In our church we’ve often defined faith as dependence and confidence in God. The opposite of this is confidence and dependence in ourselves.
I don’t believe we all start out with full of faith like this we should, but God helps us to mature in this area over time. Peter’s life demonstrates this. Let’s look at how God built Peter's faith into what it should be (dependence and confidence in God):
1. Self Confidence
Peter started out very self-confident: Matthew 26:33 “I will never leave you.” Pride and self-confidence is often marked by the words “I will…” The Bible says that we shouldn’t presume that we can do anything, but instead recognize that everything is in the power of God’s hands: James 4:15 says: “Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that."
Peter believed that he could muster up enough determination and courage to stand with Jesus until the end, without recognizing that he needed God’s grace to do it.
Needless to say, God soon allowed Peter to fall and to deny his Savior. With a single look from Jesus Peter then saw how incapable he was and how he hurt Him. That’s when his attitude changed:
Luke 22:61-62: The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
In a moment, God broke Peter’s pride by allowing him to fall and then showing him what he had done. I don’t think that Jesus was condemning Peter with His look. I believe that with His look our Lord Jesus was saying “Peter, I don’t condemn you… but that really hurt me.” Peter saw that despite all of his past zeal and determination, he had failed and he had hurt his beloved Lord.
2. Brokenness, Resignation
Peter was so broken, that he decided to quit the ministry. “I’m going to fish” (John 21:3) In simple words, Peter quit. Peter went from the attitude of “I will” to “I can’t”. Peter saw that he was incapable of following Jesus like he thought he was. He resigned himself to be a failure at following the Lord. At least he was not proud anymore! But he was not where God wanted him yet. God does not want us proud, but He does not want us discouraged either.
Now that Peter was at the end of himself, God showed how patient, loving and merciful He was toward him: (Mark 16:7 - "But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.'") An angel spoke these words to some of the women who were disciples visiting Jesus’ tomb. It’s interesting that the angel specifically named Peter when telling them to relay the message. I believe this was God was showing Peter that He did not hold anything against him and that He still loved him. There was still hope! I believe through this single statement is where Peter saw God’s love, patience and mercy through this wonderful word that the women had passed on from the angel.
4. True Faith
Peter was not yet perfect, but he was able to live the rest of his life grounded in the fact that he could do nothing apart from the Father, no matter how determined he was in the flesh. Only then he was fit to pass on to others the lesson that God taught him: it’s nothing other than the patience of God that is our salvation (2 Peter 3:15). In other words “it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” (Romans 9:16) This is the attitude of real faith– total dependence and confidence in God.
The challenge for us is to recognize that we can do nothing apart from our Lord Jesus (dependence - John 15:5), but we can do everything through Him (confidence - Philippians 4:13).