Keeping Warm at the Enemy’s Fire Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Text: (Luke 22:24-25)
Scripture Reading: Luke 22:31-34, 54-62
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” (Luke 22:31-34)
Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So Peter went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:54-62)
When we see an especially strong Christian face a spiritual defeat, we tend to think, “I would have expected that to happen to anyone but him.”
Peter’s denial while keeping warm at the enemy’s fire creates a similar surprise.
Peter was a strong individual, a great leader, and a dynamic Christian.
Peter showed his personal strength in three ways.
First, he was a strong leader.
Whenever the disciples are listed, Peter’s name comes first, reflecting the disciple’s view of his leadership.
Peter was one of the inner circle of disciples privileged to share in the special experiences with Jesus, such as the transfiguration.
On the day of Pentecost, it was Peter who stood to preach, and three thousand souls were saved.
Second, he had a strong spirit.
Peter did not have a timid spirit.
He was a bold spiritual adventurer.
Once he tried to walk on water, and on the day of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, he ran to the tomb when he heard that it was empty.
Third, he had a strong body.
As a fisherman, Peter had developed his muscles by rowing boats and casting heavy nets.
He showed his physical strength in the garden; he was strong enough to take on the whole mob.
In spite of these qualities, Peter denied the Lord.
It says in First Corinthians, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
The Corinthians had become overconfident in their spirituality; so Paul directed their attention to the example of the Israelite people.
He pointed out that although the Israelites had consumed the same spiritual food and drink as the Corinthians, they had failed to please God.
They had fallen into the sins of idolatry and sexual immorality.
The Israelites had pushed God to the limit by constantly compromising His commands.
Paul admonished the Corinthians to exercise caution, for they were beginning to place confidence in their own spiritual state and were therefore at risk of falling into sin just as the Israelites had done.
It makes no difference who you are, you could fall today.
It would be very easy for any one of us to blunder and stumble and fall.
One can be a mature Christian, a real saint, and still fall.
Therefore, you and I need to be very careful that we stay in the realm of the will of God where we are not quenching the Spirit of God in our lives.
No Christian is immune from “the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
Sometimes they come fast and furiously and they are going to continue to come.
The only thing that will bat them down is the shield of faith.
When the evil one attacks us, we are told to put on the whole armour of God.
That’s what it says in the Bible
and that is what the hymn writer wrote:
“Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
Stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you,
You dare not trust your own.
Put on the gospel armor,
Each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger,
Be never wanting there.”
In many ways Peter was a strong man, however, he was vulnerable to sin.
Peter was a typical human being, he had strengths and weaknesses, but he seemed to be blind to his weaknesses.
Peter confidently told Jesus, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”
This was a noble expression and a wonderful declaration, but it was apparently uttered in ignorance of his fleshly potential for succumbing to sin’s temptation.
Peter meant every word of this, but he didn’t know himself.
Many of us do not know how weak we are either.
Victor Hugo wrote, “I feel two men struggling within me.”
The apostle Paul also had a realistic view of the tension between good and evil that rages in every soul, and he wrote: “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice…But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Have you ever experienced this?
Friends, it is the old nature that is causing us trouble.
When you are attempting to serve God in the Spirit, have you discovered that the old nature is right there to bring evil?
Perhaps an evil thought will come into your mind.
Every child of God, regardless of his state, must admit that in every act and in every moment evil is present with him.
Failure to recognize this will eventually lead to shipwreck in the Christian life.
You see, you don’t get rid of the old nature when you are saved.
And yet there is no power for good in your old nature.
When Paul says, “I see a different law,” it is the hostility of the old nature against God.
When Paul cries out, “O wretched man that I am!” this is the cry of a saved man.
The word wretched carries with it the note of exhaustion because of the struggle.
“Who will deliver me?”
He is helpless.
His shoulders are pinned to the floor-he has been wrestled down.
Like old Jacob, he has been crippled.
He is calling for help from the outside.
In the very next verse, Paul says that the Lord Jesus Christ has delivered him.
Jesus answered his SOS.
I lake the little poem which goes like this:
Run, run and do, the Law commands
But gives me neither feet nor hands.
Better news the Gospel brings,
It bids me fly and gives me wings.
It was because Peter was blind to weaknesses that he was so vulnerable to Satan’s attacks.
Jesus warned Peter of Satan’s impending attack: “Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.”
The evil one caught the strong disciple in a vulnerable moment—Surrounded by the enemy and separated from the other disciples.
He will sift us until he finds the most vulnerable place at which to hurl his temptations.
The Lord knew that Peter would deny Him, and He told him, “I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail.”
The Lord today is our intercessor.
He knows when we are getting close to the place of failure and stumbling.
Friends, if you belong to Him, He has already prayed for you, that your faith will not fail.
You may fail Him, but if you belong to Him, your faith will not fail.
The reason your faith will not fail is because He has prayed for you.
This is a wonderful expression of His love for us.
In John 17:9 our Lord prayed to the Father, “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.”
The Lord does not pray for the world.
He died for the world, and you cannot ask Him to do any more than that.
He died for the world, but He prays for His own that they will be kept while they are in the world.