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15 So 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 ” . . . . .
16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” . . . . .
17 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 all things; You know that I love You ” . . . . .
19 . . . . . And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!”
21 So Peter . . . . . said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?”
22 Jesus said to him, . . . . . what is that to you? You follow Me!”
(John 21:15-17, 19, 21-22 NASB)
Simon Peter was a disciple of Christ. He was hand-picked by Jesus Himself. He knew Who Jesus was. Peter claimed Him as Messiah. He said “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) Peter said he would “lay down his life for” his Lord. (John 13:37) Right after that, Jesus questioned Peter saying “Will you lay down your life for Me? . . . . .” I’m sure there was a great show of testosterone fueled bravery when Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the son of a high priest. Yet that same night mighty Peter would fall. Peter denied his Lord not once, but three times. . . . . Peter was in very danger of hell fire the moment the rooster crowed it’s last time.
“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny Him before My Father who is in Heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 NASB)
I can tell you I’ve read the above account all throughout the Gospels hundreds of times. I can tell you it was like reading sacred history – and all I remember thinking each time I read was, “Wow! Peter! Really? You walked with Him. You talked with Him! You saw the miracles He did!”
It’s pretty easy to judge the dead guy, right? He’s not here anymore anyway. But what was he thinking? Peter actually saw Jesus. He touched Him; ate with Him; lived with Him; traveled with Him. . . .Surely I would never deny my Lord!
And then I realized I’m actually just as bad as Peter. Whether I’ve seen Christ Face to face or not doesn’t matter. I’ve walked with Him my whole life. I was called to know Him when I was about 8. I’ve talked with Him – and have even heard Him speak; sometimes so loud I could swear it was audible. I have seen Him do tangible miracles in my life and the lives of others. . . . Yet I have denied my Lord before men more times than I care to count. No, it wasn’t a spoken denial as in Peter’s case. I have never done that. But it may as well have been screamed from the peak of Mt. Everest because my actions have spoken louder than my words of love for my Savior and Lord.
My divorce was just one of those times. . . .
After my divorce a few years ago, I actually heard Him say to me
“Do you love Me more than these?”
“Huh? Is that you Lord? More than what?”
S.i.l.e.n.c.e. . . . .
“Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” . . . . .
But I am, Lord.
S.i.l.e.n.c.e. . . . .
Lord? ? ?
C.o.n.v.i.c.t.i.o.n. . . . .
I said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about my Husband?”
Jesus said . . . . . what is that to you? You follow Me!”
C.o.n.v.i.c.t.i.o.n. . . . .
S.i.l.e.n.c.e. . . .
R.e.p.e.n.t.a.n.c.e. . . . .
I can imagine the guilt and shame Peter felt after having denied his Lord. Our circumstances are way different – but the sin is the same. After seeing my sin the way God sees it, I can barely comprehend the Love that would still reach down to Save me – Forgive me.
Have you felt the weight of your own sin? Whether Prodigal or Stander, we have all sinned – first of all, against God.
Do you have a tendency to “beat yourself up?” Have lots of regrets? Maybe you wrestle with not forgiving yourself for the things you have done – never mind what your Spouse might think of you at the moment!
33Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;
34who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
(Romans 8:33-34 NASB)
“Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? . . . . Who is the one who condemns?” We always self-righteously apply that to situations like when other people judge us — like maybe our Spouse? But do we ever apply it to ourselves after we’ve repented, asked for forgiveness and then been forgiven? When we’re so busy beating ourselves up over the things we may have done, are we not doing the same thing? A lot of us haven’t forgiven ourselves. We are condemning what Christ Jesus died for. . . . .We are charging — even condemning — God’s elect.
Exactly. If you are a child of the King in accordance with His Word, you are God’s elect.
29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
(Romans 8:29-30 NASB)
35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:35, 37-39 NASB)
Ladies and Gentlemen. Prodigals and Standers. I don’t care the kinds of sins we have committed – I know how real these verses became to me when I realized that there is nothing left out.
Witchcraft. Jealousy. Porn. Adultery. Pride. Anger. Hatred. Bitterness. Divorce.
If you can lay claim to the sin — and if we’ve broken even one of the commandments, we are guilty of breaking them all — then it can be forgiven!
. . . . . . . even denial.*
In our repentance, there is nothing but nothing that we can do that will separate us from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Even after Peter denied his Lord; His Lord called Peter to follow Him.
Even after I denied my Lord, my Lord in His Mercy called me for His Glory.
12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:12-13 NASB)
That’s what He did for us. That’s what we do for our Beloved. That’s why we Stand.
Listen! Can you hear Him?
“Do you Love Me?”
* Please note that there IS a denial of Christ that leads unto death – spiritual and physical. (References: I John 5:16; Luke 13:6-9) This is called an apostasy. In short, an apostate is an unrepentant individual who has completely denied and/or renounced religious (or other) beliefs. Because Peter denied Christ three times does not make him an apostate. Peter was forgiven and became a great apostle of Jesus Christ. When an apostate denies the continued call of Jesus Christ, the sin of apostasy does not only lead to spiritual death but it can also lead to physical death; and God alone reserves the right to take this person’s life. Please understand that because this individual is an “unrepentant” individual does *not* mean that they were ever a born-again believer when they renounced their faith! It does strongly indicate that the person was in the Church and exposed to all the goodness thereof — BUT it’s not the Church that saves us! Judas Iscariot was an apostate. Not only did he walk and talk with Christ as Peter, but unlike Peter, his repentance was absent. Judas knew who Jesus Christ was yet Christ said he was a devil. (Reference John 6:70). True salvation by faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross means we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit Who leads us into all Truth. The Holy Spirit does not indwell us to leave us without filling us with the desire for Truth and to follow Him. It doesn’t mean we won’t slip up, but it does surely mean that He will be there to impart His Truth and put us back on the right track. Amen.
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