This is a Bible study on Mark 14:27-31, Mark 14:66-72.

7 pages.

Mark 14:27-31, Mark 14:66-72 - How to Successfully Combat Temptation

Read Mark 14:27-31 and Mark 14:66-72.


Ann attended a Tuesday night Bible study. One evening a visitor came to the study. He was strikingly handsome, unmarried, and gave evidence of a real commitment to Christ. During the refreshment time following the study, Ann made his acquaintance and felt herself attracted to him. In subsequent weeks a friendship developed. They began to see each other not only at the Bible study, but also on other occasions; they would meet together for coffee or even for lunch. A promising romance was developing. But there was just one problem. Ann was married.

She knew this developing relationship was wrong. She felt guilty about it. But she found herself irresistibly drawn into this exciting romance. She found herself helpless, until she prayed. She confessed to the Lord the wrongness of this relationship and she turned it over to the Holy Spirit, surrendering herself unto Him.

From that point on the Lord began to graciously draw Ann out of this dangerous “friendship.” Her whole perspective and attitude began to change. Her romantic affections and aspirations for this handsome stranger eventually withered and died, being replaced by a wholesome recognition of him as a Christian brother and by a sober realization of what their relationship should be before God and man. The Holy Spirit overcame her natural desires and delivered her from a potentially devastating sin.

How do you as a Christian combat temptation? Do you do what Ann did? Or do you imitate Peter?

In Mark 14:27 Jesus announces that before the night is over, all of His disciples will forsake Him. But Peter adamantly denies that such will be the case with him. He concedes that all the others may forsake their Lord, but such will not be true of him!

The attitude we see exemplified in Peter is that of self-confidence. Peter was sincere; he meant every word that he spoke. But he made two very common and vital mistakes. First, he overestimated his own ability to stand for Christ in the hour of trial. Second, he underestimated the awful powers aligned against him in the hour of trial.

Like Peter, we tend to rely upon ourselves when confronted with temptation, and this inevitably results in failure. Because of the assorted pressures brought to bear against us in the hour of trial or temptation, we must trust in Christ and rely upon Him if we are to successfully combat temptation.

Trust in Christ to Successfully Combat Temptation, because of the Natural Pressures Brought to Bear against You🔗

When the mob came out to seize Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, it at first appeared as if Peter would make good on his promise of allegiance even unto death. Simon Peter is the disciple who drew his sword and struck off the ear of the high priest’s servant (Jn. 18:10). Peter stood ready to defend his Lord and rout His enemies.

But upon closer inspection of the passage, we find that the real hour of trial had not yet begun. It was the power of Jesus that paralyzed the enemy and left them as dead men:

Knowing all that was about to happen to him, Jesus went forward, and said to them, Whom do you seek? 5They answered, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said to them, I am he. Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, was also standing with them. 6When he said to them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Jn. 18:4-6

It was the courageous stand of the disciples that stimulated Peter’s courage: “And when those who were around him saw what was about to happen, they said, ‘Lord, shall we strike with our swords?’” (Lk. 22:49) But now Jesus commands Peter to put away his sword, Jesus restores the wounded man’s ear, and then allows His enemies to seize Him and lead Him away as their captive. Now the hour of trial “officially” begins.

Jesus has chosen not to immediately dispatch of His enemies; on the contrary, listen to His words addressed to His enemies as recorded in Luke 22:53, “When I was with you daily in the temple courts, you did not lay your hands on me; but this is your hour, and that of the power of darkness.Now all the disciples forsake Christ and flee for their lives. Now what will Peter do?

The words of 2 Chronicles 32:31 may well be applied to Peter in this particular setting: “God left him to test him.” These words were originally describing the case of the Old Testament king, Hezekiah.

Now how well will Peter maintain his allegiance and fulfill his promise?

Peter followed at a distance as Jesus was being led away to stand trial before the Sanhedrin (Mk. 14:54). He sat in the midst of the temple guard to see the outcome of the mock trial to which the Lord Jesus was subjected (Matt. 26:58). But when several little maids identify Peter as a disciple of Jesus, what does Peter do? Matthew 26:69-71 records his reaction and response:

69Now Peter was sitting in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. 'You also were with Jesus of Galilee,' she said. 70But he denied it before them all. 'I do not know what you are talking about,' he said. 71Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, 'This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.'

