If You Deny Me Before Men...

One of the first issues I first had to deal with as a new Christian was what others would think of me. It wasn’t as big of a problem for me while I was in the Marines. But when I was discharged I soon discovered that what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:14 is true: “The man without the spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” I hadn’t completely stopped the party scene. I still wanted to be around my old friends even though I knew I would have to stop engaging in the life style I had been use to. And can you believe it, I found that my friends didn’t care to hear about my new found faith in Jesus.

One evening I became painfully aware of how my faith in Jesus would cause problems in my social life. My cousin was having a party. Me and another friend decided to go. We were in the kitchen with a few people sitting around the table. I suppose the word was out that I had “found religion”. I’m not sure how the conversation got started but the people around the table where asking me about the “End Times”- what the Bible says about the end of this world as we know it. I did not realize that other people could hear me.

Before too long my cousin came to me and asked me and my friend to leave. She said that our discussion was upsetting everyone at the party- that we were spoiling the mood. My friend started to get angry. He was not a Christian. He did not understand why we were being asked to leave. I did. I knew that what I was saying about the Bible and Jesus was convicting others. But it did feel strange -being kicked out of my own cousins home. I soon began to keep my mouth shut- to avoid loosing friends.

But despite my attempt to put Jesus on the back burner of my life, He did not go away. One night I was sitting in a bar. I wasn’t even drinking. I was just sitting there thinking about my life. A friend from high school came in and sat down beside me. His name was Rusty. He started pouring his heart out to me. He was having difficulties in his life and for some reason he wanted to tell me all about it. He actually said at one point that he wished he was like me, cause I had it all together. I almost laughed! He had no idea the amount of inner turmoil I was going through because I knew I wasn’t living for the Lord.

As I was sitting there listening to Rusty tell me about his problems there was a little voice that kept telling me to “tell him about Jesus”. But I refused. I felt like a hypocrite. I couldn’t see how I could tell Rusty about Jesus. What would he think? So I didn’t say a word. I left the tavern that night without sharing with Rusty that which could have made all the difference in the world. 

The next day I stopped by the bank on the way to work. I over heard someone talking about the accident. It was a two car accident- a head on collision with two men in one car and two men in another car. Both carts left that tavern the night before headed in opposite directions. Then both cars turned West and went about a mile out of town. They then turned toward each other- not knowing it. They meet each other in the middle of the road at the top of a hill. Two young men died that night. One of them was Rusty.

I could not stop thinking about Rusty pouring his heart out to me the night before, and that voice that kept telling me to tell him about Jesus. I was probably the last person who had a chance to tell him about how Jesus can save us from our sins- so that we don’t have to fear death. But I wouldn’t do it because I was ashamed. I felt terrible.

I attended the funeral. There were a large number of young people also there-young people who don’t expect to die. We were all tragically reminded again that day that we are just one heart beat away from eternity. And I knew that I had to do something different. I knew that the Lord was telling me I needed to wake up.

I went home that day and fell down at the foot of my bed, broken. The guilt from my from my failure to share with Rusty what I knew about Jesus and from the way I was living my life was too much. I cried out to the Lord. I didn’t know what to do. I was still a new Christian. As I was knelling there by my bed I grabbed my Bible in desperation and opened it up. My eyes fell on these words of Jesus from Matthew 10:32&33 which says: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven . But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. I confessed my sin, and I determined that with Gods’ help, I would no longer care about what others might think of me because of my faith in Jesus.

The interesting thing is, shortly after that day I was able to completely stop the use of drugs and alcohol- something that had been dogging me for the past 6 years of my life. And despite my failure, I felt free- free from the need to get high. I began to realize that I didn’t need an altered state to have “fun”, what a discovery! I truly began to experience a joy that I could not explain!

I naively thought, however, that the Lord had removed all the things in my life that hindered my walk with Him. I thought, as the Bible seems to indicate in 2 Corinthians 5:17, that since I was “a new creation” in Christ the old part of me was completely gone. I didn’t realize at the time that the battle had only just began. I would soon discover that the old man in me was still there. And not only was the old man still there, he was re-grouping for a counter attack- a long battle for my soul that would almost destroy me. But that‘s another story…

AWRETCHLIKEME AWRETCHLIKEME 51-55, M 3 Responses Mar 28, 2010

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Me again. Just reading this on the internet has given me some encouragement in the forgiveness of Christ. in Peter's denial of HIm.

But Peter answered and said to Him, "Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away." (Matthew 26:33 NASB)

Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You." All the disciples said the same thing too. (Matthew 26:35 NASB)

I'm sure that Peter meant this when he said it, but now his pride is falling apart under pressure.

