A series of steps led to Peter's denial of Christ. The first was self-confidence, and the second was following at a distance. The third was hanging out with the wrong people.
In Luke 22:55, we find Peter warming himself at the fire in the courtyard of Caiaphas, who was trying Jesus—we might call it the enemy's fire. At this point Peter was worn down, defeated, and weak. He was vulnerable, and the last place he should have been was at a fire surrounded by unbelievers.
Matthew's Gospel tells us that he sat down with the servants to see the end. He was resigned now to the fate of Jesus. There was nothing he felt he could do. So he was just sitting there. Peter was with the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time, about to do the wrong thing.
That is why we need to give a lot of thought as to who we spend the bulk of our time with. We think we are influencing others, but the question is, are they influencing us? We think that we are pulling them up, but the real issue may be that they are pulling us down. That is why Psalm 1:1 says, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful." Have you ever noticed the progression—or shall I say the regression&amdash;of the words in Psalm 1? First there is walking
. Then there is standing
. And finally there is sitting
When we fall into sin, it most often begins with a series of steps. And when we hang around with the wrong people in the wrong places, we are going to end up doing the wrong thing.