Joseph Prince - Jesus: The End Of Your Struggles
I want to continue from where I left off; this idea about Paul saying that the good I want to do, I do not, the evil I don't want to do, I end up doing. Now, if I don't want to do the evil that I'm doing, that shows I am not for evil, I am for good, but the power to do what is good, I find not. I find that I want to do good, but I am doing evil. The problem is actually, the root of it all is called flesh. Say, "Flesh".
Now, what is flesh in the Bible? Flesh is not this flesh, the body, okay? You know who endures our body? The Holy Spirit. Once you're saved, you have the Holy Spirit. But there is in you something called the flesh. It is not your body. It abides in your body. It's called that part of you that wants to do wrong, the self-life, all right? That part of you that is given to depression, self-pity, self-occupation, selfish, all right? That part of you that don't want to forgive. That part of you that is lazy. That part of you that does wrong. That part of you that fantasizes about other peoples' spouses. That part of you that is given to pornography. That part of you is called flesh.
Now, you are not flesh. If you are a believer, you have the flesh, but you are not the flesh. You are in the spirit. The Bible says in Romans chapter 7, "I know that in me", he's very careful, "(That is, in my flesh)", not in my body. "In my flesh dwells no good thing". Now, in my body dwells the Holy Spirit. You see how accurate he defines? But in the flesh, that part of you that wants to do wrong, dwells no good thing. "For to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I don't find. For the good I will to do, I do not do. The evil I will not do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not do, it's no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me". Next verse, "I find then a law".
Just like whatever I throw up, comes down. There's a law. "That evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. Whenever I want to do good, it seems like evil is present". So he says, "I delight in the law of God". He meditates in God's law. He delights in God's law, all right? "According to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, bringing me into captivity of law of sin, which is in my members". All right, don't worry. It'll get better, okay? Verse 24, "O wretched man that I am. Who", is not what? What formula can I learn? What techniques can I apply? It's no more that. It's who; a person. "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death"?
If you are 70% good, all right, and 30% bad, then Jesus is only effective for you 30% because he's a Savior of sinners. He cannot save the other side. And that's why the Lord comes in so that you try your 70% to try to keep it. You try to produce good out of your 70% only to find what? This struggle. So God will allow us to go to struggle so we come to the end of ourselves. How many understand that?
The Apostle Peter had a problem. Long before he denied with cursing and swearing he never knew Jesus, he had a problem. And Jesus on the Passover night, Jesus prayed for Peter. And this what Jesus said to Peter in Luke chapter 22, verse 31 to 34: "The Lord said to Peter", okay, his first name, "'Simon, Simon", very affectionate, "'Indeed Satan has asked for you that he may sift you as wheat'". Wow. Peter does not realize that something in him that's getting ground to the devil. Okay notice what Jesus says. "But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail". You want to hear something mind-blowing? Jesus did not pray that Peter will not fail. Jesus prayed that his faith will not fail.
Now, what is faith? Simply put, even a child can understand. When I look at the gospels, everyone that dared to come Jesus, in spite of the fact they have sin, even with diseases, whatever problem, if they come to Jesus as they are, he turns to them and says, "Your faith, your faith. In other words, when you fail, don't stop coming to me. Don't feel that there is a distance. Don't feel that I'm far away. Don't think for one moment I have left you. I'm praying for you that even when you fail, your faith will not. In other words, you must believe I am still with you. I will never leave you". Are you with me?
All right, so what's the answer? Do I continue with my Christian life doing the good I don't want to do, all right, or the evil I keep on doing, the good I cannot do? Is this my life? No, you must come to a place to say, "O wretched man that I am, who", not what formula can I adopt, what fasting method can I practice. "Who"... Say, "Who". Are you all with me so far? The answer is not found in it. It's found in a he. So he says, "Who shall deliver me"? Then he said something. "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord". So obviously Paul found something out of his struggle. Would you like to know what is it? Whatever he found it is through Jesus Christ our Lord. I repeat. This is not salvation. Paul is already saved when he had his struggle, all right?
