But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Matthew 16:23

How can a God-focused person do Satan’s work? First, acknowledge such happens. Peter was a God-focused person. However, if Jesus called Peter Satan, at that moment in that act, Peter did Satan’s work. Second, note Peter did not know he did Satan’s work. He was certain he did God’s work! When Peter told Jesus, “This will never happen to you,” he affirmed a loyalty that furthered God’s objectives (he thought). Third, note Peter actually opposed God’s purposes when he was certain that he assured the accomplishment of God’s purposes. He was certain his affirmation of loyalty in this manner was encouraging!

The point is this: when a human confuses personal desires with God’s objectives, he/she will do Satan’s work believing he/she is doing God’s work. Exchanging human desires for God’s objectives is spiritually deadly! For example, was it good to be committed to Jesus’ continuing physical life? Peter thought so! What was God’s objective? Jesus’ humiliating death and glorious resurrection! What was Jesus’ physical desire? To live! Read Matthew 26:37-39.

Jesus did not want suffering, but he surrendered to God’s purposes. Did Peter’s affirmation of loyalty encourage Jesus’ surrender? No! So who was Peter helping—God’s purpose or Satan’s discouragement? Here Peter worked for Satan not God!

How did that happen? Peter wanted Jesus to be Israel’s physical king. He wanted first-century Israel to be an independent power in world politics. He wanted to serve in Jesus’ administration. None of that could happen if Jesus died!

God had something better in mind—a universal Savior who extended forgiveness to all! However, for that to be, Jesus had to die. What seemed good to Peter was disastrous to God’s purpose. Human desires were not God’s purpose! What made sense to Peter powerfully discouraged Jesus! Human desires destroyed God’s objective!

Do you surrender to God or try to manipulate God? Do your wants oppose God?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 23 January 2011

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