How often do we deny our association with our Lord and Master?
Peter who boasted only hours before that he would go to his death defending Jesus, promptly denied knowing Jesus when he was confronted during the interrogation of Christ.
Matthew 26:74-75 (HCSB)
Then he started to curse and to swear with an oath, “I do not know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed, and Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Peter wept bitterly, when he realized what he had done. I’ve often wondered, just what thought were running through Peter’s mind, at the very moment when he realized, that the devil had stolen his identity.
This was a clear case of ‘Identity Theft’!
I seriously doubt Peter considered the term ‘identity theft’, but what had taken place with Peter, happens to us all the time. Literally, the devil was able to take away from Peter the identity bestowed on him by Jesus and replace it with a meaningless counterfeit identity.
I must imagine that Peter may have recounted the words of his Lord about that moment when the rooster crowed.
Matthew 16:18 (HCSB)
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.
This was a component of the identity that Jesus had given Peter. Setting a marker for Peter’s life, beyond Christ walked up Calvary’s mountain.
Jesus, at the time, was telling Peter; ‘Look, you are going to carry on the work, of spreading the Gospel after, I’m no longer here, in my earthly body. You are going to be identified with me’.
Here as the rooster crows, Peter denies Jesus for the third time. What a crushing blow that had to be on him. The scripture says he wept bitterly. There’s almost nothing so violating as to have someone take who you are from you. Satan had just done exactly that.
Peter later recovered his identity. The rebuilding of it likely was almost as painful as the realization of what he had done. But as he remembered the words of Jesus, concerning how Peter would be identified, the resurrection of Jesus, and His subsequent appearances, to confirm to all His apostles, that he had, in fact, vanquished death forever; Peter healed and recovered his identity.
From the ashes of his denial of Jesus this same Peter wrote:
1 Peter 4:16 (HCSB)
But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name.
Notice Peter, now sites the very word that imprints our identity with Christ; Christian. He also goes on to say, that we shouldn’t be ashamed but instead give glory to God for having that identity.
This is a very dramatic difference in Peter’s perspective, then the one he reflected while warming his hands by the fire.
Peter’s resolve eventually leads him to be crucified, just as Christ was, but he asked that his death, not be exactly the same as it was for Jesus. As a result, Peter was crucified upside down.
God uses us, for His Glory, regardless of if we are resting high on a mountain top, or we are doing what we can to pick ourselves up from defeat. The catalyst is our willingness, to be identified with Him and loyal to what He has taught us.
The life of Peter, is one that all of us can ‘identify’ with. It serves, as an example, to everyone of us. While he had short comings and was imperious at times; he embraced the identity that Christ gave him. Once doing so, he was relentless, to assert that identity to the all he met.
That brings us to the real topic of our talk.
I can not be so glib, as to point a finger at Peter and scorn him for his denial of Jesus. I can’t because, until I can remove the log from my own eye, I simply can’t, be critical of the sliver in Peter’s.
I… We… deny Christ all the time.
Just introduce some pressure from the enemy, coupled with a period of weakness and we also will deny the identity that Jesus has given us as well.
Our adversary, only requires a small opening to inflict such a severe harm to our obligation to be ‘the light of the world’. He wants nothing more than to dampen that light which Christ gave to us.
Matthew 5:13-16 (HCSB)
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.
“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
We should be ‘lamp stands’. We should be constantly emitting that light that Christ implanted in us.
We are also, to be the salt which changes the flavor of the moment and cleanses.
If we are not that salt, we are good for nothing and are just something to be trampled under foot.
When we allow the devil, the opportunity to cover our light because we are embarrassed, the timing is off, not the proper setting, or not the right people; we fail, just as Peter did, as the rooster crowed.
Matthew 10:33 (HCSB)
But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.
Deny Christ; He will deny us before His Father. A bit sobering, don’t you think? But it is true. This isn’t an apostle’s interpretation, these are the words of the one that supplies the Grace, by which we can secure a relationship with God.
And yet, everyday “Christians” suffer from the very theft of their identity at the hands of the devil.
If we are going to triumph over this, we are going to have to identify the source and call on the power of Jesus to restore our identity.
How do we get to this point? The greatest event of our life, is to be adopted into God’s family and have that identity indelibly imprinted on our hearts.
Isaiah 41:10 (HCSB)
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.
But we find, time and time again that our adversary gets the better of us and we allow him to steal our identity with Christ. Peter knew this all too well.
1 Peter 5:8 (HCSB)
Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.
The devil will stop at nothing to fracture our relationship with Jesus. Any opportunity, is the right opportunity for him to pounce and leave us broken and battered.
John 15:5 (HCSB)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.
But if we are so empowered by God, how can the devil, accomplish this? It’s incremental.
Song of Songs 2:15 (HCSB)
Catch the foxes for us — the little foxes that ruin the vineyards — for our vineyards are in bloom.
The little foxes; it starts with the smallest of things. Gnawing away at the branch. Before you know it, we are in a weakens condition. We lack the nourishment provided by the vine.
While Satan can mount a full-frontal assault on us, his preferred methodology is to chip away at us until he manages to expose a crack in our defenses. Once he’s accomplished that he will insert a wedge and begin driving that; broadening the division between us and Jesus.
It doesn’t take long, and he has been able to insert the tools necessary to steal our identity with Christ Jesus and then all it takes is that one situation. The one that seems to happen so often throughout our day.
The situation where it simply doesn’t seem like the right time to display that light we were entrusted with, because it might disrupt the environment.
And the thief, walks away with our identity.
Romans 1:16 (HCSB)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.
How do we protect ourselves from this theft of our identity with Christ?
Part of that answer, was in John 5:15, that we talked about above. Making every effort, to remove the obstacles, that possibly distinguish us from Christ.
He is the true vine. Separate from Him, we wither and die.
I often refer to being ‘all in’ or ‘fully vested’. With either term, the idea is, that you have placed all, that there is on the line; for the prospect of loving Jesus and sharing our lives with Him.
If we place all of our value in Christ, then we would be fully vested, in Him. If we withhold nothing and put complete trust in Him, we are all in. The faith and trust placed in the prospects of a relationship, with Him, means to us, that we are bound to the savior.
The question is, have we placed everything on the line for Jesus? Or are we dabbling, in the things of the world, giving Jesus only what we have left over?
John 3:16 (HCSB)
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
God was ‘all in’. Jesus was fully vested in our redemption. So much, did He desire to re-establish that relationship with us, that was lost in the garden, when sin entered the world, that he placed everything on the prospect of winning back His creation.
Likewise, so should we, in loving response.
Luke 14:33 (NIV)
In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
Clear as crystal, we need to be ‘all in’.
We need to be so in love with Jesus, that we will do anything and everything, in our power, to display that love to Him. It is only when we place our complete hope and trust in Him, that we become invulnerable, to Satan stealing our identity.
Do we want to turn the corner, as Peter did? Transition from defeat to the victory. Peter frames that in his statement that “I am not ashamed of wearing the name of Christ”, as Peter demonstrates in 1 Peter 4:16?
I will identify with the Lord Jesus Christ. I will not allow the adversary, a foot hold to sneak in to steal my identity from me.
Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Let’s put Eternal-Life lock is on the top of our list and put an end to the Identity Thief.