Twice Peter has been identified as one of Jesus’ disciples, and twice he denies any affiliation with Jesus, the second time doing so with an oath: “Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, ‘This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ 72He denied it again, with an oath, ‘I do not know the man’” (Matt. 26:71-72).

Apparently unable to escape, Peter soon finds himself surrounded by his accusers. Now, invoking a curse upon himself, he swears that he does not know “the man;” fearful to even refer to Jesus by name:

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, 'Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.' 74Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, 'I do not know the man.' Matt. 26:73-74

What happened? What caused Peter’s confident promise of allegiance to be changed into a cowardly denial of his Lord?

First, there was a change of circumstances: It is one thing to confidently affirm allegiance to Christ in the quiet of the upper room, (or in church); it is quite another matter to do so in the very courtyard of the high priest, (or on the job or at school).

Second, there was a change of company: Peter is no longer surrounded by the band of disciples standing behind Jesus in solidarity; now he finds himself in the company of Jesus’ enemies and he is in their territory.

Third, there is a change of spiritual climate: Peter is no longer witnessing the power of Jesus (see John 18:4-6 referred to above); now he is experiencing the power of darkness (see Luke 22:53 referred to above).

We must trust in Christ if we are to successfully combat temptation, because of the natural pressures brought to bear against us.

Trust in Christ to Successfully Combat Temptation, because of the Demonic Pressures Brought to Bear against You🔗

Peter is being given over to a period of testing and trial at the hands of the devil, just as Jesus had forewarned him:

Simon, Simon, Satan asked to have you so that he might sift you like wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, so that your faith may not fail. And when you have come back, strengthen your brothers. 33But he replied, Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death. 34Jesus answered, I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me. Lk. 22:31-34

Jesus here speaks of a diabolical intercession: “Satan asked to have you so that he might sift you like wheat.” Furthermore, it is an intercession that is granted by God: the LORD does allow Satan to test Peter and sift him like wheat. The same thing happened with Job. When Satan requested that Job’s devotion to God be tested, the LORD replied to him, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands” (Job 1:12). When Satan came back a second time, the LORD again granted permission for him to subject Job to even more severe testing: “The LORD said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, he is in your hands’” (Job 2:6).

It may appear strange to us that God would grant the devil’s request and actually allow His children to be subjected to the awful testing imposed by the devil. But we must bear in mind that this was the very testing to which God permitted His own Son to be subjected: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt. 4:1).

Even as God permitted His own Son, His beloved Son with whom He was well-pleased (Matt. 3:17), to be subjected to the vicious assaults of the devil, so does He permit those who belong to His Son to be similarly tested. This is a very real part of what it means when the Apostle Paul speaks of partaking in “the fellowship of [Christ’s] sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). But we may take confidence in the assurance offered in Hebrews 2:18, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

The Christian’s life in this world is not an easy, carefree existence; it is not a guaranteed immunity from the trials and temptations imposed by the devil. Those who hold to such an erroneous view either come to quickly abandon it, or they quickly abandon their allegiance to Christ, as our Lord indicates in His parable of the Four Seeds:

Others are like seed sown on rocky ground: when they have heard the word, they immediately receive it with joy; 17but they have no root in themselves. They endure for a while; but then, when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, they immediately fall away. Mk. 4:16-17

The true Christian’s life involves identification with Christ and exposure in some measure to all that He experienced and suffered: ”The [Holy] Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God; 17and if we are children, then we also are heirs; heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ, if we suffer with him, so that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:16-17). The Apostle Peter explains to Christians experiencing a great measure of such trials the reason for them:

Beloved, do not be surprised by the fiery trials among you, (that have come for the purpose of testing you), as though a strange thing has happened to you. 13On the contrary, since you are participating in the sufferings of Christ, rejoice; so that at the revelation of his glory you may indeed rejoice with exultation. 1 Pet. 4:12-13

Returning to the passage of Luke 22:31-34, note, also, the diabolical purpose of this satanic intercession: “Satan asked to have you, so that he might sift you like wheat.” The desire of the devil is to try his hardest to make you as a Christian deny your Lord; his determination is to demonstrate that we are not wheat, but chaff. His purpose is to convince God that we do not really love Him, but are only interested in the benefits we can receive from Him. This was the very accusation the devil brought against Job, and he tried his best to justify that accusation. The devil’s accusation in Job 1:9­-11 is that Job serves the LORD only because the LORD has filled his house with good things:

Does Job fear God for no good reason? Satan replied. 10Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.

