The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. Luke 22:61-62 NIV
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. Matthew 27:3-5 NIV
Peter and Judas both betrayed the Lord, but one got past it and moved forward in his faith, the other, tried to make it right, in his own way, and was distraught when he couldn’t. All believers, by word or deed, at various times betray the Lord. We all fall short! The difference between spiritual success and failure, many times, is not the sin itself, but the way we handle it after we have fallen.
When Peter realized his sin, he wept bitterly. Although the Bible doesn’t record his prayer of repentance, it’s safe to assume, his weeping included repentance because Peter’s life demonstrates a turning away from his sin. Judas was seized with remorse, but what did he do? Instead of weeping before the Lord, he tried to undo his own sin. It’s never enough to just make up for our sins by undoing the damage we’ve caused, we must always deal with our sin before the Lord. Instead of turning to God, Judas returned to the enemies of Jesus and tried to make things right. When they wouldn’t help him, he attempted to relieve his guilt by taking his own life and ended up making an even bigger mistake. There’s only one right course of action when we sin: confess our sin to God and turn away from it immediately! What if Judas had wept before God, confessed his sin and sought the Lord’s forgiveness? Can you imagine the testimony of forgiveness and grace his life could have been for generations to come?
Peter and Judas aren’t the only ones who serve as examples when we fall. Consider David’s actions after his sin with Bathsheba. He, like Judas, tried to fix things himself and as a result heaped sin upon sin. Then he went silent, as if pretending there wasn’t a problem would make it go away. How did that work out for David?
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Psalm 32:3-4 NIV
David suffered the pain of sin far longer than he needed to. When he finally acknowledged it and poured his heart out before the Lord, he found forgiveness and cleansing.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:507 NIV
Here’s the bottom line, we all sin and fall short of living the life God desires. When we do, the quicker we turn away from our sin and cry out to God, the less opportunity Satan has to destroy us and those we love.
For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes. Proverbs 24:16 NIV
When Peter heard the rooster crow, he knew he had fallen, but he rose right back up and moved forward in his faith and his relationship with the Lord. David waited to confess his sin to the Lord.. The delay caused David mental anguish and many sleepless nights, and it cost Uriah his life. Judas felt remorse, but instead of coming to God broken and repentant, he thought he could fix it himself.. Only God could have cleansed Judas and removed the weight of the guilt he carried.
Knowing Peter was going to deny him, Jesus made this statement to Peter:
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”Luke 22:31-32 NIV
You see, God never gives up on us, we give up on ourselves; and when we do, in a very real sense, we’re giving up on God. Many times, the man who has fallen and gotten back up, in the end, is stronger than the man who never fell in the first place. So if you’re being crushed under the weight of sin, get out from under it. If you’ve fallen, get right back up! After the denial, Peter quickly made things right with the Lord again, and God forgave him, gave him a clean slate, and used in tremendous ways!
Next time you fall into sin will you respond like Peter and make it right immediately? Will you respond like David and wait causing yourself and others needless pain, or will you respond like Judas and let the enemy destroy your life under the weight of your guilt?
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NASB
God promises to cleanse us from our sins when we confess them to Him. That’s the only way we get a clean slate! Take note that this verse applies to ALL sin. There are no exceptions!