“…for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision”
and separated himself,
The word “separated” means to mark off by boundaries or limits. “Separated” comes from two words: to separate and from. Peter excluded himself from grace believers suggesting that they were somehow dishonorable in operating under the grace principle. He marked himself off as separate from grace believers.
fearing those who were of the circumcision
Fear was the motivation behind Peter’s retreat from grace believers. He feared those “of the circumcision.” His fear was not that of physical pain; it was a fear of rejection. He was afraid of losing acceptance with people he deemed had status in Jerusalem. Peter was a leader whether he lead in the right direction or the wrong direction.
When we sacrifice truth for expediency, we violate biblical principles.
When we cease to do the right thing because we fear we might lose popularity, we sacrifice truth for expediency. Expediency, as an absolute governing principle, will cause hypocrisy and deceit.
Fidelity to truth must transcend personal acceptance. Many Christians find it difficult to put truth over the practical. Christians who withdraw from their convictions render themselves inoperative to God.
Some people are so afraid of what people may say about them that they bend their truth to fit the situation. God, however, calls us to be people of conviction.
“For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).