Then the devil’s accusation in Job 2:4-5 is that Job serves God because God gives Job good health and makes life comfortable for him:

Skin for skin! Satan replied. A man will give all he has for his own life. 5But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.

This is basically the same type of trial/temptation to which the devil subjected the Lord Jesus when He encountered the devil in the wilderness: it was an attempt to show that Jesus’ devotion to His Father was not genuine. But thanks be to God that our Lord Jesus demonstrated that His devotion to God His Father is genuine!

Following our Lord’s submission to baptism, His Father announced to the world, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). Immediately thereafter, the devil was given the opportunity to challenge Christ’s allegiance to His Father and His willingness to submit to His Father’s will: the divine will that requires self-denial and trust in God. Thus we read: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt. 3:17). This is the kind of trial to which we as Christians are subjected every time we are tempted: the devil will seek to challenge our devotion to Christ; he will seek to cause us to deny or compromise that devotion, and demonstrate to God that we are chaff and not wheat.

Every Christian, no matter how genuine our profession of faith, no matter how zealous our commitment to Christ, will do exactly what Peter did in the hour of trial, if we make the same mistakes that Peter made. First, the mistake of overestimating his own ability to maintain his devotion to Christ; and second, the mistake of underestimating the forces being brought to bear against him.


Peter trusted in his own devotion to Christ, instead of taking to heart the word spoken to him by Christ, “Simon! Simon! Listen! Satan asked to have you!” Let us never lose sight of the truth presented to us in Ephesians 6:12, namely, the fact that we are engaged in spiritual warfare: “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Peter trusted in his own ability to stand up for Christ instead of trusting in Christ’s intercession: “Satan asked to have you, but I made supplication for you” (Lk. 22:31-32). Let us trust in our Savior’s intercession for us and not in our own ability to remain faithful. In His high priestly prayer, one of the requests our Lord Jesus makes of His heavenly Father is for the spiritual protection of those whom the Father has given Him: “My prayer is not that you would take them out of the world, but that you would keep them from the evil one” (Jn. 17:15). Our Lord’s request is that God His Father would keep us from the clutches of the devil and not allow us to be enslaved by him unto the eternal loss of our soul.

Peter trusted in his own human strength instead of relying upon the power of the Lord. Let us ever trust in our Savior and in the Holy Spirit for preservation, deliverance and victory in the hour of trial. May we ever bear in mind the one and only way of victory in spiritual warfare: “This is the word of the LORD: Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, declares the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).

Left to himself, Peter proved himself, indeed, to be “chaff” and not “wheat;” but the Lord Jesus Christ proved Himself to be faithful to Peter. Jesus foretold both Peter’s denial and his restoration: “I have prayed for you, Simon, so that your faith may not fail. And when you have come back, strengthen your brothers” (Lk. 22:32). Our Lord’s words to Peter, “when you have come back,” indicate both his denial of his Lord as well as his repentance and restoration. Note how the Lord, after His resurrection, especially sought Peter out and restored him. Luke records the testimony of the other disciples: “The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon” (Lk. 24:34).

The next time we find Peter facing trial and the temptation to deny his Lord and Savior, he is victorious, by the power of the Holy Spirit:

The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them, By what power or what name did you do this? 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, Rulers and elders of the people! 9If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10then know this, you and all the people of Israel: By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead, indeed, by him does this man stand here before you whole. Acts 4:5-10

When we have failed our Lord and been unfaithful to Him, let us remember that, because of His great faithfulness, there is restoration when we return to Him in repentance. And let us remember that there is victory when we trust in Christ our Lord: listening to His word, relying upon His intercession, and surrendering ourselves unto His Holy Spirit.

