THE BACKSLIDING OF A PROMINENT
He is most likely the most
prominent preacher of the entire church age, ---none other than the
There are several times in
the gospels where the apostles of Jesus are listed. Peter's name heads
every list. That alone says much about his status among his peers.
Peter was always first to
express his opinion on any subject. There is no question that he was a
man of deep and sincere feelings. What he said he sincerely meant and
what he believed he sincerely believed, even when he was dead wrong.
Jesus told the fishermen
who had begun following Him to launch out into the deep and let down their
nets for a great catch. Peter answered for the group and said in effect,
"Now, Master, we professional fisherman have fished all night and haven't
caught anything: nevertheless, to humor you we'll do it." When the net
was filled with so many fish it began to break it was once again Peter who
spoke. He fell at Jesus' knees saying, "Depart from me; for I am a
sinful man, O Lord." (Luke 5:11).
On a night when the
Disciples were in a boat tossed by strong winds and high waves Jesus came
to them walking on the water. Peter spoke up and said something that did
not occur to the others (and probably would not have occurred to any other
man in all history). "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on
the water." When Jesus gave that command Peter did walk on the water.
There came a climactic day
when multitudes turned their backs on Jesus and walked away. Jesus turned
to the twelve and asked, "Do you also want to go away?" Once again
it was Peter who spoke for the group, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You
have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know
that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (John 6:66-69).
To Peter was given the keys
of the kingdom. While walking a road in northern Palestine Jesus
asked His disciples, "...Who do you say I am?" Once again
Peter was the first to speak, "You are the Christ, the Son of the
living God." Jesus replied that that had been revealed to Peter
by His Father in heaven. Jesus declared Peter a rock and that on the
unmovable strata of rock that He was the Son of God He would build His
church. Jesus added, "And I will give you the keys of the kingdom
of heaven..." During the church age Jesus is calling people out
of the world to be citizens of His kingdom. To Peter was given the
keys of authority to open the door to the kingdom to Jews at Pentecost and
to Gentiles in the house of Cornelius. (Acts 2 and 10).
Truly, Peter was the most
prominent preacher of Jesus Christ and yet every gospel records Peter's
backsliding experience. Here is the account of Luke:
Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.
But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail: and when you
have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." But he said to
Him, LORD, I am ready to go with YOU, both to prison and to death."
Then He said, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this
day before you will deny three times that you know Me." (Luke
PETER'S SIN OF
Let's consider the sin
Peter committed. He denied Jesus. The enormity of that sin is
compounded by the facts that he denied Jesus in the shadow of
Calvary,---with cursing,---and as the most prominent Christian alive.
Some have said "Backsliding
is an Old Testament word. It is not found in the New Testament."
The word may not be found, but the experience is, and Peter heads the list
of those who had the experience. John Mark, Demas, and the church at
Ephesus are only a partial list of other notable examples.
The sad fact is that God's
children can backslide. Although God has made every provision for
His people to live in victory it is an all too common experience for His
people to relapse into walking in the flesh instead of in the spirit.
Noah was backslidden when
he got drunk.
Abraham was backslidden
when he lied about Sarah.
Lot was backslidden when he
moved into Sodom.
Samson was backslidden when
he lay in the bosom of a harlot and again when he laid his head in the lap
David was backslidden when
he committed adultery with Bathsheba; tried to deceitfully cover it up and
had her husband killed in battle.
Peter was backslidden when
he cursed and denied Jesus.
It is encouraging to
realize that Peter, nor any of these others, lose their salvation.
We know that Peter didn't lose his salvation because Jesus said, "I
have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail..." (Luke
22:32). Peter's courage and fortitude failed, but his faith didn't.
Although he lost fellowship, he did not lose his relationship. He
lost the joy of his salvation because the believer's joy comes from being
in a proper fellowship with the Lord: "Whom having not seen, you
love: Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with
joy inexpressible and full of glory." (1st Peter 1:8).
"...That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may
have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and
with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that
your joy may be full." (1st John 1:3, 4).
