We all know the story in Matt.16 about how Jesus asked the Disciples who they believed he was. As usual, Peter spoke what was on his heart first: “You are the Messiah/Christ, the Son of the Living God!” (16:16) Jesus blessed him for recognizing the voice of the Father, who revealed that truth to him (18), and prophesied Peter’s identity as “Rock” and granted him spiritual power and authority (The Keys of Heaven) in v.19.
Immediately after that verse 21 records: “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must… be killed, and be raised up on the third day. “
Jesus waited until 1 disciple heard and recognized the Father’s voice and then he began to explain the prophecies of his death and resurrection. Then something unusual happens and it has been something that I have not understood at all until recently.
V.22~ “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” Peter contradicts what Jesus prophesied, which is never a good thing to do!
It’s Jesus’ response that has always baffled me…(v.23)~ “But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me…” Did Jesus just call Peter, Satan? I don’t think so. I believe that there is a very valuable lesson in this for us today.
Jesus does not consider us Satan when we sin. Jesus does not know us according to our flesh (2 Cor.5:16) but according to the spirit because our spirit is what has become a new creation that Paul spoke of in the very next verse! (5:17) Because our flesh was “born of flesh and is (still) flesh”. In His eyes we are perfect because he knows us according to the Spirit. “Whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6) and “Whoever is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.”(1 Cor.6:17)
Jesus was not talking to Peter, he was talking to the deceiver, Satan. Satan is the “accuser of the brethren.”(Rev.12:10) God does not accuse us, He does not condemn us (Rom.8:1) So Jesus wasn’t accusing Peter of being Satan, Jesus was speaking directly to the satanic influence in Peter’s flesh!
This is a lesson for how we should perceive each other. Every born again-believer’s spirit has been completed in Christ, we should recognize each other by the spirit and not the flesh!
So when the enemy puts accusing thoughts in our minds towards our spouse or any other believer that unknowingly hurt us; we need to denounce those thoughts and follow Jesus and Paul’s example. Remember who they are in the spirit (one with Christ!) and love them for the Jesus that’s in them (even if you can’t see it at the moment).
Actually, we should feel compassion for that person, who is yielding to the enemy; instead of following the Holy Spirit. The love of Christ should compel (2 Cor.5:14) us to love them in our thoughts and action to the point that we intercede for them; instead of focusing on how they have just made us feel! (1 John 3:18)
That’s “the greatest love that lays down it’s life for it’s friends!” (John 15:13)
I have to stop here because I am preaching to myself…I have by no means “mastered” this principle. But, I recognize that it is the will of the Lord and knowing is half the battle.