“And there came a voice to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” (Acts 10:13-14 RSV).
Peter was certainly one of the closest disciples of Jesus Christ. He was undoubtedly the most zealous and outspoken one among the chosen twelve disciples who followed Jesus Christ everywhere during His earthly ministry.
When the Lord Jesus called Peter to follow Him; he promptly left all his fishing boat and nets to follow Jesus (Matt. 4:18-20).
Moreover, when the band of soldiers and the officers of the Jews came to arrest Jesus, it was Peter, among the disciples of Christ, who rose up to defend the Lord Jesus by drawing out his sword to strike and cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant (John 18:10).
Apparently, Peter’s love for Jesus was genuine and fervent. He was indeed willing to risk his life for Jesus’ sake.
On the day of Pentecost, having been filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly testified to the multitude who had gathered at the instance of the miraculous descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples in the upper room, saying, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36 NKJV).
As a result of Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, three thousand souls were saved, baptized and added to the Church.
After the miraculous healing of the lame man at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful by Peter, he was arrested alongside with John. When the rulers and elders of the Jews queried Peter, asking, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly replied, “Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.” (Acts 4:10 NKJV).
Even when Peter and John were sternly threatened, warned and commanded by the rulers and elders of Israel that they should never again speak nor teach in the name of Jesus, Peter with John sharply responded, saying, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20 NKJV).
Surprisingly, there came a time when Peter totally refused to obey a clear command and instruction of the Lord Jesus whom he loved dearly and had boldly declared and preached to the multitude as the Lord and Christ.
What could have come upon Peter?
What could have hardened Peter’s mind against his Lord?
It is indeed wisdom for us today to find out why Peter would not gladly want to obey the Lord Jesus for whose sake he had endured much persecution.
After raising Tabitha from the dead, Peter stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner. One day while Peter was praying on the housetop, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened, and something descending like a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” (Acts 10:13 RSV).
But Peter responded, “No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has cleansed, you must not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.” (Acts 10:13-16 RSV).
Peter certainly knew that it was the Lord Jesus who was saying to him in the trance, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” Nevertheless, he still bluntly refused to obey the Lord’s clear command and instruction.
Even though Peter was given the opportunity three times to repent and obey the Lord’s voice, yet his constant response to the Lord’s voice was, “No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
What a surprise!
Apparently, Peter’s blunt refusal to obey the Lord’s voice in the trance was as a result of his allegiance or adherence to the Mosaic law which forbids the Jews from eating any animal that is common or unclean (Lev. 11:4, 20:25).
Although Peter was rebuked in the trance for calling common or unclean what God has cleansed, yet he chose to cling to his former religious beliefs, rules and rites.
Peter’s unwillingness to stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made him free from the bondage of the law was the cause of his disobedience to the Lord three times on the same issue.
Even though the Lord Jesus had taught Peter that it is not what goes into a man’s mouth that defiles him but the things that proceed out of a man’s mouth, yet Peter chose to remain under the yoke of the law (Matt. 15:17-20, Gal. 5:1).
When it was the appointed time for God’s Kingdom to advance to the Gentiles, the Lord offered Peter a prominent role in the new move, but his allegiance to the Mosaic laws caused him to reject the Lord’s offer.
Similarly, many believers today are not walking in God’s purposes for their lives because of their allegiance or adherence to some religious laws, rules, rites or traditions.
As seen in the life of Peter, it is absolutely impossible to fully embrace the gospel of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ without renouncing your allegiance or adherence to religious laws, rules, rites or traditions that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The Mosaic Law teaches that eating an unclean or common animal defiles a man. On the contrary, the Lord Jesus teaches that, “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” (Matt. 15:11 NKJV).
Sadly, Peter chose to submit to the law rather than to walk in the liberty of the grace of the Lord Jesus.
Many born-again believers today, like Peter, are ignorantly yielding their necks under the yokes of religious rules and rituals and human traditions rather than walking in the liberty by which Jesus Christ has set them free from the Old Testament rules, rituals or sacrifices.
The Scripture admonishes, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1 NKJV).
All the Old Testament rules, offerings, rituals or ceremonies are merely a copy or shadow of the good things to come (Heb. 8:5, 9:9, 10:1). They are not the real things God intended for the New Testament believers. Jesus Christ is the substance or the reality!
The Scripture states: “For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ Himself is that reality.” (Col. 2:17 NLT).
Therefore, your adherence or allegiance to them is baseless, useless, or profitless. It is like someone chasing after the shadow; it is simply a waste of time, and effort.
It is faith alone in the grace of the Lord Jesus (the finished work of Jesus on the cross) alone that brings God’s salvation and blessings.
The Scripture clearly states that: “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom. 10:4 NKJV).
Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of all the Old Testament rules, rituals, or sacrifices. Therefore, the born-again believers are not expected to observe or adhere to any of the Old Testament rites.
Paul queries, “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations– “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using–according to the commandments and doctrines of men?” (Col. 2:20-22 NKJV).
Beloved, you have become dead to the law of sin and death through the body of Christ (Rom. 7:4, 8:2). Therefore, don’t put your neck under the yoke of the law or any religious rule or human tradition.
“But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” (Rom. 7:6 NKJV).
Rise up today to begin to walk in the full liberty of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, serving the Lord in the newness of the Spirit.
The Scripture admonishes, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Col. 2:16-17 NKJV).
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for setting me free from the law of sin and death through the body of Jesus. Today, I renounce my allegiance to every religious rule, ritual, or tradition that will hinder me from walking in the full liberty of the gospel of the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, in Jesus’ name. Amen.