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is a Lamp Unto My Feet, and a Light Unto My path.”…
By Edward O’Hara…
And a really great way to see this truth in action is in reading the story of the disciples when they saw Jesus walking on the water. But, first what comes to mind for me when I think of this story is that since Peter was already in covenant with God, why did he need Jesus to be able to walk on the water? Wasn’t the covenant he already had with God enough? Didn’t Peter already have the light for his path that Ps.119 speaks of? What is the Holy Spirit wanting us to see here?
Here’s the situation. Jesus had told the disciples to meet Him on the other side of the sea. So the disciples were in a boat on their way to the other side of the sea. A storm arose so that they were going through some very rough seas. Suddenly they all saw someone walking on the water. At first they were all afraid not knowing who or what it might be.
When Peter saw that is was Jesus walking on the water he asked the Lord to let him come to him on the water. And Jesus told him to come. So to understand what was really happening here, because it was much more than just the miracle of walking on water, we need to see the symbolism in this all too real event.
The symbolism of this event is seen when we know what the water represented that Peter and Jesus walked on. And why when Peter noticed the wind and the waves he began to sink. And why even though Jesus could see the wind and waves too He didn’t sink.
The reason Peter began to sink was because he began to focus on the wind and waves. And doing so he took his eyes off of Jesus. Conversely, Jesus who said that all that He ever did or said came from the Father never took His eyes off of His Father. But, always trusted the Father. Paul refers to this as “the faith of Christ” in Gal.2:16. And tells us there that this is the only kind of faith that justifies men for eternal life.
It was this faith by which Jesus that made it possible for Him to do and teach all that He did. Paul tells us in Phil.2:6-8 that He laid aside His power as God. So that it was by the Father’s power, not His own, that He did the miracles and taught the things He taught. Because if He had used His power as God while living as a man He could never have been “tempted in all points just as all men are yet without sin” as Heb.4:15 says He was.
But, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and instead began to focus on what his senses told him. It is because of this that he began to sink. If Peter had kept his focus on what Jesus told him, on Jesus Himself, instead of what his natural senses were telling him, he could have continued walking on the water. This is why Jesus was able to walk on the water and Peter was not.
As a spiritual man whose focus was on the Father Jesus was able to believe what the Father told Him and never allowed Himself to be distracted from Him. This is what it means when Paul writes in Rom.8:3, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh”. And in vs.6,7 that a man who “walks after the flesh is at enmity with God”. And “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
Paul is not teaching the person who relates only through his God given natural senses is evil. He is simply saying he is natural like Adam was when God made him and not spiritual like Jesus. So the natural man misses the mark not because he does evil. But, because he can not know Jesus through the natural senses. Because Jesus said in John4:24 that they that worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Paul says this plainly about Adam and his progeny in 1Cor.15:45-50 too. So that it is because man is natural from conception he is not equipped to relate to God as those who have the spirit birthed in them when they trust in Jesus can. And because of this the eyes they have to see Jesus with are not the eyes needed to see Him as He really is. Nor are they able to keep focused on Him.
This is why Paul said to be carnally minded, that is to relate using only the God given natural senses men are born with, is death. But, to be spiritually minded is life. Because only those who are spiritual can see Jesus to walk on the water of His word. Because we walk by faith and not by sight as Paul says in 2Cor.5:7. Only these will inherit the kingdom of God. And those who remain natural by choosing of their own free will to reject Jesus and the gift of spiritual life He came to provide to all mankind do not inherit God’s kingdom.
This symbolism shows what Peter needed saving from. Jesus was showing the difference between spiritual faith and fleshly works. Between trusting in the power of God and trusting in the strength of any man. Between being only natural as Paul says Adam was when God made him. And being spiritual by the new birth as Jesus was because He was God in the flesh.
The fact that Jesus was spiritual not only made it possible for Him to walk on the water by trusting the Father. But, He was also able to help Peter by lifting him up when he began to sink. This is what we do as spiritual men when we share the gospel with unbelievers. We offer them the same hand so they too can be lifted up from natural to spiritual by the power of God.
So this test was to show that a natural man, even one like Peter who was already in covenant with God under the law, would not be able to keep his eyes fixed upon Jesus. Because as a natural man he relates to what his natural senses tell him. Much like the Israelites as they were fleeing from Pharaoh. Or those Israelites that Jesus said were only following Him because of the miracles He did. And try as he might, Peter proved that he too could not do this by the only means that were available to him. The God given natural senses God has given to every man.
In Eph.5:26 we see water used symbolically as the word of God. Here Paul says husbands are to cleanse their wives with the water of the word. So symbolically when Peter asked the Lord to let him come, and Jesus told him to come, as Peter was walking on the water he was walking on God’s word. And he could only do so by believing what Jesus had said to him.
But, since Peter’s belief was only a natural response to what Jesus told him, he could not continue to walk on the water. If it had been a spiritual response then Peter would never have started to sink. It was only when he began to think how he was doing this by his natural senses he began to sink. It was because Peter was still only natural he was not equipped to respond to Jesus’ instructions spiritually.
It is this spiritual path that Psalm119:105 is referring to. This is the path that is the light for every believer’s feet. It is when a man sees only with his natural eyes that he can not stay focused on Jesus and will sink. Because only those who walk by the faith that is the gift of God and not of works does a man come to know Jesus.
