Summary: The text we have before us deals with the turmoil facing Peter as Jesus is progressing towards the cross. Peter, who has, just recently promised to never forsake Christ, is now deeply involved with the community of people who are enveloping the situation
DO WE HAVE A COVERT FAITH THIS EASTER?
GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE 2010
Series Part 3
PROPOSITION: That our faith in Jesus Christ would be visible to all, not hidden from view.
INTRODUCTION: The text we have before us deals with the turmoil facing Peter as Jesus is progressing towards the cross. Peter, who has, just recently promised to never forsake Christ, is now deeply involved with the community of people who are enveloping the situation around them. This is a vulnerable place for Peter, whether he realizes it or not. What we will see is that the faith of Peter, as well as his conviction to remain faithful, is about to be challenged. Peter’s faith will become covert and hidden in the midst of failure.
I. THE ESCALATION OF DENIAL – PETER HIDES HIS FAITH
A. Peter’s love for Jesus is not in question
1. Defended Jesus in the garden
2. Followed Jesus when He was arrested
B. Peter’s road of denial starts with the question of a servant.
1. We are misled when we think that it takes significant events to turn us away from Christ!
2. Solomon has told us that it is the little foxes that spoil the vines
Song of Songs 2:15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.
WE DO NOT NEED TO BE AWARE OF THE BIG THINGS – WE CAN SEE THEM COMING! WE NEED TO BE SENSITIVE TO THE LITTLE INCREMENTAL ACTIVITIES IN OUR LIVES THAT WILL CAUSE US HARM.
ILLUSTRATION: I am about to shoot the squirrels around the parsonage! It seems that these little devils with fur have an affinity for cable insulation. So far they have successfully chewed through my satellite cable not once, not twice, but three times! It is these little demons that may be single-handedly responsible for me having a service contract with Dish Network! The squirrels are little, but without personal diligence they will wreak havoc with video viewing pleasure!
C. Peter’s ever increasing severity of denial
1. First denial – simple sin. Peter LIED!
a. All sin is equal in the sight of God
b. Yet, in this situation, from our reference point Peter keeps digging his whole deeper and deeper.
2. Second denial – more severe. Peter is guilty of APOSTASY
a. Defined: Abandonment of one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause.
b. The Encyclopedia Britannica states it this way: the total rejection of Christianity by a baptized person who, having at one time professed the Christian faith, publicly rejects it. It is distinguished from heresy, which is limited to the rejection of one or more Christian doctrines by one who maintains an overall adherence to Jesus Christ.
3. Third Denial – most severe. Peter committed BLASPHEMY
a. Defined: A contemptuous or profane act, utterance, or writing concerning God or a sacred entity.
b. Not only did Peter commit a “capital sin”, he compounded it with additional lies.
c. In the Hebrew culture when one called down curses on themselves, they were stating, in a legal way, that they were innocent of the accusation against them.
d. Similar to, “May God strike me dead if I am not telling the truth.”
DENIAL IS ALWAYS A TEST ON OUR TRUTH AND INTEGRITY
OUR GREATEST CHALLENGES WILL COME IN OUR AREAS OF GREATEST PASSION
PETER DID NOT REALIZE HIS OWN LIMITS. HAD HE, HE WOULD NEVER HAVE MADE THE CLAIM THAT HE WOULD NOT DENY JESUS. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL KNEW AND APPLIED THIS TRUTH:
Jude 1:9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"
What we need to see is that Peter’s denials were the result progressive failures:
II. THE PATH OF FAILURE – PETER’S PRECURSOR TO DENYING HIS FAITH
A. Failure #1 – Peter did not believe the warning of Jesus (before the rooster crows, …”
B. Failure #2 – Peter had an inflated opinion about himself
Matthew 26:33 Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will."
C. Peter failed to pray
Matthew 26:41 "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
D. Peter thought he could be safe in bad company
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."
WE WILL ALL FACE FAILURE AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER IN OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE – PROBABLY MORE THAN ONCE!
WHEN WE FACE FAILURE WE WILL BE AT A POINT OF CRISIS! WE WILL EITHER SUCCUMB TO IT, OR RECOVER FROM IT.
THERE IS A CURE
III. THE CURE FOR COVERT FAITH – PETER’S PROCESS FOR RESTORING HIS FAITH (….and ours too)