Can Authentic Christians Deny Jesus? Part 2
I didn’t mean to start another series while I was in the midst of my series on 1 John. I’ll get back to it very soon. I promise. In the meantime, I wanted to get another article in on the Christian’s ability to deny Jesus as introduced in part 1. We determined in that first part that yes, true Christians can, in fact, deny Jesus. We can deny Him outright, as Peter did centuries ago or we can deny him by omitting the fact that we are Christians; not living like it, not talking like it, not avoiding the things that we should avoid, etc.
When we deny Jesus, we do a grave disservice to ourselves, the lost of this world, and God. We obviously dishonor God when we try to hide the fact that we are truly saved. While there might be something to be said for a person who wants to wait just a bit after meeting people to let them know they are Christians by allowing their life to speak for them, that’s one thing due to the level of lukewarm living in too many Christians today. I’m talking about those who in one way or another, don’t even want the world to know that they are Christian. They want to keep it to themselves and not share it, either in word or deed. There are many ways to do this and we highlighted only a few of them last time.
In reality, there are many, many Christians who try to get along with the world. Maybe you’re one of them. I know that I have been and it is something I’m trying to move away from doing anymore. It’s kind of like watching a husband who claims to be a one-woman-man, totally devoted to his wife, spend time flirting with other women as often as possible. If an outsider did not know the man was married, the temptation might be to think he wasn’t, with the way he flings himself at other women. Is he married or isn’t he? If he is, then the natural question is to be asked, why does he behave in such a way that makes people think he is not married?
Let’s continue this theme for a bit, shall we, because it’s a theme that most can grasp, even if they are not themselves married. Everyone has had a boyfriend or girlfriend. Most know what it’s like to be in some type of relationship with another person and it doesn’t even have to involve marriage. Marriage is probably a good example because it involves a legal transaction because two people commit to one another publicly, then they sign the marriage certificate. The marriage certificate – while essentially only a piece of paper – reminds the couple and everyone else that they have made a public commitment to one another and that commitment means certain things.
In most marriages, the commitment confirmed during the marriage ceremony usually has to do with supporting that other person until death, in sickness, in health, as they grow old, and in spite of circumstances. The divorce rate has grown exponentially over the past number of decades so the marriage ceremony itself doesn’t mean what it should mean to most people today. I’m speaking in terms of the way the marriage ceremony is supposed to work and what it is supposed to represent. Let’s use that representation in these articles, all right?
As I noted last time, many try to use Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:12 – If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us. – to mean that a true Christian can lose his/her salvation if we deny our Lord. I don’t believe this is the case at all and I also fully believe that the entirety of Scripture supports that notion.
In the first part of this chapter, Paul is urging Timothy to endure for the cause of Christ. He gives Timothy the example of the soldier, who works hard to please his master and the farmer, who works for the reward of the harvest, etc. He then quotes a hymn in verses 11-12 that evidently is doctrinally correct to give Timothy further motivation for enduring. What then is the motivation? We must take the structure into account to determine this, (emphasis added).
People can endure (or not), in a number of ways:
Have you ever heard two married people talk about the fact that it was only for the children that they stayed married? They probably should have divorced because of the harm they caused. In reality, they should have recalled their commitments to one another and chose to live by those commitments. Instead, they gave up. They began to deny their love for one another and this in turn caused them to look at their commitment to one another differently than they had originally intended the commitments to mean.
They grew apart and began to have a deep disdain for one another. Though they stayed together “for the children,” it really did nothing except create more heartache. They were fooling themselves into thinking that they were still remaining true to their commitment, when in reality, they had begun to deny one another. Because they, at some point, denied one another, their love for one another grew cold and went out completely.
Unfortunately, this can and does happen to Christians. While I certainly still believe there are those people who call themselves Christians but are not – these are professing Christians – I also fully believe that at least some Christians’ love for our Lord can grow cold. Need proof?
Turn to Revelation 3:14-22 where we read about the Laodicean church in Asia Minor. The apostle John was instructed to write to this church (and six others) explaining to them the problem that existed among them. They had become:
- neither not nor cold; lukewarm
- in danger of beings spewed out of Christ’s mouth
- wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked
- far removed from God due to their lack of repentance
A church like this might seem as though it has a lot going for it. It may seem to be “on fire” for God, but they are wretched because while they do things, they are simply going through the motions. There is no real spiritual depth or true growth in that church or the people who attend. The people are focused on externals only and God certainly sees that.
Revelation 3:20 is part of this section and says, “Listen! I am standing at the door and knocking! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into his home and share a meal with him, and he with me.” This is not an invitation to receive the gospel for salvation! This is the Lord telling these Christians that He wants to come in a “sup” with them. In other words, Jesus is saying that though this church is busy and they appear spiritual and on fire – just look at everything they’re doing! – they have nothing because of the one thing they lack: fellowship with Jesus.
Is this you? It is me. I want that fellowship with the Lord just as I want to fellowship with my wife. I don’t want to look at other women. I don’t want to flirt with other women because that denies to them and the world (not to mention my wife), that I am denying her.
Show me a husband who flirts with other women routinely and who says he loves his wife and I’ll show you a man who loves himself more than anything. If he spends his time flirting with other women, he is denying the commitment he made to his wife.
It is impossible to be in fellowship with your wife and flirt with other women at the same time. That man will either start to despise his wife because of his lust for other women or he will outright deny his wife all the while pretending to himself and everyone else that he is devoted to her.
If we read through the gospels and many of the epistles, the truth is that we need to start comparing our relationship to Jesus with the other relationships we have in this life. Men, do you love your wives? If so, would even think of cheating on her? If you allow yourself to lust after other women, Jesus says you are cheating on her, which means you are denying the very bride you promised to love, honor, and cherish. You cannot have it both ways. Would you agree that the spouse who cheats on his/her spouse is denying that they are in relationship with them?
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth, (Matthew 6:24).
Yes, I realize that Jesus is specifically talking about God and money there, but doesn’t the same principle apply to anything that vies for our attention, trying to force us to break our commitments? Jesus is saying that it is literally impossible to serve two opposing things. Money is obvious to everyone. Most people want to be wealthy or at least, well off or comfortable enough not to have to worry about things. But any temptation that tries to cause us to deny our commitments to others is cut from the same cloth. It’s all the same.
What is the solution? We’ll talk more about it next time, but the short version is that we need to honor our commitments and there is a way to do that without trying to rely on our own “willpower.” In other words, it can come more naturally.
If we receive salvation, we need to understand that we have entered into a relationship with Jesus. I recall when I received salvation, my life changed. I became emboldened to speak to my class mates in junior high about Jesus. Over the years, things have cooled. Whose fault is that? Mine.
It’s no different from being first married and experiencing that love and ardor toward your spouse. Eventually, that starts to cool and the immature person starts looking elsewhere to find that same ardor or they assume that they’ve fallen “out of love” with the person they were madly in love with at first.
In short, to rekindle that love (though it will be more mature and not as “emotional”), what is required is to refocus on the object of your affection. Unlike back at the beginning, work is now required.
We’ll talk next about the difference between simply putting something on and having it well up from within. Remember, I’m not perfect at this either. I’m simply sharing what I’m learning. We’ll be referring to Abraham next time. Did he deny Sarah?