Discussion Questions🔗

  1. What does the Lord Jesus inform His disciples is about to happen to Him? See Mk. 14:27-28. What does this tell us about our Lord’s omniscience? What does this tell us about His commitment to doing His Father’s will and His love for His own? What does this tell us about His confidence in His heavenly Father? In light of all this, how should we as Christians regard our Lord and how should we respond to Him?

Jesus said to them, All of you will desert me, for it is written, I will strike the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered. 28However, after I have risen, I will go before you into Galilee. Mk. 14:27-28

  1. How does Peter respond to what the Lord has just said? See Mk. 14:29. How does he reply to the further information the Lord Jesus gives him (cf. Mk. 14:30)? See Mk. 14:31. Was Peter sincere? What mistake did he make; in whom was he trusting to maintain his commitment to Christ? What are we as Christians exhorted to do? See Prov. 3:5a; cp. Jn. 15:5,

But Peter said to him, Although all [the others] may desert you, I will not. 30Jesus said to him, I tell you the truth, today, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times. 31But he insisted vehemently, [Even] if I must die with you, I will not deny you. And all the others said the same... Mk. 14:29-31

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not upon your own understanding. Prov. 3:5

The Lord Jesus declares, I am the vine, you are the branches. The one who abides in me and I in him, he is the one who bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing. Jn. 15:5

  1. At first glance, does it appear that Peter will make good on his confident boast that he will never deny his Lord? Note Matt. 26:50-51 and Jn. 18:10. But whose presence and authority accounted for this boldness? Note Jn. 18:4-6. But what happens when the Lord Jesus permits His enemies to arrest Him? See Mk. 14:50. As Christians, to whom must we look and what promise must we claim as we anticipate trial/temptation and when we are in the midst of such? See Heb. 13:5b,

And Jesus said unto [Judas], Friend, why have you come? Then they came and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. 51But, behold, one of them that was with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and cut off his ear. Matt. 26:50-51

Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. Now the servant’s name was Malchus. Jn. 18:10

Jesus, knowing all that was about to happen to him, went forward and asked them, For whom are you looking? 5They replied, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said to them, I am he. Now Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6When he said to them, I am he, they went backward and fell to the ground. Jn. 18:4-6

Then they all forsook Him and fled. Mk. 14:50

He himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' Heb. 13:5b

  1. Why did the Lord Jesus allow Himself to be arrested, was He impotent before the powers of evil? See Jn. 10:17-18. Why, then, did He yield Himself to the fate that awaited Him? See Matt. 26:39/Jn. 6:38. How does He describe this hour? See Lk. 22:53. What did Peter fail to take into consideration; what must we never fail to take into consideration? See Eph. 6:12. But what, as Christians, is our confidence? See 1 Jn. 4:4,

The Father loves me because I lay down my life; [I lay it down] in order that I may take it again. 18No one takes it away from me, I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again. I received this commandment from my Father. Jn. 10:17­-18

[Jesus] went a little farther and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, 'O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.' Matt. 26:39

I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. Jn. 6:38

When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize me. But this is your hour, and [that of] the power of darkness. Lk. 22:53

...our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual hosts of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph. 6:12

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because he that is in you is greater than he that is in the world. 1 Jn. 4:4

  1. How does Peter react to the fact that he has betrayed the Lord? See Matt. 26:75. Following His resurrection, what does Jesus do? Note Lk. 24:33-34. What do we find Peter doing the next time he has encounter with the religious authorities? See Acts 4:5-8, 10, 12. What difference is there between this presence appearance before the Sanhedrin and his previous denial of his Lord? As Christians, what must we learn from this? Note Phil. 4:13; Zech. 4:6,

And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.' Then he went out and wept bitterly. Matt. 26:75

So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34saying, 'The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!' Lk. 24:33-34

5And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, 6as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, 'By what power or by what name have you done this?' 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:...10let 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... 12Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.Acts 4:5-8, 10, 12

I can do all things by him who strengthens me.Phil. 4:13

This is the word of the LORD... 'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.' Zech. 4:6

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