Summary: “But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Mat. 16:3).
Theme: Get behind me Satan
Text: Ex. 3:1-15; Rom. 12:9-21; Mat. 16:21-28
An important question we all need to ask ourselves is how a person becomes a Christian and what is expected of a Christian? How to become a Christian is relatively easy to answer and is illustrated in Peter’s confession of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. What is expected of a Christian appears to be more difficult as is seen in Peter’s behaviour after his confession of Jesus as the Messiah. How can we sincerely say that Jesus is God and yet not believe what He says? It is because as Christians we are expected to make Christ our priority and be willing to give up everything for His sake. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, after confessing Christ as the Son of the Living God, shifted his priority from Christ to himself. He refused to believe the words of Christ that He would suffer and be killed and be raised the third day. He even rebuked Christ by telling his Lord that He did not know what He was talking about; thereby implying that he knew more than God did. This sounds just like the way we often behave. We come to Christ accepting Him as Lord and then refuse to trust Him with our lives or believe His words. We chose to rely on ourselves rather than on Christ or what He says. We set our minds to please ourselves rather than resisting it by saying “Get behind me Satan”.
Setting your mind on the things of man is a failure to renew the mind. The mind that is not renewed is preoccupied with what you consider to be beneficial and will lead you to act contrary to the Word of God. You become more concerned about your physical needs. Food, wealth and power become more important to you than the things of God. To set our minds on the things of man is to please ourselves instead of pleasing God. We please ourselves by doing what we want by relying on our emotions or relying on our own selfish will. Relying on our own will leads to misplaced concern as it happened to Peter. To correct Peter’s misplaced concern; Jesus turns to face him and then says, “Get behind me Satan.” Relying on ourselves will lead us to do Satan’s will.
When Jesus referred to Peter as the devil, He used the same words He used when He confronted the devil in the wilderness. This is not surprising since the devils message at that time was that there was no need for Christ to die and Peter was here repeating that same message. While Christ always remained focused only on God Peter here focused on himself and was motivated by his own desires. When Peter focused on his own desires rather than on the will of God, he became a stumbling block to God. Although Peter was speaking out of genuine concern and love for the Lord, what he said was contrary to the will of God. He was actually working against God - working in league with the devil to prevent Christ from fulfilling His mission. God wants our decisions to be based on His will and not on our own desires and emotions. When we live by our feelings and these are not in accordance with the Word of God, we end up supporting the kingdom of darkness. When Peter based his decision on his emotions rather than the Word of God, he was simply joining forces with the enemy. What God wants is far more important than what we feel and we should be willing to serve and be inconvenienced for the sake of God. Whether we like it or not every decision we make in life either promotes the kingdom of God or the kingdom of Satan. There are no neutral decisions in life. You are either on God’s side or on the side of the devil. The Scriptures teach us that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” “Therefore, whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, do all to the glory of God.”
To set our minds on the things of God we first have to submit to the Lordship of Christ. Our submission to God should affect every area of our lives. We cannot be saved and still have aspects of our lives not under Christ’s control. Many Christians mistakenly believe that a full surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is optional and that they can choose which commands to obey and which to ignore. Committing to the Lordship of Christ is to act in accordance with His will. A truly committed person will not turn back from following Christ even at the risk of death. We must be willing to lay down our lives for Jesus’ sake. Commitment leads to obedience and trust. Christ requires our total obedience even when it means denying ourselves. To deny yourself is to say no to something you really want. It is willing to say no to your preferences in obedience to God. Obedience to God is to please God alone and no one else. If you really want something and God says no, your response should also be no.