How Satan Uses Christians
by Dennis Michelson
Introduction: Satan sends "fiery darts" to the mind and then something based upon that thought comes out of the mouth. Mission accomplished! Remember - Satan can use a serpent or a saint to oppose the work of Christ and His Kingdom.
1. The Question (16:13-15)
The Lord asks a direct question "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" Of course the response indicates that the world thinks Jesus is a dead man - John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the (dead) prophets. On the heels of that general question comes the specific question - "But whom say ye that I am?"
2. The Confession (16:16-17)
Peter's response indicates that Jesus is the living Messiah - the Son of the living God. Such a confession can only come by means of Divine revelation - "flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." The Scriptures declare that no man can call Jesus Lord but by the Holy Ghost (I Corinthians 12). This means that the heart-felt conviction that Jesus is truly the Messiah (and alive) must come to you through supernatural means.
3. The Proclamation (16:18)
Jesus proclaims that He will build His Church and nothing can derail or destroy His mission. The gates of Hell are said to oppose it (the Church) but they cannot prevail against it. As Christ builds His Church we can either support the process or oppose the process, but we cannot ignore it.
4. The Commission (16:19-21)
It appears in this text that the "kingdom of heaven" may be used almost synonomously with "church" in verse 18. The kingdom of heaven may include much more than the church but it appears that the church-building program announced by Christ is within the scope of advancing the kingdom of heaven.
Peter and the Apostles are commissioned to open the door to that kingdom and let others into the kingdom established on the Rock. It is interesting that Christ intimates to His Apostles that in order for the kingdom to advance and grow then He "must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day." This does not sit well with Peter.
5. The Opposition (16:22-23)
Peter rebukes the Lord and says in essence "that is no way to build the Church." Christ responds by reminding the lead Apostle that there can be no Church if the dire prediction of verse 21 is not fully accomplished. Peter's impulsive response leads the Lord to tell him "Get thee behind me, Satan." Our thoughts generally come from above (heavenly wisdom) or from below (hellish convenience).
When the former issues forth from our mouths then we advance the work of the Kingdom. When the latter blurts forth from our mouth then we are aligning with the "gates of hell" and actually assisting in the work of the enemy. "The tongue is a fire . . .and it is set on fire of hell" (James 3:6)
6. The Condition (16:24-27)
We either seek those things that be of God or those things that be of men. Jesus said that he that is not with me is against me. If you desire to have maximum effectiveness in building the Church then read these verses carefully - "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself..."
7. The Transfiguration (16:28)
If this verse refers to what follows in the next chapter then what is the essential nature of the kingdom? If you miss this point then you are probably still involved in a building program to erect three tabernacles - two of them to men and one to the Son of Man. "And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only."
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