Overcoming the Denial

John 18:15-27 (NASB) says, “15Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, 16but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought Peter in. 17Then the slave-girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself.

19The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples, and about His teaching. 20Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. 21“Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said.” 22When He had said this, one of the officers standing nearby struck Jesus, saying, “Is that the way You answer the high priest?” 23Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?” 24So Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

25Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” 26One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.” 

Acts 5:1-11 (NASB) says, “1But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4“While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. 6The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.

7Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” 9Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.” 10And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.”

Simon Peter always has had a bad rep for denying Jesus at the height of His attack and persecution, and no doubt does Peter deserve to get a pass for it. The bigger question is how have we denied Jesus through our lives and actions? Yea, we may not deny Him with our words, but sometimes we do with our silence when we should take a stand for the Word of God! In other words, we would be hypocritical to give Peter a hard time without taking notice of the denial in our hearts of which we need to repent. If we turn the grace of God to fulfill our own lustful desires (Jude 1:4), or if we profess to have a form of godliness while denying the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5), we have committed the same sins as Peter did! But the good news is that was not the end of his story. He had hope as Christ restored him. As long as there is breath in our bodies, hope is not lost! We too can be healed, forgiven, redeemed and restored through the blood of Jesus Christ!

An amazing thing is that Peter made an amazing comeback. Not only was he forgiven, but as a testimony of Christ’s prayers for his life (Luke 22:32) he led over 3,000 people to salvation through Jesus Christ on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2)! It doesn’t matter how you start, but how you finish. If you fall seven times, the proof of your righteous life and character is that you get up every single time (Proverbs 24:16)! 

In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira would die as a result of selling property and keeping part of the money from the selling of the property for themselves. Of course, this in itself doesn’t seem like a cardinal sin in the church, but the Acts church was a community of believers, and they had told the Holy Spirit that they were selling out and giving all of the money to God. However, they allowed greed in their hearts to keep some of it for themselves, but it did not get past Peter. Is it possible that Peter’s downfall in denying Jesus three positioned him to supernaturally discern the heart of Ananias and Sapphira? It is amazing how overcoming the denial in your past can sharpen the gift of discernment in your own personal life! Could Peter have looked at their dead bodies and said, “That could’ve been me!” But God’s grace would not allow him to finish like that. Instead, he would be martyred for the cause of Christ in Rome by hanging on an upside down cross. If you ever question in your mind the reality of who Jesus was, is and is to come, remember those who personally knew and walked with Him who died in martyrdom. Why lay your life down for a false hope? By living for Christ wholeheartedly, we can overcome the denial of who He is in our lives. NOW is the time to take a stand!