Christianity 201

August 16, 2010

Satan’s Sifting

Ever felt sifted by Satan?   My oldest son wrote today to ask for some clarification on Luke 22:31.  I decided to see what other bloggers have written on this.    Here are two answers.

The first is from Pastor Paul Taylor:

Satan wanted to find some fault in Peter to separate him from Jesus; to disqualify him from service. Jesus said that he has prayed for Peter, not to stop the sifting, but that Peter’s faith won’t fail in the middle of the sifting! Peter is the wheat and his self-confidence is the chaff.

Didn’t Jesus pray that Peter’s faith wouldn’t fail? But it looks like Peter’s faith DID FAIL in the middle of the testing. So what failed? Peter’s promise to Jesus that he would never fall away under extreme pressure, Peter’s faith in himself and his ability to do the good he intended to do, to prove his worth or value to Jesus by his words and actions; that FAILED! That is what Satan’s sifting exposed; Peter was trusting in his good intentions, to prove his love for Jesus.

So it will fail in us as well. Satan wanted to show Peter was worthless and unfaithful. Jesus wanted to redirect Peter’s faith onto God so it would not fail in crisis.

Where have you been putting your faith? Is your faith unconsciously in yourself, in your ability to do everything right as a Christian? Are you discouraged or depressed when your best intentions fail? Have you made promises to God that not only did you fail to keep, but you sinned and failed miserably? Have you allowed this to bring shame and guilt into your relationship with Jesus so you pulled away from him? Some become so discouraged by their failure that they fall headlong into sin-they give up and quit trying to live as a Christian. Tune in to today’s sermon and find the same courage and strength to follow Jesus once again.

The second one was just posted a few days ago by Jen Slattery:

Our church, and a few of my fb friends, are reading through the New Testament in six months, and today’s reading was the passage covering the crucifixion.  I think we tend to glaze over this story. We’ve heard it so many times, it no longer affects us. And yet, if we were to stop and ponder what Jesus Christ’s death was like, for Him and those who loved Him dearly, it’d break our hearts. And maybe that’s why we don’t always grasp it as often as perhaps we should–the understanding of that kind of love, and our total unworthiness of it, breaks us. One of my favorite songs is From the Inside Out by Hillsong. The opening verse is my life story set to music:

“A thousand times I’ve failed, yet Your mercy remains. Should I stumble again, still I’m caught in Your grace. Everylasting. Your light shines when all else fades. Never-ending. Your glory goes beyond all praise.”

I’ve failed God more times than I can count. I’ve thrown fits, I’ve rebelled, I’ve been so consumed with self my prayers sounded like a toddler wish-list, and yet through it all, God has remained. And the minute I turn around, I find myself surrounded in His arms. He is only a repentance away.

In the passage we read today, Peter, one of Jesus’ close disciples and dear friends, denies Him. Not once, but three times. Peter, the same man who only a few paragraphs earlier tells Jesus that he is ready and willing to die for Him. And yet, when the time comes and Jesus is facing His death, everyone scatters. They are faithless, and yet, Jesus remains faithful. Peter’s denial does not dissuade God’s love. (Luke 22:54-22:62) Nor was Jesus surprised by Peter’s unfaithfulness.

In Luke 22:31 Jesus tells Peter what he is about to do and lets him know that He wants to use him anyway.

Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon (his name was Simon Peter), Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers….I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know Me.”

Jesus prayed that Simon Peter’s faith would not fail. That he would not allow his sin to remain a permanent barrier between them. That Simon Peter would turn back, repent, with a focus on the future. I’ve heard it said that Godly repentance draws you closer to God, guilt draws you farther from Him. Christianity isn’t about beating yourself up for all your failures. And it isn’t about following a bunch of rules in an effort to be good enough. It’s about opening your heart up to the one who loves you more than the human mind can comprehend and allowing Him to remove all the baggage that gets in they way of you experiencing His love.

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