Mark ended his gospel message with hope but there was one disciple who still was lingering and wondering; Peter. Where is he emotionally, spiritually, physically at this time as he considers the possibilities of what may lie ahead? He recoiled at the memory of his courtyard experience where he had denied Jesus three times just as prophesied and had left weeping bitterly. From that point he returned to the only safe haven he knew; with his beloved friends, the disciples who had followed Jesus. John tells us that they were hidden behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. Perhaps they were wondering if they too would be crucified if others found them knowing that their very accents betrayed them. As they sat and mourned the loss of the one they had followed for three years their thoughts did not return to the words of Jesus: “when I am raised, I will meet you in Galilee” but rather their thoughts replayed and rehearsed the past few days and the questions of why, when, how and more. Peter of all would be wondering if ever he could forgive himself and could or would God forgive him? We too have times when we fall and wonder and at these times where we can turn. It is then that we have this promise from Psalm 37:
24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.
Did Peter recall these words? We know that John tells us that after Jesus’ resurrection Peter was fully restored…but we are not there yet. Peter yet has to walk the road of misery, mourning, wondering and questioning. But, later he will write what truly happened in his personal letter to those who are suffering. He knows the path and he knows how to encourage. Listen to his words and be encouraged if you too have like Peter experienced a time of falling away: “His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Today, if you are walking with Peter through the agony of dismay, discouragement, despondency for having fallen in some way; take heart, when you repent there is hope. Where there is hope there is joy. Where there is joy there is peace and God’s protection. It is then that the rest of Psalm 37 rings forth with words of comfort and peace: Trust in the Lord, Delight yourself in the Lord, Commit your way to the Lord; Rest in the Lord. This is our journey back to God.
One of the greatest privileges a believer in Christ has is his freedom from condemnation, both here and in the afterlife. Freed from the rules and regulations of the Law, the believer is freed to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance regarding the standards of the Commandments. Today, in Romans 8 Paul continues his dialog with both Jew and Greek as to how to live as we face the battles between the flesh and the new nature. The battle begins in the mind and is carried out in one’s life.
Point 1: Know that you are no longer condemned by the law of sin. We are free in Christ to walk in newness of life.
Point 2: We will face struggles here until we leave for eternity. Therefore, we need to set our minds on the things of the Spirit not on the things of the flesh. The mind set on the flesh is hostile towards God and brings only death. The mind set on the Spirit is pleasing towards God and brings life. Our attitudes and actions reveal which one we have chosen.
Point 3: Our empowering comes from the Holy Spirit who illuminates our spirit to the things of God. In addition, the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness by reminding us of our new walk, of what is sin, what is displeasing to God through conviction in our spirit. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us in prayer at the throne of God with groanings that cannot be uttered by man. The Holy Spirit searches our hearts to see where we are astray and to redirect us. Lastly, not only does the Holy Spirit intercede for us in prayer but He intercedes for us according to the will of God because He knows the will of God whereas sometimes we are either ignorant or unwilling to accede.
Point 4: Paul has led us through this maze of thoughts to bring us to the crux of this whole issue which is what our total perspective should be as one changed from the inside out. Whereas the enemy seeks to undermine and to destroy, the Holy Spirit seeks to encourage. We are no longer condemned; therefore no one has the right or privilege to be against us spiritually speaking; no one or nothing can separate us from the love of God; and lastly through all tribulations we now can overwhelmingly rejoice and be conquerors.
So the question is why are we wringing our hands and weeping when we should be rejoicing? We are more than conquerors through Christ once we realize the battle begins in the mind and is transferred to our actions and attitudes.
This graphic, courtesy of David Austin, former Exec Direc of bible.org shows how this works.