So you messed up, now what?

Homer Simpson

We have all had our fair share of these moments.

Committing a sin is not the end of the world.

Many times, when we say or act contrary to our Christian profession we get way down on ourselves, even to the point of self-inflicted punishment for the crime that was committed. This, I believe, can be attributed to a narrow reading of Scripture, and lack of confidence therein.

Having in full view the picture of Christ’s finished work as painted in the Bible aides us when we fail to meet God’s standards. Admittedly, however, even the most acute student of the Bible, if overtaken by the right fault, could find him or herself wallowing in the mud of condemnation.

This was certainly the case with the Apostle Peter.

As dedicated to Christ, anointed and used of God Peter was, he still had issues. The Bible, very graciously, depicts some of the transgressions of our biblical heroes in an effort to present them (rightly) as human beings.

Peter’s humanity reared its head in the most unfortunate of ways. On the night of Jesus’ arrest, Simon Peter swears his undying loyalty, saying, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33).

Now, if there were anyone who we could actually believe upon making this confession, it would be Peter.

Peter left everything to follow Jesus (Luke 18:28), including his wife (Luke 4:38, 1 Corinthians 9:5) and business (Mark 1:16). It was Simon Peter who was willing to walk on the water (Matthew 14:28-30) and who received direct revelation from God as to Christ’s true identity (Matthew 16:15-17).

While all of those things are solid qualifications, Jesus tells Peter that just the opposite will occur. Luke 22:34 reads, “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.’”

Sure enough, Simon would go on to fulfill Christ’s prophesy. Luke 22:59-62 details:

About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word that the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

After reading this passage, I honestly felt for Peter; quite frankly, this is about as bad as it gets.

Not only does Simon deny Jesus—three times in the same night—but when he completes his final denial, Jesus turns and looks right at him! I mean, come on…who wouldn’t have completely lost it after that.

Peter’s denial of Jesus, though, gives us cause to have confidence when we fall into sin.

How, you might ask?

Well, let us examine the circumstances surrounding Peter’s transgression.

In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus says, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

This passage begins with a reference to Satan’s inquiry. Understand that though Satan is the “god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4) and the “ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), he is still under God’s sovereign authority.

Just as he had to inquire about Peter, the devil also has to inquire about us. First Corinthians 10:13 reads, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.”

Jesus then tells Peter that he prayed for him. I am excited to announce that Jesus stands in the gap for us as well!

Hebrews 2:17-18 reads, “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service of God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

Jesus is no stranger to temptation, and he deeply empathizes with us in our time of testing. When the weight of temptation seems to become too heavy, he is able and willing to help us stand up under it. Even when we buckle under this weight, Jesus is still there to plead our case in the courtroom of God.

First John 2:1 gives further emphasis to this truth, stating, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ the Righteous One.”

By now, you have probably noticed that much of Jesus’ intercession is the result of our failure to resist temptation. He says to Peter, “when you have turned back,” indicating that there was an initial turn from Christ.

This, along with Jesus’ words in Luke 22:34, highlights the fact that our transgression was foreseen. God already knew the sins we would commit before we even thought of committing them.

His solution to this is found in 1 Peter 1:18-20. It reads:

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

Peter, himself, tells us of the wonderful grace of God. Not only have we been redeemed with the shed blood of Jesus on the cross, but this plan was also in the works before we were even born. In fact, no one was born when it was determined that Christ would die for the ungodly.

Being “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God” (1 Peter 1:2), though, means that God has taken into full account our transgressions and made the finished work of the cross sufficient for forgiveness and atonement.

With God’s choosing also comes responsibility. We can be confident that God’s love for us will preserve us just as much as the call that he has placed upon our lives, “for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).

To this effect, Jesus tells Peter to strengthen his brothers. Peter had a definite call on his life. He took a role of prominence in the New Testament Church, and was essentially the leader of the 12 apostles.

Jesus needs Peter to “make [his] calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). In spite of his mistakes, Peter has to be confident in the fact that he has been chosen and called by God. For this reason, Jesus, after his resurrection, asks Peter three times if he loves him.

Peter, troubled by Jesus’ questioning, responds emotionally to Christ’s third appeal, saying, “Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you” (John 21:17).

Jesus’ response to Peter’s assurance of his love for him was telling Peter to commit to the responsibility that has been laid on his shoulders: “feed my sheep,” he says.

Just as Peter’s duties were before ordained, Ephesians 2:10 tell us, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Incidentally, the Apostle Paul pins this verse after telling us that we have been saved “by grace” and “through faith” (Eph. 2:8). Our salvation is not simply about our eternal security, but also the work that there is to be done. With this, we can be confident that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

As a last note, Jesus looks beyond Peter’s faults into the future. Now that all the logistics are out of the way, Jesus talks about the big picture for his beloved disciple. John 21:18-19 details:

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Though Peter sinned—in one of the worst ways imaginable—Jesus gives him assurance of his endurance; not only will Peter stay faithful until the end, but also glorify God in doing so. The caveat to this is that he has to make the genuine decision to follow Christ.

Beloved, the same is also true of you and I. We have the same assurance that Jesus gives Peter, granted we adhere to the condition Jesus gives as well.

A genuine decision to follow Christ, regardless of the mistakes made along the way, also means that God the Holy Spirit makes a commitment. Through his sanctifying work (2 Thessalonians 2:13), the Holy Spirit will conform a believer into the likeness of the Son (Romans 8:29), and ensure his inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14), because that believer now belongs to Christ (Romans 8:9).

Jesus, then, says this of those who belong to him: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).

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~ by christianballenger on June 26, 2012.

6 Responses to “So you messed up, now what?”

  1. Awesome! This really blessed my life on today! I’m back

  2. wow this blessed me! thanks for posting and you are a great writer and awesome breaking down of the word!

  3. Awesome

  4. I thank Jesus for this column… God bless you all,may the work you do for Christ grow further…
    #Samu

  5. This blessed me today! Thank you Lord I needed this 🙂

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