Satan Wants to Sift You Like Wheat!

It was the beginning of the lowest point of Simon Peter’s life. There stood Jesus, eyes piercing to the very depths of his soul. Peter knew the strength of his own loyalty to the Christ (or so he thought) and yet the words of the Lord had an unnerving effect.

 “Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death!” Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know me.” Luke 22:31-34 (NET)

photo credit: Hey Paul Studios via photopin cc
photo credit: Hey Paul Studios via photopin cc

Peter Wasn’t the Only One

Many of us are quite familiar with the story but we often miss the plurality of verse 31. It wasn’t simply Peter that Satan was after; he was pressing for the opportunity to put all twelve of Christ’s disciples through the wringer. Surprisingly, Jesus did not deny him that opportunity. Instead, He prayed that they would come through the ordeal unscathed.

Why does a plural “you” really matter in verse 31? Satan wasn’t just after Peter, or even the twelve. Anyone who desires to know and serve God has a spiritual “bullseye” painted on his or her back. The Apostle Paul once wrote that, “All who want to live godly lives in Christ will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

What is Satan’s purpose for launching such intense assaults on the people of God? We know that His goal is always to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10), but by digging just a little deeper, we can zero in on a more specific understanding.

The Devil’s Quest

Satan, Lucifer, the serpent, or the devil—or whatever you want to call him—tried to overthrow the King of Heaven. Not only did he fail miserably in his quest for the throne of Glory, God also publicly humiliated him before the entire host of angels. Satan’s hatred for God knows no bounds. That is why he seeks to destroy all that is good—because God is the author of goodness.

More specifically, however, Satan hates people because they have a special place in God’s heart—something that makes him intensely jealous. The devil and his lackeys will do whatever they can to corrupt and ruin human lives and families. And taking things yet a step further, they work nonstop to destroy the precious relationships between God and His beloved children. This unpleasant reality is evidenced by Satan’s interaction with God in the book of Job. Job, too, was sifted like wheat.

Then Satan answered the Lord, “Is it for nothing that Job fears God? Have you not made a hedge around him and his household and all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock have increased in the land. But extend your hand and strike everything he has, and he will no doubt curse you to your face!” Job 1:9-11 (NET)

photo credit: CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture via photopin cc
photo credit: CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture via photopin cc

Satan’s goal was to compel Job, through adverse circumstances, to deny, and ultimately curse God—the very One that Job had a desire to glorify. Isn’t this, in essence, what happened with Peter? And isn’t it what he tries to do in our lives–to compel us not only to doubt God’s goodness and faithfulness to His word, but also to malign His character?

The devil does not have absolute power and can only do what he is permitted to do. Thus, I can’t help but wonder why God allows him such “free” reign to sift like wheat the children that He loves so dearly. In short, the answer is that our heavenly Father is looking to accomplish powerful things both in us and through us.

I’ll address God’s purpose for such adversity in my next post!

2 Responses

  1. Robert Dunsmore

    Do you think that both Peter and Job were unable to see the pride and self righteousness in their own lives, and the LORD permitted the sifting as a means to uncover it?

    Knowing that the will of GOD for all believers is the conformation of all of us into the image of CHRIST (Romans 8:29) helps me weather the difficult situations I encounter.

    Keep up the good work my friend.

  2. Bob

    Bob, not only do I agree with you regarding Peter and Job, I also think that these things are typical for all of us. All too often we want God to do great things through us, but that can only happen as He brings transformation within us. Thanks for your encouragement!