Wednesday, March 30, 2016, 6:46 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Voice of Truth.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 21:15-17 (ESV)
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
Simon Peter was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. He was impulsive and passionate, and he often spoke or acted out of his emotions before he really thought them through. He is the one who rebuked Jesus when the Lord told his followers that he must suffer many things at the hands of the religious leaders, that he would be killed, but that he would be raised to life on the third day. Peter said, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” So, Jesus rebuked him: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (See: Matt. 16:21-23).
This is the same Peter, nonetheless, about whom Jesus had just said, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:18). This was because Jesus saw beyond Peter’s failure to his time of restoration. Amen!
When Jesus was nearing the time of his death, he informed his disciples that they would all fall away on account of him. Peter responded by saying, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” All the disciples repeated the same thing (See: Matt. 26:31-35).
Peter felt he would never deny his Lord, so he didn’t take the warning seriously. How many times do we do the same? 1 Co. 10:12 says: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” We need to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus took Peter, James and John with him to Gethsemane to pray, because he knew he was soon to go to the cross, he asked them to keep watch with him, but they fell asleep. Jesus said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (See: Matt. 26:36-41). Indeed, his flesh was weak, and when put to the test, he did fall into temptation. Peter did deny his Lord, just as Jesus said he would. He thought he knew himself better than Jesus knew him, but he was self-deceived. He let his own pride dictate for him what he would believe, and how he would act, and so he did fall as Jesus had said.
How about us? Are any of us where Peter was? Are we self-deceived into thinking we know ourselves better than God? Is pride ruling our lives, or is the Lord the one on the throne of our lives? Do we speak or act before we think? Or do we pray first, then act? Are we making decisions for our lives based on human reasoning, or on the leading of the Holy Spirit? And, are we daily putting on our spiritual armor with which to fight off Satan’s temptations, or are we spiritually lazy and thus we regularly set ourselves up to fall into sin?
After Peter’s third denial the rooster crowed. Then Peter “remembered the saying of Jesus, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly” (Matt. 26:75).
Being a follower of Jesus Christ does not mean we are suddenly perfect or that we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1). Yet, it does mean that we have been delivered out of bondage to sin, and that sin should no longer be our master, but we should now be servants of righteousness. It also means that we should not use “I’m not perfect” as an excuse for continued willful sin against God. We read in 1 Jn. 1:6 that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin, wickedness), that we are liars and the truth is not in us. We read in Ro. 8 that if we walk in the flesh we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (See: Ro. 8:1-14).
A saved life is not one of sinless perfection, in other words, but it is a life transformed of the Holy Spirit of God from death to life, from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God (See: Ac. 26:16-18). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). When we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ of the Spirit in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23). God’s grace, which brings salvation, is not a free license to continue in willful sin against Almighty God. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). We are called to be holy, set apart from (different, unlike) this sinful world, because we are being conformed into the image of Christ.
Yet, when we do sin, Jesus is our advocate to the Father. We can go to him in prayer, confessing and repenting of our sins, and he will restore us and renew us in him. Amen! God’s grace is awesome! We serve a loving and a forgiving God! Amen! Satan, nonetheless, revels in our failures, and he will do all he can to try to convince us that we are hopeless, ruined beyond repair, and that God could never use us again. We have to not listen to his lies, but we need to put on the belt of truth with which to fight off his evil schemes against us. Satan wants to convince us that we will never win, but Jesus already won this battle for us through his death on the cross. Amen! God has given us the victory over sin and Satan if we are truly his by faith in Jesus Christ. We just need to believe God, and act on that faith.
I am all the time thanking God/Jesus for his amazing grace to me, not only in saving me from my sins, but in how he has so many times lifted me up when I have fallen, and he has put me right back on the path which he wants me to travel. I am blessed beyond measure because he has restored and renewed me in my walk of faith and obedience to him, and he continues to use me for his glory. I don’t deserve his love and mercy, yet he has been very gracious to me because of his great love for me.
I love this story of Peter’s restoration. Yes, he denied his Lord three times, yet when faced with the reality of what he did, he repented of his sin, and God reinstated him. So many times Satan convinces us that we are all washed up, but that is not how God sees us if we are truly repentant. He will take what Satan meant for evil in our lives, and he will turn it around and will use it for good in our lives and in the lives of others if we will but trust him with our lives, go where he sends us, and do what he asks us to do. “A broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” (Ps. 51:17). So, repent today, and serve God forever!
VOICE OF TRUTH / Mark Hall & Steven Curtis Chapman
II Corinthians 12:7-10/I Corinthians 1:20-24
…But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again, “Boy, you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
And the voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth