We will age and fade away but as we do so, we are being spiritually renewed day-by-day.
~ Lisa Blair
Our faith becomes stronger with the renewing of our minds. We mature as Christians, God’s children, and grow in the Word. We receive salvation, are forgiven of our sins (overcome our sin nature), are healed from backsliding, and choose obedience to and dependence on God over my own free-will.
Brenda Walsh Ministries, May 21, 2020. @brendawalsh.com
There are times when you struggle with being tempted to do things that you know are not right. You’ve fallen so many times that it seems you’re on a losing streak with the devil. It might even be a sin that is considered “no big deal” in the world, and you’re comforted by knowing that “no one else could possibly know.” But when you’re walking the Christian walk, your conscience will give you no rest. The Holy Spirit is pleading with you to surrender your secret sin, but when you keep ignoring God’s voice, the devil wins! As you spiral downward in your walk with Jesus, and continue down the wrong path, discouragement sets in, and you’re tempted to give up and quit trying to resist the temptation. You may have even prayed and asked God to take away those temptations–for if you no longer had the desire to sin–you wouldn’t have to worry about messing up. But if God just removed the temptation–you would not be leaning on Him for strength. God wants you to “choose” to serve Him and depend on His strength to resist whatever the devil throws your way. The Bible says in Proverbs 21:30-31,”There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord . . . but victory rests with the Lord.” And in Psalm 60:12 we’re told, “With God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies.” You can have the victory over temptation–when you fully surrender your heart and life to God!” Text: 1 Corinthians 15:57, John 16:33, 2 Chronicles 20:15
1 Corinthians 15:57 NKJV – But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
John 16:33 NKJV – “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
2 Chronicles 20:15 NKJV – And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.
Christ renamed several of His disciples to give them a new identity, demonstrating their new creature in Christ. While our names may not have changed, we, like Peter, battle the old man-the natural man, while maturing into the new man. The process is worth examining.
Christians, as with the case of most people today, question who we are. We know we are new creatures in Christ, but that does not magically eliminate our carnal or natural being. This is only the beginning of our evolution. Before being saved, our values are variables that change depending upon conditions and circumstances. We are comparable to chameleons.
This Post is a short study on the evolutionary growth of Peter, who was born Simon Peter, the natural man, and transformed into Peter, the new man. It highlights his struggles, weaknesses, strengths, as well as his growth. Examining Peter’s life should give any believer hope. Simon Peter evolved into Peter over time, it was not miraculous, or immediate, it was an expansive timeline. Our evolutionary process may take as long or longer than Peters took. The important things to note are: have hope, stay in prayer, and allow God to direct your path, always examining if it is the old man operating or the new man of God moving forward.
The Evolution of Simon Peter
Peter’s birth name was Simon Peter. He was outspoken, strong-willed, and impulsive. He was a husband, father of two, and a partner in a thriving fishery; he was a fisherman. It could be said, his life was full. He knew himself as Simon Peter, the man, was a practicing Jew and followed the Law of Moses. Was he content with his natural self? We do not know. Was he seeking his real self? Who knows. Did he innately know he would one day leave everything, to follow Christ, and become his real self, Simon Peter, probably not? Do we know who we really are in God’s eyes, or the plans He has for us, probably not?
Simon Peter didn’t stand out. He was an uneducated Jew, Acts 3:13. He was a Hebrew, a follower of The Mosaic Law, like most. However, despite his failings and his strengths, the Lord chose to mold Simon Peter into whom He created him to become – Peter, a member of Christ’s inner circle of disciples. As time progressed and Peter accepted Christ as His Lord, Peter walked, learned, and loved Christ. He was a witness to miracles and wonders. But, despite his first-hand knowledge and witness to these events, Simon Peter continued to resurface. The transformed Peter, (Christ, gave him the new name indicating he was a follower and believer), became a new man but remained brash and impulsive. He was the person that stepped out of the boat and onto the surface of the sea to walk to Jesus.
~It was Simon Peter, not Peter, who looked down as he was walking on water (a sign and wonder), lost faith, and began to sink, Matthew 14:28-30.
~It was Simon Peter who calls us to serve but stayed seated and did not join Christ when he washed the disciples’ feet, 1 Peter 5:2.
