(Im)Perfect: The Denying Heart

When I was a senior in high school, like most high schools in the good ole U. S. of A., we had homecoming and prom royalty. Like most high school traditions, this is another one of those that is slightly antiquated and, honestly, serves no purpose other than making certain populations act a fool.

Do you know what I mean?

When the prom court was announced my senior year, I had the fortune (not sure whether it was good or bad) of being selected. 

As prom approached, I showed up for all the traditionally expected photo shoots, interviews, and what have you. Then, on the day of prom, I was at the salon with my boyfriend at the time getting my hair done. While I was on one side of the salon, he was on the other side with my stylist who also happened to be his aunt. I heard her ask him if he thought I was going to win Queen, and I heard him tell her no. 

I’m still not entirely sure how to process the emotion I felt when I heard this, but I know it felt something like betrayal and denial.

And the thing is, I didn’t really even care about this at all! This wasn’t a huge event in my life or something that mattered to me greatly, and still, those words stung. 

While these two details aren’t important to the story, I will let you in on them–I did win, and I dumped him a week later!

Still, though, I remember that feeling in the pit of my stomach when I heard his words. I remember the sting of betrayal and denial I felt at this seemingly unimportant event.

Since that time, I’ve had my fair share of betrayals and denials in my life, and each time that sting pierces my heart and my soul.

The Heart Before the Denial

I have always been drawn to Peter–one of Jesus’s original twelve disciples. I think it’s because of his absolute imperfection and humanity. Honestly, I think it’s also because I see so much of myself in Peter. 

One of my favorite stories of Peter is this one:

Jesus sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished, he said to Peter, “Now row out to deep water to cast your nets and you will have a great catch.”

“Master,” Peter replied, “we’ve just come back from fishing all night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you insist, we’ll go out again and let down our nets because of your word.”

When they pulled up their nets, they were shocked to see a huge catch of fish, and their nets were ready to burst! They waved to their business partners in the other boat for help. They ended up completely filling both boats with fish until they began to sink!

Luke 5:4-7 (TPT)

I love this story of Peter because I see so much of myself in it. Peter had spent the whole night fishing and catching nothing. When he came back to shore, Jesus told him to go back out to deep water and cast their nets out. Peter’s response is classic! He tells Jesus they’ve already been out there and caught nothing.

I can see myself saying the same thing!

It’s logic.

Peter sees no reason to go back out to the deep water because logic tells him there won’t be any fish this time either.

But, God.

So, Peter listened to Jesus and went back out to the deep water. Just like Jesus said, when Peter cast his net into the water, he caught so many fish, he had to get help to bring them all in because there were so many, his boat was literally sinking.

I just love the fact that Peter is trying to use logic with Jesus here, and Jesus does what he’s so good at–defies logic.

The Faith of the Denier

Another time Peter demonstrates his humanity is when Jesus calls him to walk on the water:

At about four o’clock in the morning,  Jesus came to them, walking on the waves! When the disciples saw him walking on top of the water, they were terrified and screamed, “A ghost!”

Then Jesus said, “Be brave and don’t be afraid. I am here!” 

Peter shouted out, “Lord, if it’s really you, then have me join you on the water!”

“Come and join me,”  Jesus replied.

So Peter stepped out onto the water and began to walk toward Jesus. But when he realized how high the waves were, he became frightened and started to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he cried out.

John 6:19-20 TPT

Peter and the other disciples see Jesus walking on the water and believe he’s a ghost. When Jesus speaks to them, they realize who he is. Immediately Jesus tells Peter to get out of the boat and join him on the water.

Peter did it.

He got out of the boat and walked on the water–just like Jesus asked him to do.

His humanity won out again, though.

As soon as his brain caught up with his heart, he started to think about the fact that the waves were high, and he freaked out and called out to Jesus to save him.

As long as Peter’s eyes and heart were on Christ, he was great. As soon as he took his eyes off Christ, he panicked and began drowning. 

That one hits a little too close to home too, doesn’t it?

The Worst Denial

It doesn’t stop there, though. We see Peter in the garden of Gethsemane with Jesus as he is getting arrested. Peter’s human response is to cut off the ear of the guard attempting to take Christ away. 

Oh, Peter.

