If you know your Bible you probably know the Apostle Peter to be quite the go-getter. When the disciples saw Jesus walking on water, it was Peter who cried out for Jesus to let him come out to him on the waves. Whenever the disciples had a difficult time understanding Jesus’ teaching it was usually Peter who asked him to explain further. When Jesus asked “Who do men say I am?” and “Who do you say I am?” Peter spoke right up to answer without hesitation. In other words, Peter was usually the first one to jump up anytime there was a task at hand right up to the moment Jesus was arrested in the Garden. When the soldiers seized Jesus it was Peter who drew his sword and cut off one of their ears.
On one occasion after the Last Supper, Jesus warned Peter saying, “Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Of course this led up to Jesus being arrested and what we might call Peter’s hitting bottom. During the time of Jesus’ arrest there was quite the upheaval and many accusations flying around about who was with him. Peter, just as Jesus had predicted, denied even knowing Jesus obviously out of fear for his own life. This I believe was the sifting Jesus had warned Peter about only mere hours before.
Remember Jesus’ words to Peter were “I have prayed your faith may not fail and once you have turned again, or repented, strengthen your brothers.” Isn’t that just how it usually works? We have times in our lives when we seem to be full of faith, seeking God and riding on the magic carpet of the Spirit and then Boom! the bottom falls out. Suddenly everything falls apart and you begin saying to yourself “how could I have done that?” Don’t you just love Peter for this? I mean isn’t it marvelous to know that even one of Jesus’ most intimate disciples failed in such a way? Don’t get me wrong it isn’t that I would ever wish failure on someone, but it does help us to see the amazing forgiveness and restoration of Christ and how we can get back up and keep going.
Recently an inmate asked me about backsliding. He said, “What do you think causes someone to do that?” He then admitted he, himself, has done it on many occasions. He said, “I do well for a while but then for some reason I end up falling away from church and eventually end up back in jail.” My response to him was “I think it’s because we start to think we can live the Christian life rather than realizing only Christ can.” You see once God “fixes” or “heals” things in our lives and we get back into life’s normal routine we take back over as if it is our lives to lead. In a word our trouble is “Independance.”
This is why reading in 1 Peter 1 we see Peter going out of his way to tell us our being born-again, our salvation (inheritance in Christ) is all God’s doing. He said, “God caused us to be born-again, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…and our inheritance in Him can’t fade away or perish because it is reserved for us in heaven.” He then goes on to tell us we are kept, or protected, by the power of God through faith. In other words our salvation and we ourselves are safe because it is God himself who is keeping us and not us. You see the Satanic sifting Jesus spoke of had done its work. Peter had been shaken and now in the 1 & 2 Peter letters we see a new man who is encouraging us to place our faith in Christ only rather than thinking we can do anything for Him.