So what is the answer? Why does he say through Jesus Christ our Lord? "So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin". He's saying, "When I discovered this, my mind was still for God's law, all right? I favored God's law, but my body was still doing what was wrong", he said. In other words, this deliverance comes right smack dab in the middle of what you're struggling. Would you like to hear what's the deliverance? The very next verse is chapter 8, verse 1. "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus".
What does he mean in Christ Jesus? That means the way you accepted Christ as your salvation and forgiveness of sins, right, now you accept the Lord Jesus Christ at God's right hand as your true self. Not this struggling self. This is not your true self: "Pastor, I am struggling". That is not your true self. Your true self before God, in God's eyes, is the man at God's right hand. He is your true self. In other words, when God wants to look at you, when God wants to judge you, when God want to assess you, God does not look at you. God looks at Jesus Christ, because Jesus is the new you. Wow.
"But Pastor Prince, how does that help me in my temptation"? Every time you are tempted, just realize, "All right, nothing to do with self". And it's always a good attitude to have. In and of myself, I can murder. I can kill, commit adultery. Don't think you can't. All of us can. You know what's the problem with Paul in Romans 7 and all of us? Self-confidence. We are still hankering after self. Self-confidence is the root of all failure. Self-confidence is the root of all committed sin. You know whose Peter picture of? You and I in our natural self. We are all self-confident.
Come on. Just to prove to you he does not understand what Jesus is saying. Jesus said, "I pray for you that your faith should not fail. When you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren". Do you think Peter understand? You know what Peter says? See what he understand. See whether he's still self-confident. But he said the Jesus, "Lord, I am ready to go with you, both to prison and to death". All right he's not Indian so he probably... all right he said, "Lord, I'm ready to go with you, both to prison and to death". Neither is he Singaporean. Okay, anyway, that very speech betrays his self-confidence. Then Jesus says, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you deny knowing me three times".
Now, let's go back to Peter's story. The first time Peter met Jesus was through his brother. What's his name? Andrew. Andrew brought Peter Simon at a time. And Jesus look at Simon and says, "From now on, you'll be called Cephas". That's eremite for stone. "Peter, you'll be called stone. You be a solid rock". Okay, the second time he met Jesus was a whole night of fishing and he caught nothing. So he and his partners were washing nets, all right, washing their nets, their fishing nets, by the lake of Galilee. Jesus was preaching to a crowd. The crowd was swelling. Jesus went backwards. The Bible says, "He looked behind and he saw Peter's boat of all the boat".
You know when Jesus comes to you, all right, and asked you to serve him, he's starting you up. All right, he stepped into Simon's boat. After he finished preaching, he looked at Simon who was washing his net. He says, "Simon, let's go. Launch out into the deep and let down your nets", plural S. "Nets for a catch". Peter says, "Lord, we worked all night. We caught nothing. But because you say so, I will let down the net", one net. And guess what? The Bible says they can't take the fish in because one net and the net broke. Of course, the blessing is always greater than your faith. And he had to call for help, his partners to help. And finally got a lot of fishes. Get into the boat, and the boat began to sink. It was a humorous sight.
You know, the Bible tells us the boat began to sink. I love it. I wish I was there. And Peter fell at Jesus's feet and says, "Lord". For the first time he called Jesus Lord. That's the first time. "Lord, depart from me. I'm a sinful man". And I always challenge people everywhere I go, everywhere I preach all over the world, I tell people, "Which one came first, the blessing or the repentance"? The blessing. It is always the goodness of God that leads people to repentance. The goodness of God led Peter to repentance.
And the next time you see Peter, one of the times you see Peter, because of time, all right, we see Peter at Caesarea Philippi. And Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do you say I am"? You know who answered? Guess. Peter. Peter says, "You are the Christ, the son of the living God. You are the Mashiach, Messiah, the son of living God". And Jesus was impressed. Jesus looked at Peter and says, "Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven". Look out. Look out. You know, he was so impressed, he says, "You are blessed Simon Bar-Jonah. You didn't get this from yourself", flesh and blood. "My father revealed this to you". In other words, "There's no way you got this on your own. My father revealed".