But, then, just as Jesus had predicted during the last supper, Peter finds himself confronted three different times about his relationship with Jesus.

All three times, Peter’s humanity wins out, and he does, in fact, deny even knowing Christ each time.

I’ve thought often about what Peter must have been feeling when all of this was said and done. 

Peter had already been told that he would deny Christ three times that night, and Peter was adamant that he would not. Like we’ve seen Peter behave in the past, though, his humanity was so strong that he caved to it. 

I have to wonder what he must have been feeling, knowing he had denied Christ three times, while he watched the crucifixion.

What must it have been like for him on Saturday, the Sabbath, as he sat with the other disciples–alone, depressed, and grieving?

Then, what emotions must he have been feeling when he saw Jesus on Sunday after the resurrection?

Even after his denials, Peter was still one of the first disciples Jesus appeared to after his resurrection. In Luke 24:34, we find out that before he appeared to the rest of the disciples, he revealed himself to Peter.

I can only imagine how that conversation went, the tears, the embraces, the forgiveness.

Our Denying Hearts

It’s so easy for me to sit here and think I’m not as bad as Peter simply because I don’t deny Christ with my mouth, and I certainly have never denied him three times in one night. 

That is some faulty logic.

It would be easy for me too, to sit here and cast judgment on the people–both in my circle and outside of my circle–who have denied Christ with their mouths, lives, hearts, and actions.

If I’m being honest, though, I have to admit and accept the fact that I’m no different than Peter.

We’re no different than Peter.

We still deny Christ–we just tend to deny him differently. We deny him when:

  • We gossip for hours with our friends
  • We give in to that addiction again and again
  • We trash our exes and our enemies
  • We hate people
  • We let our judgment get in the way of our love
  • We lie and cheat to get ahead

Our denials may not be literally saying we don’t know Christ, but our actions and our words scream the same message.

Redemption for the Denying Heart

Peter’s story didn’t end on the night of his denials.

Thank God.

Jesus chased Peter down after the resurrection, and while their conversation isn’t recorded, I can only imagine what that scene looked like. 

How beautiful must that scene of forgiveness have been?

After Christ’s ascension, Peter’s story continued.

  • Peter was the rock on whom Christ built his church.
  • Jesus gave Peter the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • Peter makes a confession of his love for Christ three times after the resurrection and before the ascension.
  • Peter becomes the leader of the disciples.
  • Peter heals.
  • Peter travels around, telling everyone he meets about Jesus.
  • Peter understands the gospel is for everyone.
  • Peter is imprisoned because of his ministry.
  • Peter is crucified upside down because of his ministry.

Peter knew Christ, walked with Christ, ministered with Christ, loved Christ, and was friends with Christ. He still denied Christ.

Does that sound familiar?

Just like Eve walked with God in the garden and still sinned, Peter walked with Christ and still sinned.

There is no one righteous, no not one.

And, just like Eve, Peter’s legacy does not end with his sin.

Despite his failures, his humanity winning out over and over again, God still chose Peter, Christ still chose Peter, to be the rock upon which He built his church.

He wasn’t disqualified for service or ministry because of his denying heart.

And, you aren’t either.

And, they aren’t either.

We have to remember that.

God uses imperfect people with complicated lives, ugly pasts, and lofty failures to further his kingdom.

Today, that might be the person sitting next to you in church or down the road in the homeless shelter.

Tomorrow, that might be you.

If you are struggling with a denying heart today or you’re sitting next to someone struggling with a denying heart, I pray that you find grace for yourself and give grace to someone else today and that you remember there is always hope for tomorrow.


  1. In what ways has your heart denied Christ recently?
  2. What are some applicable steps you need to take to keep yourself from continuing to deny Christ?
  3. What is God whispering to you today about what He wants for you and your legacy?

5 thoughts on “(Im)Perfect: The Denying Heart

Add yours

  1. The story of Peter stepping out of the boat is one of my favourite Bible stories! I love that God chose Peter as the foundation of his church despite his doubts and human failings. I think it’s a lovely picture of grace.


  2. I loved how you shared Peter’s story here. I also love how his story ends. “God uses imperfect people with complicated lives, ugly pasts, and lofty failures to further his kingdom.” Thanks for sharing this in depth article with us.


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