~It was Simon Peter that told the believers to stay clear-minded and have self-control at all times to pray, 1 Peter 4:7.
~It was Simon Peter who rebuked Christ for speaking of his death, Matthew 16:22.
~It was Simon Peter who fell asleep while Jesus was praying and sweating blood, 1 Peter 2:13.
~It was Simon Peter who slipped back into the Law and suggested they erect three tabernacles, one for each—Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, clustering Jesus with the Old Testament prophets, Matthew 17:4.
~It was Simon Peter who grew angry drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest, John 18:10.
~It was Simon Peter who swore that he would never forsake the Lord, even if everyone else did, and you know the story, he denied Christ three times when he was arrested, Matthew 26:70-74.
~It was Simon Peter who fled when Christ was hung on the cross and hid in fear, 1 Peter 5:1.
How often do we capitulate under challenging times and employ our old values and behavior like Peter? Usually, the conversion is so indistinct we are there before we were aware of slipping. At that moment, we become blind to who we are in Christ, we regress to our old man. Thank God for redemption because we can repent and once again take on the behaviors of Christ who knows our true selves and is molding us to become more like Him.
Despite Peter’s shortcomings, Jesus continued to affirm Peter as the “Rock,” Matthew 16:18-19 and promised him that he, Peter, would become instrumental in establishing Jesus’ Church. After Christs’ resurrection, he named Peter as the one who needed to hear the good news, Matthew 16:7. Jesus made a point of forgiving and restoring Simon Peter to accept and regain his new name, Peter, and recommissioned him as Christ’s’ Apostle, and high priest, John 21,6, 15-17; Hebrews 3:1.
Even after being restored, Peter, who preached on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2, was present when the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit, Acts 8, and was summoned to the home of Roman centurion Cornelius, Acts 10, initially resisted following the instructions to go to Cornelius’ home. Simon Peter struggled with the transformation of his old man to the new man – Peter. We are no different, there is a raging battle between our old man and new.
Peter, the new man, who was not wrought with doubt and fear, ultimately obeyed and went to Cornelius’ home. If Peter had not gone to his home, we might not have witnessed Cornelius receiving the Holy Spirit, Acts 10. Only God knows why he is directing our path. Seemingly at this point, the new man, Peter, should be steadfast. However, that is not the case.
When Peter, the new man, went to Antioch to fellowship with the Gentiles, all was good until the Jews appeared. However, when the legalistic Jews, of which he was as Simon Peter, arrived, he sought to appease them and separated himself from the believing Gentiles, Galatians 2:11-14. Paul admonished him for being a hypocrite. None of us can merge our old man and the new man. We are either one or the other. The battle will continue through this life, but when the old man surfaces, we must repent and pick up our cross in the new man.
Jesus forgives our unfaithfulness. He sees us as He intends us to be, not who we may currently be or were in our pre-redemptive life. Jesus knows our birth/carnal name and receives us as his own, the new man. In today’s times, He may not actually rename us, but he does give us a new life.
Jesus was patient with Peter through his disobedience, arrogance, fear, and denial. Peter was a fisherman and became a fisher of men, who matured into one of the Lord’s most dedicated apostles. He is known as one of the most well-known disciples and was instrumental in establishing the church in Samaria, Act 8. He brought the gospel to the Gentiles, Acts 10-11. He preached the sermon at Pentecost, where three thousand believers received the Holy Spirit, Acts 3.
The point is, God is patient and will wait until he can change you. If He does not give up on us, neither should we give up on ourselves. He created us to do His work. To paraphrase the scripture, God has plans for us that will prosper us and not destroy us. God, is patient and monitors us as we evolve into the person He envisioned. God knows our challenges, our setbacks, and our victories.
As we mature in the Word and obey God, our story will unfold just as Peters did. Was Peter perfect? No, absolutely not. Were there moments when the natural man won out? Yes. We were born into sin, we all fall short of the glory of God. None of us is perfect; only Jesus is perfect. God could have created us as automatons. He chose to create us in His likeness and instilled us with his own will and desires. Why, because God wants a relationship with us. He sacrificed His only Son to save us from sin. He knows we are a work in progress, He created us to desire His will and not our own, and that is all God requires that we surrender, depend on Him and be obedient to the Word. He wants us to evolve from our natural man to our new man.
