Giving Satan the Advantage
It is no wonder that Peter is tempted to forsake his master when he is following afar off. How can he do anything else but stumble and fall if he hides himself from the Sun of Righteousness, and is absent from the light of the world? How can he not fail and fall if he wanders out of the way of life, goes beyond the voice of the Word of Truth which alone can direct and lead and instruct in holiness and security?
He who testifies his faith by following and yet reveals his flesh and weakness by following afar off shall be sure to meet with such an enemy as hates his faith and takes advantage of his weakness. Our faith provokes him to enmity and our weakness invites him to assault. If Peter had remained in the company of Christ, Satan would not have dared to tempt him into a triple denial in the presence of such power. Or if Satan would have been so impudent, or so adventurous as to throw at Peter such temptations in the presence of his Maker, yet we know Peter would have been directed with more light, and assisted with greater strength to resist such an assault.
But Peter had left the company of his Maker! We know the devil never overcomes any who is not first overcome by self. What danger is there in fighting where there is no danger in falling? Or what difference is there between an unopposed security and an assaulted strength, except that the strength is more glorious and the security is more safe. He is not far from Satan’s temptations who is afar off from Christ’s presence and assistance. There is none nearer the fury of a strong and bloody malice, than a weak and struggling Christian.