Why do we so often react like Adam and Eve and hide from God? Why does it kill us to admit we were wrong? There’s obviously a measure of pride (our ego takes a beating then), but we also fail to understand God’s intent in the matter. Our perception of Him is false or distorted, we compare Him to people, and refuse to be vulnerable. We fear rejection, judgment and punishment, as guilt and shame torment us, and we’d rather avoid the truth and the consequences of our actions. However, playing hide and seek with God will never work; ask Jonah! It is a waste of time and energy and it increases inner conflict, confusion and hardness. Ps 32:1-5 eloquently talks about the state of the unrepentant soul.
Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those
whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty! Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
Interlude When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away,
and I groaned all day long. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
How long did such agony last for Peter? We don’t know. But one thing is certain: a moment came when he faced his demons, repented and allowed God to work in him. He understood that God’s utmost desire is redemption. Jesus himself said,
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Come clean (even when you are not caught), watch Him grant you freedom and peace and turn you into a man/woman of stronger and stable faith.
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
~2 Corinthians 7:10
Don’t be afraid of God, He is not a tyrant; fearing God is actually awe, respect, reverence for His greatness in light of our insignificance. Proverbs tells us that it is the beginning of wisdom and hatred of evil. Fearing God is submitting to His will and His Word, acknowledging He is THE one and only Lord entitled to reign in our lives.
More than just wanting a burden off their shoulders, believers should come clean because they understand sin and failure don’t define them nor do they determine God’s mindset and actions toward them. They willingly tell their loving Father they have “messed up” because they are secure in His love! Not only won’t He forsake or abandon them, but He will also provide wisdom, courage and strength to deal with the consequences of their bad choices. God is and will always be in YOUR corner! That’s why change is possible! It is a gift He generously, continually, offers us from the day of our salvation to our last breath on earth.
Peter discovered this in Jesus’ eyes right after he denied Him for the third time.
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: 60-62
That look brought Peter back to the moment only a few hours before when he had bragged, relying on his own abilities, that he would stay faithful no matter what; the moment when Jesus had foretold of Satan’s wicked plans and his follower’s despicable betrayal. That look put in perspective the servant’s accusations in the darkness of this cold night, his following from a distance for fear of being associated with the doomed Christ, the desertion of other disciples since the arrest in the garden. Three years of teaching and serving seemingly obliterated. That look wasn’t one of anger or contempt. It wasn’t an offended accusation or an “I told you so” reaction. It wasn’t filled with the desire to induce guilt and take pleasure in another’s fall. If you had heard it put that way before, erase it from your memory: it is a misrepresentation of who Jesus is!
That look, that silent but so significant exchange between Christ and his disciple, struck me again when I read this passage today. Jesus didn’t ignore, humiliate or mock Peter; He wasn’t too busy to care. On His way to save the whole world, He stopped to pay attention to one man’s predicament, to one guy’s fate and faith. What Peter saw in the soon-to-be-crucified Messiah’s eyes shook this fiery, proud, rugged and strong grown-up man to the core. He was never the same after that, changed from the inside out. Later on, he became a bold witness for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the leader of the Church, a powerful tool used for preaching and miracles, a martyr and a model for believers through the ages. What was the source of his success?
You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great
So, what changed Peter? What did he see in Jesus’ look? I believe it was unconditional love! Throughout Christ’s ministry and the pages of the Bible that is the message heralded to mankind. Judgment will surely come, actions bear in themselves consequences, but here and now until Jesus’ return mercy is offered to anyone who gets hold of the finished work on the Cross! Every time it is necessary, every day it is needed. “Get back up and sin no more.” Faith is a walk; forget about crawling or wallowing on the ground in anguish because you lost a battle in mind or action. Do you hear the Holy Spirit gently persuading you to give up what hinders your relationship with God and could ultimately destroy your life?
Do you see God’s merciful hand extended toward you?
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?