In the last moments the Lord Jesus was with his apostles in the upper room, the Son of God turned to Peter and said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat,” (Luke 22:31 NKJV).
Satan wanted to put Peter to the test, or more to the point, through the strainer. Such is Satan’s desire for all who follow Jesus. Satan wants to find his way into the church Christ built and destroy it from the inside because he knows he is powerless battling from outside.
Satan also knows the easiest way inside is through men of power because they can be turned to fulfill his purpose. The priests of God, the shepherds of Israel, were the ones Satan corrupted before, during and after the days of the Divided Kingdom.
God took the shepherds to task in Ezekiel chapter 34. The shepherds preyed on the flock when they should have been feeding and caring for it (Ezekiel 34:1-10). God promised he would deliver the sheep from their evil influence and give them to the good shepherd. That was Jesus’ title in John 10:11, 14.
Satan still wants to sift the faithful. In my more than 30-years of preaching I’ve found some men who became willing servants of Satan after they were put through the sieve. One man will always live in my memory because he tried to destroy the congregation he was serving as “treasurer.”
This poor, deceived soul would not submit to the appropriately appointed elders of the congregation and used his position with the church’s money to exert his power over them. At a meeting designed to resolve the concerns, the hatred he possessed became more than evident. Satan had sifted this man like wheat, and he had become a person who hated his brothers in Christ instead of loving and obeying them (Hebrews 13:17).
I wished I could say that was the only example of that kind of behavior I’ve found, but it wasn’t. Satan has sifted more than a few of my brothers in Christ and found a weak spot he’s exploited.
The truth is, we’re all going through the sieve. None of us are immune to this test. What we can do is go through the strainer and not fall victim to Satan’s desire to make us his servants. We can come out the other side more determined to serve God and more determined to remain pure.
We must build our faith by the study of God’s word, and we must strengthen the bonds of love we share for one another as Christians. Otherwise, the sifting Satan does can weaken and overcome us.