And the maid saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, "This is one of them!" 70 But again he was denying it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, "Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too." (Mark 14:69-70 NASB)

Matthew and Mark tell us of Peter's denials before: (1) a slave girl, (2) a slave girl, and (3) bystanders. John's record of Peter's denials involves: (1) a slave girl, (2) those warming themselves by the fire, and (3) the slave who was a relative of Malchus.

Peter denies Christ a second time. Rather than saying, "Alright, you got me! You're right, I'm from Galilee, and I've been following Jesus Christ for three years. He's the promised Messiah and the most remarkable person I've ever met. He is perfect in every way. What He speaks is absolute truth. I love Him and will follow Him to death." Instead of something along that line, Peter takes his denial to another level with determination that he will not be put into a dangerous situation because of Christ.

Notice what the bystanders say to Peter, "Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too." There was no hiding for Peter. He was a Galilean fisherman with the distinctive accent from his region. They pegged him as a Galilean, and therefore, since most of Jesus' ministry took place in that region, Peter had to be part of Christ's followers. Galileans spoke in a totally different way than Judaeans. This would be like a New Yorker in Georgia, his speech gives him away.

But he began to curse and swear, "I do not know this man you are talking about!" (Mark 14:71 NASB)

This time Peter resorts to an oath, perhaps something common to him before becoming Christ's disciple. The oath put the denial at a deeper stage as he invoked the solemn curse on himself. Such an oath would have brought God into the picture: "I swear to God that I do not know the man!" "I swear by the temple that I do not know the man!" Or in Southern vernacular, "If I'm lying, I'm dying!"

As in the previous denial, the perfect tense of "know" is used to imply: "I don't know Him and I've never known Him!" He uses everything he knows to make it emphatic. Only hours earlier, Peter was determined to lay down his life for Christ. Now he is determined to keep his own skin at any cost, even if it means denying Christ.

Now let me ask you a very important question: Could Peter be a Christian and deny Christ? Before you answer that, let's look at the words of Christ:

"Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 "But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33 NASB)

Jesus is speaking in terms of preparing His disciples to withstand the pressure of persecution. He doesn't want the fear of persecutors to cause them to deny their allegiance to Jesus. Peter must have slept through this lesson.

The word translated "confess" is the Greek word homologeo, which means: "declare (publicly), acknowledge, confess, declare allegiance to." It is used as the antonym of Greek arneomai, which is our word "deny." This is exactly what Peter did, he denied the Lord. Now I'm not sure what the Lord means by denying men before His Father in heaven, but I know what it doesn't mean: It doesn't mean they can't be redeemed. John tells us of some Christian Jewish leaders who would not confess Christ:

Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. (John 12:42-43 NASB)

Were these individuals saved? Were they Christians? The Lordship view would say. "No," because they did not confess Him. But the scripture says, "They believed in Him."

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (John 5:24 NASB)

Lordship theology causes people to doubt the testimony of scripture. Faith is believing, and believing alone makes you a Christian. So to answer our question, Yes, Peter was a Christian. At this point he was not a very good disciple, he was denying his Lord, but he was still a Christian.

One commentator writes, "Open acknowledgment of Christ before men is necessary evidence that you are a Christian." Really, so "real" Christians can't deny Christ. Peter proves this is wrong. He was a real Christian, and he denied Christ. We'll discuss this further in a moment.

And immediately a **** crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, "Before a **** crows twice, you will deny Me three times." And he began to weep. (Mark 14:72 NASB)

Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him, and Peter denied it. Now he is a broken man. Luke tells us that immediately after Peter's last denial, Jesus was somehow able to look Peter straight in the eye, at the very time that the **** crowed:

But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are talking about." And immediately, while he was still speaking, a **** crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before a **** crows today, you will deny Me three times." 62 And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:60-62 NASB)

While Peter is still mouthing his adamant denial, the rooster begins to crow. At that moment, Jesus is visible, turns, and makes eye contact with Peter. The word translated "looked at" is the Greek verb emblepo, which means: "to look at something directly and therefore intently."

And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:62 NASB)

The word translated "wept" is the common Greek verb klaio: "to cry." Peter weeps intensely. The word "bitterly" is the Greek adverb pikros. The adjective pikros originally meant: "pointed, sharp," so the word carries the idea of sharpness, pain, severity.

What were the chances that any of our Lord's disciples would avoid arrest and later be allowed to stand in the courtyard of the high priest as Jesus is being questioned? God had orchestrated matters so that Lazarus was personally acquainted with the high priest and, on the basis of this relationship, was allowed to enter the high priest's courtyard and to bring Peter along with him. It is here, in this courtyard, that our Lord's prophecies about Peter's denials are fulfilled. Once again, God's providential hand is evident in the life of our Lord, so that every prophecy pertaining to Him is fulfilled exactly.

