The Peter Syndrome: From Shifting Sand to Solid Rock


(Excerpts taken from my soon to be published book entitled: ‘The Peter Syndrome: From Shifting Sand to Solid Rock’.)



More and more manifestations of the glory of God are being reported as the end of this age draws closer. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is being received by literally millions of people on all continents in an unprecedented way. The twentieth century saw the former and latter rain beginning to fall together in a season of great harvest. Reports of signs and wonders from the four corners of the world indicate that God is moving mightily on the hearts of His people. There is acceleration in the tempo of events worldwide, and it is as if you can’t keep up with the flow. God is doing more than we expected and more quickly too.


He is on the move and increasingly there is a need for His people to walk in the spirit of discernment. Where God moves, so does the enemy in counterfeit. So the plumb line of God’s word is being proclaimed more boldly from pulpits across the nations to ensure that we are not drawn aside into the false. The church is learning to discern more accurately between the true and the false.


The ‘Peter Syndrome’ equips believers to walk in the spirit of true discernment. The Apostle Peter’s walk with the Lord provides us with practical insight into discernment. Simon Peter’s pathway to maturity shows us how to move from our own ‘shifting sand’ of uncertainty, to the ‘solid rock’ of God’s revelation.

 It is any Christian leader’s responsibility to walk in discernment for themselves, and also to teach their people the same skills.

The Peter Syndrome 

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on  earth will be loosed in heaven…”From that time Jesus began to show to his disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the leaders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”Matthew 16:13-19, 21-23  

Jesus asked His disciples the question: ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man am?’ Peter spoke up after the others had their turn in answering Jesus. His Holy Spirit inspired answer prompted Jesus to bless Peter in front of the others. The revelation was heaven sent.

Jesus then makes the powerful statement that the church will be built, not on Peter himself, but on the ‘rock’ of revelation knowledge that He, Jesus, is the Christ – God’s ‘anointed one.’ It is on this revelation that the church stands or falls. Peter received the revelation first.

Jesus then commands the disciples not to tell anyone, probably wanting to avoid any premature excitement amongst the Jews and even His followers. Peter is standing by, basking in the light of his revelation and probably itching to tell everyone what he got from God. Jesus then begins to talk about His need to go to Jerusalem and be crucified. The anointing was going to bring Him into opposition with the authorities and result in His death!


Peter takes it upon himself to pull Jesus aside and rebuke Him! He totally misunderstands Jesus’ mission at this time and his presumption earns him the sharp rebuke he got from the Lord: ‘Get behind me Satan.’

Peter’s new ‘revelation’ now comes from Satan whose interests are not God’s but his own, and Peter does not even know the difference! His limited understanding and discernment was rooted in his temporal and carnal expectations and hopes. Like any self respecting Jew, Peter was looking for the Messiah who was to conquer the hated enemies of Israel: the Romans. He had now found the Messiah and he was in on the great deliverance campaign right at the start! So he was shocked to hear Jesus’ rebuke at his perfectly reasonable advice – so he thought.

This first incident illustrates the ‘Peter Syndrome.’ One minute on the ball, the next off the wall! One minute he heard from the Lord, the next from Satan! What bewilderment he must have felt. The surprise on Peter’s face as the stinging rebuke came from Jesus, must have only outdone those of the rest of the disciples. They too, must have been shocked by the rebuke.


Today, many believers’ experience a roller-coaster type ride in their spiritual life. They find themselves in the spirit one moment and then totally in the flesh the next. The Lord wants His people to walk consistently in the Spirit. God wants to move His church on in its journey towards spiritual stability and maturity. His voice must be heard with clarity in these end times because so many voices are speaking lies contrary to the truth. To hear God speak clearly into our circumstances is not an option but vital if we are walk in victory.

Definition of Syndrome


A set of concurrent things (emotions, actions, reactions) that form an identifiable pattern and characterize a particular abnormality.


The Warning 

Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons… 1 Timothy 4:1

The Spirit of God has spoken a clear warning: there will be those who depart from the faith in the latter times. Having started well they will end up departing from the faith. Deceiving spirits and false doctrine will lead the unsuspecting astray.


Discernment in this environment becomes absolutely vital in the defense against deception. Jesus instructed the disciples that the key to avoiding temptation was to ‘watch and pray.’ (Matthew 26:41)

Being alert and watchful is necessary for guarding the treasure of faith. Christians cannot afford to be ignorant of the enemy’s strategy. The hidden works of darkness have to be recognized for just what they are. They are hidden from view and have to be discerned! The ‘eye’ has to be trained in discernment.

