Summary: There is nothing in your past...or future...so heinous, that God cannot forgive a repentant heart.
“It’s not what’s happening today that drags a man down.
It’s remorse over what happened yesterday, and dread of tomorrow.” - man to bartender on Perry Mason episode.
Think about that statement for a moment. There is really a lot of truth in it, you know. Man is basically a fighter. A survivor. Some have more fight in them than others, but for the most part the things that are happening to us today meet with as much resistance as we can muster. When we are in the midst of problems we are so busy fighting that there is little time for either positive or negative reflection concerning it.
Another factor is sin. When our crisis situation is based on sin in our lives, we often have allowed the enemy such a grip on our minds that even when we know in our heart that we’re doing wrong, we feel helpless to stop, or even receive the counsel of those around us, because we have relinquished control to him. But what finally ‘breaks us down’, (emotionally), is the inability to forgive ourselves for past wrongs, failures, weaknesses; and anxiety over what tomorrow holds for us.
These feelings are a result of trusting our own strength, having pride in our own standards.
A.W.Tozer wrote a small book entitled, “That Incredible Christian”. If you can find it, I recommend it to you very highly. There is one chapter in that book that by itself is worth the cost of the book. The chapter is called, “The Futility of Regret”.
Listen to a quote from that chapter.
“Regret frets the soul as tension frets the nerves and anxiety the mind. I believe that the chronic unhappiness of most Christians may be attributed to a gnawing uneasiness lest God has not fully forgiven them, or the fear that He expects as the price of His forgiveness some sort of emotional penance which they have not furnished. As our confidence in the goodness of God mounts our anxieties will diminish and our moral happiness rise in inverse proportion.”
We are going to study here, a story of a man who could have allowed his failure to utterly destroy him. A man who went so completely against his own convictions and his own self-image, that he could have slipped into a rut of remorse and despondence that might have brought him to the same end as Judas Iscariot.
(Read Luke 22:31-34, 54-62)
Most of us have, in our past, failures and mistakes that at the time seemed devastating to us. In a way, they may have been devastating. They may have seemed, as a single incident, to turn our lives to an entirely different path than we thought we would take.
We can all remember times in our life, just the memory of which can cause us to cringe inside with embarrassment or shame as we relive the moment in our mind.
But try to put yourself in Peter’s sandals for a moment.
Imagine that you are sitting by a fire warming yourself, as the one you call Lord and Savior is being beaten and spit upon and ridiculed. You are a burley, boisterous fisherman who mends nets with gnarled hands, hauls loads of fish over the side of a boat with powerful shoulders, and guides the vessel through the raging storms of the Sea of Galilee with legs and arms of steel.
As you are there, watching the one you call Teacher being torn and buffeted, a slip of a servant girl suddenly looks you in the eye and says in a bold, clear voice, “this man was with Him too.”
Your stomach seems to do a somersault inside of you. You avert your eyes quickly to the fire at your feet and with quavering voice you say, “Woman, I do not know Him.”
So, for the next few minutes you sit staring into the flame, probably a little less willing now to watch the injustices taking place only yards away. You remember your words of braggadocio only hours before, when you told this Man you would gladly die with Him. Your shame is deepened when you remember how He looked into your eyes, no, into your very soul it seemed, and said that you would deny Him three times before the third watch.
With this agonizing thought, you clench your teeth and determine that you’ll say nothing more to anyone. But just as this resolve passes through your mind, you hear another voice. “You are one of them too!” Your head snaps up to meet the man’s gaze and involuntarily the words fairly hiss out between your teeth. “Man, I am NOT!”
Filled now, with confusion and shame and fear, you move from the warmth of the fire, feeling you’ve betrayed the One you love so dearly, yet unwelcome among those who despise Him. You stand over in a shadowed corner by yourself and begin to wonder if you will be able to face the other disciples when this is over. For some strange reason, you remember the stories of Lot, who sat in the gates of Sodom and felt estranged from Abraham, but vexed by the sin and perversion he saw around him. Just as you begin to consider why that scriptural account should come to you at just this moment, a face appears from nearby and another voice says, “Certainly, this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too.”