Matthew 10:32-33 say “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven”.
Does this mean that when Peter denied Christ (three times) before men, that Christ will now deny Peter before the Father in heaven? Of course not. Christ blood covered that sin as well and Peter spent the rest of his live acknowledging Christ before men, even to his death.
So if my denial of Christ before men is a sin like any other sin, that is covered by the blood of Christ… how then should I interpret this verse? I believe it’s a condition of the heart versus a moment in time. While Peter’s heart never walked from Christ, he did fear for his life in that short amount of time it took to deny Jesus three times. But remember, this fear was BEFORE the resurrection, before the Holy Spirit. After the resurrection and the receiving of the Holy Spirit, the fear no longer existed. He complete the remaining years on earth continually acknowledging Christ to men, having no fear, even in the threat of death. For he now realized (unlike before the resurrections) that men can take his body but his soul belonged to Jesus. Just a couple versus back (v28), Jesus said “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both the soul and body in hell.”
Now as Steven Curtis Chapman wrote, it is possible to acknowledge Him without showing “the change”. But I just don’t think it is possible to have “the change” without acknowledging Him. If you have been truly changed and transformed by the Holy Spirit, and understand the power of the resurrection, you should strive to acknowledge Him before men, but also to SHOW His great love through your actions.
And they will know we are Christians by our love…