Holy Spirit Power

The Power of the Holy Spirit Changed Peter’s Life

Jeff LeakeBy Jeff Leake17 Minutes

Excerpt taken from Gateway to a Supernatural Life: The Incredible Power of Holy Spirit Baptism by Jeff Leake.

The Power of the Holy Spirit Changed Peter’s Life

Consider Simon Peter, one of the disciples. He was part of the inner circle of Jesus’s discipleship group. There were twelve disciples, and Jesus spent the most time with three of them: Peter, James, and John. Peter’s life serves as a picture of what God wants to do in our lives. Consider the following points.

Peter Tried to Serve God in His Own Strength.

There’s probably no better moment that defines Simon Peter than the moment he promised Jesus undying loyalty. It was just after the Last Supper. Jesus had predicted that He would be betrayed and that everyone in the room would forsake Him at His moment of greatest need. Simon Peter spoke up with all the self-confidence he could muster: “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (Matthew 26:33 NIV). And again he pledged, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (verse 35 NIV).

When Simon Peter made these promises to Jesus, I believe he was being serious. He truly meant to follow through, but he had no idea how weak he actually was and how strong his desire for self-preservation would be. When the moment of truth came, Peter denied even knowing Jesus, not once but three times (See John 18:15–18, 25–27).

Peter Was Inconsistent in His Efforts, at Best.

This wasn’t the first time Simon Peter had demonstrated his good intentions and inconsistent results.

  • One minute he was walking on the water with Jesus; the next moment he was sinking in the waves, overwhelmed by fear (See Matthew 14:22–34).
  • One minute he was making the greatest confession ever (that Jesus is the Son of God); the next minute he was rebuking Jesus to His face for even considering the mission of dying on the cross. (See Matthew 16:13–28.)
  • One minute he was standing boldly in the garden of Gethsemane, sword in hand, attacking the men trying to arrest Jesus. The next minute, he was calling curses down on himself while he denied ever knowing Jesus (See Matthew 26:50–56, 69–75).

Don’t you just love this guy! I appreciate Simon Peter because I see so much of myself in him. He meant well. He even did well from time to time. But then his own sinful, selfish nature took over, and he couldn’t sustain the forward momentum in his life.

Eventually, Peter Failed Miserably and Despaired of Life.

The Bible tells us that when Simon Peter uttered his third denial, a rooster crowed. It was just as Jesus had predicted. “This very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times” (Matthew 26:34 NIV).

What a terrible moment! Can you see it? Peter insisted to the servant girl who inquired of his connection to Christ, “I swear to you, I don’t know the man!” Right at that moment, as the dawn was ready to break, the rooster cried out. Peter looked up, remembering what Jesus had predicted. He glanced over to where Jesus was on trial for His life. There, Peter’s eyes met the eyes of his friend and master. What deep sadness he must have seen in Jesus’s eyes. Luke 22:62 tells us that Simon Peter “went outside and wept bitterly.”

Have you been there? Face-to-face with your own failure? Overcome by the sorrow of your own selfish behavior? Despairing of life because you see the despicable nature of your own heart?

Simon Peter sobbed. You know the kind of emotional response where the tears flow from deep inside your being. Tears spilled from his eyes, ran down his face, and dripped off his nose. Deep sobs. Gut-wrenching groans. Uncontrollable tears. Everything seemed over. Nothing had meaning. He never, ever imagined that he would fail in this way. Not only had he failed his friend at this time of greatest need, but he had failed in front of the entire world. What humiliation … embarrassment … shame … and despair!

Unlike Judas, another disciple who had failed, Simon Peter decided to move on from this moment. Judas felt there was no hope for his life after he betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Judas believed he could never be forgiven, that he was beyond redemption; so he took his own life. Somehow, Peter pushed beyond his despair and kept moving forward.

Coming face-to-face with our own selfishness and sinfulness is life-altering, but it’s a necessary step for someone who is going to be used by God.

Fear and Disillusionment Stole Peter’s Confidence and Reduced His Vision for the Future.

Simon Peter didn’t take his own life like Judas did. But the gospel of John records Peter’s struggle with shame and despair:

  • He hid in fear — afraid that the Jewish religious leaders would kill him too (See John 20:19).
  • He decided to leave “ministry” and return to his known trade of fishing (See John 21:3).
  • His confidence was shaken. When the resurrected Jesus asked him, “Simon, do you love Me?” Peter could hardly muster an answer, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you” (John 21:16 NIV).

Can you imagine the great loss to the church if Simon Peter had remained lost in despair? Thankfully, he moved on, and Jesus forgave him. If you read John 21, you will find amazing grace and acceptance as Christ gave Peter a second chance. Jesus assured the disciple that his life still counted; that there was a purpose for his life and God still wanted to use him. However, it wasn’t until the day of Pentecost that Simon Peter truly stepped into new power and vision for his life.

