The trial of your faith is this: Will you continued to stay hooked and love Jesus, and believe in Him when you don’t know why and you don’t understand what’s going on?
Someone recently asked me, “Why do you think people disconnect or unhook from knowing God?” We know that God’s Word says that He never leaves us nor forsakes us.
But why do we choose to pull away from God? I’m exploring some ideas, and this is the first idea in a series of blogs that discuss this issue.
The first idea, or reason why, is that people become offended or upset with God. After all, it happened to Peter! All 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) discuss the story of Peter denying Jesus three times. In John 18, verses 18, 25 and 27 we read that Peter denies Christ 3 times. Peter’s faith was tried 3 times and each time Peter was asked, he become more upset – the result was Peter demonstrating an attitude of being offended.
What does it mean to become offended? When someone feels offended, they feel hurt, angry, shocked, bitter, stung to the heart, and the result is that you no longer believe. You can see that Peter stopped believing and denied that he knew Jesus. By the time the third occurrence of someone asking Peter if he was Jesus’ followers, Peter responds adamantly with “I don’t know this Jesus”. Oh, what a far cry from a few hours ago when Peter said to Jesus “I’ll die for you.”
How did this change? What happened? How did Peter go from “I’ll die for you” to denying Jesus? Let’s explore this further.
First, what does the Word say about denying Jesus? Let’s take a look: John 16:8-9: “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me”. What is “the sin”? The sin means not believing on Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:12-13: “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” Matthew 10:32-33: “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Luke 12:9: “But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” Is it serious when you deny Jesus? Absolutely.
Second, why did Peter deny Jesus? Peter denied Jesus because he became offended. Jesus warned His disciples. People will do bad things to you. People will not accept you. Jesus said don’t be offended – don’t stop believing in Me, don’t stop identifying with Me – don’t deny Me. In 1 John 2:22-23, we’re reminded again about the importance of not denying Jesus. “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”
This was the test that came to Peter. What did he do while standing by the fire? Deny Jesus. If you had talked to Peter just a few hours before this, I think you would have come away saying that there’s no one more committed to Jesus than Peter. Peter loved Jesus, believed in Him and was committed to Him. Remember in John 21 when a disciple recognized Jesus on the beach, Peter dove into the water to swim to shore – he couldn’t wait. Peter claimed that he would die for Jesus at the last supper. And yet a few hours later, Peter said that he didn’t know Jesus. Jesus said don’t let anything cause you to be offended at Him.
Jesus forewarned His disciples. In Mark 14:27, it says “Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night,[a] for it is written: ‘ I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered’ [Zechariah 13:7]”. The Amplified version of the Mark 14:27 scripture says, “And Jesus said to them, You will all fall away this night [that is, you will be caused to stumble and will begin to distrust and desert Me], for it stands written, I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”
Look at the phrase “cause to stumble and will begin to distrust and desert Me”. That’s what happens when you’re offended. You get hurt, then mad, then shocked, then get bitter and then you can unhook and stop believing. Jesus said it would happen to all of them that night concerning Jesus. Look at these verses: Mark 14:28 “But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.” Mark 14:29 “But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.” Peter is saying – no, nothing will separate me from you. In Mark 14:30 (NKJV), “Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” Peter response in verse 31, “But he spoke more vehemently, ‘If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ And they all said likewise.”
Peter was adamant – I will not deny you. Peter fully intended to follow up on this. In fact, Peter pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of someone who was attacking Jesus. Peter’s heart and his actions were saying, “this is my Jesus, I’m with You until the end.” UNTIL – Jesus said, that’s enough. Put up your sword. What? Stop defending Jesus? Why? That’s when Peter was shocked, and he was upset, and he didn’t understand, and he got angry, and he got hurt.
Peter’s been with Jesus for years now. Peter has seen Jesus stand up against the Pharisees and Saducees, look at them in the eyes and put them in their place when everyone else ran scared. He’s seen Jesus cast out demons. He’s seen Jesus walk on water, speak to the wind and the waves, and he’s seen Him raise the dead. He’s seen Jesus talk to Elijah and Moses. He’s heard the voice of God speak out of the cloud and say, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
Peter never imagined or believed that Jesus would allow them to take Him much less kill Him. Peter was prepared to die for Him. But Peter wasn’t prepared to stand by and watch them take Jesus. It’s not the thing you’re prepared for that tries your faith so much. It’s the thing you haven’t thought about. It’s the thing you haven’t conceived. That’s what’s going to try your faith. And that WILL happen to EVERY ONE of us.
