Have you ever been defeated in the face of temptation? Have you ever run into your bedroom and locked your door with tears flowing down your face, shocked beyond belief at what you have just done? Have you ever felt so ashamed that you don’t even dare approach God’s Throne of Grace to ask for forgiveness?
“Why, oh why can’t I live victoriously?” You cry out, beating your chest in dismay. “Why do I give in so easily to temptation? What’s wrong with me? Is victory ever within my reach? Am I really a hopeless case?”
Then, to make matters worse, you remember John 8:36: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV) and you cry out all the louder: “Why does this text always seem to be mocking me? Am I not worthy enough to be set free?”
The apostle Peter faced these same questions and these same shamefully thoughts. Oh, he was so proud and so sure of himself that he would always stand up and defend the Lover of his soul that he insisted: “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Mark 14:31 NIV), but that same night he gave in to temptation not once, nor twice, but three times! And each time he denied Jesus with even more force! And when it was all said and done, he ran off into the night to cry out his shame: “he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Matt 26:75 NIV)
Yes, Peter knew all about giving in to temptation. He also knew how guilt can overtake you when you have been defeated. He thoroughly understood those sleepless nights of shame and remorse!
But God, in His glory, didn’t leave Peter wondering why we are so easily overcome with defeat: “For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,’ and, ‘A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for.” (1 Peter 2:6-8 NIV)
Oh, how Peter did face his shame with palpitations in his heart! He realized that his stumbling had been caused by his disobedience to the message. He had been too full of himself and not filled enough with His master and Lord (see John 3:30). He realized that rather than putting his trust in the Lord, he put it in himself.
Is it any wonder that the more we struggle with our pet sins, the more tangled up we become? Have we really given our heart fully to Jesus? Have we truly accepted Him as Lord and master over our lives?
Or maybe, just maybe, are we keeping a part of ourselves selfishly out of His reach?
One day recently I received a glorious email from someone I had been praying for. He had accepted Jesus as His Savior! I was so excited for him! This was indeed terrific news! However the next day I received another message from him asking me why he was not experiencing the inner peace promised in the Bible.
I asked him two simple questions: “Have you accepted Jesus as Lord and Master of your life? Have you put your trust completely in Him?”
Sadly he hadn’t and wasn’t willing to do so.
This reminded me of someone else who wanted to become a follower of Jesus in the Bible, but when confronted with who truly was in charge of his life, he shamefully withdrew himself from Jesus and his entourage (see Luke 18: 18-25).
One fact remains: “‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.'” (Isa 57:21 NIV)
Is it possible that we put more credence in ourselves than in God? Is it possible that we are facing defeat in our lives because we trust ourselves more than we trust God?
Coins in the United States are all engraved with four simple words: “In God we trust”. There are those who are lobbying to remove these words from their coins. Is it possible we are trying to remove “In God we trust” from our hearts as well?
“Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4-5 NIV)
Remember: trust put in the right Person will give us victory, but trust put in the wrong person will bring us shame and dishonour.
Who do we really trust?
(To access the entire “Messages From Peter” devotional series, please click here.“