(1) The deepest love, the truest desire to follow Jesus may be overborne, overwhelmed and the whole set of life be contradicted for a time.
(2) The greatest fall may be recovered. Simon is the illustration of this truth.
1. CHRIST PREDICTS THAT WE WILL BE SIFTED.
Satan desires the believer. “Sift” means to harass till nothing but chaff remains. Satan wants to prove we are like Judas.
I Peter 5 “..goes about seeking whom he may devour.”
Job: “…from walking to and fro on the face of the earth–Hast thou considered my servant?” His answer reveals he had considered him. He had a file on Job, knew all about him, knew of God’s protection of him. He knew there wasn’t a hole in the hedge. He had walked all around it looking for a way through it.
Like a lion, Satan stalks before he leaps. He is an opportunist, watching and waiting for an opportunity, a vulnerable spot.
THIS IS SERIOUS: In His warning, Jesus says, “Simon, Simon…”. Simon is repeated and used instead of Peter, his Christian name. It denotes his natural weakness.
Eph. 4:27 “Neither give place to the devil…”. A foothold, a base of operation. The believer is the object of his attention.
WE ARE NOT IGNORANT OF HIS STRATEGIES.
A. He strikes during stressful periods. He kicks us when we are down.
1. To cripple us and make us inadequate for the crisis. Jesus was facing the cross. Soon the disciples would be called into the greatest test of their lives.
2. The moment the argument broke out among the disciples (see verses 24 ff) he seized the opportunity.
B. He strikes at our strong points. Our strong points are really our weak points. They are unguarded because we think they are secure.
1. Peter’s pride and presumption: “I’ll follow thee to the death.” He thought he was more spiritual and courageous than the rest.
2. The preceding argument about who would be greatest in the kingdom gave him a foothold: there was a tear in the fabric of fellowship.
C. He strikes at strategic people.
1. Simon was the leader and would influence the rest.
2 In a way it was a compliment to Peter. You say, “The devil never bothers me.” He has no need to–you’re exactly where he wants you.
II. CHRIST PERMITS US TO BE SIFTED.
Satan can’t touch us without divine permission.
“Desired” means to obtain by asking permission. It means to beg earnestly.
Job again illustrates the point. Job 1:10-12 God allowed and regulated Satan.
Satan doesn’t have unlimited access and freedom. He must always submit to the overruling and permissive authority of the Lord. “…Satan hath obtained…” by asking–but he had to ask.
WHILE SATAN CAN’T TOUCH US WITHOUT DIVINE PERMISSION, THAT PERMISSION IS GIVEN!
“Desired” The aorist tense indicates success in the demand. By Christ’s words it is clear that permission was granted to Satan. WHY?
A. Because we need it. it is for our own good.
1. Sift: The process of separating the wheat from the chaff.
2. Sifting is necessary to wheat. Wheat must be sifted because it is wheat! Sifting separates the good from the bad. it is in the nature of wheat to be sifted–it goes with the territory. Christ will keep giving the exam until we pass.
3. Satan wanted to sift so no wheat would remain to take out whatever was good. But Christ’s desire was that no chaff would remain.
Illustrations of God working all things together for our good. Satan was intent on ruining them, but the very temptation worked together for their good.
Gen. 50 (Joseph) “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
James 5:11 (Job) “…Ye have heard of the patience of Job…” but we would never have heard of it had it not been for the trial.
4. Sifted out the chaff of pride, presumption, self-assurance.
B. Because others need it. it is for the good of others that we are tempted, sifted.
“Strengthen thy brethren…” He will then be qualified to minister to others.
I Peter 5:5-11
II Cor. 4 Death worketh in us, but life in you.
Joseph … the trial made him a source of life to others.
1. You may not be able to find the explanation of your suffering in your own life. It may be found only in the lives of others. The flowers may not grow in your own garden but in the garden of another. The wealth earned by your sufferings may be deposited in another’s account. The benefits may go to someone else.
III. CHRIST PROTECTS US IN OUR SIFTING.
“But I have prayed for thee.” Satan is going to sift you, BUT I HAVE PRAYED FOR YOU. Remember while you re being sifted, tossed and harassed by Satan–I HAVE PRAYED FOR THEE. Christ told him this before the trial.
Heb. 7:25; I John 2:1
A. For Thee.” It is personal and individual. Of course, Christ prayed for all the disciples (John 17) but here He singles out Peter. WHY?
“The man that was in the greatest danger was the man nearest Christ’s heart, and chiefly the object of Christ’s prayer. So it is always so–the tenderest of His’ words, the sweetest of His consolations, the sweetest of his consolations, the strongest of His succours, the most pleading and urgent of His petitions, the mightiest gifts of His grace, are given to the weakest, the neediest, the men and women in most sorrow and stress and peril, and those who want (need) Him most always have Him nearest. The thicker the darkness, the brighter His light; the drearier our lives the richer His presence; the more solitary we are, the larger the gifts of His companionship. OUR NEED IS THE MEASURE OF HIS PRAYER. ..When you want Christ most, Christ is most to you.”. Alexander McLaren
B. “Prayed” already. He didn’t say, I’ll pray for you,” but “I HAVE PRAYED FOR YOU.” Before the temptation I have prayed for you. Jesus anticipates and knows and prays. YOU ONLY GO WHERE JESUS HAS GONE BEFORE IN INTERCESSION. We walk on ground already prayed over Jesus has already made provision for all your future in a prayer already presented.
C. “That thy faith fail not.” Jesus didn’t pray that Simon would be exempt from it, but protected through it.
Fail not” — utterly, completely, eclipsed, come to an end. And it didn’t, because He came back.
D. “Thy faith” Note the object o the prayer; THY FAITH. That is the vital point and there He holds the shield. As long as the Christian’s faith is safe, he is safe. If faith fails, everything fails.
E. “When you are turned again.” Not “IF” but “WHEN”. Peter’s recovery was assured before his failure was experienced.
THE POWER OF CHRIST’S INTERCESSION:
Promise of (1) Restoration
NOTE: Peter turned Himself. Christ’s intercession doesn’t free us from the responsibility of repentance… it enables us to effectively repent… if we choose to do so.
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2003