For the past few months, my pastor has been working through the Gospel of Mark in a series entitled The King and His Cross. This past Lord’s Day, we were in Mark 14. The message covered almost the entire chapter and what stood out to me most was a tiny, off-the-cuff comment my pastor made about Peter’s denial of Jesus.
He extrapolated that Peter, after his denial of Christ and subsequent restoration by Jesus, never heard the crow of the rooster the same way again. He surmised that every time Peter heard the accusatory crow of that barn animal, his bitter denial of Christ flashed to the forefront of his mind.
Now, this thought was made in passing and was by no means the main point of the sermon (or the passage, for that matter), but it got me thinking. What rooster crows are there in my life? What triggers do I have that remind me of past sin? What outside stimuli do I encounter that conjure up past failures? And furthermore, what is my response when I am overwhelmed by the guilt they make me feel? How do I handle past failures? And how do I try to handle them rightly? We are going to examine that today.
I think we all have rooster crows in our lives. All of us have sinned in myriad ways and there are some of us that have dabbled more heavily in sin than others… especially those who were not saved until much later in life. So we all, from time to time, are reminded of the more shameful moments in our past. Moments when we did not walk in a way that was “worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27, ESV)
Maybe a particular song comes on the radio that recalls a failure from high school. Maybe a remark made by a friend conjures up mistakes you made in other relationships. Or maybe it is only a flash of memory in your brain, brought on by nothing more than your sensitive conscience or Satan’s wiles. Whatever it may be, there are times the rooster crows in our heads and accuses us of our sin.
For me, the rooster tends to crow late at night when I cannot sleep. I rehearse past situations in which I handled things incorrectly. Sins I have committed against other people scroll through my brain in a condemning list. Ways I have not sanctified the Lord in my heart shout at me and I hear the voice of the Accuser demand that I pay for my wrongdoing.
Have you ever been there? Helpless, alone, guilty, and with no way of defending yourself because the accusations are true? The rooster crows and it crows rightly. What is your response?
Oftentimes, my response is to wallow. I allow the train of condemning thoughts to roll through my imagination and sometimes I even try to stop it with more sin. How foolish! Yet I dig my own wells and try to find relief in other places. Maybe you respond in a similar fashion and try to drown the cry of the rooster with things of the world.
But Christian, this is not the way God wants us to handle the crow of the rooster. This is not the proper way we deal with the Accuser’s claims. Handling the guilt of past sin in this way is playing right into the hands of the Accuser himself.
Today, I want to give you three ways you can properly deal with the rooster when he makes his accusatory crow.
Agree with him
Most of the time, when the rooster crows, he isn’t crowing for no reason. Maybe he’s crowing about a sin you committed earlier that day, or maybe he’s crowing because of something that happened years ago, but the fact of the matter is this: you sinned and you (rightly) feel guilty because of it.
But if that sin has been properly dealt with —and by that I mean if you have repented and confessed to the Lord and made things right with any offended parties— you have no reason to feel guilty about it anymore. Before He died for us, Christ knew of every sin we would ever commit, so “much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10, ESV)
So go ahead and agree with the Accuser that you sinned, but respond with the fact that your sin is paid for and you no longer owe the debt you racked up because of it!
Cry Out to God
When you are reminded of your sin and God’s holiness, you’re in the right place. Whether it’s a sensitive conscience that’s making the rooster crow, the wiles of Satan, or sometimes even the Holy Spirit Himself who is pricking your heart – you’re right where God wants you to be. He wants you to see your sin for what it is and His holiness for what it is. So cry out with Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24, ESV)
Run to the Cross
This is the most important thing to do when the rooster crows. You have agreed that you have sinned, you have cried out for deliverance from God, now run to the place where God dealt with your sin and cling to it for forgiveness. Claim the truth of 1 John 1:9, which says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, ESV). How is he faithful and just to do this? Because, “by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14, ESV)
Christ died for you and paid for those sins you’re feeling guilty about. If they’ve been dealt with properly, you have no reason to let the rooster crow incessantly. Allow the blood of Jesus to silence his cry and rest in the grace of your savior.