Skip to main content

Genuine Affection Doesn't Sanctify Sin

This past Lord's Day, I preached on Mark 8:27-38 (here's the link, if you're interested). While I had a general understanding of the text, I didn't grasp some finer nuances of meaning that our English translations don't always bring to light. In particular, I learned that Peter's rebuke of Christ was not harsh or aggressive, but gentle and friendly. Here are some commentators on the verse in question (v. 32b), as well its parallel in Matt 16:22 (I've italicized the key words).

Gill's Commentary -

... [Peter] takes Christ aside, and very warmly expostulates with him about what he had said, and chides him for it, and entreats him that he would not think, or talk of such like things (Mark 8:32) 

Pulpit Commentary -

Either taking him aside, or taking him by the hand or dress - a reverent familiarity permitted by the Lord to his loving apostle. (Matt 16:22)

 Geneva Study Bible -

Took him by the hand and led him aside, as they used to do, which meant to talk familiarly with one. (Matt 16:22)

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges -

...took Him aside (and so Tyndale and Cranmer render it), by the hand or by the robe, and began earnestly and lovingly to remonstrate with Him. (Mark 8:32)

What I had misunderstood for years now was the affective disposition with which Peter had addressed the Lord Jesus. Given his arrogance in daring to correct God the Son, I had assumed that this meant Peter was correspondingly aggressive and harsh in his approach. However, that just isn't the case. Peter's disposition was warm, kind, gentle - and that is a powerful lesson to be learned.

Genuine Affection Does Not Sanctify Sin

You see, Peter's Satanic thinking and behavior  was clothed in kindness, gentleness, and amicableness. This truth flies in the face of today's accepted worldly wisdom, which is also sadly embraced by many who call themselves Reformed, namely the false wisdom that equates warm speech with righteousness, and harsh speech with unrighteousness. The belief that friendly speech is inherently good, whereas harsh speech is inherently wrong, is flatly contradicted by Peter and Christ. 

Peter's warm speech is demonic, but Christ's harsh speech is entirely holy. Peter's kind speech is an invitation for the Son of God himself to break the law of God, but Christ's harsh speech is a call to Peter to repent of his (Peter's) wickedness. Peter's amicable tone delivers a denial of the Gospel, but the Lord Jesus' harsh tone delivers a message that reaffirms his previous declaration of the Gospel.

How completely contrary to our world of trigger words and safe spaces this is! Our present situation is one in which aesthetics trumps truth, where the way in which one says something is more significant than the substance of what one is saying. And yet the Scriptures do not present that as reality. According to Scripture, one could utter beautifully formed words and flawlessly constructed speeches, and yet have these serve as aesthetically pleasing conduits through which Satanic thinking is poured into the ears of God's people. Contrariwise, one could utter poorly expressed words and  sloppily constructed speeches, and yet have these serve as aesthetically displeasing conduits through which the truth of God's Word is poured into the ears and hearts of God's people.

While we must tame our tongues (cf. James 3:1-12), we also must not allow ourselves to think like the world when it comes to this matter. We must not allow ourselves to be guilt tripped by the world for speaking the truth in a way that is aesthetically displeasing to God's enemies. Christ called his own disciple Satan, and was not guilty of sin. Moreover, Christ's apostles did not shy away from speaking harshly to those who opposed Christ and his people (cf. Phil 3:2, Titus 1:12-13, 2 Pet 2:1-14, Rev 22:15), and their words were divinely inspired and, therefore, without sin.

Sounding nice, and being warm in one's presentation of a Satanic, sinful notion does not sanctify one's sin. Wicked ideas are not made holy because they are expressed by hushed voices and flowery verbiage.