Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 Title: Keeping Warm at the Enemy’s Fire
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)


Tom Lowe
5-23-03

Introduction

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 amour 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. 

The Lord Jesus Christ prayed for you today. 

It may be that you did not pray for yourself but He prayed for you.

Paul wrote, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” 

The enemy whom the Christian is to fight is not flesh and blood. 

The enemy is spiritual, and the warfare is spiritual. 

That is why we need spiritual power. 

It is only God’s armor which can withstand the strategy and onslaught of Satan who has all kinds of spiritual missiles. 

We need an antimissile system if we are going to overcome him. 

That is why it is so important for the Christian soldier to recognize that he does not fight an enemy who is flesh and blood. 

We are not to fight other men. 

The enemy is spiritual, and the warfare is spiritual. 

The devil is the enemy of every believer and the one here whom we are told to fight. 

The way to victory over the devil is to obey the commands to “put on the whole armor of God” and “to stand.” 

Jesus taught us by the Lord’s Prayer, to pray for deliverance from the evil one. 

We pray, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” 

Deliver us from the evil one—deliver us from the devil. 

Today Satan is an awful reality. 

The world has tried many times to get rid of him. 

They laughed at Martin Luther who threw an inkwell at him. 

But recently we have had a turn of events. 

As we work in any church we become conscience of the presence of God and also dreadfully conscience of the presence of Satan. 

But we have this plea to our Heavenly Father, “Deliver us from the evil one.” 

We can say along with Paul, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” 

He is the one that we are going to have to thank, because He is the only one who can deliver us. 

Now this is the last thought for you to consider; Peter felt the pressure to conform.

What was the vulnerable spot for Peter? 

It was this—he let himself be guided by those around him. 

Is this entirely wrong? 

A healthy concern for what others think is an asset. 

But Peter went beyond this concern and allowed his actions to be molded by those around him. 

A dialog between Jesus and Peter, recorded in Matthew 16, illustrates this peer pressure. 

Jesus was talking about His coming rejection and death when Peter strongly reacted, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” 

In essence Peter said, “You are the Messiah; You are the Son of God.  You must not, You cannot go to the cross!” 

The cross was not in the thinking of the apostle at all, as you can see. 

Peter’s concept of the Messiah did not include Jesus as the Suffering Servant. 

Instead, Peter subscribed to the popular concept of the victorious Messiah conquering the Romans and reestablishing the throne of David. 

Jesus rebuked him: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” 

It is satanic for anyone to deny the facts of the gospel which are that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried and rose again from the dead. 

Imagine this: Here is Peter by whom the Spirit of God could say that Jesus was the Son of God, and yet he could in the next moment let Satan deceive him!

There was yet another time when Peter exhibited the tendency to yield to the prevailing social pressure. 

Paul describes what happened in Galatians 2. 

“Before certain men came from James, (Peter) would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.” 

This is probably what happened. 

When the time came to eat, Paul and Peter ate at the Gentile table. 

They had never tasted pork before, and they were delighted at the taste. 

As they dined, Paul commented to Peter, “Isn’t it wonderful that under grace we can eat what we want.  It makes no difference, because what you eat doesn’t commend you to God.” 

The next day, they were joined at dinner by a group from the Jerusalem church, who had come for a visit. 

Paul once again ate from the Gentile table, but Peter looked over at the visiting elders and went all the way around the Gentile table. 

He went to the kosher table and sat down like a little whipped puppy.  

Peter knew the Lord was no respecter of persons, but he was afraid to resist the pressure of a strong group in the church. 

Peter was a strong man but not strong enough to stand against the values of immature Christians—even though they were against God.

What are we to do in the face of compromising peer pressure? 

I believe that Paul has the answer. 

He says to do what is pleasing to God. 

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  

In this verse Paul is urging the believer not to fashion his life and conduct by those around him, even those in the church. 

Instead we are to allow the Spirit of God to renew our mind. 

By yielding to the will of God for his life the believer finds that it is first good, and then it’s acceptable, and finally it is perfect, in that the believer’s will and God’s will are equal with each other. 

That’s why Paul could say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

The believer can do all things that are in God’s will.

In the mid 1800’s two distinguished statesmen delivered addresses before a British university. 

Benjamin Disraeli said, “If you would succeed, know the temper and spirit of the times in which you live and act accordingly.” 

William Gladstone said, “Do not drift with the age.  Have fixed principles and stand by them.” 

At the enemy’s campfire Peter did drift with the age and lived to regret it.

There is something I never noticed before, even though I have read these verses many times. It is in this line; "and when you have returned to Me." It must have gone over Peter's as it did mine; Jesus is saying to Peter, "You are going to deny me and you will leave me and go back to fishing; but eventually you will return to me, and I will welcome you back. You are going to be a great preacher!" Peter would return to Jesus and he would have a faith that would never again betray our Lord. Jesus predicted it and it happened just like He said it would, because He was God, and He made it happen.

 

Conclusion

In the days following Jesus’ resurrection, some of the disciples had breakfast with the Lord beside the Sea of Galilee. 

Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him and then He told Peter that he would have to suffer for Him. 

Peter pointed to John and asked, “But Lord, what about this man?”  

Jesus answered, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” 

Our Lord is saying, “Look Simon Peter, you are going to die for Me.  What John does is none of your business.  Even if he lives until I return, that does not effect what you are to do.  You follow Me.”  

The tension was still present; it was still difficult for Peter to face God’s will.

The same crucial question that confronted Peter confronts us as well: “What will you do with Christ?” 

You can’t pass the decision off to someone else. 

You must decide. 

The pressure of others offers convenient options. 

The warmth of the enemy’s fire is appealing. 

But with the help of the Holy Spirit, let’s be faithful to God.

May the Lord hear us say, “Yes, I know Jesus—He is my Lord!”

Is Jesus your Lord?

He wants to be.

I want to pray with you today.

Let me know if you are not sure that if you died right now that you would go to heaven.

God loves you and Jesus died for you.

You are dismissed, but if you would like for me to pray with you, just stay in your seat and I will come to you.

Amen.

 

Do you have any questions or comments?

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http://harmonyofthegospels.yolasite.com (Life of Christ)

http://teachingsermonsforpastorsandlaymen.yolasite.com (sermons)

http://theepistlesofpaul.yolasite.com (Titus and Jude)

http://paulsepistletotheromans.yolasite.com (Romans)

http://theperiodofthejudges.yolasite.com (Judges)

Please review them and use them as the Lord leads you.

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