“Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times’ ” (Matthew 26:33,34).
WE SET OUT TO “SWIM” TOWARD THE LORD, BUT SOMETIMES THE “UNDERTOW” GETS US. Peter’s example shows how easy it is to profess love for the Lord in our words and then fall short in our deeds. As long as we live in this world, the devil will always make sure that we meet resistance in carrying out our good intentions.
When we’re tempted to sin, there is always a “way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13). However strong the undertow may be, we never have to give in to it. The positive choice is always possible.
But though the way of escape will always be provided, it has to be taken before it will do us any good. The benefits of the Lord’s protection and help are not automatic or involuntary — they have to be appropriated by a free-will choice to say “No!” to sin.
Without God’s help, of course, we would be hopelessly lost. But even so, we have to exert ourselves to overcome our obstacles. We have to fight the undertow. And many are the scriptural exhortations to that end. “Put to death your members which are on the earth” (Colossians 3:5). “Put off . . . the old man” (Ephesians 4:22). “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (Romans 6:12). The point is hard to miss.
But whatever sinful forces are out there, the face of the worst one can be seen in the mirror. As Walt Kelly said in Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The “old man” that Paul said must be put to death is not a nice person, and each of us needs to be very honest about the “me” that we would be without God. This person has to die. If not, the new person that Christ can create will never have a chance to live: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
God harden me against myself,
This coward with pathetic voice
Who craves for ease, and rest, and joys.
Myself, arch-traitor to myself
My hollowest friend, my deadliest foe,
My clog whatever road I go.
Yet One there is can curb myself,
Can roll the strangling load from me,
Break off the yoke and set me free.
(Christina Georgina Rossetti)