All of the disciples forsook the Lord and fled (Matt. 26:56). Yet, Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection, telling them, "Peace be unto you" (John 20:19-21).
Thomas refused to believe without evidence. Yet, Jesus spoke peace to him, showed him His wounds, and commanded him not to be faithless but believing (John 20:27-28).
Israel repeatedly turned from God to idols. Yet God called them to repentance (Hosea 14:1-4,8). Israel cried that the LORD would turn them again by causing His face to shine, and by putting His hand on the man of His right hand, the Lord Jesus Christ (Psalm 80:3,7,17-19).
Do we therefore -- because of these falls recorded in scripture or the weakness of our flesh -- seek an excuse to deny our Lord? Far from it! Do we not rather fear most the loss of the sense of our Savior's love and therefore seek mercy and grace to never deny Him?
Can a believer deny the Lord Jesus? Yes. "If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself" (2 Tim. 2:12-13). The disciples did. Who among us can say they have never denied Jesus by their works or by failing to confess Him before men (Titus 1:16)?
Judas betrayed his Master. Let us learn from him. He neither cried for repentance nor did he repent. I ask myself this question: What would I say if the Lord Jesus told me, "You are lost!" Would I run from Him, or would I not rather run to Him and cry, "Lord, save me!" "Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil" (Jer. 17:17)! Where else will I go (Jn. 6:68)?!
What is it to deny the Lord? It is apostasy from Christ (John 6:66-69; Heb. 3:6,14-19; Col. 1:20-23). This, a believer cannot do; they cannot apostatize from Christ. To do so is to deny His person as God and man (1 John 2:22-23). It is to deny His gospel (Gal. 1:8; 5:2-3). It is to deny His work. It is to deny His testimony of me, that I am a guilty sinner, justly condemned, helpless to turn, unable to obey, entirely dependent on justifying grace and sovereign mercy.
To deny the Lord Jesus is to deny His sovereign saving power to deliver me from my sins, from death, from the world, from satan. Do you believe that the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross -- by His obedience unto death and by His resurrection, His interceding life and reigning rule of grace -- is enough to save you from your sins without any help from you? Do you deny this?! Do you deny that salvation is all of grace, that it is all by the work of Christ, which He accomplished on the cross, and now reigns to freely give in righteousness? Do you deny that He actually -- really -- put away the sins of all of His people once and for all when He cried, “It is finished!” (John 19:28-30)?
Can creation deny her Maker?
Can a disciple deny His Master?
Can a sinner saved by sovereign grace deny his Savior?
Can a child of God deny His Father?
Yes, in a moment of weakness, we can! Shameful and painful as it is! Yet, we who know and believe and love the Lord Jesus think there is no greater crime than to deny our Lord! What?! Deny Him who loved me and gave Himself for me!? What?! Deny Him whose cross is my salvation from sin, death, the law and judgment of God, from satan and the world? How could I be ashamed of the One who ever lives to save me to the uttermost?! How could I be ashamed of the power of God, the gospel of my salvation?!
By God's grace, we are preserved in Christ. In the weakness of our flesh, we may fall by denying our Lord. But we have this promise: "Sin shall not -- it shall not -- have dominion over you (Rom. 6:14)! We may fall, but as Jonah, we "will look again toward His holy temple" (Jonah 2:4). "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand" (Psalm 37:23-24).
Before his conversion, the apostle Paul denied Christ. The Jews denied Jesus to Pilate that they might put Him to death. Yet, to both of these, our Lord sent His gospel, granting them repentance to life by His sovereign rule and grace (Acts 3:13-26). And what of the thief on the cross? At first he denied the Lord! But then, he too was turned to openly own Him as his Lord before the world! Believers may deny their Lord, but they will be recovered by saving grace and brought to repentance unto life. We are kept by the power of God. A sinner cannot deny -- cannot ultimately deny in unrepentant apostasy -- His Savior! Mephibosheth could not deny his king. No more can we who look to Christ to save us deny that He alone has and will yet save us to the uttermost by His death and reigning life. Nothing embittered Peter more than his denial of his beloved Master!
We confess before God, among His people, and to an unbelieving world, that Christ is our sin-bearer, our righteousness, our only hope, and the love of our hearts! We confess that He is God, that He is man, and that it was by His becoming man, being made under God's holy law, and there bearing our sins and fulfilling our righteousness, that we are born as the sons of God (John 1:12-14; Gal. 3:26; Eph. 1:4-6). We freely confess that we are nothing but undeserving apart from our union with Him! A child of God cannot commit the sin of apostasy from Christ (1 John 5:4-5). We are in Christ (Rom. 8:1), and Christ is in us (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 8:9-10). He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13).
Upon a life I did not live;
Upon a death I did not die;
I stake my whole eternity! -- Horatius Bonar
“I am not my own. I have been bought with a price. In body and soul and in life and in death, I belong to my faithful Savior! (1 Cor. 6:19-20)” Geoffrey Thomas