OVERCOMING THE SIFTING OF SATAN
It is one thing to endure tribulations. It is quite another to be happy about it. Paul writes to the Romans (5:1-5) that our faith is strengthened and our hope made secure through tribulations which serve to reveal our godly character and the depth of our faith. We exult in our tribulations for those who understand the love of God also realize the goal of our adversary.
In Luke 22:31,32 Jesus tells Peter (Simon) Satan has demanded to sift him like wheat. Imagine Jesus telling you that Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat. When you sift wheat or flour there is a certain shaking action performed designed to separate the good from the bad. In the sifting of wheat there is a removal of the chaff from the wheat. In life Satan is looking to shake us in order to separate us from God.
But notice that something is said to take the pain away from the sifting process. Jesus said to Peter, "But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail" (vs. 32). We are told that Satan prowls about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). And yet just as Peter can take comfort in knowing that Jesus has prayed for him, so we too have this advocate and mediator who cares for us and intercedes for us (1 Tim. 2:5).
When Jesus serves as our advocate it is a reminder that God is in control. As Satan sought to test Job it was God who established the boundaries of the testing in that Satan could not take His life (Job 1:10-12). So it is with us today. Satan is going to tempt us in order to sift us as wheat in hopes of separating us from our God. We must realize his power, though strong, is limited, and we can escape through the power of God (Ja. 4:8-10).
Also to be noted is that Jesus spoke of Peter's turning again to help strengthen his brothers. I believe this is telling us that Peter's sifting was his denials of Jesus, though other events could also be included in that sifting. We know that after the third denial Peter went out and wept bitterly. He had failed to do what he said. He said he was ready to go to prison and to death for Jesus (Lu. 22:33), and yet did neither one. But we also read where Peter was restored to service for Jesus, and from then on he was a powerful spokesman for God (Jn. 21:15-17; Acts 2; 15:7ff).
What we learn from this sifting of Peter, as well as that of Job is our God is always in control. We also learn it is possible to flee from temptation and the attacks of the devil if we seek the refuge of God for protection. There is always going to be times in life when our faith is going to be tested or sifted. If we truly believe God then this sifting should leave us a stronger person, knowing we can persevere and that ultimately our hope will not be disappointed. Remember, the victory that overcomes the world is our faith (1 Jn. 5:4). Rodger