Monday, September 27, 2010

Lessons from a School of Fish

“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
(Luke 5:8c, ESV)

This is quite a statement for Peter to make about himself. It is a very strong assessment of Peter’s awareness of his condition. Peter uses a very strong word, hamartolos, as he expresses his utter awareness of his condition. This word suggests “one who is devoted to sin.” It also expresses the idea of “preeminently sinful, especially wicked.” By the way, as a side note, it was the word used by the Jews for those Jews who became tax collectors. Why would Peter make such a statement? What would provoke him to arrive at that conclusion?

Jesus was on the beach one day and the crowds wanted to hear him teach. Jesus got into one of two boats sitting on the sandy shore and asked Simon to push out into the water. Jesus sat down and taught the people on the shore from the boat the Word of God. When Jesus had finished with the lesson of the day, He had another lesson in mind for Peter.

Jesus told Peter to “put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Peter replied, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” Of course we now know what happened, when Peter and the others with him let down their nets they caught a large school of fish. As a matter of fact they caught so much fish that the nets began to come apart. The men had to ask for help of others to bring the catch to shore. What did Peter do? Peter fell down before Jesus and acknowledge his sinful condition and asked Jesus to take leave of him. Why? What made Peter react this way? How would you have reacted? What would you have done or said?

Peter reacted the only way that was proper. Peter’s response was appropriate for a person who had “seen” God. (Isaiah 6:1-8; Ezekiel 1:28) Peter quickly saw that this “miracle” was actually a demonstration of the personage of Jesus Christ. Peter was aware that he was in the presence of God. Of course this is the first step in understanding who Jesus is. Peter deduced that God was working through Jesus and present in Jesus.  Peter’s understanding will grow as time goes on and especially after the resurrection. But for now Peter knew that somehow God through Jesus exposed his sinful condition and he was well aware of his state of sin. Peter was afraid that he would be judged as a sinful man.

This is a good thing. We must be brought to an awareness of our sinful state as the first step toward our salvation. Then, after redemption, even as we realize our sins have been forgiven, are we aware of the presence of the old nature still within us? What is your response when you become aware of Scripture? What is your response when you sense the presence of God in others, or a sermon, or in a quiet time of reflection? Do you sense your condition of “being a sinful man.” Our only response prior to salvation and after salvation is to acknowledge the awareness of the presence of sin in our lives and the need of our savior to put off the deeds of the old man and to put on the new man, Jesus Christ.


Lloyd said...

Thank you Gregg for this message. Sometimes it is hard to keep the "old self" under control, but with Christ we can do all things. Blessings, Lloyd

Persis said...

How often I need to see sin for what it really is. Thank you for this reminder, Gregg. Thank the Lord that He does not "depart" from us (which is what we deserved) but will complete the work that He has started in His own.

Kansas Bob said...

Gregg, I resonate with Peter. The very first time I experienced the presence of God my sin was revealed to me and I felt dirty. I gave my life to Jesus that day.

I'd love to be able to dialog with you some time about the term "old nature". It may be just a bit of semantics but it usually helps me to realize that I now have a new nature and my battle is not with my nature (i.e. inner man) but with my flesh (i.e. outer man). It helps me to understand that the old man/nature died with Christ (Rom 6:8) and was buried with Him in baptism (Rom 6:4). Again we may be saying the same thing just expressing it differently.

Gregg said...

Lloyd - Once again you are welcome! It is indeed hard to put to death the deeds of the flesh.

Persis - I am so glad that God does not leave us when we sin but that He will complete the work which He has begun in us. I am looking forward to that day as Paul, who will deliver me from the body of this death? He will!

KB - Sure email or call any time. I love dialog. But you are right, sometimes I think biblically and write humanly. The old nature was crucified with Christ. The battle is not with the new nature, but with the flesh which remains until we die or are fully redeemed.

Thanks for helping me to clarify that.


I knew nothing about God until I picked up a Bible back in early 1980.

The Spirit of God used the Word of God to convict me of my sins and drive me to the foot of the Cross.

Thirty years later I'm still very aware of my need to be quick to confess sin.

In my opinion, much of the false teaching today presents a salvation without conviction and repentance.

Scott said...

Words I never thought I would type: The Old Geezer is right (not because I have anything against this particular Geezer, but just the phrase, anyway....)

You nailed it: "much of the false teaching today presents a salvation without conviction and repentance."

We just studied this same passage and also highlighted that following Christ begins with understanding our true nature. It must begin there, or Jesus is just another tag-on to make us feel better about life, etc. Good news is only truly good in light of the bad news!