By Don R. Hastings
The Bible is a remarkable Book in many ways, not the least of which is the way it always presents the unvarnished truth. If it were merely a human production, the sordid details of how Peter, one of the Lord’s closest disciples who actually wrote part of the Bible, denied the Lord, would never have been recorded. We read about Peter’s denial in Mark 14:53, 54, 66-72; Luke 22:54-62; Matthew 26:69-75. To deny the Lord is a grievous sin (1 Tim. 2:12; Mt. 10:33; 2 Pet. 2:1). If Peter, an apostle who loved the Lord could deny Him, certainly, we are in danger, also. Hence, we need to be on guard and profit by taking notice of the mistakes he made that led to his denial.
He Contradicted Jesus – He Did It After Boasting That He Would Not (Mark 14:26-31)
We have no trouble seeing the faults and failings of others, do we? But, somehow, we think it can never happen to us! We see others leave the true church to go into digression and denominationalism, or indifference, but say, “Not us.” We see others as they turn back to the ways of the world, but say, “Not us.” We see others completely lose their faith, but say, “It’ll never happen to us.”
Resolution is a good thing, but overconfidence in our own strength is dangerous (1 Cor. 10:12; Gal. 6:1-3). Recognition of our own weaknesses will lead us: (1) To be more vigilant (1 Pet. 5:8); (2) To be more constant in prayer (Mt. 6:13; Mk. 14:38); (3) To rely more heavily on the Lord (2 Cor. 12:10; Eph. 6:10-18).
He Overestimated His Own Strength
When The Devil’s Forces Approached, Peter Relied On The Wrong Defense (Jn. 18:10; Mt. 26:52)
Carnal defenses cannot sustain us against the devil’s attack (Eph. 6:12). No sword, or gun, or missile, can drive him off. No material building, or any place, is so “sacred” he will not invade it. No amount of carnal wealth can buy hm off. The only weapon to put the devil to flight is the word of God (Eph. 6:17). David described it in Psalm 119:11, and Jesus in Matthew 4.
Many times we falter and fail because we don’t know what is written (Hos. 4:6). We can’t get by with reason and logic with the devil. Hence, we need to study the Bible. In recent years, I have watched brethren who used to thrill to gather for a study of the Bible with a men’s training class, a ladies Bible class, or a gospel meeting, etc., but now have pushed it to the side as they give in to demanding, hectic schedules. A lack of spiritual study is starving their souls. Denial is right around the corner for some more of my beloved brethren. Be on guard. Is this possibly happening to you, or your family?
Walked Too Far Away In The Time Of Crisis,
Peter Followed The Lord “Afar Off”
Peter had followed closely at first (Mt. 4:18-20; 19:27; etc.). This is generally true with new converts today. Do you remember how it was with you?
But, then the time of crisis came (as it always does) for those who follow the Lord (Jn. 15:20; 2 Tim. 3:12; Jas. 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 4:12-16). The crisis may come in different forms (Jas. 1:2). It may come from different sources – within and without.
Peter did not completely desert at this point, but followed “afar off.” So do many today. Some plan not to get too close to the Lord and His cause. Others follow so far off that they lose sight of the Lord and the distinctiveness of His doctrine (Jas. 4:8). Ever heard Rodney Miller preach? He describes it as something like this, “Christianity has about the same effect on many brethren as a bad case of the ‘flu.’ We come in the door of the building and sit as far toward the back as possible, sing as slowly as possible, go to sleep as soon as possible, and leave as fast as possible. Who do we think we can infect with this kind of ‘Christianity’?” Why don’t you want to be as close to the Lord as possible?
He Associated With The Wrong People
Peter Tried To Be Neutral (Jn. 18:15-18)
Notice how this comes about. He did not flee to be with those who had forsaken the Lord. Neither did he stand with the Lord. But, he did stand at the devil’s fireside – which is where every “neutral” religionist stands today (Mt. 12:30)!
He Relied ON The Wrong Defense
He Though He Couldn’t Slip, But He Did
Like Peter, we need to forsake all and follow the Lord. We need to obey His gospel, and become His disciples (Mt. 28:19, 20). But, let us not make the mistakes of Peter that led to his denying the Lord. Cleave to the word – our only defense.
He Denied His Own Lord
When Peter denied his Lord, his moral character rapidly deteriorated. At first, Peter simply denied knowing Jesus and then denied with an oath. Finally, he began to curse and swear. His conduct was typical of what happens to a person’s moral character when he turns away from Jesus. Always keep your eyes on Jesus and walk as closely to Him as you possibly can. Don’t be a coward and lack courage to follow the Lord in word and deed. If we do stray, let us feel the same remorse as Peter and repent as he evidently did. Let us “weep bitterly”! God will forgive us!
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 8, pp. 230-245
April 18, 1985