As a nation we are being tested. As the Church of Christ, we are being tested. The great sickle is casting wide a swath through the fields of humanity in order to harvest those whom it may. The events in recent years have helped me to perceive those who are in the camp, and those who are not. Those who have moved to the right, and those to the left. Those who have chosen to be on God’s side, and those who have forsaken God altogether. These times have clarified those whom I trust, and those who I choose to trust no longer. I am okay with that; it is better to be divided by truth, than united by lies and compromise. In any case, middle ground is waning…
In Luke 22:31 Christ levies some pretty heavy information to Peter. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.”
Peter’s character and witness would subsequently be scrutinized in the fiery crucible of culture, and Christ would allow it.
I am sure most of us would be horrified to discover that the Adversary had requested an opportunity to test us, to attack us, to sift us, but certainly this happens on a daily occurrence. Evil submits a request, or a demand for Divine permission to attack. The difficult news is that we are placed in this crucible daily. The better news is that any nefarious plans the Devil may have for us need to be granted permission by the God of all Creation, by the Sovereign God of all authority. Sometimes He allows this for our refinement, that we would emerge the better for it—that we might better exhibit the image of Christ, and that our faith would grow stronger.
In response to the statement of Christ, Peter overstates his fidelity, “But he said to Him, ‘Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!’” (Luke 22:33). Peter would fail as his authenticity and depth would be challenged. He would be sifted, and still, the Lord was interceding on his behalf—the Lord still had plans for Peter. He had already assured Peter… “but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). There was Kingdom work ahead for Peter.
The imagery of sifting brings to mind the threshing room floor, where, in the biblical times wheat would be harvested. On an elevated portion of land, the grain and the chaff, having been threshed or separated, would be tossed into the air. The wind would then blow the lighter material, the chaff to the sides, and the grain—the true, solid fruit—would fall to the ground revealing that which was authentic. The process is necessary to separate the two from one another.
Psalm 1:4 tells us the chaff (the wicked of mankind) simply blows away. Other portions of Scripturecommunicate a more drastic future of those opposed to God, as the Christ appears, “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12). Yes, that is a picture of ultimate judgment.
Ultimately, Peter would be proven as genuine, and fulfill Christ’s prayer in obedience.
Satan’s goal in attacking us is to damage our faith; he will undoubtedly go for the low-hanging fruit first. In the context of this present age, I would suggest that his bushel is filled to overflowing, as more and more “Christians” are abdicating orthodoxy in favor of Evangelical left– “progressive” ideology.
As we move forward, my guess is that:
People will continue to be sifted.
People will continue to reveal their true colors–politically and spiritually; it is part of the process.
People will reveal themselves to be unsaved, unwise, or lacking discernment.
People who were shepherds, and who are now seen to be wolves will be identified.
A magazine once orthodox will no longer evidence any signs of being “Christian.”
Some churches will no longer be “true churches” having surrendered their lampstands.
Some pastors will fall away.
Chaff will make its way into the fire.
And some, through the fire—the faithful—will be found to be authentic, genuine, real wheat!
Still, some pretty tough times are before us.
May you be found faithful.