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Wrong Steps of a Careless Christian

"Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation"

Matthew 26:41a

February arrives bringing with it carnival's intense agitation. The involvement of all areas of the human context with the happening is totally and completely irresponsible. The media is amply occupied with the promotion of carnival, exhibiting a high dimension of scenes of immorality and unchastity. The commercial interest uses the opportunity to search for the best financial results for the satisfaction of its voracious and unscrupulous appetite for easy profit. Human behaviour in a general way puts aside the necessary respect and composure, advancing along deplorable and repulsive practices.

This is all on account of a short experience of carnal pleasure (carnival means "feast of the flesh) which, after all, results in a melancholic, sad and anguishing Ash Wednesday! It is sad that many "careless Christians" allow themselves to be pulled along by this torrent of sinfulness!

This order of ideas leads me to consider the "wrong steps of a careless Christian" according to the negative example in the experience of Peter, verified in some texts of Matthew 26:31-75, which caused the Lord to make the serious warning to him and his companions: "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation" (v. 41a). Let us see:

  1. PROUD OSTENTATION (v. 33) - Peter's "proud ostentation" is noted in the prompt but frivolous answer given to the Lord, when the disciples were warned of the reproachful attitude they would assume in regard to His person: "If everyone else deserts you, I won't." (v. 33-Living). This was the first step of his lamentable carelessness which led him to a tremendous spiritual fall. We must be careful lest our "proud ostentation" betray us, starting the harmful process of our spiritual defeat. We should never say: "I will never do this!" , Paul warns: "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." (1Cor.10:12 - NKJV).
  2. LACK OF VIGILANCE (v. 41) - The text shows how the disciples were careless by falling asleep when they ought to have been watching, they were living in a very difficult moment in Gethsemani, about to face the most bruising action of the enemy. The Lord strongly exhorted them to remain vigilant. What did they do? They slept! Seeing them so careless the Lord severely reproved Peter, who thought himself leader of the group: "What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?". This is the wrong step which must be avoided so the failure process doesn't continue. In 1 Peter 5:8 we can perceive that Peter learned the lesson, when he teaches: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (See Acts 20:30-31).
  3. LACK OF PRAYER (v. 41) - The attitude of prayer is one of the strongest weapons to avoid the process of spiritual collapse (Eph. 6:18). The Lord not only exhorted them to pray, but left His worthy example, when he employed Himself alone and intensely in prayer to the Father, in the difficult circumstance He found Himself in. He could not fail in the performance of the dramatic events of Redemption! He was a step closer to Calvary! The enemy was there to try to prevent Him! But the Cross could never be avoided! It is in the exercise of this correct step of prayer that the Lord teaches us not to be careless, avoiding the process of spiritual fall.
  4. SERVICE OF THE FLESH (v. 51) - At the conclusive confrontation of the forces of evil against the Lord, Peter comitted a tremendous carelessness when he intended to sort everything out on the basis of the "service of the flesh". John thus recounts the fact: "Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear... So Jesus said to Peter, 'Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?'" John 18: 10-11 (NKJV). To act on the flesh is a wrong step; it is inadmissible carelessness which strengthens the process of spiritual failure! Paul teaches: "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." (Gal. 5:16).5.
  5. FOLLOWING THE LORD FROM AFAR (v. 58) - Grave error which cannot be commited without jeopardising spirituality. To follow the Lord from afar is to frontally contradict His most adequate teaching to manifest the condition of true disciples (Luke 9:23). We can never move away from Him, for this will represent a fatal mistake of Christian behaviour. We often move away from Him because we are conscious of His prompt reproof of what we intend to do! It is unpardonable carelessness which affects our spiritual life.
  6. WARMING UP BY THE FIRE OF THE ENEMY (v. 69) - Peter not only walked far from the Lord, but he approached the enemy. Far from the Lord he felt cold. We cannot dispense with the warmth of communion with the Lord. It is a serious error to search for warmth by the fire of the enemy! That is what Peter did! We cannot admit an error of this nature, for this will lead us inexorably to spiritual failure. How many "Christians" during these days of wide exercise of carnal passion will be carelessly trying to "warm themselves" by the fire of the world, destroyer of spirituality!
  7. DENIED THE LORD (vs. 70-74) - Finally Peter came to the bottom of the pit in the deplorable process of his spiritual fall. In the conviviality of the enemies, far from the Lord, in the undesirable warming by the strange fire, he comitted the final error of his carelessness, as a Christian. He ended up denying the Lord! Deplorable! In these days of carnal festivity, many will be doing the same. To culminate the disastrous process of their spiritual ruin they will be led to "deny the Lord"! Let us be careful also not to comit this grievous error in our Christian testimony.

In spite of the seven wrong steps taken by Peter because of his fatal carelessness, which led him to the final spiritual failure, the Lord went after him and restored him. But the restoration was only possible because he humbly attended to the challenge of the Lord. Read John 21:15-19. Peter followed Him faithfully. The sad spectacle of his spiritual failure was transformed into honourable evidence of useful instrumentation in the eternal purpose of God for the making of the foundation of the Church of Christ on earth.

Let us therefore beware lest the "feasts of the flesh" lead us to wrong steps towards annulling our spirituality!