I was reflecting this morning on Peter’s infamous denials. Jesus had very plainly told Peter that all of the disciples would abandon Him. Peter argued with his Lord, saying, “Even if everyone forsakes you, I will never do so.” He even went further, saying, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!”
Jesus then told Peter, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.” (Luke 22:34)
This must have really stung the heart of Peter. His Lord apparently had little confidence in his fidelity. And what was probably even more disturbing was the prophecy that Jesus had given Peter even before He predicted his denials:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)
The implications of these words must have been a bit confusing to Peter – if not confounding! Satan had been talking to Jesus about Peter??? Apparently so. And it seems clear that though Satan had to get permission from Jesus before he could “sift” Peter, that Jesus cooperated with Satan’s request. Jesus willingly allowed Satan to have more access to Peter’s life.
The reason is fairly obvious. There were large chunks of real estate in Peter’s soul still not under Christ’s control. Not only was Peter still self-ruled in many aspects, but even worse, he was self-ruled and totally blind to the fact. This is where (and why) the “sifting” would actually prove worthwhile to our Lord’s purposes. (Jesus is VERY serious about getting all of you!)
God can deliver you from the enemies you have acknowledged. But He rarely delivers anyone from their friends. Or stated another way, as long as you willingly make room for sin in your life, Satan may have access to some aspect of your soul.
A note of caution to my Word of Faith friends: You can rebuke and take authority over this devil all day….and he’s only going to ignore you. If Jesus has given him permission, you’re not going to get off without going to the cleaners first! Oh my, I’ve gone to preachin’.
If Jesus gives access to the devil in your life, you can quote Luke 10:19 all day and the devil will just laugh in your face. If your character is compromised to and complicit with Satan and his pride, proof-texts in your mouth have no effect over the enemy in your soul. This is why the word of the kingdom is, “Repent and believe.” Faith is powerless where there’s no repentance.
But Peter didn’t yet see his need for repentance. He still thought that Jesus was not giving him credit for his commitment.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer in the authority that God gives His kids over demons. But authority given and authority to use authority are not always the same matter. A commander may have authority to deploy his troops as he decides. But he doesn’t have authority to decide independantly of his superiors. His delegated authority must be used in submission to the most timely orders his superior(s) are giving.
Perhaps something that many have not considered is that in some cases our Lord has actually given Satan a measure of authority over an unsanctified believer:
“Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat…” One version has it, “Satan has obtained by asking to sift you like wheat…”
And the implication is clear: Jesus gave the devil authority to sift His child.
Someone might argue with me saying that this all happened before Christ’s death and resurrection and since that time Satan is never given authority to sift us. But the Cross didn’t change our Lord’s ways of dealing with His kids.
I’ll finish this story with some powerful good news in the next post. But let me give you one small clue ahead of time. Before Jesus turned Peter over to the devil He had already prayed Peter through to victory! Go back and read the opening text slowly and carefully. You’re going to love the way this ends.