When David backslid, one of
his most earnest pleas following his repentance was, "Restore to me the
joy of Your salvation..." (Psalm 51:12).
REASONS FOR PETER'S
The first reason that Peter
backslid was because he was self-centered. When Jesus revealed He
must die Peter rebuked Him (Matthew 16:20-23). Jesus was talking
about crosses when Peter was thinking about crowns. He had a better
plan than God's and brazenly said so.
The second reason Peter
backslid was that he was self-seeking. "...They had disputed
among themselves who would be the greatest." (Mark 9:34).
Although Scripture does not identify Peter's words in the dispute he was,
hands down, the champion mouth of the crowd. We can comfortably
surmise that Peter had has share of arguments as to why he should be the
greatest in the kingdom of God. The rebuke of Jesus was: "...Whoever
desires to become great among you, let him be your servant."
The third reason Peter
backslid was that he was self-confident. "...Even if all are made
to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble." "Even
if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" (Matthew 26:33,
35). The world may trumpet the values of self-confidence but hear
God's word on this from Philippians 3:3, "For we are the circumcision,
who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no
confidence in the flesh.". The path to Christian victory is not
through self-confidence. It is through recognizing the weakness of
our flesh and depending on the Lord for His strength to both keep the
flesh under control and serve God successfully.
STEPS IN PETER'S
First, Peter was sleeping
when he should have been praying. Luke 22:45 says they were "sleeping from
sorrow." Peter was sorrowful that his plans had been frustrated and
things weren't turning out at all like he had envisioned.
Second, Peter became
ashamed. "He followed afar off." Luke 22:54.
Third, Peter got
comfortable in the fellowship of the enemy. He warmed himself at the
fire in the home of the High Priest who was seeking the death of Jesus.
Too many Christians seek to get comfortable when they find it necessary to
be in the company of enemies of Christ. Peter is a sterling example
that when we are in the presence of those who hate Jesus we should plan to
stay uncomfortable. No one ever kept comfortable fellowship with
Christ's enemies without being influenced by them. Evangelist Billy
Sunday used to say, "a dancing foot and a praying knee don't come on the
FORCES THAT BROUGHT PETER
The most powerful force
that brought Peter back was the prayer of Jesus Who said, "But I have
prayed for you, that your faith should not fail..." (Luke
22:32). Thank God, Jesus intercedes for all believers.
"Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God
through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."
The second force that
brought Peter back was the providence of God. No more had Peter
denied the Lord the third time than the rooster crowed just like Jesus
said. At this Peter looked up and Jesus was looking at him. "...And
the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word
of the Lord how He had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows, you will
deny Me three times." (Luke 22:61). When Peter tried to go
back to the fishing business he couldn't catch a fish in his own strength.
The third force that
brought Peter back was his own new nature. "So Peter went out and
wept bitterly." (Luke 22:62). Yes, Peter could backslide
and walk in the flesh and deny Jesus in the flesh but he possessed a new
nature that would be plunged into the deepest misery as a result.
Bud Robinson, the Nazarene evangelist, said, "When God saved me He didn't
fix it so that I couldn't sin, but He did fix it so that I couldn't enjoy
The last force that brought
Peter back was that Jesus sought him personally. When Petered
uttered his third denial, Jesus turned and looked at him. Jesus was
more concerned about Peter's spiritual condition than He was His own
sufferings. After Jesus rose from the dead the angel told the women,
" ...Tell His disciples, and Peter..." Especially
denoting concern about Peter in his backslidden condition. When
Jesus met with the disciples beside Galilee He now delivered a rebuke, but
also a call to renewed commitment, "Peter...do you love me more than
these? Then feed my sheep." Yes, Jesus seeks His sheep
until He finds them. (Luke 15:4).
Preachers, and other
believers can backslide, but they don't have to stay backslidden.
Like Peter, they can repent and be restored. Fifty days after Peter
denied Jesus he boldly preached Jesus. On that occasion three
thousand people got saved.
Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.