Peter’s Denial of Jesus: 4 Terrible Truths of Backsliding

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Backsliding occurs in the life of a Christian, no matter how spiritual you think you are. Peter’s denial of Jesus is a classic example of a believer who thought he would not fall into temptation. He thought he was strong enough to stand in the moment of temptation. However, even those who have the strongest faith can also be backslidden.

Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off.

Luke 22:54

Peter is one of the most beloved Bible characters by most Christians. I believe this is because people can see a glimpse of themselves in Peter. He is prominent because of his spiritual successes and failures. For instance, he is famous for walking on water. But he is also renowned for denying the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:18-19.)

Peter had done nothing but follow the Lord Jesus Christ ever since Christ invited him. Peter followed Him from Galilee through the storms of Lake Genesareth, the cemetery of Bethany, and the persecution of the Pharisees in Jerusalem until they came to the Garden of Gethsemane. However, there came a time when Peter started to distance himself from Christ.

Peter’s denial of Jesus was the result of changing circumstances. He was a faithful follower of Christ until he became a backslider. For this reason, it is important to understand the progression of Peter’s denial of Jesus.

Peter’s denial of Jesus started when he distanced himself from Christ.

55In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. 56But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

Matthew 26:55-56

All the disciples ran away when the Lord Jesus Christ was about to be arrested. Only Peter was there, though he was following afar. He was still following the Lord Jesus Christ but had already distanced himself. Why did Peter follow afar off?

Peter distanced himself from Christ because of persecution.

Peter had gone through much persecution since he started following Christ. However, what they’re going through in the Garden of Gethsemane is far worse than what they experienced before.

Peter distanced himself from Christ because of a great problem.

The problem is none other than the arrest of the Lord Jesus Christ. As much as he wanted to set the Lord Jesus Christ free, he was going against the will of God. Christ stopped him from committing more violence, leaving him no way to solve the problem.

Peter distanced himself from Christ because of disappointment.

Judas just betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ leading the soldiers to arrest Him. This must have been a disappointing sight to see for Peter. They saw that one of their trusted companions was a traitor. And the soldiers are taking their master away from them.

Peter distanced himself from Christ because of the uncertainty of the future.

Peter gave himself to following Christ. But because of the arrest of Christ, his future is now uncertain, just like how John the Baptist was discouraged when he was imprisoned.

These are also the reasons why Christians distance themselves from Christ. They start backsliding instead of drawing nearer to Him. Peter’s denial of Jesus is a result of his backslidden heart. The reasons why Peter distanced himself from Christ are the same reasons believers backslide.

Peter’s denial of Jesus progressed to fellowshipping with unbelievers.

And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.

Luke 22:55

Peter sat down with the people there to condemn the Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time, The council was biasedly examining Christ. Peter found comfort in the fire sitting with the unbelievers.

When Peter distanced himself from the Savior, he fellowshipped with the unbelievers. Because once you distance yourself from God, you start getting close to the world. Of course, we don’t exclude unbelievers from our relationships. The Pharisees even called the Lord Jesus “a friend of sinners.”

This shows that we stay close to God and be faithful. Or you distance yourself from God and be a backslider. There’s nothing in between. Either you’re with God or against Him.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:4

An adulterer is a person who feels more affection towards another person than their spouse. Therefore, when we feel more love towards worldly people than Christ, we commit spiritual adultery. So let us draw closer to Christ rather than the world, or we will become an enemy of God.

Backsliding results in choosing to fellowship with the unbelievers rather than staying close to the Lord Jesus Christ.

He began to talk like the unbelievers.

73And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. 74Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

Matthew 26:73-74

While Peter sat down with the unbelievers, some recognized him as a disciple of the Lord Jesus. Peter’s reply to this was curse words. Because he’s a backslider, not only did he fellowship with the unbelievers. He began to speak like them as well.

This shows us the progression of a backslider. We think that backsliding is not going to affect our spirituality. On the contrary, It is proof that we have lost our spirituality.

34O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 35A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

Matthew 12:34-35

The Bible tells us that whatever comes from our mouths manifests what is in our hearts. So when Peter was cursing like the unbelievers, it shows that not only did he distance himself from Christ physically. But his heart is already far from him as well. He was trying to prove that he was not a disciple of Jesus by talking just like them.

Circumstances do not change who you are, it just reveals who you really are.

Edifying the saints

Peter’s denial of Jesus revealed that he was fearful.

56But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. 57And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. 58And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. 59And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. 60And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.

Luke 22:56-60

The primary reason for Peter’s denial of Jesus is fear. He was afraid of persecution. If that wasn’t the case, he shouldn’t have denied Him. Peter was so spiritually low that he started to fear man rather than God.

When we start fearing man more than God, that’s when we start to make mistakes.

Edifying the saints

King Saul is an example of someone who feared man more than God (1 Samuel 15:24.) God commanded him to conquer all the Amalekites. But he spared the king and some cattle to be offered to God. Though he had good intentions, it was still against the commandment of God. Saul revealed that his decision to do so was because he feared the people.

Fear is from a lack of faith. And lack of faith results from distancing ourselves from the author of our faith. As a result of backsliding, Peter denied the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter’s denial of Jesus made him unable to fulfill his promise.

31And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 33And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.

Luke 22:31-33

Peter promised the Lord Jesus Christ that he would follow him in prison and even unto death. He pronounced such a promise because he was still at the height of his spirituality. But when the circumstances changed, that’s when Peter changed his mind as well.

There are so many promises that we have given to God. But we won’t be able to fulfill most of those promises when we distance ourselves from Christ. It’s easy to make promises to God. But our resolve to fulfill those promises will be tested when the circumstances change.

We are all tempted to distance ourselves from Christ. Therefore, it is of great importance that we prioritize our spirituality by staying close to Christ. When we backslide, we might deny the Lord Jesus Christ, just like Peter’s denial of Jesus.

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