This shows us why even though Peter already had a covenant with God he still needed Jesus. In the covenant he already had with God Peter was only natural. The spirit birth was not available under the law. Paul says plainly in Gal.3:21 that “there was never a law given that could give life”. And if there had been then “surely righteousness would have come by the law”.
So like the rest of mankind Peter too needed deliverance from natural to spiritual. Because what his natural senses told him only allowed him to believe what he heard, saw, smelled, felt, or could taste with those natural senses. And since the storm was a sensory overload, as many of life’s trials can be, being only natural and not spiritual he was easily distracted from what Jesus had told him.
This is also why Paul tells us in 1Cor.2:14 that the natural man perceives not the things of the Spirit. Because the things of the Spirit can only be perceived by the spirit. So what Peter needed saving from is the same thing that all men, whether or not they had a covenant with God beforehand as the Hebrews did, need saving from.
All men need deliverance from the natural state they were conceived in to being spiritual. This is why Jesus had to come. From mortal to immortal. From temporal to eternal. By understanding this we will not be deceived by any doctrine that would lead us to believe that works have anything to do with salvation. And whether or not we will walk on the water of God’s word.
Something else we see is that even after Jesus rose from the grave, and gave power to a New Covenant that Peter had become a participant in, at times he is seen being wobbly about God’s spiritual instructions.
This happened in Peter’s case because as an Israelite he was raised under strict adherence to the law of works. The law of sin and death rather than the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. This is the problem Paul addresses in Rom.7 where he makes it abundantly clear that the Israelite can not be saved who is joined to both the law and to Christ.
For example, in Acts10:14 we see God telling Peter to eat what was placed before him. And Peter telling God “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean”. Only his natural senses as they related him to the law could make Peter respond to God in this way. And in Gal.2:11-16 we see where Paul withstood Peter to his face because he had joined with the circumcision group against Gentiles who were not circumcised. Another of Peter’s purely natural and lawful responses.
So like the sinking man he was when he needed Jesus to pull him from the water because he believed more in what his natural senses told him than what God’s word said. Here he was again and again wrestling with the spiritual things of God because of the carnal thinking of his natural mind that had been in subjection to the law his whole life. And at times because of this he got a little wobbly in fully trusting in what the Spirit was telling him.
This is why Peter wrote about Paul saying, “in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” Like those of us who may have at one time or another become a little wobbly, he knew it from personal experience.
It is the same for all those whose trust becomes wobbly by focusing more on what their natural senses tell them than what God’s word says. For those Israelites and judaized Gentiles whose experience under the law guides their natural mind. It is so easy for them to be joined to a system that focuses on works instead of grace because that’s what man’s God given natural senses are geared toward. Works instead of faith.
It becomes a real problem for those who claim to be christian when they refuse to live in the spirit to such a degree that they even go so far as to interpret James’ letter to be saying that the way the Christian shows they are saved is by the works they do.
But, is this what God asks of His children? No. Even Jesus told them in John6:29 when they asked Jesus what works they must do to do the works of God, “This is the work of God. That you believe in the one whom He has sent”. And after Jesus rose from the dead to take away the law for Israel so that no man remains under the law, Hebrews11:6 tells us that it is faith, and not works, that pleases God.
So if we really want to please God we do so by simply believing Him as Jesus did. And isn’t this what the scripture says made Abraham “a friend of God”? Doesn’t Paul say that it was because Abraham believed God he was reckoned to be righteous? Yes indeed. This is exactly what the Bible says.
So if we truly want to be pleasing to God we must never think in terms of works like the world or the legalist does. We must begin to think as the spirit has taught us. That it is faith that pleases God. It is faith that joins us to God. It is faith that makes us God’s children and therefore heirs to God’s spiritual and eternal kingdom. And not just any kind of faith. But, the faith of Christ which says, not my will but thy will be done.
We must not be bewitched as the foolish Galatians Paul wrote to in Gal.3. Asking them “Having begun in the spirit are you now made perfect by the flesh?” We must take to heart the simple message in this spiritual song to help us to never be distracted from God by what our natural senses are saying.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
Would you like to be an heir to God’s kingdom? Then we must get off of the world’s works treadmill and onto faith which His God’s lighted path. We must stop thinking that works have anything to do with our salvation. Not because you can not do the good works and keep the law perfectly. That’s never been the problem for men. It’s that some have mistakenly believed that being good enough for God is a matter of their works or someone else’s. But, it’s not a matter of works, it’s a matter of faith. It’s a matter of faith that trusts in Jesus as He trusted in the Father saying not my will but thy will be done. Because only this faith is the justifification unto eternal life.
If you would like to get off of the world’s works treadmill and onto God’s lighted path. If you would like to be able to walk on the water of the word more lastingly than Peter did while he kept his eyes on Jesus. Then please pray with me now.
Dear Jesus, thank you for showing me that eternal life comes by believing in you as you believed in the Father. Thank you for joining with me in death. So that I can join with you in eternal life because of your resurrection. I trust in you now as my Lord. And I believe you have raised from the dead. Make me a child of the living God. And heir to your kingdom. And help me to always walk on your word as it lights the path you have for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you preyed with me then praise God! Now begin to read the Bible and believe what it says. As you do this the Holy Spirit will lead and guide you in all the truth. God bless you in your new life in Christ.
See you there or in the air!
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