Jesus' words were prophecy, and they were fulfilled precisely at the time and in the way Jesus said they would be. Once again, we see that Jesus Christ is in control, even when life seems to be unraveling at the seems, at least for Peter:

And immediately a **** crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, "Before a **** crows twice, you will deny Me three times." And he began to weep. (Mark 14:72 NASB)

What a difference a few hours make! Earlier, in the same dark hours of morning, Peter courageously unsheathed his sword to defend Jesus Christ against several hundred soldiers. Not even insurmountable odds could dissuade him from serving his Master, even at the cost of his life. Yet just a few hours later, in the chill of early morning, a lone slave-girl crushes Peter's courage and resolve. The immovable rock wilted beneath the sound of her voice. The man who would never abandon Christ became weak-kneed with the few words of a young girl, so much so, that he denied knowing anything about Jesus Christ.

What went wrong? Peter thought that he had everything under control. He was proud, and he boasted that he would never deny Jesus:

And Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you, that you yourself this very night, before a **** crows twice, shall three times deny Me." 31 But Peter kept saying insistently, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And they all were saying the same thing, too. (Mark 14:31 NASB)

There was no consciousness of his own infirmities; no awareness of the power, pressure, and subtlety of temptation. Peter was convinced that he would stand if everyone else ran off. Here Peter takes the first step in falling away:

Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. (Proverbs 16:18 NASB)

Instead of Peter saying, "Oh Lord, please don't let it be so, please give me strength so that I won't deny you."Peter's pride says, "I will not deny You!"

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12 NASB)

Peter later, having learned his lesson, called upon all believers to be humble:

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, (1 Peter 5:5-6 NASB)

Thinking himself strong and able to handle any situation, he overestimated his ability to resist temptation and underestimated his own propensity for sin. Failing to heed the warning of Christ, Peter stepped right into the path of a spiritual fall.

Do you heed the warnings of Christ given in the Word? Do you heed the warnings against immorality, laziness, and complacency found in scriptures? Do you heed the warnings in James against sins of speech and the tongue? Do you pay attention to the warnings of pride going before destruction and haughtiness before a fall? In a word, do you pay heed to what the scripture teaches?

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12 NASB)

There are many Christian young people who think. "I would never commit sexual sin."

For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; (1 Thessalonians 4:3 NASB)

We all know that it is God's will that we be morally pure. But too many of us think we are above this sin. Too many think, "I would never do that." If you think this way, you are in grave danger. None of us are exceptions to any type of sin. Stephen Olford once said, "I am capable of committing any sin known to man." He went on to explain the need for depending upon Christ's strength and never relying upon the flesh.

Believers, we never outgrow the need for absolute dependence upon the Lord! He is to be relied upon, trusted in, looked to, and depended upon in every setting and phase of life. Christ told Peter:

"Keep watching and praying, that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Mark 14:38 NASB)

Spiritual vigilance through disciplining our minds and hearts through the Word of God, worship, meditation upon the Word, obedience to His commands, and prayer move us away from self-dependence so that we might constantly be looking to the Lord.

Before you're too hard on Peter, let me ask you, "Have you ever denied the Lord?"

Before you answer that, you need to understand what it means to deny the Lord.

1. We can deny the Lord by an explicit and open denial­this is the kind of denial that Peter was guilty of here. In other words, there is a straightforward question, "Do you know Jesus Christ?" and the answer immediately is, "No." If you're thinking, "I would never do that," you're not listening! You're thinking you stand. We may think that there is no need for this kind of denial because we live in a free country. True, but it may not always be.

2. We can also deny Christ by our silence­how many times have you had the opportunity to speak for Christ and you said nothing? So often our silence is denial. Later in Peter's life, he wrote:

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; (1 Peter 3:15 NASB)

3. We can deny our Lord by hypocrisy­when we live in a way contrary to the teaching of the Lord, we deny Him. I know a business man who is continually preaching the Gospel to people, but is also continually violating the scripture's moral principles of loving each other.

We are called to "Love our neighbor as our self," and if we are not doing this, we are in fact denying Christ. According to our study entitled, "Who's My Neighbor," who is it that we have to love? The Samaritans, which culturally meant their enemies. Jesus was teaching that: Even my enemy is my neighbor. Jesus says to all believers: You go, love your enemy!

So in case we are feeling a little smug when we read of Peter's denials, let me ask how many opportunities you and I have had to "stand up and testify of our faith in Jesus Christ," and yet we have chosen to remain silent? We are not that different from Peter.