This book is intended to help equip believers to recognize the importance of walking in discernment in a perilous spiritual climate. What makes the times so perilous is that Satan is more sophisticated when dealing with those in the faith. He resorts to twisting and perverting the truth by introducing small amounts of leaven to the whole lump of revelation. In time the small error he introduces, grows to have a large effect. He silently and secretly works amongst believers by subtly introducing the false which always appears real. Being solidly grounded in apostolic doctrine and practice provides the believer with a measuring rod against which false doctrine and practice may be accurately judged.


Discernment is needed to tell the difference between:

Live and dead works

Profane and holy

Spirit and flesh


True and false worship


Genuine and counterfeit miracles.

If the difference were obvious there would be no need for discernment. Things are not always as they seem on the surface. It takes the Spirit of God to cut through the externals and get to the real substance of a matter. Fortunately God has provided for the Christian’s every need through His precious promises and so what remains is for the child of God to discover and walk in this provision through His word.

Discernment Defined 

To discern means to ‘perceive by sight’ or some other sense. It involves being able to ‘recognize as different’ or to ‘discriminate or distinguish.’ It implies an ability to recognize the essential elements of a situation and accurately observe differences.


In the church world today things are not always clear at first and it takes a discerning eye to ‘see through’ the smokescreen of deceit in much religious practice today. The enemy is full of guile or craftiness and practices deceit or the ‘art of concealment.’ He camouflages his true intentions we need to have discernment operating in his life to survive and prosper in a wicked and perverse generation.


Satan is the master tactician of misinformation. Our decision making process must therefore be founded on discernment. Our ability to discern is based on our ‘word level.’

We are instructed to examine and investigate all things. The truth must be separated out from a web of untruth: the precious from the vile. Notice that the precious must be separated from the vile, not the vile from the precious! There is a difference in focus. As Christians we are to focus on the good and not spend so much time focusing on the vile.


Discernment involves God’s supernatural insight and is not based purely on a study of background, circumstances and external evidence alone. Of course the senses can be trained to discern according to Heb 5:14, but this level of discernment is not the same as the supernatural gift. The gift of discerning of spirits recorded in 1 Cor 12:10 is divinely given and constitutes one level of discernment available to the believer.

Another level of discernment involves the prophetic office where God empowers and gifts His prophets to ‘see’ into His prophetic purposes in a supernatural way. This ability to see is supernatural and not achieved through human effort or study for example. The prophet is able to discern things by means of the Spirit of God.

This does not mean that the Christian having the Spirit of God resident in him will not be able to read the signs of the times and recognize things God is doing prophetically. The scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit will show us things to come, but this does not make everyone who ‘sees’ something prophetically is now a prophet. However when a prophet does speak to the body of Christ and the prophet is received, his reward is also received. The reward is that those who hear his message will ‘see’ things the way the prophet sees them. The body is thus equipped according to the purpose of the 5-fold gifting listed in Eph 4:11-12. The ‘eyes’ of the body, the prophets are conveying information to the body as a whole in much the same way as the eye of the natural human body conveys information to the body via the brain.


Every believer therefore fits somewhere in the spectrum of discernment:

General level of discernment applicable to anyone who has the Holy Spirit within.

Specific and supernatural gifting of the discerning of spirits.


The prophetic office where special prophetic revelation is given to help discern current and future situations.

All of the above levels are subject to the written word of God as the final standard. All revelation and discernment must be ‘filtered’ through the general framework of God’s word. God and His Word are one and He will not reveal anything to someone that contradicts that which He has already revealed in His word.

Condition of the Church 

…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things… Ephesians 4:14-15

The overall condition of the church may be likened to that of a child that has not yet grown up into full maturity. Of course there are individuals and pockets of the Church that are mature in the Lord and not subject to being tossed to and fro. The future and hope is that we will be presented to the Lord as the glorious church and fulfill our destiny. The Holy Spirit is not finished with us yet!


However, at present much of the church is:


Unstable and gullible

Able to handle only milk and not meat

Fractured in it’s relationships

Knowing His works but not His ways

Carnal and divided into camps

Trapped in extremism

Busy with its own programs and agenda.

In many cases the church is largely untrained and ignorant of the exceeding greatness of God’s power available to it. Its power is relatively untapped and often lacks focus. It is in this spiritually anemic environment that the enemy gains an advantage.

The Carnal Corinthians 

For example, the Corinthian Church was highly gifted, and operated in the supernatural with childish abandon. The power was mismanaged and they were even divided into camps: one of Paul, the other of Apollos etc. They were not open to the whole counsel of the word coming through the variety of gifts that God had provided. They were locked into their favorite teacher-preacher and had not focused on the Lord. Caught in their carnality, they lacked discernment as to the true purposes of the body, communion and the gifts.


They knew how to operate in God’s works, (the gifts) but did not know His way of love. They had been caught up in the periphery without firmly having grasped the core of God’s purpose. They partook mostly of His power, but still had to enjoy the fullness of His love nature.

God could not trust them with the meat of the word and they needed apostolic correction to bring them to maturity.


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