When faced with an opportunity to speak up about Jesus in front of others, do we disown Him? Or acknowledge Him, as studied in Jesus Said Acknowledge Him Before Men? Disowning Jesus can take many different forms, as we’ll explore in this post.
Disown Jesus = Jesus Disowns You
Disowning or denying Jesus can be as subtle as walking away when others are talking in a negative fashion about God, perhaps making a derogatory joke about Jesus or Christianity. Or it can be as dramatic as renouncing your faith in Jesus in order to save your physical body from persecution, imprisonment, even death, as happened to the martyrs of old, and as is happening today in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, and Eritrea (go to cswusa.org for more details). Regardless of the scenario, we disown Jesus when we fail to speak up and make it clear where we stand for Jesus. Even if the situation is not as obvious as renouncing your faith verbally before men, God still knows if you denied Him by an act of omission. It is cowardly, and we know what Jesus said about that (go to Jesus Said Be Courageous).
In Matthew 10:33, Jesus said, “But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” These are strong words, but we must take the blunt or seemingly harsh things Jesus said right along with the gentle or encouraging things Jesus said. We must not pick and choose, but must take in ALL of it. We must take in, must ‘feed on’, all that Jesus said, as He instructed in John 6:57 and John 6:63.
The Best Known Example of Disowning Jesus: Peter
The story of Peter disowning or denying Jesus three times is probably the best known biblical example of someone who disowned Jesus. Read Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:54-62, John 18:15-18, 25-27 for the full story. The fact that it is recorded in all four gospels underscores the significance of this event.
Note how Peter’s cowardice in disowning Jesus was BEFORE Peter received the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:4. After receiving the Holy Spirit, Peter and the other disciples were bold and never again denied or disowned Jesus (read Acts 4:1-22 and Acts 16:16-34 for two examples). After the disciples received the Holy Spirit, there was no more cowardice whatsoever; they were willing to face death rather than deny Jesus! As a born again Christian, we HAVE that same Holy Spirit RIGHT NOW! We must call on and use that power of God when we are tempted to disown and deny our Lord Jesus.
Perhaps more importantly, know that all is not lost if you have sinned and disowned Jesus before men. Peter’s behavior was no surprise to Jesus, for God knows all and He predicted it at the Last Supper in Luke 22:31-34. Jesus prayed that Peter would repent (Luke 22:32), and Peter did, as evidenced when he broke down and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75b, Mark 14:72b, Luke 22:62). Then Peter received Jesus’ forgiveness for this sin, as beautifully recorded in John 21:15-19. This is a lesson to us all, of how God calls us to live, and how His grace and mercy heals what needs to be healed so that we can do so.
Call to Action
Like Peter, if you have denied/disowned Jesus in the past, then repent like Peter, confess, and ask God for His forgiveness (1 John 1:9-10). You will receive it, and you can then move forward. Ask to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit, to be so in love with Jesus, so filled by God’s Spirit, that you will never again disown Jesus before men, but will love and serve Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength as Jesus said to in Mark 12:30. Amen!