What is the trial of your faith? Peter’s faith was tried. Peter became offended. In 1 Peter 1:6-9, Peter discusses “the trial of your faith” as follows: “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
What is the trial of your faith? The trial of your faith is this: Will you continued to stay hooked and love Jesus, and believe in Him when you don’t know why and you don’t understand what’s going on? It’s not the thing you’re prepared for – it’s the thing you haven’t thought of – it’s the thing you don’t understand.
There are all kinds of Christians who have been offended. They don’t understand. Did you hear that phrase? They don’t understand why someone did something. They don’t understand why somebody didn’t do something that they thought they should do – they had it in their mind that it should go a certain way and it didn’t. They became offended.
Peter had a certain scenario in his mind, didn’t he? He whipped out his blade, cut off the guy’s ear, and he probably thought that Jesus would do something amazing. He always does – He always did. Think about what Peter witnessed. Jesus just got through saying, “I AM” and everyone fell on the ground! What do you think? Do you think this is going to turn out bad? No! We’ve been here before! Jesus is going to do something amazing. Jesus told Peter to stop and put your blade up. Peter sees that Jesus is going to allow them to take him and kill him? Peter became offended. Over the next few hours he trails off – he’s hurt; he’s mad. Why is Jesus doing this? He doesn’t understand.
And so Peter begins to question what he believes, which is what offense is designed to do. If Jesus just lets them take him and He dies, does that mean that He’s not the Messiah? Are all the things we’ve done all these years meant nothing? Have I done something wrong by being a part of this?
When you start questioning what you believe, you start wavering; you start doubting, and the moment you do, fear rushes in. And so when someone says, “Aren’t you one of them?” fear grips Peter and he responded, “no”. It’s not the thing you’ve prepared for – it’s the thing you haven’t thought about. It’s when it didn’t go the way you thought it would. It’s when you don’t understand. It’s when you start asking “why”.
Let’s look at John the Baptist. In Matthew 11, John the Baptist had been thrown in prison, sitting there night after night. He became offended – angry, hurt, shocked, and ceasing to believe in someone you should believe in. John was the one who stood up and pointed at Jesus and said, “Behold, the lamb of God”. He said it so convincingly that his own disciples followed Jesus. After hearing everything Jesus has done, he’s sitting in jail. He sent people to ask Jesus if he was the one. Matthew 11:2-3 “Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? John was the one that said, behold the Lamb of God! John was the one who baptized Jesus and heard God’s voice reaffirming Jesus.
What’s happened to John? He’s become offended; fear has come in. Jesus told the messengers who were sent by John to go back and tell John, “the blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matthew 11:5-6)
Jesus basically said, John – you already know the answer to that question. Don’t be offended in Me. Don’t quit believing in Me. Don’t unhook from Me. John probably never thought he would be sitting in a jail cell as the glorious end to all of his hard work preaching. He’d confirmed the fulfillment of scripture and now he’s going to sit in a jail cell and face execution? John wasn’t prepared for that – he hadn’t planned on that. He hadn’t thought about it. That’s what tries your faith.
What is the trial of your faith? The trail of your faith is – Are you going to stay hooked – are you going to still love Him? Are you going to still believe in Him – when you don’t know “why” and you don’t understand? It’s not the thing you’re prepared for – it’s the thing you haven’t thought of – it’s the thing you don’t understand.
The trial of your faith is this: Will you continued to stay hooked and love Jesus, and believe in Him when you don’t know why and you don’t understand what’s going on? Why do people disconnect from God? Why do they, for example, stop going to church? Something different happened than how they had planned. They prayed and prayed and thought it would happen according to how they prayed and it didn’t happen that way. They stood and made confessions and it didn’t turn out the way they thought it was supposed to. It looked like the need didn’t get met and so they became offended. “Well, I just don’t understand.” “I don’t know why it happened this way.” “I don’t understand”.
It’s more than you just not understanding – it’s turned into you’re offended. You’ve unhooked – you’re no longer believing Him. It’s all right to ask a question “why” when you want to learn and you want to understand. “Lord, why did this happen? I’d like to know – I’d like to understand.” But it’s NOT all right to demand, “WHY?” That’s not OK – that’s never OK. That’s not a question seeking wisdom and understanding. Demanding “why” is questioning the character of God. It’s accusing Him of being unfaithful. WHY didn’t You come through for me? WHY didn’t you do this? WHY did you let this happen? You were offended. You were shocked that it went a certain way, didn’t turn out a certain way, and so now you’re unhooking and not identifying with Him anymore, and dangerously close to denying.
Is this serious? Yes. You may say that you don’t understand –but there’s a lot you don’t understand. “But I don’t know why” – all that proves is that you don’t know something! You know that God has NEVER failed anybody and He never will ! He’s faithful – He’s true – He’s good. And YOU have to make up your mind that “NOTHING is going to separate me from Him, His love, His goodness. No matter what I see or don’t see, or understand or don’t understand, I know this – I still love Him. I still believe in Him. I still trust Him. And I’m not going anywhere – I’m staying right here. I’m trusting in Him. I’m staying hooked with God. I’m going to believe in what He told me to believe.”
