Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
'Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!' But He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.'
Matthew 16:22-23 (NKJV)
Only four sentences earlier, Jesus said: 'You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven' (Matthew 16:18-19).
Jesus gives Peter a great affirmation, then a few words later a great rebuke. Did Jesus change His mind about Peter's destiny? No, God is constant. Did Peter waiver?
Peter would soon waiver in his denial of Christ. But, I don't believe his short-sighted desire to keep Jesus from death was the cause of this serious rebuke.
Here's what I think: Jesus wasn't talking to Peter. He was talking to Satan. He didn't say, 'Get behind Me, Peter.' The spirit of Satan blew over Peter; he was temporarily possessed with a bad idea and wrong words. He was inspired by Satan.
Jesus would soon describe Satan's desire for Peter: 'Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you' (Luke 22:31-32).
As Christ followers on earth, we must remember that 'Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places' (Ephesians 6:12).
When I first pondered this scripture in Ephesians, I began to understand that people are not evil. In deliberate sin or foolish ignorance, we can invite evil into our lives. But if we give Satan a moment, he'll try to stretch it to an hour, a day, a season, or a lifetime.
Jesus rebuked Satan on behalf of His beloved Peter. Not long after, Jesus died and everything changed. In God's most powerful irony, it changed for the better--because when Jesus died in body, He came to us in Spirit. Therein, He gave us His power to rebuke, bind, and expel bad spirits.
Children of God: know your enemy and learn how to defeat him. Good wins. Bad loses. End of story. But since you know the end of the story in advance, use this knowledge to improve your storyline now. Even more, use it for others.
P.S. Many excellent books and teachings are available on spiritual warfare. They include 'Spiritual Warfare' and 'They Shall Expel Demons' by Derek Prince, 'The Bondage Breaker' by Neil T. Anderson, 'The Invisible King and His Kingdom' by John Eckhardt, and 'The Three Battlegrounds' by Francis Frangipaine.