Searches Our Hearts (Part Two)- Romans 8:27

In our previous post, we have seen that part of the Spirit’s intercession on behalf of believers is that He “searches our hearts”, He uses the circumstances of life to show us what is in us, how and why we feel, think and behave the way we do. He does so in order to show us our need of, and stimulate a desire for, change, to produce new life and a new order of things in our lives. We will now look at a biblical example of this process to see more clearly exactly what all of this means. In the Gospels, we find that Simon Peter is the “leader” of Jesus’ disciples, he is the one who takes charge and puts himself forward as the “leader” of the group. He is the only one who gets out of the boat and walks on water (Matthew 14), he is the spokesman for the group, often taking it upon himself to speak for the group as a whole. He is also the first to give a public confession of Jesus as messiah (Matthew 16:16). The picture we get of Peter is of someone who is a very strong willed, self-confident, self-assured; a courageous, take charge kind of guy. In fact he is so self-confident and self-assured that he even “corrects” Jesus when Jesus tells him He must suffer and die at the hands of the Jewish leaders (Matthew 16:22). Peter’s confidence in himself and in his own “rightness” is so strong that in verse 20 he corrects the one he confessed as Messiah in verse 16. Jesus then corrects Peter, understanding that Satan was using Peter’s own self-confidence and self-assurance against him. He then tells all the disciples that they must “deny themselves” and “lose their life” to follow Him. Peter here is so convinced that he is right, so assured of his own “rightness” that Jesus is the conquering king that he corrects Jesus own confession of Himself as suffering servant. Jesus then verbally corrects Peter and this fixes the problem, right? Wrong. Peter’s self-confidence in his own rightness remains, as seen when Jesus is arrested in John 18. We learn, in John 18:3, that Judas came to arrest Him with a “detachment”. We usually envision this as Judas and a few old men going out to get Jesus, but the word detachment actually refers to 600 Roman soldiers. And what does Peter do? He draws his sword and charges, still convinced he is right about Jesus as conquering king and sure this is the beginning of the “revolution”, that Jesus would perform some miracle like God did with Gideon and use these 12 to rout the 600. That does not happen, and Jesus is arrested and taken away. We next encounter Peter later in John 18, where he denies even knowing Jesus three times before unarmed individuals. So what happened to Peter here? We turn to Luke 22:31-34 for the answer. In this passage, the disciples and Jesus are at the last supper, just before Jesus is arrested and taken away. In verse 31, Jesus turns to Peter and says “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you”. He later tells Peter he would deny even knowing Jesus three times that very night, and that is exactly what happens. After the third of these denials, we find that Peter went outside and “wept bitterly”. The Greek translated wept bitterly here is eklausen pikros, an idiom describing a specific type of “weeping”, the weeping reserved for grief and mourning at the loss of a loved one. Remember back in Luke 16:31, Jesus tells Peter that He has “prayed” for Him, that Jesus interceded on his behalf, and the Spirit here uses the circumstances of life to “search his heart”, to show him what is in himself to bring about a change in life and a new order of things. Jesus has searched Peter’s heart, and found it full of “self”, of self-confidence, self-assurance, self-reliance, and he intercedes on Peter’s behalf so that Peter’s self-confidence, self-assurance and self-reliance would be transformed into God-confidence, God-assurance and God-reliance. The reason Peter weeps bitterly here is that someone has died, and the one who has died is the Simon who placed all of his trust in himself. The Spirit here interceded (controlled the circumstances Peter could not) for Peter, searching his heart and showing him what was in his heart (trust in self), in order to bring new life and a new order of things, transforming Peter’s trust in self into trust in God. The Spirit here has “interceded” for Peter, and He is in complete control of all the circumstances, using them to transform Peter and make him all God created him to be so he could do all God created him to do. Romans 8:26-27 assures all believers that the Spirit will do the same thing in our lives. May we all respond the way in which Peter did, recognizing what is in our hearts, becoming aware of the fact that we need to change, and being willing to undergo that transformation so that God can work His will in our lives just as he did in Peter’s.

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