The Bible is replete with sinners who received salvation after leading destructive lives. I also find it interesting that these examples clearly exemplify God’s expectations for all believers. No excuses, God laid the foundation demonstrated in Peter’s character study. Now it is time to become who we really are; we are His workmanship, ever-changing in His likeness. This leads back to – only God knows the real you and through prayer and obedience we will learn who we are in Christ.
Images – Google Images. LAB Photos
Resources – Who is Peter in the Bible? GotQuestions.org; Bible.com; Peter: A Case Study in Character, KenBoa.org; Peter, studyandobey.com
It’s raining outside and I’m looking in my backyard. My plants, bushes, and flowers are loving it. They thrive, not just surviving through all seasons. The seasons are a template for our lives. Climates that are more seasonal provide a time for dormancy, a time for new growth and a time for blooming to maturity. We thrive in much the same way. Plant life is seasonal and ours is cyclical.
“To everything, there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven,” Eccl 3:1, NKJV
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens,” Eccl.3:1 NIV
There are times when we are dormant, in a space of inner thoughts and meditations. A time when we either voluntarily retreat or changes occur in our life, i.e, illness, loss of a job, family breakup, natural events – storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, forest fires and flooding to name a few, events that cause us to retreat and close out the world. There are times when our Lord needs to get in touch with us and prepare us for upcoming events and jobs He has for us. This happened to me, He called often over a ten year period. I heard Him and kept putting His request for a stronger relationship off, choosing to spend a few minutes here and there with Him. Then one day, the opportunity to voluntarily choose no longer became an option, it became a command and I was forced to withdraw from the world and focus on Him, His Word, and His plan for my life.
Wouldn’t it be great if new growth didn’t require a form of destruction, undoing, and pruning? I think it is important to note that God created the earth and plant life before He created us.
Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
Genesis 1:11-13 NIV
Do you think He used the same template of regeneration with us? My new growth appeared after I spent solitary time with the Lord for two and a half years. My time of dormancy was the result of early retirement. I found myself home eight hours a day. Much of that time was spent in prayer and study. The new growth could not have occurred without the time of dormancy. Through dormancy, I entered a much stronger relationship with God, my fellowship with Him felt effervescent, and still does to this day, some four years later, and my connection to the Word is woven much more tightly. New growth is a brilliant time in plant life and ours as well.
Time of Blooming
As new plants grow, so do we as Christians studying the Word of God. This is the time when we can evangelize to others. We have developed a command of the scriptures. It is a time of sharing the Good News and a time when the Holy Spirit glows through our being. It is a time of sharing our relationship with the Lord through writings, blogging, speeches, and conversations. It is the time of blooming.
Life is Cyclical
I have learned from my experiences and the process of studying the Word that our lives are cyclical and hence seasonal. There are times of rest, times of challenges and times of victories. There are times of inactivity and times of activity. There are times when our pace is slow and time of quantum jumps. We cannot rest thinking we will always ride the wave of good fortune. If we did, God would not have prepared ‘the way’. Our experiences establish our relationship with Him. Our experiences, good and bad, intentional and not, are the soil that feeds us.
We will experience, drought, wind, rain, sun, heat, storms, tsunamis, deserts, disappearing paths, cliffs, and free falls in our lives. Establishing a strong relationship with our Lord will soften the impact. We will not lose our way, and if we do He will redirect us and plant us in a new garden. Fellowship will other Christians will help us through the dark periods as they share their experience and help us traverse ours, they are our fertilizer and in some cases our weed killer, providing support and fortification in the Word.
Our Lord has provided everything we need in life, all He asks is that we receive His gift of His Son, Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and allow the Holy Spirit to our hearts.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
James 1:17 NKJV
The sun is back out, the clouds are still in the sky and my flowers and plant life are thriving and exhilarated, as am I. I thank God every day for my life and my relationship with Him. I am grateful that I am His child and He loves me despite my flaws. He knows me in my humanness, accepts who I am and inspires me to live a Christ-like life as a Christian Warrior trying to be fully dependent upon Him and obey His commands.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
I found this slide of the Christian Growth Cycle, produced by PVB Church Without Walls, and think it expresses our cycle of Christian growth, the Making of a Christian Warrior, very well. It is a great summation of this post.
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