Today, we begin a series on Temptation. Over the course of the series, we will be examining Luke 22:31 and onward as part of our study of fighting temptation. So, let’s begin.
In this very familiar passage of Scripture, we see that Jesus warns the apostle Peter about his coming temptation and ultimate denial of the Lord during Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. There are several important truths contained within this loving, yet solemn warning by the Lord Jesus to Simon Peter. First, we see in verse three that the main goal of the devil is to make a Christian ineffective for the Gospel.
“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:” ~Luke 22:31
Let’s do some Bible study first before we get into the teaching:
- The phrase “have you” here is plural, meaning that the devil desired not only to sift Peter but all who followed Peter.
- The word “sift” here means to separate or to part.
- In the context of Luke 22, the word “sift” implies that Satan desires to weaken our faith and cause us to doubt God and His promises, causing us to become weak and unstable spiritually, the very same thing Satan did in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-5).
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
We clearly see here in the above verses that the devil cast a seed of doubt by saying “Yea, hath God said…” This weakened Eve’s faith, but still did not cause her to become spiritually unstable. The devil’s last two statements were directly poised to weaken Eve’s spiritual strength and her confidence in God and His Word. Please see my companion articles Ye Shall be as Gods and Yea Hath God Said for an in-depth study of how the devil sought to sift Eve in the Garden. What we can extrapolate from this verse is the nature of the Devil’s temptation:
- First, the devil wanted to cause Eve to doubt God (the sifting portion)
- Second, the devil wanted to cause Eve to become weak in her faith in God and His Word (also part of the sifting portion and the have you portion)
- Third, the devil didn’t just want Eve, he wanted all of mankind (the “have you” portion)
We see here that these motives outlined above are the same motives the Devil has today when he tempts us. If he had the same motives for Adam and Eve, what makes you think he would change them now? To prove my point, let’s take a look at the example of Job. Before we can examine Satan’s desire to tempt Job, we must look at the background of Job. “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.” ~Job 2:3-4 Job was a strong and spiritually mature man. If Job were a New Testament Christian he would have been the kind of guy who would have showed up at organized visitation weekly, served faithfully, showed up at least three services a week, discipled new converts, did personal work in the church, and the list goes on. The Devil always likes to seek out Christians who are on fire for God so that he can ruin their testimony for Christ (keep in mind: the devil also wants to ruin the local Church’s testimony as well); the devil will not bother much with the carnal Christian who has one foot in the world and one foot in the Bible. The devil is interested in those whose hearts are after God (like David); those are the ones whom the devil wants to sift.
Now that we have discussed who the devil wants to sift, we can discuss what his desire is. According to our text, Satan’s desire is to “have you”. As stated earlier, the “you” is plural. The devil doesn’t just want you, he wants your family. The devil doesn’t just want you, he wants your children. The devil doesn’t just want you, he wants the church. It is important to understand this concept or else we will not be fully aware of how great a threat the temptation that the devil brings really is. Let’s take a look at the example of Joseph in the Old Testament. The devil had tried to sift Joseph since his childhood, but perhaps the most profound instance of temptation in Joseph’s life was that of Potiphar’s wife. We will discuss this in our next post.