From that time 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 up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” ~Matthew 16:21-23
It’s amazing how much difference tone can make when reading something.
While listening to this on my audio Bible in the car the Lord showed something about this: Satan’s appeal through Peter to Jesus was made with the tone of “loving concern”, “passion”, and “zeal”. Peter could not stand the thought of Jesus being killed- he tried to reason with Jesus on behalf of Jesus’ well-being. But Jesus told Peter, “you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.” Peter’s “loving concern” was for the cares of the flesh, to preserve health and to rule this world with power (they still thought Jesus would overthrow Rome and rule).
Satan courts us with the appearance of love, but, not for the things of God. He wants to touch our hearts and move us with compassion, but for the things of this world. He is the one that tries to persuade you against risking health, prosperity, and even life for the Kingdom of God. He is the one who tries to persuade you against the high cost of the cross, to depart from the highway of holiness and take the easy way.
BUT FOR NO GOOD
So then, have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? They zealously court you, but for no good. No, they desire to alienate you, that you may seek them. ~Galatians 4:16-17
They courted them with sincerity and zeal, appealing to them as if angels of light, but, they did so to alienate them from Christ’s grace! I imagine they may have puffed them up and paraded the appearance of Godliness before their eyes to dazzle the Galatian Christians.
The result of this courtship is alienation.
Satan sends his servants dressed as angels of light to provide you with a more appealing alternative to the truth. They speak softly, but, because they walk as enemies of the cross, their words are like snares that entrap you into bondage again to sin through law.
The only opportunity Satan found in Paul’s ministry was by the offense of the truth. He did not find any opportunity to disqualify Paul through misconduct, nor were Paul’s words harsh and overbearing to cause people to become resentful (Paul was world renowned for his astonishing patience- see Clement of Rome’s first epistle to the Corinthians). So Satan took the opportunity afforded to him by the offense of the cross to deceive those who could not bear the cost.
Likewise, because the flesh always has great indignation for the cross, whenever we preach the cross- the dying of self and living to Christ- the flesh is always certain to squirm and reel, crying out “foul!”
A WORD OF WARNING
Now I must preach something that from personal experience I know will offend the flesh of men’s pride: there are many out there who think by causing offense by their harsh demeanor that they are, therefore, “speaking the truth” as Paul did. Yet, they forget that we’re exhorted to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15).
Remember, it was by “doing good that we overcome evil”- do not fall into this trap of thinking that by looking down on everyone else and thinking that no one else is holy enough for you that you are somehow better than everyone else.
Do not forget that mercy triumphs over judgment, and, if you judge mercilessly then you yourself will be judged without mercy by the true Judge of all Heaven and Earth!
Flattery and soft words are far different from love and gentleness: the cross causes offense— our demeanor must never be the cause— but the appeal of flattery and soft words present themselves as soothing consolation and a wiser alternative to God’s way.
Brethren, be not deceived by Satan’s “concerned appeal of love”— it is not for good, but to alienate you from Christ! It always brings you into bondage to another law that is not the law of Christ!