You remember that right after Jesus had said to Peter; "Flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but your Father which is in heaven," Speaking of Peters belief that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus then went on to speak about the suffering He would go through and Peter dared to call Jesus down: "Be it far from thee, lord; this shall not be unto thee." It was then that Jesus had to call Peter down: "Get thee behind me, Satan; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
This was Peter trusting in himself! Trusting his own wisdom and actually telling the Savior that He can't go and die. Peter was a man of absolute surrender. Peter was a man ready to obey and submit his life to Jesus. He was a man of faith to the point he trusted Jesus to step out of a boat and walk on water. Peter had spiritual insight, so that he saw Jesus as the Son of God and yet Peter trusted in himself and his wisdom. Just shortly after this we see Peter right in the middle of a squabble with the other disciples, about who would be the greatest in Jesus kingdom. He wanted to be number one! He wanted to be in control and believed that it was his right to be first and best. He desired his own honor above others. Peter's life of self was strong! He gladly left his vocation and old life, but not his old self.
When Jesus spoke of His suffering and said to Peter: "Get behind me, Satan" He went on to say: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Friends we cannot follow
Jesus until we are willing to put others before ourself. Self must be utterly denied. What does that mean for you and me?
When Peter denied Jesus, we read in God's word that he did it three times; "I do not know the man" ; he was saying, "I have nothing to do with Him - He and I are not friends; I have no connection to Him." Jesus told Peter that he must deny self. Self had to be ignored, it had to be rejected. This is what true discipleship is all about; but Peter did not understand and could not obey it. And then what did we see happen? Jesus said to him, "Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times." Do you remember peters response? "Though all should forsake you I will not. I am ready to go with you, to prison and death."
Peter meant every word of that! He intended to do just what he said; but Peter did not know himself. He did not believe he was as bad as Jesus said he was.
All of us can probably think of individual sins that come between us and Jesus, but what are we going to do with the self-life which if we are honest with ourselves is all filthy and is our very nature? What are we going to do with our flesh that is often under the power of sin? What are we going to do with our spirit to have to be in control and have it our way? What we need friends Is deliverance! Peter didn't have a clue of his true self and his self-confidence denied his Lord. It is either God's way or ours; it is either self or Jesus!
Notice that Jesus uses the word deny twice. He says to Peter the first time, "Deny self" ; then the second time, "You will deny me." It is one or the other, this is the only choice we have; we must either deny self or deny Jesus. We are in the middle of the Great Controversy - two great powers are at war! There is the self-nature which is the power of sin, and there is Jesus which is the power of God. One or the other must rule in our life.
It was self that caused the most beautiful angel in heaven to become Satan, because he wanted to exalt self. Self was the reason for the fall of man. Adam and Eve wanted something for themselves. We have inherited their nature and like them we must choose between Jesus and ourself. Are we in control or is Jesus? Does it have to be our way, or do we put others first as Jesus did?
If you took the challenge to read through the gospels this year, you are in for a great blessing! I encourage you not to shy away from this challenge just because it may be difficult. God has a wonderful blessing in store for you!