Spiritual Development

Emotional Freedom Through the Life of Peter

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In preparing this post the past two weeks I have experienced wonderful times of study as the Lord showed me things about emotions and how they related to Him in ways I had never considered before.  I was overflowing with all kinds of thoughts and information to share with you, but as I went to put it all together I was struggling to grasp all that I had learned, wrap it up and tie a pretty little bow around it to give to you today.  Instead, I went to sleep two nights ago with the apostle Peter on my mind and this morning seeking God for direction in how to speak on emotional freedom.  Our God is faithful and He alone wrapped and tied the package together in a way that only He can do.  I pray that what follows ministers to your heart as much as it does mine and gives you hope in becoming emotionally free.

Emotions are the cry of the soul

Emotions reveal what we believe about God.

The disciple Simon Peter is probably most noted for his compulsive behavior.  Each account we read of Peter seems as though he can not control his emotions.  You might say, he wore his emotions on his sleeve.  However, if we look through the lens that Dr. Dan B. Allender & Dr. Tremper Longman III maintain in their book The Cry of the Soul: How Our Emotions Reveal Our Deepest Questions About God, we begin to see that Peter’s emotions were revealing what he truly believed about his Lord and Savior.  We do not have time to consider all of the accounts, but let us take a look at these three which occurred just hours before Christ’s crucifixion.

It was the last Passover the Lord would have with His disciples.  They had just completed the meal and Jesus rises from the table and begins to wash the feet of his disciples.  You can just picture Peter watching Jesus move around the room and then imagine what was going through Peter’s head?  Can you picture him formulating exactly what he was going to tell Christ and how he was NOT going to let Christ wash his feet?

“Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him.  He came to Simon Peter, who asked Him, “Lord, are You going to wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “What I’m doing you don’t understand now, but afterward you will know.”

“You will never wash my feet–ever!  Peter said.

Jesus replied, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.”

“One who has bathed,” Jesus told him, “doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean.” John 13:5-10

Mood-swingJust as quickly as Peter says don’t wash my feet, it is as if a switch goes off and he replies wash not only my feet but all of me.  Talk about mood swings!!  His emotions took the best of him.  He had such a love for Christ truly wanting to follow Him, and yet he did not fully understand what was going to be required.

Shortly after, Simon Peter and Jesus have another exchange.  Peter is going to attempt again to tell Christ what he is and is NOT going to do.

“Lord,” Simon Peter said to Him, “where are You going?”

Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you will follow later.”

“Lord,” Peter asked, “why can’t I follow You now?  I will lay down my life for You!”

Jesus replied, “Will you lay down your life for Me?  I assure You: A rooster will not crow until you have denied Me three times.”  John 13:36-38

anxiousnessNot fully knowing the complete plan Christ was about to fulfill left Peter in an emotional state of anxiousness instead of fully relying on the truth that Christ was trying to speak to him.  Peter was relying on his fleshly emotions instead of listening closely to Christ’s words and resting in them.

Finally, Peter is in the garden with Christ and the other disciples when the soldiers come to take Christ away.  Instead of speaking to Christ, this time, Peter physically expresses his emotions.

“Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. (The slave’s name was Malchus.)  At that, Jesus said to Peter, “Sheathe your sword!  Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given me?” John 18:10-11

Peter’s emotional response revealed the lack of trust he had in Christ’s handling of the situation.  Was Peter left in a hopeless state of compulsive behavior?  Not at all.

Emotional bondage is slain through the work of the cross.

restoredPeter’s love and true heart to follow Christ was made complete at the cross.  Prior to the cross, Peter’s compulsive tendencies could only be carried out through the flesh.  While he may have spoken out of turn and acted out of turn, Christ restores Him fully and Peter’s emotions begin to be sanctified.  Having denied Christ three times before His death, Christ restores the relationship on the shore following His resurrection.

