You Are Not Hopeless

The great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther once said, “God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.” Have you ever felt like a crooked stick? As if somehow your past prevents you from being used by God. Maybe you’ve even felt as if your past baggage continues to stand in the way of your being used by God for His glory. I invite you to consider a man ripe with failures. However, his failures never prevented him from being useful in God’s sight. Instead they enabled him to better display the mystery of God’s grace towards undeserving sinners. I am of course talking about the Apostle Peter.

Peter was a man whose record of failure could never hinder the plan of God for his life. Peter would go on to be reconciled to the man whom he had repeatedly betrayed; the Lord Jesus Christ. In the moments when the Lord Jesus most needed a friend, Peter abandoned him again, and again, and again. If God’s grace had not intervened, the name of Peter would have joined the ranks of Judas Iscariot as a wicked traitor to the cause of Christ.

What should God have done to Peter when he betrayed Jesus? Peter should have been the recipient of God’s righteous wrath. God should have been done with him forever. He should have been disqualified from ministry and defrocked. If he was one of our friends, wouldn’t we have dropped Peter like a ton of bricks? Why would I say that? Well, many of us know what it is like to have a close friend hurt us, or betray us, especially in our hour of need. God should have left Peter. But that’s not what happened. God chose not to give Peter what he deserved.

Before we assume that God turned a blind eye to Peter’s sin we need to recognize that God is just. God is holy. All sin must be punished. God did not ignore Peter’s sin. Instead it was placed upon the very Savior, Peter had so readily denied. Why? God has said, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Romans 9:15 ESV)

How does this mercy come upon Peter? Again, we must turn to Scripture. The Old Testament prophet spoke about what the Lord Jesus would accomplish in His substitionary work in covering our sin on the cross. Isaiah says this concerning Christ seven centuries before his birth, “he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5 ESV)

None of us ever remain Christians because of our own goodness and strength. If our salvation as a Christian was dependent upon our will, our goodness, or our ability to keep God’s law heaven would always remain empty. We need to remember this when we are walking closely with the Lord, but especially when our hearts buy into sin’s empty promises to satisfy us in ways God never could and we feel hopeless.

If there ever was a person who should have been hopeless, it was Peter. Nevertheless, Peter was preserved because of God’s will. In other words, we do not lose our salvation because we are good, but because God is good. We are reminded of the very words of Christ where He prophesied to Peter of how he was going to betray Jesus. The Lord said, “…behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” (Luke 22:31-32 ESV) Jesus’ prayers preserved Peter.

The only difference between Peter and Judas was Christ’s prayer for Peter. Only because God gifted Peter with repentance (cf. Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25) did he turn to God. God effectually called Peter by His Spirit. God restored Peter. From beginning to end the Christian’s salvation is the work of God. Jonah testified from the belly of the fish, “Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (Jonah 2:9 ESV)

So today if you find yourself distant from the Lord Jesus. If you feel helpless or hopeless. If you feel damned or abandoned. If you feel as if there is no way God could ever accept you it simply isn’t so. The blood of Christ has never found a sin-darkened heart that could not be made whiter than snow. But don’t trust me. Trust the Lord who promises us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)

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