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HOW SATAN’S ACCUSATIONS can BECOME JESUS’ AFFIRMATIONS

Have you ever heard of an accused personality? Well, I have and eerily I am one. Sometimes I feel as though I’m like the young Sir Henry Baskerville, of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of Baskerville,”  who believed he was cursed. He was constantly haunted at night by a hound whose frightful howls would mysteriously waft from a nearby moor shrouded in mist that terrified the depths of his soul.
Maybe you remember the famous line in the tale. “The curse, the curse, it comes for me!

This is type of accused thinking that can turn into a self fulfilling prophecy that will destroy you just as fast as it did Sir Henry. The thought of which brings to mind the apostle Peter.

Since Peter denied Jesus right when the rooster crowed; do you think he was haunted and tormented by that crow every morning?.

Whenever I used to think of Peter’s denial of Jesus, I always assumed that he must have felt and acted just like I do. Every time rooster crowed Peter must have constantly  beat himself over the head with it.

But would Peter have been the great apostle he was if he acted that way?

Can you imagine Peter hearing a rooster crow every morning after what he did?

If I was He I would have have these thoughts or similar to them in nature: I’m a scumbag, I’m a worm, slugs are more worthy that me. I’m good for nothin’ and will never amount to nothin’, I’m a saltless dirt bag a worthless scoundrel thrown out and trampled. The slime of a slug is more appealing than me. I’ll never make to heaven, my destiny is hell the only thing for which I am worthy.

I always imagine that Peter’s denial was in the forefront of his mind and that he would begrudgingly carry the enormous weight of his betrayal which screamed in a loud shrill telling him to quit. You worthless piece of dung. Why go on? You are finished! You are a cooked goose!

In my mind I pictured Peter as having superhuman strength and determination to continue in the fact of such daunting accusations. Every day he had to carry his burden Everyday the rooster crowed. Every day he was reminded of his denial. Everyday he would keep on keepin’ on in the midst of his great turmoil, pain, and anguish. If only I can be like him? If I can push through my dismal existence just like he did to the bitter end then maybe I too just might make it to heaven. 

Maybe I can be like him and even find some kind of happiness through my own determination. Yet in the midst of these toils I sometimes wished my life would just end. 

I even considered suicide several times, but knowing that I would definitely be cursed if I took that route I always stopped short at the thought. I was so deceived at the time I didn’t recognize this was Satan’s tactic. All I knew is that in despair I had to put my head down and push forward without hope and only with the expectation of eternal fire[1]Hebrews 10:26-27 and torment. The only comfort I was able to receive was knowing that living in this self persecution was far better than hell that awaited.

Now that is a sick mind that needs healing.

GREAT NEWS! JESUS THE HEALER STILL HEALS!

I recently discovered how to overcome that demented attitude with a more positive, encouraging and productive perspective. 

One day as I was out for one of my early morning walks I had the pleasure of hearing a rooster crow. “Err-uh-err-uh-errrrr!”

At that moment I was praying and praising God so I thanked Him for the rooster too. I marveled at how He had fashioned the bird into a morning herald to announce the dawn of every new day with an enthusiastic vigor that would rise anyone from the deepest sleep and this just when the faintest sliver of sun-light broke through the darkness and over the horizon.

rooster

Photo by Todd Quakenbush

I wondered how the rooster knew when to crow. Did he awake a few minutes early to witness the first light, or was he up half the night waiting for the crack of dawn or maybe he just woke at dawn? I really didn’t know and wasn’t that concerned at the time for I was marveling and praising and thanking God for His creation of the rooster.

Because of this early morning encounter with a rooster I couldn’t help but think of Peter’s denial of Jesus. I even thought of how Satan possibly attacked him immediately afterward with vicious and damning accusations.

Hadn’t Jesus warned Peter earlier, “Satan has requested to sift you like wheat.”

I wondered how Peter stayed faithful when Satan lambasted him every morning. “You denied Jesus! You unworthy scum bucket. God hates you. He will never forgive you. You’ve gone too far. Didn’t Jesus say if you deny Him in earth He’ll deny you before the Father in heaven. Your finished! You saved your own skin and now you’ll pay the piper.”

Accusations like those would make my heart sink faster than a lead balloon. How did Peter survive; how did he stand up under them; how did he keep going? How was Peter able to stay positive and go on to be the great leader that he was?

It was at this very moment of questioning while praising God for the rooster that I had an epiphany. I discovered Peter’s secret to survival.