And of course Peter was like, "Mm, man". He looked at the disciples. You know, he was feeling very good, all right? Okay, drop down just the next few verses. Just drop down to verse 21. "From that time", same chapter, same passage, "Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Jesus, saying, 'Far be it from you, Lord. This will never happen to you'".
Now, listen carefully. He's rebuking Jesus, "Don't ever say this again. Don't ever say this again". Then Jesus says, "Oh, Peter, thanks, huh. Appreciate you for it. Thanks for telling me all, you know". Did Jesus do that? No, what did Jesus say? "He turned aside and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan. You are an offense to me, for you're not mindful of things of God, but the things of men'". All right y'all know story of Peter's denial.
So let me just close by really telling you that Peter denied that same night knowing Jesus, with cursing and swearing. The first one was a girl. Imagine a girl, a servant girl, said, "Hey, I recognize you". And they were all gathered at the coals of fire, all right? Say, "Coals of fire". And he was keeping himself warm. It was a cold night. And the girl says, "Hey, aren't you one of his disciples"? He said, "I'm not the one. I don't know what you're talking about". Then another man says, "Your accent is like a Galilean. You're one of his disciples". "No, I'm not". The Bible says, "Cursing and swearing". And the third one, look up here in Luke, "After about an hour, another confidently affirmed, saying, 'Surely this fellow was also with Jesus, for he's a Galilean'. But Peter said, 'Man, I do not know what you're saying'. Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed".
Now, he was outside. The building was inside where Jesus was being tried. The doors were open. "And the Lord turned and looked at Peter". Now, the Lord was facing the high priest Caiaphas. Outside in the garden, the doors were open. When the moment the rooster crowed, Jesus turned and looked at Peter. What a look it was. It broke Peter's heart. It was almost like, "Peter, remember. Don't run away from me. My eye is on you. I don't care". He's not even thinking about his own... He was under the judgment. He was being tried, yet he was thinking of Peter. You know, how many of you know that love breaks the heart. The law cannot break your heart. The law makes you, you know, have a stony heart.
But look at what happened to Peter. "Then Peter the Word of the Lord, how he had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows, you'll deny me three times'". Next? "Peter went out and wept bitterly". What happened to Jesus inside? "Now the men who had held Jesus mocked him and beat him. Having blindfolded him"... One of the last things Jesus saw before he was beaten, all right, his eyes became swollen. One of the last person he saw was Peter, all right? So Peter went away crying bitterly, all right? Jesus died at the cross, gave his life. On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead. And then something happened at the empty tomb. Look up here. "Entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed".
How many knows the angels and all heavenly beings are young? Amen. So this angel, a young man, he said to them, the angel says, "Don't be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen. He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter". Of all the people there, of all the disciples, Jesus left an instruction when he rose from the dead to the angel, "Make sure you mention Peter". Do you remember the two disciples in Emmaus road? Jesus appeared on the day he was resurrected. He appeared to them. They didn't realize he was him. He talked to them. And then the Bible tells us, he went all the way to the house, then had communion.
When he broke the bread, they realized who he was. He disappeared. Then the two of them arose and went back 7 miles to Jerusalem at night. Wow, 14 miles in one day. When they reached the upper room in Jerusalem, the disciples were all excited when they saw that these two. And the disciples said this: "Saying to them, 'The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon'". This is the first day of resurrection. The Lord has appeared to Simon.
Now, many of us don't realize. We know that he appeared to Mary Magdalene. We don't realize he appeared to Peter. It was a private meeting. No one knows. There's no account in the Bible of what transpired during the meeting. It was a close meeting within Jesus and Simon. So that there is a public restoration and there's a... sorry, a private and a public.
Now, you know the story Jesus... now, it's one week. Say, "One week", and we'll bring this to a close. One week after the resurrection, Jesus walked by the Lake of Galilee. Peter and his disciples, his friends were all fishing, with John as well. They were fishing, and Jesus says, "Children, do you have any food"? They say, "Nothing. We toil all night, nothing". He says, "Throw your net on the right side". They threw their net on the right side, and there was so much fish; and this time, the nets did not break. And they drag it all the way to the shore. How many fishes were there? One hundred and... go to John, "As soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals".
