Don’t Twist Theology Like the Devil

When God doesn’t behave how we expect or allow what we hope, we desire to make Him more like us. We do not want a God that always agrees with us.

As Jesus’ ministry increased, many people asked questions about Him. He polled His disciples to see what the buzz was on the streets before He quizzed them.

Jesus asked His disciples a simple question that would forever change history. He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 

Peter grasped the fact that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus was the one whom the people of God had been longing to behold. Everything in the Old Testament had connected the dots and colored in the picture of who this Messiah would be, and standing before Peter was the brilliantly vivid Jesus the Christ – the actual son of the living God. The King had come, and the Kingdom was coming! This encounter is one of the few times in the gospels that Peter nailed something without a hint of error. 

Jesus responded with a play on words that you may or may not have caught at first glance. “Bar-Jonah” means son of Jonah. Jesus praised Peter for his answer and essentially said, “Simon, your earthly father didn’t reveal that to you, but your Heavenly Father did. I am going to change your name to reflect that you are a part of a different family now. Welcome to the family of God.” 

How did Simon Peter get it right? Because it was accurately revealed to him by none other than God. Man doesn’t discover the truth; God reveals the truth. Jesus promised to build the Church upon the stalwart rock of Peter’s confession. At that moment, Peter understood that Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of truth. Peter knew it, he confessed it, and Christ vowed that his followers would build the Church not on man’s opinion but upon God’s truth. 

When Jesus Calls You Satan

For all the fumbling mistakes for which Peter is remembered, here is a glorious example of a moment when he was undeniably correct, and history would ultimately never be the same again. Riding on such a momentous spiritual occasion, Peter should have known the importance of exiting on a high note, but unfortunately, he opened his mouth moments later to reveal how quickly we can fall from such theological prominence. In light of Peter’s confession, Jesus began to unveil some previously concealed information. His path was clearly leading him to Jerusalem, and he was confident that he would soon suffer unjustly under the hands of the authorities who would brutally murder him there. Since the disciples were now cognizant of his identity, he wanted to prepare them for what was coming his way, and he wanted them to know he would not change course just because suffering was imminent. 

Still beaming from the honorary theological doctorate he had just received from none other than Jesus the Christ, Peter decided to pull the Messiah over to the side for a little constructively critical chitchat. Apparently, Jesus was confused, and Peter’s glowing spiritual intellect was required to clear things up. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord!  This shall never happen to you.” 

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matt. 16:22-23). 

Jesus’ suffering didn’t fit well into Peter’s Christological framework. This type of path is not what Peter envisioned. The cross would distort the image of who Peter thought Christ should be. Jesus was revealing the truth to Peter, and Peter didn’t resonate with the content and, therefore, desired to change it.   

God made Peter in his image, and now Peter wanted to repay the favor. He envisioned following a God who knew no suffering. The picture of the Messiah present in Peter’s mind was that of the victor and not the victim. Peter didn’t like who God was turning out to be, and so he attempted to change him.   

Moments after Jesus renamed Simon as Peter, he suddenly nicknamed him Satan. Should it be to our surprise that Jesus called Peter by the name of the first one who tried to modify the identity of God? Satan endeavored to alter the personality and the activity of God, and Peter was following in his sacrilegious footsteps. Don’t miss Jesus’ diagnosis: Peter was not thinking about God; he was thinking about Man (Matt. 16:23). He wanted God to be more like him.   

When We Do Devilish Things

So do we. When we begin to discover that God is not like who we thought he should be, we desperately want him to adjust to a mirroring type of expectations. Even if our thought processes stem from a desire to assist God in the public relations department, those efforts are in vain. Jesus interprets such blatant endeavors as mutiny. Venturing to improve God is downright satanic, and he will vehemently oppose any such efforts.

If you’re going to stay clear of Jesus calling you devilish monikers, then avoid any attempts at altering his identity. Stop trying to change God and learn to embrace God. No matter how hard we try to revere the Wiki God, this deity is virtually impossible to grasp. The characteristics have changed yet again by the time we finish reading the last draft. If we attempt to recreate the Uncreated One in our image, we will find ourselves worshipping ourselves before too long.