I was experiencing a similar pain as that of Peter and I needed to learn how he survived, so that my mistakes, shortcomings self loathing wouldn’t be my downfall and drag me away from Christ! There are things we do that are too heavy and impossible for us to bear. We need Jesus and we need to understand Jesus’s grace at the same depth as Peter. Impossible? No, he was a man just like us.

MY STORY

When I was baptized, I died with Christ, I as buried with him in watery grave and raised up with him into a new life. I was never going to sin again, or so, I thought.

Amazingly, I lasted about a year and half or so before I purposely sinned or so I thought. I want you to know that I wasn’t without sin but naively unaware. For some reason I thought I’d never sin one of those big sins again. I thought I was beyond them. I’m in Christ and can’t go on sinning.

I was flat out wrong and flat out didn’t understand what the apostle John meant when he said, “No one who lives in him (christ) keeps on sinning” 1 John 3:6 (NIV).

As a new babe in Christ I had a lot of growing to do as we all do. Thanks be to God for His mercy, love and grace which he so lavishly showers upon us!

Anyway one fateful day I did purposely chose to sin and let an angry man cause me to lose my temper when I let loose with a barrage of bad language at him in a fit of rage. I’d be a liar if I said that moment didn’t hurt. I nearly ruined me. I couldn’t forgive myself and that led to more sin until I actually did fall away and languished in self-hatred for several years. Not a good place to be.

In my mind I had betrayed God who had forgiven me, a prodigal son who returned to Him at baptism. Now I a son of God sinned willfully against my God. How could that be? I betrayed Him! I took the lordship of my life back again. Now, I, a prodigal son who returned from a sinful life, fully embraced sin again and to my knowledge there is nothing in the Word about a prodigal son sinning twice, leaving twice and coming back twice. because of that I now believed that I was eternally condemned. 

God would never forgive me. How could He? After all that He did for me. I spurned him, I chose momentary delight and sinful pleasure over Him. In baptism I became a new creation in Christ. Well, on that sinful day too I had been changed. I resurrected my old self; thus proclaiming there truly is a resurrection having spurned my new life by raising my old self bringing judgment on my head. I had ruined myself, I was without hope. I had become utterly unacceptable and useless to God.

I thought these ideas were mine, but they actually were coming from Satan. He was sifting me like wheat and I was letting him get away with it.

But on that morning walk the epiphany which came in God’s timing after several years of self persecution taught me the same lesson that Peter had learned. Albeit he was must faster learner.

Ok, you may be wondering, he fell away. Why is the author now on a prayer walk?

As I said before I did fall away for several years, but I was miserable the whole time and desired to be with God, but still thought that was impossible as Hebrews 6:4-6 says. So, I thought if I could just go back to the fellowship maybe I could have some peace of mind. 

So I came back, but not fully convinced that I could make it to heaven. My warped thinking said if I could just prevent others from falling away and from sharing my demise then that purpose would give me some comfort and peace and put me in better place emotionally. So I came back with a purpose to warn others not to do what I had done. If could help someone and prevent them from suffering my fate then just maybe I’d feel a little better.

Anyway let’s get back to Peter and try to put ourselves in his shoes.

PETER’S STORY

On the night after the last supper after Judas would betray Jesus, He and his disciples went to the Mount of Olives.

“[There][2][mine] Jesus told them, ‘This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: I will strike the, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’

Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will. 

‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’

But Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the other disciples said the same. —Matthew 26:31-35 (NIV)

Jesus is arrested and taken away and Peter being curious followed at a distance.

In a short while Peter found himself standing around a fire with some soldiers near where Jesus was being beaten and questioned.

“Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. ‘You also were with Jesus of Galilee,’ she said. 

But he denied it before them all. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said.

Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, ‘This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.’

He denied it again, with an oath: ‘I don’t know the man!’

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, ‘Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.’

Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know the man!’

Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: ‘Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’ —In Luke the text says that Peter and Jesus locked eyes right at this moment.— And he went outside and wept bitterly.” —Matthew 26:69-75 (NIV)

In my thinking this was the very moment Satan attacked Peter and began to sift him like wheat just as Jesus predicted.[3]Luke 22:31-33

In due time Jesus was crucified and for three days and two nights Peter wallowed in misery. Every morning the rooster crowed reminding Peter that he denied Jesus!

