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                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                   Peter's Denial Of Jesus (26:69-75)

INTRODUCTION

1. Among the things Jesus suffered, was the indignity of Peter's 
   denial...
   a. Three times, with increasing intensity, Peter denied knowing
      Jesus - Mt 26:69-75
   b. Peter denied knowing Jesus, despite being with Jesus:
      1) From the beginning of His earthly ministry - Mt 4:17-19
      2) At the healing of his own mother-in-law - Mt 8:14-15
      3) On the Sea of Galilee, walking on the water - Mt 14:22-33
      4) On the mount, seeing Jesus with Moses and Elijah - Mt 17:1-13

2. How did Peter come to deny his Lord and Savior?
   a. What forces were at work, that led to his cowardly deed?
   b. Might they be forces we face today, encouraging us to do the
      same?

[From "Peter's Denial Of Jesus", there are important lessons to be
gleaned. Indeed, Peter himself can help us to avoid making the mistakes
he made when he writes as one who knows the dangers before us. For
example, we note first of all that...]

I. PETER WAS BETRAYED BY PRIDE

   A. HE BOASTED HE WOULD NEVER DENY JESUS...
      1. Proudly proclaiming that even if all left Jesus, not him! 
         - Mt 26:31-33
      2. In so doing, Peter took the first step in falling away - Pro
         16:18
      3. We can also be overconfident in our service to God - cf. 1Co 
         10:12

   B. PETER LATER COMMANDED HUMILITY...
      1. To be clothed with humility - 1Pe 5:5
      2. To humble ourselves before God - 1Pe 5:6

[Peter learned the hard way about the danger of pride. Will we learn
from the mistake of Peter, and value the importance of humility? Next,
notice that...]

II. PETER WAS BESIEGED BY LAZINESS

   A. HE KEPT FALLING ASLEEP...
      1. At a time when he needed to be watchful - Mt 26:36-46
      2. His laziness therefore led to lack of preparation
      3. The same thing can happen to us!
         a. Without diligent preparation, we too can be unprepared 
            - cf. Lk 21:34-36
         b. More often than not, we gradually "drift away" because we
            are too lazy to "give the more earnest heed" - cf. He 2:1-3

   B. PETER LATER ENJOINED DILIGENCE...
      1. Commanding vigilant resistance against the devil - 1Pe 5:8-9
      2. Calling for diligence that we might:
         a. Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus - 2Pe 1:5,10
         b. Be found in peace, without spot and blameless - 2Pe 3:14

[Do we allow simple laziness to keep us from careful preparation? Do we
fail to attend services, study God's Word, or even pray, because of
laziness? If so, how can we hope to stand up for Jesus when put to the
test? As we continue, we observe that...]

III. PETER WAS BESET BY COWARDICE

   A. HE FOLLOWED JESUS AT A DISTANCE...
      1. Peter still followed Jesus - Mt 26:58
      2. But now that Jesus was unpopular...
         a. He stays far enough away so not to be identified with Him
         b. He was unprepared to face the challenge of ridicule and
            persecution
      3. Might we be guilty of trying to follow Jesus, but with 
         cowardice?
         a. Ashamed to be seen carrying a Bible?
         b. Ashamed to be seen giving thanks?
         c. Ashamed to be seen with other Christians?

   B. PETER LATER EXHORTED GLORIFYING GOD...
      1. Charging us not to be ashamed, but to glorify God - 1Pe 4:16
      2. Thinking not of what things mean to us, but what they mean to
         God! - cf. Mt 5:16

[With cowardice keeping him at a distance from his Lord, Peter was a
prime candidate for succumbing to what came next...]

IV. PETER WAS BELEAGUERED BY WORLDLINESS

   A. HE WAS INFLUENCED BY THE WORLD...
      1. By sitting with the servants of the High Priest, and warming
         himself by their fire - Mt 26:58; Mk 14:54
      2. Ashamed to be seen with Christ, it was easy to mingle with
         those of the world and enjoy their comforts
      3. But one cannot be "comforted by the fire" of the world, and
         not be "burned"!
         a. E.g., close contact with things that can harm has an effect
            - cf. Pr 6:27-29
         b. So we cannot flirt with the world and walk away untouched
            - 1Co 15:33

   B. PETER LATER CALLED FOR US TO BE OTHER-WORLDLY...
      1. To live as sojourners and pilgrims, abstaining from fleshly
         lusts and with honorable conduct among the nations - 1Pe 2:
         11-12
      2. To look for that new heavens and new earth, being diligent to
         be found by Christ in peace, without spot and blameless - 2 Pe
         3:13-14

CONCLUSION

1. When Peter concluded his second epistle, he did so with a warning...
   a. To beware lest you fall from your own steadfastness - 2Pe 3:17
   b. To grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ - 2Pe 3:18

2. These admonitions come from one who was well qualified to speak...
   a. For he knew how easy it was to fall through such things as:
      1) Pride
      2) Laziness
      3) Cowardice
      4) Worldliness
   b. But he also knew how to grow in grace through such things as:
      1) Humility
      2) Diligence
      3) Glorifying God
      4) Living as strangers and sojourners

Yes, we know that Peter, though he denied Jesus three times and wept
bitterly, received grace when forgiven by Jesus and permitted to
fulfill his role as an apostle (cf. Jn 21:15-17).

If we have been guilty of letting our Lord down, look to Him for the
grace to repent and grow that only He can bestow!
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