God said to the person who trusts Him, He will manifest Himself. Believe God and stay hooked with God. Don’t become offended, and especially don’t become offended in God. Luke 22:31-32 – “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
What is the trial of your faith? It’s not God who’s being tested; it’s not His Word that’s being tested – it’s YOUR FAITH that’s being tested. That your faith FAIL NOT. And when (not if) you get straightened up – help your brothers by strengthening their faith. Luke 22:56-60: “But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.”
Peter became offended – he was shocked and he didn’t understand. Peter unhooked. Do you have to unhook because you don’t understand? When something happens and you don’t understand, and you don’t know why – that’s the time to reach down and believe God. I don’t know, but I know this – I’m not going anywhere – I’m staying with God – I’m staying with Him – and I’m staying with what He told me to do. I trust You, God. Luke 22:61-62 “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”
Why did Jesus turn and look at Peter? You can be forgiven of all sins, but if you don’t believe Jesus – if you deny Jesus – you’ll die because of your sin. Jesus looking at Peter was His way of reminding Peter of His words – He brought Peter back to reality.
Repent from being offended – don’t unhook from Me. Peter’s denial of Jesus is written in EVERY account of the 4 gospels. It’s written so that YOU WON’T BE OFFENDED. You have to recognize what the enemy is doing to you and GIVE IT NO PLACE in your thoughts, your heart or your life. It’s when it’s going a different way – it’s when you don’t understand why – it’s when you’re shocked, angry, hurt and upset – that’s when you look up and say, “Lord, I don’t know what’s going on. I know You didn’t miss it. If anybody missed it, it’s me (it’s us). I don’t understand, but I know this – You’re a good God. I know this – You’re a faithful Father – I know this – You’re a righteous and just and fair in everything you do and everything you don’t do and I TRUST YOU. I BELIEVE WITH MY LAST BREATH I TRUST YOU. I WILL BELIEVE IN YOU. I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU. I WILL NOT DENY YOU.”
You don’t have to understand to believe this. Lord, I love you. Lord, I believe in You. I trust You. Are you offended? Are you hurt? Have you cut yourself off from God? Have you denied being a part of going to church?
Don’t deny the truth – Jesus is the Word, Jesus is the Truth. Don’t unhook just because things didn’t go the way you thought they should – the way you expected – the way you prayed. Was Jesus’ faith tried? Yes. As He hung on the cross he said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” Jesus passed the test. Did He deny the Father? No.
You’re not above Jesus – your faith will be tried. Make up your mind today. It doesn’t matter that you don’t understand everything. Don’t question God’s faithfulness or goodness in your life. There are things in your life that come along that will catch you off guard or shock you. Remember – don’t look at the situation, rather, look at God’s Word – God’s promises.
What does the Bible have to say about it? “Lord, the situation doesn’t change anything. I love You, I believe in You, I trust You, and I’m staying with You.” I really appreciate God’s compassion with Peter. Even though Peter had denied Jesus, when Mary and the women went to Jesus’ tomb, the angel told Mary and the women to “go tell the disciples and Peter”. Mentioning Peter by name was a way of letting Peter know that all is well – it was a comment to Peter that would provide some comfort. When Jesus appeared to the disciples after He was resurrected, Jesus asked Peter 3 times if he loved Him and asked Peter to feed His sheep. Jesus hasn’t disowned Peter. Jesus knew that Peter didn’t want to continue to deny Him. Jesus is helping Peter to get past this by asking Peter to do something for Jesus. If Jesus asks you to do something – don’t become offended, don’t be upset and do whatever He asks. Peter left and fed God’s sheep.
So even if your faith was tried and you failed – you got shocked and hurt and mad and upset and you didn’t understand something so you chose to unhook from having a relationship with God, it’s bad but it’s not the end. If you come back to Jesus, He’ll forgive you and receive you. Not only that, He’ll give you something to do – He’ll let you have a part. Now that’s a magnificent expression of the love of God. Isn’t that wonderful?
Prayer: Lord, I will believe in You always. Lord, forgive me for ever doubting You. Forgive me for ever questioning You. I will not deny You, but I will confess You. Father God, I believe in You. I’m finished waivering. I’m through doubting. No matter what is happening – no matter what I understand or don’t understand – I trust You. I trust You. I trust You. I give you my life. I give you my heart without reservation. And as You help me, I will believe in Jesus. I will serve You. I will follow You forever.
[Note: Many thanks go Keith Moore for his message on this subject.]
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