The apostle Peter must have been elated when Jesus praised and blessed him, saying, "You are Peter, the rock, and on this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of hell won't overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom..."
Peter must also have been devastated when, a short time later, Jesus rebuked him in the strongest language possible, saying, "Get behind me, satan!" (Matthew 16:23).
Could you and I bear such a rebuke from Jesus? Would we not slink away in shame and never talk to Jesus again? We have a problem in the western Church. We can't seem to comprehend that God can love us completely and simultaneously hate our sins. We seem to think that if God loves us, He will never point out our flaws. After all, we don't receive it as love when our spouse points out our flaws, do we? But this is the very reason the Church is stuck! We lack the courage to face our sins because we lack faith in God's love. God is gracious and full of mercy, but He cannot be full of mercy for sins that we haven't committed. If we don't acknowledge our sins, Jesus can never forgive our sins.
Many of us believe that we will be disqualified for love and for usefulness if we are guilty of gross sin. We can imagine God forgiving us for little sins or that God will forgive other people's big sins. But we cannot bear the thought that we might need a rebuke like Peter. Indeed, we think to ourselves; if we have done the work of Satan, aren't we disqualified for God's kingdom?
Not at all. The Bible says that Christ died for us WHILE WE WERE ENEMIES OF GOD.
"...while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son..." Romans 5:10
If a voice inside your head tells you you are disqualified, you need accept what that voice is saying and acknowledge your sin. But don't stop there. Next, tell that voice to get behind you because of the blood of Jesus, who died to make you clean. That voice is the voice of Satan. Jesus did indeed rebuke Peter for being the mouthpiece of the tempter and the enemy, which should demonstrate to us that we are fully capable of making the same kind of mistakes, even as followers of Christ. But Jesus never rescinded His promise to Peter: "On this rock I will build my Church! And the gates of hell will not overcome it!" (Matt 16:18). Don't let the voice of accusation take you out of the war for truth and righteousness. Rather, let that voice teach you to lean on the grace which God extends to His enemies; how much more His friends?
"For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Romans 5:10
It is because God is building his Church on the living stones of humans like you and me and Peter that rebuke and deliverance must happen within the Church body. "For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God..." 1 Peter 4:17. Jesus must purify His bride and shape His foundation stones if He is going to build His Church upon us. You are safe enough in the arms of Jesus to handle rebuke. His love for you cannot change because it is already perfect and complete.
If we don't have enough faith in God's grace to face our accuser in truth, how will the world ever believe that grace exists for them? If we don't trust our Savior to cast devils out of us, how will the world surrender its demons to our Savior?
You and I may find at times that we are in league with the devil. Jesus will be faithful to cast the devils out if we will only let Him. Jesus wants to build His Church upon you. The only requirement is that you let Him take the devil out of you, which is how the living stones are refined and shaped for God's sanctuary.
Come into agreement with Jesus' rebuke: "Get behind me, Satan!"