HELP FOR SIFTED SAINTS
Intro: A shipwrecked man managed to reach an uninhabited island. There, to
protect himself against the elements and to safeguard the few possessions he
had salvaged, he painstakingly built a little hut from which he constantly and
prayerfully scanned the horizon for the approach of a ship. Returning one
evening after a search for food, he was terrified to find the hut completely
enveloped in flames. Yet by divine mercy this hard affliction was changed into
a mighty advantage. Early the following morning he awoke to find a ship
anchored off the island. When the captain stepped ashore, he explained, "We
saw your smoke signal and came." Everything the marooned man owned had
to be destroyed before he could be rescued.
The trials and adversities of life are never pleasant, but it in them that we
learn the secrets of dependence, of grace, of hope and of His presence. None
of us wishes for trials or adversity, but it is through them that God refines the
metal of our lives and molds us into His image. Just as metal is placed in a
furnace and heated to a white hot state so the dross can be removed, God
allows us to enter the furnace of affliction so that He might refine and purify our
Of course, the most difficult of the adversities we face is that which comes
from sin and the attack of the devil. When we are forced to enter that furnace,
the potential for pain is greatest.
In our text, Simon Peter is made to understand the fact that he is about to
be tested. He is encouraged in this revelation by the fact that the Lord Himself
will take an active part in his trail. I know I am speaking to a group of people
who are going through adversity. I know that you face battles and trials that I
cannot imagine. However, I know there is hope for you! This passage lets us
know that we do not have to fail in the attacks of life. We do not have to crawl
away in defeat, never to be heard from again. I want to show you that anyone
can endure the trials, tests and adversities of life. I want to show you that even
if you have failed, you can still rise from the ashes and salvage what Satan has
attempted to destroy. I want to share, from this passage, some Help For Sifted
Saints. Allow me to point out a few nuggets which contain much Help For
I. V. 31
A DETERMINED FOE
"Satan Is Determined To Destroy Your Life!"
A. Ill. Context. Jesus is telling Peter that Satan has made a request to
have "all" the disciples to test the reality of their faith. The word
"desired" means "to demand, to ask for oneself." The word "you" is
plural in nature. It is a request for all the disciples. His demand is that
he might "sift" them. This is an agricultural term that refers to the
savage process of separating the husk of the wheat from the grain. The
wheat was crushed under foot, then it was agitated, or thrown into the
air. The chaff, or husk, was blown away by the wind and all that was
left behind was the good grain. Satan wanted to tear the heart of God
by proving that there was no reality to the faith of the disciples. Satan
believed that he could crush them, sift them and that nothing would be
left but a lost heart. He had already done this with Judas! He believed
that he could do it to the rest.
B. We battle a determined enemy this morning. He wants nothing more
than to cut the heart of God by sifting your life and mine. He wants to
prove that we are phonies. He wants to show God and the world that
there is nothing to our professions of faith. He wants to destroy
everything of value in your life, 1 Pet. 5:8. He wants to ruin your
testimony. He wants to destroy your home. He wants to wreck your
influence. He wants to take away everything of value in your life and
leave you with nothing but a devastated shell of what you had! (Note:
If he can get you to believe a false profession, he will. If he can got your
eyes off Jesus, he will. If he can drive a wedge between you and the
members of your family, he will. If he can drive a wedge between you
and the members of your church, he will. He will do everything he can
to cut the heart of God and ruin your life! He will use whatever tactic he
deems necessary to get you to fall, Ill. Gen. 3:1-6. He will never stop
until you fall, or you die!)
C. If the devil gets his way in your life and you succumb to his attacks,
remember this: "No One Sins In A Vacuum!" Your sin doesn't just
affect you, it affects everyone around you! It is the absolute height of
selfishness to live just to please yourself, while having no regard to what
your sin is doing to your family, your church and to others in your
sphere of influence! Adam's fall touched us all - Rom. 5:12! David's
sin with Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11, affected him, Bathsheba, their baby,
Bathsheba's husband, and the house of David for years to come! You
never walk away clean when you choose to walk away in sin!
II. V. 32
A DILIGENT FRIEND
"The Saints Have A Powerful Ally In Their Corner!"
A. While all the disciples were in Satan's sights, Peter received the promise
of intercession. (Note: "you", v. 31 is plural, but "thee", v. 32 is
singular!) I am sure that Jesus was praying for them all, but He spoke
especially to Peter, because He knew that Peter was about to take the
biggest fall, v. 34. You see, sin isn't a maybe in our lives, it is a
given, 1 John 1:8-10! All the disciples failed the Lord that night, Mark
14:50, but Peter went beyond simple failure into the realm of outright
denial of any relationship to Jesus, Luke 22:54-62.