“When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?  “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”  “Feed My lambs,” He told him.  A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”  “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”  “Shepherd My sheep,” He told him.  He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”  Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?”  He said, “Lord, You know everything!  You know that I love You.”  “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said.” John 21:15-17

Notice, that Peter was not immediately set free from his emotions.  His frustration at Christ for continuing to ask him if he loved Him, was just the beginning of Peter’s training in listening to Christ so that he could carry out God’s plan completely.  His emotional freedom had begun.

Emotional freedom begins and continues in the mind

Peter is a prominent figure in the early church.  As God takes Peter’s emotions and transforms them into His image, Peter is able to be used mightily for the glory of God.  Peter’s compulsive behavior is no longer seen.  Instead, it has been transformed into a bold witness for the gospel.  Peter has learned to listen to God and act out of the truth he hears from his Lord and Savior.

“But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20

“But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29

Peter had begun to truly listen to the words of God and to trust they were true.  His emotions began to be in line with the truth he was hearing.  Peter walked in the words Paul would later encourage the church to walk in:

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.” Romans 13:14

We too have a tendency to work ourselves into an emotional frenzy as Peter so often did.  However, we do not have to stay in that emotional state of sin.  We can fix our gaze upon Jesus, behold Him for who He truly says He is, slay the fleshly emotion at the cross, and walk in the spirit of emotional freedom.  Brian S. Borgman in his book, Feelings and Faith: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life, realizes the sanctification process is not a one-time fix.  Rather our emotions are transformed through the consistent time spent in God’s word and the renewing of our mind.  He states:

“Let me quickly say that there is no secret key, no prepackaged formula, and no seven easy steps.  There is nothing easy in what I am about to say.  But where there is a desire to change for God’s glory, and where there is truth relevant to the desired change, we are in the position to change.  We can begin to understand the truth, reject faulty thinking, and learn practical biblical application.  Under the Holy Spirit’s power, we can begin to develop new, godly habits while putting to death the old, ungodly ones.  When we stop believing the lies of the Devil—that certain aspects of our life will never change—when Scripture beings to infuse us with the hope, and when we start practicing the truth we believe, there is change.  Under the influence of the Word and Spirit, we really can begin to handle our emotions” (Borgman, 65)

I have struggled to put into writing a brief glimpse of what God is showing me.  So for the first time ever, I have recorded some of my thoughts on video.  Totally out of my comfort zone, but in light of breaking free emotionally, please join me here as I discuss further this issue of emotional freedom.

Worship Songs for Emotions:

I Need Thee Every Hour

This is Now

For Further Reading and Study:

How to Say No to a Stubborn Habit: Even When You Feel Like Saying Yes by Erwin W. Lutzer

Consisting of 13 chapters, each containing suggested application at the end of each one, this book is perfect for a small group to work through.

Feelings and Faith: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life by Brian S. Borgman

Bergman does an excellent job of tying scripture and the biblical basis for emotions together.  He uses sound theology and really explores how our emotions are part of our sanctification process.

The Cry of the Soul: How Our Emotions Reveal Our Deepest Questions About God by Dr. Dan B. Allender & Dr. Tremper Longman III

This is a wonderful book that takes the Psalms and works through how to deal with emotions.  The book is based on the premise that ALL of our emotions can reveal to us the character of God.  It is beneficial to us to take our emotions and place them on the cross to see more deeply the character of God.

Pilgrimage Of the Heart: Satisfy Your Longing for Adventure with God by Catherin Martin

From her website: “Do you want to find your home in God now while waiting to reach your grand destination – heaven? In Pilgrimage of the Heart, author Catherine Martin takes you on an eight-week daily journey through the Psalms – the prayers, desires, hymns, insights, and observations of some of God’s choice servants.”

Dying to Emotions

This was a guest post from my sister during the 31 Days series Dying to Live.


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2 thoughts on “Emotional Freedom Through the Life of Peter

  1. Thank you for this reminder that emotional freedom needs to come from God and His word! Christ has to work through us. We have to make choices moment by moment to walk in the freedom that has already been given to us as Christ followers.

  2. Good write. . Insightful. Being honest where we are at and then putting that in Jesus hands, listening to His direction and allowing the Holy Spirit Healing will bring freedom. Honesty but not needing to stay there is a big step.

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