Faith In the Heart — Confession in the Mouth
by Charles Cameron
Published on September 28, 2022
Categories: Spiritual Growth

Dear Reader. This is part two of our series: God is calling us to love Jesus (The Life of Peter). You will find part one here.

Faith in the Heart — Confession of the Mouth

By Charles Cameron

Peter begins so well. He is, for us, an example of faith in the heart, accompanied by confession with the mouth. This faith does not start with the wisdom of God. It begins with the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:5). Peter’s confession is followed by Jesus’ commendation – You are blessed. You are a new man with a new name. Now, you are what I saw in you the first time I met you.

As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Peter is still a bundle of contradictions. In Peter, we see the basic conflict, which lies at the heart of every believer’s life: the conflict between the Spirit and the flesh. Peter had confesses Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. Soon afterwards, he was trying to put the Lord right. Here, we have the conflict between the new man and the old man, the conflict between the Spirit and the flesh: “the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is contrary to the flesh” (Galatians 5:17).

Behind this conflict, there is Satan. Here, Peter is Satan’s tool. There is more to this than drawing Peter away from faith in Christ. There is something else. Satan is trying to get at Jesus. He’s trying to turn Jesus aside from going to the Cross as the Saviour of the world. As we consider Peter’s fall into sin, we must rejoice that Jesus didn’t fall into sin. Peter was tempted. He fell into sin. Jesus was tempted by Peter – Satan’s tool. Jesus did not fall into sin. He overcame the tempter. He won the victory over temptation. He went on to the Cross. He became the Saviour of the world.

How are we to understand the activity of Satan in this story of Peter? What can we learn from this – to help us in our battle against Satan?

Peter’s fall into sin comes so soon after his confession of faith in the Lord. How sad it is to see this happening – a confession of faith followed by a fall into sin. This kind of thing often happens. When we are on a spiritual ‘high’, we are particularly vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. When we are in a time of spiritual blessing, Satan is particularly active, seeking to bring us down with a thud.

Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness came immediately after his baptism in the River Jordan. At His baptism, there was the voice from heaven. In His temptations, there was the voice from hell. What a difference there is between the voice of God and the voice of Satan. [1]

Here, we listen to the voice of Peter, and we hear both the voice from heaven and the voice from hell. In Peter, we see both the new man and the old man. The new man speaks from God and for God. The old man speaks from Satan and from Satan.

When Peter confesses Christ, he speaks with the voice of the new man. Jesus said to him, “My Father has revealed these things to you.” When Peter tempts Christ, he speaks with the voice of the old man. Jesus said to him, “Get behind me, Satan.” [2]

What can we learn from Peter’s fall into sin?

Here are six lessons:

(i) Guard our will against Satan. Say to the Lord, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”

(ii) Guard your tongue. Don’t let it become an instrument of Satan.

(iii) Read the Word of God. Deepen your understanding of the Cross of Christ.

(iv) Let Jesus love you. Let His love for you increase your love for Him.

(v) Let Jesus strengthen your faith in Him.

(vi) Rest your faith in the faithfulness of God.

  • How can we learn these lessons from Peter’s story?

(i) Guard your will.

Although Satan used Peter, he didn’t speak against his own will. Temptation is not sin. It only becomes sin when we give in to it (James 1:13-15). Let it be “not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). 

(ii) Guard your tongue.

Peter confessed Christ. Peter tempted Christ. Speaking for the Saviour and speaking against Him – The basic contradiction between the two is described, for us, in James 3:9-10a. What does God’s Word say about this? – “My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:10b).

(iii) Increase your understanding of the Cross of Christ.

Faith needs to be accompanied by understanding. Peter confessed his faith in Christ, but he did not understand the Cross of Christ. Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.” This was not the first time Jesus spoke these words. He spoke them in the wilderness. He spoke them to Satan. There, the temptation was the same, and the answer was the same. Satan was trying to stop Jesus going to the Cross. He was trying to stop him becoming the Saviour of sinners. Jesus resisted Satan in the wilderness. Jesus resisted Satan, when he spoke to him through Peter. Satan was defeated in the wilderness. Satan was defeated at the Cross. Satan failed. Jesus went to the Cross. He went there for us. He died for our sins. Has Satan given up? No! He’s still trying to defeat Jesus. How does he do this? He tries to stop people trusting in Jesus and being saved by Him. He doesn’t stop there. He sees that we have trusted Christ. He sees that Jesus has saved us. What does Satan do? He attacks us. He tries to stop us growing in Christ. What are we to do? Let us read the Word of God. Let us pray that God will give us a deeper understanding of the Cross of Christ.

(iv) Let Jesus love you.

Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.” This is a righteous rebuke. His words are spoken in holiness. They are spoken in love. Why did Jesus speak these words? He was banishing Satan from Peter’s life. He was seeking to convict Peter of his sin. He was seeking to bring Peter to repentance. Why did Jesus speak such strong words? He loved Peter. Let Jesus love you.

(v) Let Jesus strengthen your faith.

Jesus is “the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). He starts us off in the life of faith . that’s not all that He does. He sustains us in our faith. He strengthens our faith. He will perfect our faith – when He brings us to His heavenly and eternal glory. We begin the Christian life in faith. We are to go on in faith. We are to keep on living by faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20). Let us keep on looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

(vi) Rest your faith on the faithfulness of God.

Peter’s faith was a wavering faith. Our faith is a wavering faith. The faithfulness of God is very different. God is completely reliable, entirely dependable and absolutely trustworthy. However wavering our faith may be, may God help us to say from our hearts, “Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23).

  • Before we leave this part of Peter’s story, we notice how much Jesus loved Peter. After Peter had failed Jesus, what did Jesus do? Did Jesus give up on him? No. He didn’t. Jesus had to speak strong words to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan!” Was that the end of the road for Peter? No. It wasn’t. Peter was one of the three disciples who were with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1). This is wonderful love, amazing grace and undeserved mercy. How good is our God. How great is his love. Praise the Lord. Give glory to Him!

Note: Be sure to follow us the next several Wednesday’s as we continue this series on God is calling us to love Jesus (The Life of Peter).

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Charles Cameron, better know as Charlie to his friends, lives in Scotland and is a member of the Church of Scotland. He owns several Christian blogs found at the following links:

Old Testament

New Testament

Feature Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

1 Comment

  1. Charles Cameron

    Thanks, Andy, for reblogging this post. God bless you.

    Reply

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