and he by cast into the sea.
d. Paul was so upset with those who offended the new believers with the issue of circumcision, he said, "I wish they were castrated who trouble you."
2. They called Peter on the carpet. Their accusation? "You went in to men that were uncircumcised and ate with them."
a. In response Peter rehearsed his vision and the commandment of the Spirit. "The Spirit bade me go."
b. Peter assured them that it was God who gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit.
II. "WHO WAS I, THAT I COULD WITHSTAND GOD?"
A. In Job 9
Job asked, "Who can hinder Him, or say to Him, What are you doing?"
B. Elihu asked Job, "Why do you strive with Him?"
1. That is a reasonable question, "Why do you strive with God?"
2. What can you possible hope to gain by striving with God?
3. Isaiah said, "Woe unto him who strives with his Maker."
4. Can you not see what folly it is to strive with God?
5. If God were cruel and seeking to destroy you then I could see a reason to try to strive with Him. But He is loving and has your best interests in His heart.
6. In Jeremiah 29
the Lord said, "I know the thoughts that I have concerning you, thoughts of peace not of evil, to bring you to a glorious future."
C. We read in the scriptures where there were those who tried to withstand God.
1. The Pharaoh of Egypt. When Moses went into the Pharaoh and declared, "Thus saith Jehovah God of Israel, let My people go that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness." The Pharaoh answered, "Who is Jehovah that I should obey His voice to let the people go? I do not know Jehovah, neither will I let Israel go."
2. Pharaoh tried to withstand God and in the process learned just who He was.
a. God first turned the waters of the Nile into blood.
b. God covered the land with frogs.
c. God covered the people and animals with lice.
d. God filled the land with flies.
e. God devastated the livestock.
f. God covered the people and the remaining animals with boils.
g. The it rained great hail stones upon the land that killed the livestock that were out in the open fields, as well as destroying the crops.
h. God brought great hoards of locusts that devoured what remained of the crops.
i. God covered the land with darkness.
j. God killed the firstborn throughout the land.
k. God destroyed the army with their chariots in the Red Sea.
l. Is it possible that some of the miseries and hardships that you are presently going through are the result of your seeking to withstand the work that God desires to do?
3. Abijah was the great grandson of King David, when he came to the throne at the death of his father Rehoboan he came to the King of Northern tribes of Israel Jeroboam, who had led the rebellion against allegiance to the Davidic throne. He rebuked Jeroboam for seeking to withstand the kingdom of the Lord and setting up the golden calves as the symbols of their god. He said that they allowed anyone to purchase the position of priest over the people. He declared,
And, behold, God himself [is] with us for [our] captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper. Jereboam did not harken to him because his troops outnumbered the men of Ahijah by a margin of two to one. He sent a part of his troops to encircle the army of Ahijah and then began the attack from the front and the rear. We read,
Then the men of Judah gave a shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.
And the children of Israel fled before Judah: and God delivered them into their hand.
And Abijah and his people slew them with a great slaughter: so there fell down slain of Israel five hundred thousand chosen men.
Thus the children of Israel were brought under at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the LORD God of their fathers.
4. The Kings of Moab, Mt. Seir and Ammon had gathered their armies to come against Jehoshaphat the king of Judah.
And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask [help] of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,
And said, O LORD God of our fathers, [art] not thou God in heaven? and rulest [not] thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand [is there not] power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?
[Art] not thou our God, [who] didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gave it to the seed of Abraham thy friend forever?
a. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on the prophet Jahaziel
And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle [is] not yours, but God's.
Tomorrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.
Ye shall not [need] to fight in this [battle]: set yourselves, stand ye [still], and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD [will be] with you.
And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with [his] face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.
b. The next morning they went out to watch the battle of the kings against God.
And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy [endureth] for ever.
And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.
III. IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THOSE WHO HAVE SOUGHT TO WITHSTAND THE LORD, HAVE ALWAYS SUFFERED FOR IT.
A. God wants to do a work in our lives, you can withstand that work.
1. God allows you to say no to Him, but to do so is to court disaster.
2. It is interesting in the story of Peter and his vision and call to the Gentiles, when the Lord first let down the sheet with the many different animals and commanded Peter to kill and eat, he said, "No so, Lord." He was trying to withstand God. God was insistant and the vision was repeated three times, and Peter yielded.
B. What a total blessing it is to yield fully to God, to let Him work freely in and through your life, and thus discover what His glorious plans are for you.
1. As the Master Potter He has plans as He begins to mould and shape your life. That plan can only be discovered by yielding to His touch, the minute you seek to withstand Him the vessel He is seeking to make is marred in the hands of the Potter.
2. He is patient, and will start over until He has accomplished His purposes.
3. David said, "And I shall be satisfied when I awake in His likeness."
4. That is just what God seeks to do, mould you into the image of His Son. "And we all with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, and being changed from glory to glory into the same image."