Either Eat the Bear Or the Bear Eats You!
I grew up listening to my dad and his brothers telling tales. Apart from being entertained, those stories often made a point. I recall one story in particular. Back in pioneer days there was a man who found himself approaching winter without a heavy coat. As was the custom of the day, he took down his rifle and went into the woods to kill a bear for its pelt. At the same time, there was an old black bear getting ready for his winter nap and he had not yet fattened himself to the point he could comfortably make it through till Spring.
The hunter and the bear just happened to run into each other there in the woods. The two were so close to one another and so startled that neither had the advantage. The hunter would very likely kill the bear but not before the bear had time to tear him to pieces. As the hunter prepared to take his chance the bear startled him by speaking.
“Hold on just a minute Mr. Hunter. Can’t we talk about this?” When the hunter explained that he desperately needed a heavy coat to get through the winter the bear responded that he might offer a compromise that could solve both their problems. “Just put the rifle down for a minute and I’ll explain,” said the bear. When the man lowered his gun the bear killed him and ate him. Now the man had his coat and the bear had his meal. The moral of the story – don’t ever trust a talking bear!
It was Peter that wrote, “Be sober, be vigilant for your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1st Peter 5:8). Peter was uniquely qualified to offer this little gem of wisdom. The night that Jesus was arrested he denied the Lord three times. This in spite of the fact that he had been fore warned. The story of our Savior’s humiliation and suffering is not only one of the malice and injustice of His enemies but of the frailty and unfaithfulness of His friends. While it was the priests and elders that arrested and condemned Him, it was His disciples that denied, betrayed, and abandoned Him.
Peter fell prey to the Devil’s cunning but was forgiven. While forgiveness is readily available, it is better not to fall into the evil one’s trap in the first place. Examine Peter’s failure and learn from his mistakes.
I. He Was Somewhere He Should Not Have Been
A. With those that had rejected Christ
1. Warming himself by their fire
2. Listening to their conversation
3. His close associations made it nearly impossible to proclaim his love
B. We are commanded to remain separate
II. Misunderstanding God’s Word Put Him In Danger
A. He had not adequately prepared himself
1. He allowed his own desires to mislead him
2. He had not listened to Jesus
B. We are often guilty of making scripture say what we want to hear
1. Using it as a club to beat others into line
- Men should keep their hair short and women ought not to wear slacks
2. Christian liberty frees me from righteous living
III. He Was Confused About Service
A. He drew his sword and cut deep
B. Jesus was in control; nevertheless, Peter attempted to take over
C. We are often tempted to elevate ourselves
1. Arguing doctrine rather than witnessing
2. We should accept the gifts we are given
IV. Fear and A Weak Faith Failed Him
A. Testing revealed his lack of faith (still a sinker)
B. His faith had been in himself and not in the Lord
C. Overconfidence, stubbornness, and conceit
We must practice our faith or risk failure in a pinch. Peter tried to blend in and was absorbed! We should be more like John. He avoided Peter’s mistakes by latching on to Christ and refusing to let go.