And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”
— Matthew 26:73 NKJV
Here we see Peter betray Jesus, twice before, and a third immediately after this statement by those that were near him.
It is clear by their statement that Peter’s speech was different. He was no longer the fisherman that Jesus called out to follow Him. It is interesting to note that after this statement it says that Peter began to curse and swear, saying I do not know the Man.
While the verses do not specifically point this out, I do believe that by this account, we can say that Peter’s speech was clean up until this point. He was not talking like the others with foul language. To continue in his denial he used foul language to try and be more convincing. It was at this moment that Peter remembered Jesus’ Words prophesying of Peter’s betrayal. It was at this moment that Peter realized what he had done, along with the sin of his mouth.
For some reason Peter was compelled to “fit in” with the crowd. So much so that he even violated his speech to try.
We have to remember that we are not of this world. When we came to know Jesus, He changed us. He changed everything about us, and our speech too is different from the people of the world. As believers we do not use foul language, we do not partake in the hopeless conversations, the foolish jesting, nor the harsh statements that we hear the world say. Without even mentioning Jesus, our speech will expose who we are. It is noticable, or it should be.
When we are among those that do not know Jesus, what are we partaking in? Do we abstain from the sinful things of the world? Do we keep our speech pure?
Are we trying to fit in with the majority for the sake of fitting in? We don’t know exactly why Peter was making such an attempt, but we can speculate some things. It could have been out of fear of persecution. Fearing that he may receive the same punishment as Jesus. What is our reason for compromise? We really need to examine our hearts and allow for the Holy Spirit to guide us in the examination to expose our sin. Compromise comes with a cost. Peter understood this cost once he remembered Jesus’ Words about his betrayal.
We need to be careful to not be seeking approval nor acceptance from the majority. The fact of the matter is this, as a believer in Jesus Christ, we are a minority. Also, as a believer, we cannot hide nor cover up who we are. Jesus has changed us and it is noticable, regardless of our attempts. All we are doing is creating a false witness of what Jesus does in a believers life. For if we compromise for the sake of fitting in, the message is sent that Jesus creates cowards instead of victors.
By compromising to fit in, we are denying Jesus with our actions and any words that go with those actions. Jesus said, “whoever denies Me before men, him also I will deny before My Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 10:33)
I believe this is what Peter was remembering when he realized what he had done. I believe this is why he wept so bitterly following his denial. He had betrayed the One who loves him, who called him out to a greater purpose and now believes he won’t see Him again. Praise G-d for His Love that is everlasting and graceful and full of mercy. G-d knew Peter’s heart of hearts. Peter had that personal relationship with Jesus. So when Jesus returned after resurrecting from the dead, Jesus called out to Peter by way of an angel (Mark 16:7) making it clear the Peter was still included as a disciple, and then also entrusted him with a specific mission “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:13-17). Then, in the following verses (John 21:18-19) Jesus prophesied of Peter’s death that would glorify G-d and He then followed up with “Follow me.”
Peter was forgiven for his betrayal and was still used in a mighty way. While the sin of betrayal was costly, G-d is still the victor and will still forgive, but the question is this:
How deep are our roots in God?
- Do we have that relationship with Jesus that changes our life to the point that it is even noticed in the way we talk?
- Do we spend time with Him daily?
- Are we making the effort to get to know Him?
- Do we talk with Him in the good times and the bad?
- How deep is our relationship with Him?
Does our speech betray us? It should.
Not only should it betray us, but our heart should be compelled to use it to glorify Him every chance we have. We need to make sure that our speech is honorable and always testifying of His Truth, not cowering away to fit in. As a believer we will never fit in. This is not our world. Later Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:11-12,
“I beg you as sojourners [strangers] and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
Here Peter is a changed man and confident and victorious, and encouraging others to follow in the same victory. Exhorting others to not “fit in” but rather “stand out” in actions and words.
May our speech and actions testify of G-d’s great works in us each day. May we have the courage to stand out for G-d and stand up when called to glorify Him.
As a Marine, foul speech was in me, a part of my life. It was only when I came to Jesus that I was empowered to stop the language in every part of my life. He is the source to draw from for strength in all things. Philippians 4:13
Our language is the one of the hardest things to control and it easily creeps up on us because of how prevalent it is around us. James 3:6 says that our tongue is a fire and it is set on fire by hell. In verse 8 of the same chapter it states that no man can tame the tongue.
This doesn’t sound hopeful, but through G-d filling us with the Holy Spirit, we surrender our tongue to Him. While man cannot tame the tongue, G-d can. We must take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) to the obedience of Jesus Christ. This is to stop ourselves from speaking or acting out, it is seizing it to analyze whether it is good or bad. This provides the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what needs to change in our mind.
After a while it becomes second nature and stopping ourselves through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit becomes easier and easier. While we cannot tame the tongue ourselves, G-d still gives us a choice. When we stop our mouth and discern what is about to be spoken, we can choose to continue or we can choose to cast it away.
As Christians we can never say, “Well, everyone else is doing it.” This is what gets us into trouble. Everyone else is the world and this world is rebelling against G-d and everything about Him.
“We must forget the things that are behind and reach forward to those things which are ahead, and press toward the goal of the high calling of G-d through Jesus Christ our L-RD.”
— Philippians 4:13-14 (paraphrased)
This is how the ebbing away of the old self takes place. We focus on Jesus and we press towards being like Him every day through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
Be strong and courageous! — Joshua 1:9