B. The times of testing and failure will come in your life and mine, but in the
midst of them, let us take courage in the fact that we have Someone
pleading our case, taking our part, praying for us in Heaven, Heb. 7:25;
Rom. 8:34; 1 John 2:1. (Note: Notice the word "but". Satan may have
his devices and his schemes to tempt us and try us, but he doesn't have
the last word! In the midst of his scheming and planning, Jesus "butts"
in to stand by our side until the trial has passed! He will never leave us,
regardless of the task or trial, Heb. 13:5.)
C. Just because a temptation is offered to you, that does not mean that you
have to fall into sin. Jesus can equipped us with all the resources we
will ever need to be able to withstand anything the devil throws at us, 1
Cor. 10:13; Heb. 2:18; James 4:7.
III. V. 32
A DISTINGUISHED FUTURE
"No Failure Should Ever Be Considered Final!"
A. Jesus makes it clear that Peter will fall, "when thou art converted",
means "when you have repented, or come back to me", but that his
fall will not be the final statement of his life. He was going to be
restored and he was going to be used of the Lord in a great way. Ill.
Pentecost, and the great acts of faith of his life. (Note: I am speaking
to people who may come under this kind of attack someday and you
may fall into sin. I am speaking to some who have fallen and have
already come back. I am speaking to others who have fallen and are
still in that fallen state today. I want you to know that your fall does not
have to define your life!)
B. God has made provision for the cleansing and the restoration of those
who fall into sin. Those provisions include Confession, Repentance and
Forgiveness. When we come clean about our sins and turn from them,
the Lord will forgive and restore the fallen one to a place of service and
blessing, 1 John 1:9; Pro. 28:13. (Note: This truth is illustrated in the
life of the Prodigal Son and what happened when he returned to his
father, Luke 15:11-24.)
C. When a person walks away from the things of the Lord and goes into sin
and stays there, it means that one of two things is true. 1.) They were
never really saved, 1 John 2:19. 2.) They are in open rebellion and
are subject to the wrath and chastisement o the Lord, Heb. 12:6-12;
Rev. 3:19. You see, genuine faith will falter, but it will never utterly
fail! Peter came back because he was saved. When he was sifted, it
was proven that his profession was genuine. There was some chaff,
but there was a grain of real faith too!
D. When a believer falls into sin, those who genuinely love them will seek
to restore them, Gal. 6:1-2. They will not condone or support their sinful
actions, but they will not abandon them completely either!
IV. V. 33-34
A DEFINITE FOOLISHNESS
"Never Say Never!"
A. When Peter hears this prediction he, in typical Peter style, boasts of his
love and devotion to the Lord. He vows to go to prison or even to death
to prove his allegiance to Jesus. Peter forgot a very important principle
of life, "Never Say Never!" No one in this room is above falling into the
snare of the enemy. Only when you are in his sifter can you know
exactly what you will do! It is a dangerous thing to rely upon yourself
and your ability to withstand temptation and testing, 1 Cor. 10:12.
We've all seen someone act in certain ways and we have said, "I would
never do that!" Be careful!
B. You see, you are weakest in the area of your greatest strength! That
may sound like a contradiction or a paradox, but it is true nonetheless!
When you some to think you have an area of your life absolutely
conquered and that sin cannot possibly occur there, you will tend to let
your guard down. When that happens you can be sure that the enemy
will target you for sifting! (Ill. Pro. 28:26; Pro. 16:18; Jer. 17:9.)
C. If you have the feeling that "It can't happen to me!", you are in danger
of falling today!
Conc: The way an Eskimo kills a wolf is grizzly, yet it offers fresh insight into the
consuming, self-destructive nature of sin. First the Eskimo coats his knife blade
with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood,
and another, until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood. Next, the
hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his
sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it,
tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more
vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder
and harder, the wolf licks the blade in the Arctic night. So great becomes the
craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor sharp sting of the naked
blade on his own tongue nor does he recognize the instant at which his
insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own warm blood. His carnivorous
appetite just craves more--until the dawn finds him dead in the snow!
Such is the power sin has to destroy our lives. Thankfully, it does not have
to be that way. Jesus has done everything necessary to provide a plan of
salvation that will work for all people. He has promised to pray for us and to see
us through the times of temptation and sifting. He has promised to receive,
forgive and restore us when we do fail. There is no need for anyone to allow sin
to devastate you or your life. If you want help as you face the times of sifting in
life, you will find it Jesus and in Him alone!