Not Only Was Peter Restored from His Past—He Was Filled with God’s Overcoming Power.

The moment we read about in Luke 22:62 could have been the end for Simon Peter. The account of how he wept bitterly after his three denials of Jesus could have been the final word regarding his life. If he had remained overwhelmed by his shame, we would not have one more word to read about his life. He wouldn’t have been one of the pillars of the early church. He would have stayed stuck in the shame of his past.

But Simon Peter didn’t allow his failure to become final!

When Jesus rose, He made it His mission to forgive Simon Peter. Jesus pursued Peter and made sure the disciple knew that the past was in the past, and that the past didn’t limit the potential or purpose of his future. Peter was forgiven. Peter was restored. He didn’t have to live in shame. He had a future; he had hope.

But even that wasn’t enough!

God couldn’t have used Simon Peter like He did in Jerusalem (see Acts 2) if Peter hadn’t been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness was critical to Peter, but it wasn’t enough. He needed restoration, but that wasn’t enough. Simon Peter needed more. He needed to be infused with and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

When Peter Was Baptized in the Holy Spirit, His Life Radically Changed.

Acts 2 provides the record of Simon Peter’s transformation. He was in the upper room praying with the 120 when God poured out the Holy Spirit upon them all. Along with the others in the room, Peter heard the sound of a rushing wind and saw the huge flames of fire that came into the room and broke into 120 smaller flames that came to rest above the head of each person.

God’s Spirit so impacted these people that they all began to speak out loud in prayer. Peter was right there in the middle of it all as the Holy Spirit filled them to overflowing. The noise was so loud and the commotion so great that the people gathered in the streets outside the house were bewildered by what was going on.

About that time, “Peter stood up … and addressed the crowd” (Acts 2:14 NIV). Simon Peter, the disciple who had denied Jesus just a few weeks before, took the lead! This was the same guy who could hardly speak when Jesus asked, “Do you love Me?”—the same guy who had been hiding in a room, terrified that the religious leaders would arrest him.

There he was, standing boldly in front of several thousand people, declaring to them that Jesus was alive. Remember, this was the same city where Jesus had been crucified. Peter was speaking just a mile or two from the place where the crucifixion had occurred. He was preaching to some of the same people who had yelled, “Crucify Him!” when Jesus was on trial before Pilate. Simon Peter was risking his life by taking a stand at that moment.

But because he had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, he had the strength and courage to do what had not been possible for him to do before.

God Released Supernatural Power Through Peter’s Life.

Supernatural things started to happen for Peter and through Peter.

The book of Acts records how the Holy Spirit impacts the life of someone like Simon Peter. In fact, the official title of the book is The Acts of the Apostles, which we might rephrase as The Acts of the Holy Spirit — Through the Lives of the Apostles. Peter was baptized in the Holy Spirit, and this marked the beginning of the supernatural in his ministry.

  • He preached with great power, and 3,000 people were saved in one day (See Acts 2:14–41).
  • He prayed for a crippled man who was healed (See Acts 3:1–10).
  • He spoke boldly while on trial in front of the Sanhedrin, the same court that had so terrified him before (See Acts 4:1–22).
  • Mighty miracles happened as crowds brought their sick to him for prayer (See Acts 5:12–16).
  • He prayed for a crippled man who began to walk (See Acts 9:32–35).
  • He prayed for a dead woman, and she came back to life (See Acts 9:36–42).
  • He received a vision during prayer that changed the way the church leaders thought about the Gentiles who needed the gospel (See Acts 10:9–48).
  • God sent an angel to break him out of prison, where he was being held for preaching about the resurrected Jesus (See Acts 12:1–19).

Remember, this was the same guy who had denied Jesus and cowered in fear. On his own, he was inconsistent and ineffective. He was self-consumed and full of pride, but Jesus changed all that. Jesus forgave him and restored him. And when the Holy Spirit came upon Peter, he was transformed into a man who was bold, powerful, consistent, and filled with joy.

We simply can’t overestimate the value of Simon Peter’s experience with the Holy Spirit. He was never the same after he was baptized in the Holy Spirit. What he had before Acts 2 wasn’t enough! He needed more. He needed to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. God took him from ordinary and inconsistent, and transformed him into someone who stepped into supernatural miracles that affected the entire world.

This is the will of God for your life!

What you have today is not enough, but the power of the Holy Spirit is enough! God has called you to so much more. His plan for you is to do so much more than just survive another week. He wants to use you to do the supernatural. Yes, you! He wants the Holy Spirit to be manifested in and released through your life. What you have been doesn’t have to determine what you will be. Your past doesn’t define your potential.

But what you are in yourself just isn’t enough. You need more. You need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. He provides the power you need for your life, and that power is more than enough!

Excerpted from Gateway to a Supernatural Life: The Incredible Power of Holy Spirit Baptism, © 2022 by Jeff Leake, published by Whitaker House. Used with permission.