“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.” (Romans 5:3) My wonderful wife made an interesting statement after our morning devotional reading today. It concerned Peter and when the Lord said to him, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” (Luke 22:31) She said, “I don’t want to be sifted.”
I believe this is the attitude in this area by most who know Christ as Lord, and probably always has been, for who would desire testing and tribulation, who would desire to be profitable enough, as any of us truly can be, for the Lord, to be noticed by Satan, much less for our adversary to go directly to the Lord God and ask permission to sift them?
There are, as I have mentioned before, traps, if you will, that have been set in place for all mankind by Satan, and I believe that for the saved these traps are just as prevalent, we have been blessed with discernment to be able to recognize some of them, but not all. Satan and I believe many devils, fallen angels, followed the Lord and His disciples around for the entirety of His ministry, unseen by all but the Lord. Peter was noticed in part because he was adamant in his service to Christ, he was forthright and unabashed in his dedication to Christ, and so he was noticed.
Permission must be asked of the Almighty when our adversary desires to take action against such a man, he did so with Job, and he did so before with others. I do not believe Satan just decided to walk into the garden of Eden one day, he had to ask for permission. Peter was indeed sifted, the Lord did not say to Satan, “No, leave this one alone.” He gave him the ability to attempt to cause Peter to fall, and he did, three times in one night. But I believe that man who sat alone in the dark weeping bitterly was not the same man forever more when he stood up after that ordeal, he had been sifted, and had come through the valley of the shadow of death more alive than ever before.
My lovely wife holds the same belief in this area as most Christians, and no one can blame her or them, no one wants to be noticed by Satan, no one wants their faith tested to the breaking point, but I place the words of the Lord before you here. “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:32) “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34)
Satan stands day and night before the Most High accusing us, and in part, almost all that he accuses us of is true. We are weak in our faith, we do not want to be tested, we do not want to be noticed personally, and we most definitely do not want the Lord to lower the hedge that is around us even one small amount. But if He never does, how do you expect to grow in your trust, your faith in Him who said, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Deut. 31:6)
Job came out of that valley not a better man, but a man more sure of the precious promises of the Lord, the fortitude and perseverance of Peter was increased exponentially and as for our Lord? “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2) It is beyond foolish to attempt to stand against Satan, “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” (Jude 1:9)
If angels will not do so, you should not even think of doing so.
But we want to grow in grace and mercy, we want to seek the face of God, we want to be Christlike, and that road is never smooth. God tries the reins of a man, and He does not do so for His pleasure, but for your growth, growth in trust, in a desire to know more of Him. Paul understood this, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” (Phil. 3:10)
If you have ever been sifted, you understand what has been written here, if the path that you have been on has been smooth, with no pitfalls, with no rocks to stumble over, you do not. Should you desire to be sifted? I will leave that up to you.