We’ve all likely heard the term “plausible deniability.” It is used most often in a legal setting, and it basically means that there is insufficient evidence to prove that someone did something wrong or illegal, or knew about such things but didn’t act to prevent them. Today I’d like to look at this term in a different light. In fact, I’d like to consider that it can mean exactly the opposite.
We’ve all heard sermons on the original sin of Adam and Eve, “Doubting Thomas,” and Peter’s denials of Jesus, and And if you’re anything like me, then you have likely told yourself that if you had been in the same circumstances, you would have responded differently. You never would have tasted the fruit, denied following Jesus, or questioned the reality of the resurrection.
Yet, we have each fallen into the trap of Sin. We have all come face to face with the monster in the mirror. Staring into the eyes of our own weaknesses and sins, we have recognized that we are powerless to force ourselves to “be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16 ESV). For “none is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10 ESV).
The scriptures tell us that Eve was deceived, and Adam made a conscious choice to disobey God. Adam and Eve walked with God daily. They heard His voice audibly. They were well informed about the boundary that they were never to cross. And yet, despite their intimate walk with God, they crossed that boundary.
I walk with God, but I have never heard his voice in the same manner Adam and Eve did. I have a relationship with Him, yet unlike them, I was born with a sin nature. They had a choice, whereas I left the womb guilty. But, had the roles been reversed, had it been me in the garden with Eve, I would also likely given in to the peer pressure from the only other human in existence. I’m sure that the fear of losing her would have pushed me to do whatever I could to stay with her.
Poor Doubting Thomas! He really got a bad rap. Jesus had appeared to the rest of the disciples while Thomas was elsewhere. “So the other disciples told him, ‘we have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe'” (John 20:25 ESV). But are we so much different from Thomas?
Even with the benefit of 2000 years of hindsight, do we always stand in faith? Do we always trust God’s word when faced with difficult circumstances? I know that I don’t. Christian tradition holds that Thomas was martyred in India by Hindu priests while spreading the Gospel, but he is remembered for one moment of doubt.
Even with all of the miracles that Peter witnessed, and even with the oaths he swore that he would never deny Jesus, Peter did deny Jesus. Three times. That same night. How could he?!? Jesus had been telling Peter and the other disciples what was going to happen for a long time, but they didn’t get it. He had trained them, and they all affirmed their loyalty and willingness to die for Him (Matthew 26:35). They all took off running when Jesus was taken into custody (Matthew 26:56).
So how does all of this tie in to plausible deniability? We all protest, like Peter and the other disciples, that we would never deny Jesus. Yet in each of us lie the seeds of plausible deniability. That is, it is very plausible that we have the ability to deny Jesus. Here in the United States of America we aren’t yet faced with death for our belief in Jesus. The closest thing to persecution that most of us ever see is the slow erosion of our religious freedoms and the mocking of Christians on the television and media. Yet despite its slowness, it will eventually come to a head.
Peter was so sure of himself, and he walked and talked with Jesus in the flesh, but he allowed fear to consume him. A scripture comes to mind, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12 ESV).
Let me encourage you. Do everything in your power to ensure that you are able to stand on the day when those around you run. Acknowledge your plausible deniability. And, to reference a previous post, Work Your Strengths and staff your weaknesses.
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