Who among us has not made strong resolves of faithfulness to Jesus Christ only to fall flat at the next bend in the road? It frustrates and shames us. We tell ourselves that it will never happen again. Yet, again it happens.

I have some good news for you this morning: Peter's Fall is not Final. Remember the resurrection morning when Jesus met the women at the tomb? Notice what He tells them:

"But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He said to you.'" (Mark 16:7 NASB)

After he denies Christ, Peter drops out of the picture; we know nothing more about what happened to him until the women come with the good news of the resurrection.

Peter repented of his sin, and the Lord forgave him and continued to use him. Peter was the first apostle to publicly preach the Gospel after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and three thousand were added to the church in one day. He was the first to have the Holy Spirit work through him in miraculous ways. We're all familiar with the first recorded instance of a healing through Peter:

But Peter said, "I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene-- walk!" 7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. 8 And with a leap, he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. (Acts 3:6-8 NASB)

It was this same Peter, in light of this incident with the crippled man, who boldly confronted the religious leaders of Jerusalem in such a way as to rebuke them for not being true to their scriptures regarding the Messiah:

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people, 9 if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, 10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead-- by this name this man stands here before you in good health. 11 "He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone. 12 "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:8-12 NASB)

It was Peter who was used by the Holy Spirit to put the fear of God in the church when Ananias and Sapphira lied to God about what they had done with their possessions. As each came into Peter's presence, he pronounced God's displeasure with them, and they immediately fell dead.

Peter was a heavy weight in the church, and people loved him and admired him and respected him for his work in the church and among the Jews of his day. It's no coincidence that the Roman Catholic church places Peter on the pedestal. Though they are entirely wrong about declaring him to be the first Vicar of Christ on earth, or the first pope, it shows us that early on Peter was held in high esteem.

Just in case you are losing touch with Peter and all his boldness for Christ, let me remind you that even post-Pentecost Peter has his issues. In Galatians 2 we are told that Paul had to confront Peter in Antioch, he rebukes him to his face for what would be a denial of the true Gospel. Peter, out of fear, compromised his convictions, even though he knew it was wrong. God had personally shown Peter that it was okay to eat with Gentiles. But his fear of men weakened his faith in God. And worst of all, his bad example caused the other Jewish Christians to follow his example. We often hear that Peter was a different man after Pentecost, and he was, but we see here that Peter still struggled with the same weaknesses.

We are a lot like Peter, aren't we? When was the last time fear tainted your faith? When was the last time fear caused you to shrink away from what was right so that you could avoid discomfort? When was the last time fear led you to push away people that God had led into your life? Discomfort, distress, fear, and embarrassment will always leave us looking back with remorse and regret.

Believers, there will never come a time in our Christian lives when we won't need to live in dependence upon God. And whenever we think that we can stand in our own strength, we are in trouble. The Christian life in every area is to be lived in the power of the Spirit. We are to ever and always be walking by means of the Spirit.

Rick, this story has spoken to me more than you know. I grew up in a Christian family and became a Christian as a child, however I only once shared the gospel with a girl at school who specifically asked what a Christian was. She said she would come to Christ when she is older.

Over the years I went to Bible College for a year, then university an now been 6.5 years in my current job. Now I'm 31 and something devastating has happened - only 7 weeks ago my Supervisor (aged 33) was told her role in work was being given to someone else and she was being given another task. She had put her everything into the role she had and she ranted to me after work, like you I had been the last person to speak to her. I thought she'll get over this and tried to nod at and say yes while listening. Over the years i saw how she worked like no othe and I must say I did wonder how she could keep going as i knew nobody to take their work home with them like she did and I thought "this lady needs Jesus" but like you said nothing that day or anytime before that Two days later I learned she had taken her life tragically

Unfort I worked in the same office with her all those years practically every day as well so had ample opportunity and around about 6 years ago there was a leaving party and she said to me "you're a Christian but I'm a good person, I try not to do anything too bad, I'm a good personn". This would have been the perfect opportunity to share but I didnt then or thereafter.

So I can identiiy with you, tho I wasn't a "new" christian like you

that verse kept popping into my head too. and I have felt a lot of guilt.

Please let me know your thoughhts.


Hi Rick! I finally got around to coming to this site & reading your stories! YOUR KILLING ME!!! I'm ready to keep reading about what was going on & stop & say...But that's another story! OMG(gosh!) You need to continue! Its like the best book I've read in decades & you stop! ugh!!! : ) So I'm gonna look around on this site since I guess there are 3 stories...maybe you finished or continued on!! I just love reading about your life & experiences! Very interesting! I must say! to go!...KEEP WRITING!!! PLEASE!!!