Ah, stop. Fire of coals. There's not a place in the Bible except coals of fire here and coals of fire where Peter denied knowing Jesus. So the Holy Spirit's linking these two together. Peter smelt the fire. And coal fire has certain kind of smell. He saw the coals of fire. It triggered in his memory. Now, he's really forgiven. He knows it, but there's about to be a restoration of ministry, restoration of heart. Jesus is about to heal his mind. So every time he see that scene, it will no more haunt him. Then Jesus sat them all down, and Jesus said, you all know the story, he says, "Simon son of Jonas, do you love me"? And Jesus used the word agapao; the highest form of word. You know what Jesus says? "Do you love me? Do you agapao me more than these"?
See, the word... say, "More than these". Why did Jesus say more than these, more than all the disciples there? Because Peter had boasted, "Even all this, deny you". Now, Jesus says, "Do you love me with the highest form of love, the self-sacrificial love, agapao? Do you love me that kind of love, more than all these"? Now how many of you know that Peter has been humbled? His self-confidence has been now dealt with. What did Peter answer? "Yes, Lord. You know that I love you". He used the word phileo, which is a lower form of love than agapao. Phileo means, I like you; I'm fond of you as a friend. Phileo love. At that level of phileo love, Jesus says, "Feed my lambs".
Isn't it cool? "Even at that level, feed my lamb". Then he says again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me"? He said to Jesus, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you". Again, the same word, "Do you agapao me"? But Peter answered, "You know that I only like you". Peter has been humbled. Jesus says, "No problem. It's never your love, it's my love. Tend my sheep". The last time he asked, "'Peter Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?' Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time". What happened? Why three times? Because with his mouth he said what? "I never knew Jesus".
Now, with his mouth, Jesus wanted him to remember. It's early in the morning when this happened. When did he deny Jesus? Early in the morning. A crock was crowning somewhere. Now, by the Lake of Galilee, there are many, many roosters and probably crowing as well. There's a coal of fire right now. In both instances, there is a coal of fire. Jesus is restoring him so that every time he hears a rooster crowing early in the morning, he looks at coals of fire, he will not remember his denial, but he'll remember the Lord says, "Take care of my sheep. And you know what, Peter? It's not your love for me; it's my love for you". So Peter had to learn the lesson. "Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you".
Now, by the way, this time Jesus came down to his level. "Do you phileo me"? Jesus said. Finally. "So Peter, you just like me. You're fond of me". Peter says, "You know all things, Lord. You know I only love you at this level of like". And Jesus says, "Feed my sheep". He trusted him, and gave him his ministry, restored him in front of every single disciple. Nobody can remind him again because now everything that trigger off in his memory his failure, now trigger off Jesus love. Amen? Just take time to let Jesus love you.
And you know something, church? Many of us we grow up with no confidence in God's love. You know what? We start looking after our self. We start saying, "Nobody will take care of you. You must take care of yourself, all right? In life, you must look for number one; yourself. Don't care about anybody else. Be selfish. Get there before they do. Hit them before they hit you, all right? Watch out for self". And God is saying, "No, no. Don't live life like that anymore. I'm watching over you". Amen.
Wherever you're watching this, this is for believers, all right? Just as you accepted Christ as your Savior, now accept Christ as your true self, your true identity before God. Say this:
Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you that there you are at the Father's right hand as my true self. Father in heaven, you have found a man, the perfect man, the man of your pleasure, the man of your delight, of your joy, your beloved Son. He's there. Although God, he's there as man representing me, Lord Jesus Christ, I accept you now as my true identity, as my true self, in Jesus name. Amen.
That's it. And from on, when the devil comes to you and point you to yourself, your struggles, your thoughts, your bad thoughts, your bad attitudes, just look away and see, "That's my true self". Amen? And the Holy Spirit will transform you down here.