When The Past Won’t Stay Put

Title: When The Past Won't Stay Put

Bible Book: Luke 22 : 54-62

Author: Frank Page

Subject: Failure; Forgiveness; Restoration



In our series on spiritual warfare we have spent time looking at the arenas of warfare. We have dealt with the issues of the world and the flesh. We have spent time identifying the chief enemy in spiritual warfare. We have seen that he is the real enemy, the roaring lion, the deceiver, and the father of lies. We have also seen how He guarantees victory through the cross and how that victory is to be proclaimed through the church.

Today we begin a far more personal section in this series on spiritual warfare. For the next several weeks, we will be looking at areas in which spiritual warfare is personally experienced. We will dig deep into God's precious Word to find help in each of these areas.

Somewhere a long time ago the rumor got started that Christians do not hurt like other people. How I wish that were true! Reality, however, is that when we hurt, we feel it. When we fail, it hurts. When we are cut, we bleed. We all feel pain - or most of us. I read sometime back of a rare condition afflicting two English children, a congenital insensitivity to pain. They suffer from this condition, yet they are unaware of any pain. The little two year old boy has already suffered third degree burns, broken his arm, and sustained contusions and concussions, to all of which he has responded with abnormal indifference instead of tears. It is a dangerous malady because they recognize no danger.

You and I, however, ought to be thankful. When we're hurt . . . we feel it. When we fail it hurts. When we are cut we bleed. There is purpose in pain.

We do fail and we experience the pain from that failure. There are times, the evil one continues to bring up failures from the past. There are times when the past won't stay put.

We are going to share this morning in a brief look at failure in the life of one with whom we all can identify . . . Peter.

Remember back in your mind's eye to that occasion almost two thousand years ago when the rooster crowed. Most people could have cared less, but not so with Peter. To him, that rooster's crowing was like the blare of a bugle. The rooster's crow was to him a message of failure.

How do we deal with failure? What hope do we have when we experience personal failure? I hope that today we can come to grips with the reality of failure and with the reality of hope. Let us hear Christ's message to us today. Read with me Luke 22:54-62.


Peter's desire to follow Jesus into the house of the high priest revealed his loyalty. Peter was admitted into the inner court, where he joined the soldiers and other servants seated around the fire. The maid apparently became suspicious of Peter and surmised that he was a disciple of Jesus. The text literally means, "She looked steadily at him." She remarked to those gathered around the fire that Peter had been with Jesus. Peter, however, denied the accusation.

The word deny means to refuse to recognize or to deny solidarity with. A brief time later, still another servant identified him as one of the apostolic band. A second time Peter denied the accusation. After another hour had elapsed, another bystander confidently asserted that Peter had been with Jesus, for his Galilean speech had betrayed him. Again Peter denied the accusation, and while he was speaking the rooster crowed. The Lord then turned and looked at Peter (v. 61), who remembered the prediction of Jesus that he would deny his Master three times before the cock crowed.

We don't know how Jesus was able to turn and look at Peter. Perhaps it was through a window or door overlooking the courtyard. The crowing of the rooster and the look of Jesus brought home to Peter the reality of his betrayal. I bet he hated roosters after that. Maybe Peter could have stood it if Jesus had turned and given him a tongue lashing; but that voiceless, grief-laden look went to Peter's heart like a sword and opened a fountain of bitter tears. The penalty of sin is to face, not the anger of Jesus, but the heartbreak in His eyes.

No Christian is above failing the Lord. None of us is perfect. A young husband of a few weeks said to his bride, "Honey, I've noticed some faults you have that I didn't know you had. Would you mind if I pointed them out?" She smiled and answered, "No, so long as you remember that those defects kept me from getting a better husband than I did."

The potential of doing what Peter did is in every Christian. Remembering that should help us be merciful when we fail and also when we hear or see the failures of others.


Peter was too sure of himself. Jesus had predicted the defection of His disciples (Luke 22:31-34). Peter responded, "Even though they all fall away, I will not" (Mark 14:29, RSV). Peter meant what he said, but he was too sure of himself.

A. The person who is over confident is in real danger of falling

"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). Paul warned Christians about this fault in his letters. "For by the grace given me, I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3).

"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted" (Galatians 6:1).

It is important to remember that if we say, "That is one thing I will never do," that is the very thing which we must be most careful about. Again and again castles have been captured because the attackers took the route which seemed unattackable because at that very point, the defenders were off their guard. Satan is subtle. He can and will attack at the point at which a person is too sure, for there that person is most likely to be unprepared.

B. We fail because we place ourselves in compromising situations

As one writer said, "Peter was too close to the fire."

When Jesus was arrested, Peter followed but at a distance, "But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end" (Matthew 26:58). Being chilly in the predawn hour, he warmed himself by the fire with the servants. If he hadn't been by the fire with others he wouldn't have been in the position of possible denial.

When we enter into situations which may test us, and do not have the proper foundation of faith and strength, then we open ourselves for failure. Many of you have experienced failure in your personal life . . . your spiritual life . . . your family life . . . for this very reason.

C. The last reason for failure is our refusal to listen

Peter refused to listen to Jesus. The Lord predicted the denial, and though Peter heard the words, he failed to listen. “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times. “ Luke 22:61).

The Lord has given a word to warn and guide--the Bible. If a person will pay attention to what God says, putting the truth in his heart, he will have help in times of temptation (Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.")


Even though Peter failed the Lord, he was not forsaken by the Lord. Grieved and broken by the realization of his failure, Peter wept. "And Peter went out, and wept bitterly" (Luke 22:62).

But Jesus wasn't finished with Peter. Consider the facts.

A. First, when predicting the failure, Jesus also gave encouragement

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32).

It is as if Jesus said to Peter, "You will deny me, and you will weep bitter tears; but the result will be that you will be better able to help your brothers who are going through it." Peter was in essence told beforehand that he could be strengthened through it all.

B. Second, Peter was given a special assignment

In another time, Jesus spoke to Peter 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.’”(John 21:17).

Listen to what F. F. Bruce penned and it will helps us to understand the impact of this special assignment, "When first he was called from his occupation of catching fish to be a follower of Jesus, he was told that he would catch men (Luke 5:10; cf. Mark 1:17). Now to the evangelist's hook there is added the pastor's crook, so that, as had often been said, Peter proceeded to fulfil his double commission "by hook and by crook."

How seriously he took this second commission may be gathered from I Peter 5:1-4 where, speaking towards the end of his life as an elder to fellow elders, he urges them to "shepherd the flock of God" so faithfully that they would receive “an unfading garland of glory at the manifestation of the chief shepherd."


The Christian's hope in failure is that the Lord will forgive and continue to use. To be sure, the consequences of failure are not removed. God forgives the sinner and removes the burden of guilt, but the scars of the sin often remain.

To experience the shame of failure and disloyalty is not all loss, because it also gives us a sympathy and an understanding that otherwise we would never have. God is gracious in the face of our failure. He offers forgiveness. When somehow you are called to the recognition of your failure, take heart. Christ can bring up a new day for you if when you fail you look to Christ, and Him alone. He will set you back up with a sense of wholeness, a new sense of purpose. He will restore you for your task in life.

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