Then it got worse for Peter early Sunday morning. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came back from the tomb and claimed they had seen the risen Jesus.[4]Matthew 28:1-8

On hearing this Peter and John ran to the tomb, but it was empty.[5]John 20:3-8

Now we must let our imaginations run a little bit so that we can understand Peter’s emotional state. I see Peter as a big burly guy full of strength, virtue and bravado, but now thoroughly deflated. He was Jesus’s most trusted aide. He walked on water! He was Jesus’s right hand man. The other disciples respected him. He lived on a pedestal. Peter was the right hand man of Jesus the Messiah, second in command. He was like Joseph. What more could he ask for?

But now having denied Jesus he hurriedly ran to the tomb with John only to find Jesus wasn’t there to greet his right hand man, To be completely sure Peter went into the tomb and made himself unclean. Now unclean on top of his feelings Peter realizes that Jesus greeted a woman, but not Him! We must remember that in this era a woman’s testimony was only worth half that of a man’s. Therefore when Jesus appeared to a woman and not to Peter, he was humiliated, deeply grieved. Satan not wasting any opportune moment to pass pounced immediately and probably said to Peter, “You are the lowest of lows, you’re even less than a woman. You’re not a man, you’re a worm! 

Man those words must have really hurt a man in those days. Peter’s turmoils mount.

To make matters worse Satan probably also said, “Did not Jesus say, ‘Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.’” —Matthew 10:32-33

Peter is feeling overwhelmed with guilt and self loathing finally gives up. There’s nothing left to do, but to go back to fishing.[6]John 21:3

  And so he goes back to his old life of a hard living, hard fighting fisherman, who immerses himself in his work to forget.

JESUS TO THE RESCUE

Early one morning the disciples are out on the boat fishing but have caught nothing. Jesus hails them from the shore and tells them to cast the net on the right side and they will find some fish. 

“He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’

‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard John say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.” —John 21:5-7 (NIV)

When Peter got to the shore, “Jesus said…, ‘Come have some breakfast.’

None of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.”

“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’

‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’

Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’

Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’

He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’

Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’

The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’

Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. 

Then he said to him, ‘Follow me!’” —John 21:12-22

When Jesus said, “follow me” it clicked inside of Peter. At that moment he understood Jesus’s love and grace. He truly comprehended the depth of Jesus’s love at a far greater level than he ever thought or imagined.

Each of us must, through our own experiences, come to personal understanding of Jesus’s love for us in the flagrant face of all our sin shortcomings. Knowing of Jesus’s love is not enough. We must personally experience Jesus’s love and when we do then our love for God and Jesus becomes genuine and intimate.

Once Peter came to this level of intimacy the morning rooster no longer bothered him. As a matter of fact it became a joy! He wanted to hear it, no he needed to hear the rooster crow!

Why?

Because the crowing had become an AFFIRMATION of Jesus’s love instead of an ACCUSATION of Satan.

Wow! Isn’t God great.

Since I was able share Peter’s epiphany Satan’s accusations only caused me to grow stronger and closer to Christ.

Here’s the thing, our misery is real, it’s painful, it hurts, but each of us must go through it and experience in order to experience the depth of Jesus’s love. The greater we hurt the greater our love for Christ will be.

Isn’t that what Jesus said, “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” —Luke 7:47 

If one loves God a little then one hasn’t grappled how sinful they really are and have been. I am not advocating sin to be loved much, but I’m advocating we all have sinned much, but some are deceived, and think they sin little. When we realize the depth of our deprivation we will realize the depth of God’s love.

God said of Noah and his family, “…“Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done…” —Genesis 8:21 (NIV)

God says every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. That’s me, you, mother Theresa and everyone. If one pooh poohs that idea then I can only say you are in for a heap of trouble.

Here’s what I now do whenever I’m accused by Satan.

I imagine that I’m sitting across from Jesus at the Sea of Galilee. Jesus looks straight into my eyes as asks if I love him. He asks three times and I respond three time that I do. He gets up and says, “Follow me.” I stop my self loathing and follow him. Now Satan doesn’t accuse me so much because he figured out he’s only building me up. Satan never gives up —so never let up— seek and follow Jesus daily!

We must be like Jesus who never lets us down, never gives up, always hopes, always trusts, and He always loves. His love for us all covers a multitude of sin.

So hopefully you too will be able to turn Satan’s accusations into affirmations of Jesus’s love for you!

Now that you know this truth go teach others and do the same!

God loves you and I love you!

References

1 Hebrews 10:26-27
2 [mine]
3 Luke 22:31-33
4 Matthew 28:1-8
5 John 20:3-8
6 John 21:3
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