The Youth’s Instructor


December 15, 1898

Peter's Fall and Restoration—No. 1


The reason so many of Christ's professed disciples fall into grievous temptation is that they have not a correct knowledge of themselves. Here is where Peter was so thoroughly sifted by the enemy. If we could understand our own weakness, we should see so much to do for ourselves that we would humble our hearts under the mighty hand of God. Hanging our helpless souls upon Christ, we would supplement our ignorance with his wisdom, our weakness with his strength, our frailty with his enduring might. YI December 15, 1898, par. 1

Peter fell because he did not know his own frailty. He thought himself strong. He said: “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” “I will lay down my life for thy sake.” Jesus answered him, “I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.” But Peter “spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise.” YI December 15, 1898, par. 2

Christ had said to Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” YI December 15, 1898, par. 3

Had Peter walked humbly with God, hiding self in Christ; had he earnestly looked for divine help; had he been less self-confident; had he received the Lord's instruction and practised it, he would have been watching unto prayer, working out his own salvation with fear and trembling. Had he closely examined himself, the Lord would have given him divine help, and there would have been no need of Satan's sifting. The enemy can not overcome the humble learner of Christ, the one who walks prayerfully before the Lord. Christ interposes himself as a shelter, a retreat, from the assaults of the wicked one. The promise is given, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” Peter was not intelligent in regard to his own defects of character. He did not see his need of the power and grace of Christ in order that he might know himself. YI December 15, 1898, par. 4

Satan was permitted to tempt the too confident Peter, as he had been permitted to tempt Job; but when that work was done, he had to retire. Had Satan been suffered to have his way, there would have been no hope for Peter. He would have made complete shipwreck of faith. But the enemy dare not go one hair's-breadth beyond his appointed sphere. There is no power in the whole satanic force that can disable the soul that trusts, in simple confidence, in the wisdom that comes from God. YI December 15, 1898, par. 5

Mark the course pursued by Peter. His fall was not instantaneous, but gradual. Step after step was taken, until the poor, sinful one denied his Lord with cursing and swearing. He denied the Man of Sorrows in his acquaintance with grief. YI December 15, 1898, par. 6

The crowing of the cock reminded Peter of the words of Christ, and, surprised and shocked, he turned and looked at his Master. At that moment, Christ looked at Peter, and beholding that grieved look, in which compassion and love for him were blended, Peter understood himself. With startling vividness his self-confident words flashed upon his minds: “Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.” “I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” And yet he had denied his Lord with cursing and swearing! YI December 15, 1898, par. 7

But Peter was not left in hopelessness. The look that Christ had given him brought a ray of hope to the erring disciple. He read there the words, “Peter, I am sorry for you. Because you are sorry and repent, I forgive you.” While Peter's soul was passing through such deep humiliation, through the awful struggle with satanic agencies, he remembered the words of Christ, “I have prayed for thee;” and they were to him a precious assurance. YI December 15, 1898, par. 8

The watch-care of Christ for Peter was the cause of his restoration. Satan could do nothing against the all-powerful intercession of Christ. And the prayer that Christ offered for Peter he offers in behalf of all who are humble and contrite in heart. He is our Advocate through the Holy Spirit. Before the Father he pleads the power and efficacy of his word. John declares: “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” YI December 15, 1898, par. 9

In Peter's fall we have before us our own individual cases. Just as verily as did Peter, many of the professedly commandment-keeping people of God dishonor and bring reproach upon their best Friend,—the One who can save them to the uttermost. But the Lord would restore to himself all who have put him to shame by their unscriptural course of action. YI December 15, 1898, par. 10

Peter sinned against light and knowledge, and against great and exalted privileges. It was self-confidence that caused him to fail, and it is this same evil that is now working in human hearts. It may be our purpose to be right and to do right, but we shall most surely err unless we are constant learners in the school of Christ. Our only safety is in walking humbly with God. YI December 15, 1898, par. 11

Mrs. E. G. White