|Satan Desires to Sift Us Like Wheat
By: Dick Karman
God has warned us about Satan in the Bible. One probably most threatening and graphic passage is 1 Peter 5:8 where God tells us that the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (Seldom do we look at the verse directly before where it says Casting all your care upon [The Lord]; for he cares for you. Or the commandment to be sober, and to be vigilant, earlier in the chapter.)
The imagery that Satan is warring against us is a distant, far away concept, especially to our children who are sheltered and protected in Christian homes. But if you look at the teaching in God's word you realize how real it is. In Mark 4, Jesus is explaining the parable about the sower and the seed. He tells us the Satan comes immediately and takes away God's word that is sown in the hearts of men. (This is a great verse to use when your memorization isn't going too well.) It is quite clear in Mark 8:33 that Satan does not savor the things that are of God, but rather the things that are of men.
When I was growing up I had no concept of lions literally eating people. And in North America at least, seeds were being planted by machine not indiscriminately sown on unprepared soil. But one verse did cause me to consider my position in the Lord and Satan's war against me. It was Luke 22:31 and following: And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan desires to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, you will strengthen your fellow believers.
Sifting like wheat today is not a good illustration. Our children may think of sifting flour, the soft fluffy substance used in baking. But when God was talking about sifting wheat he was referring to a very violent action used to separate the grain (wheat berry) from the stalk and the chaff. It meant literally tearing the wheat apart.
I understood this. In my youth, one of my family's annual traditions was to go to an "old fashioned" threshing bee. This was a country gathering where antique, steam-powered threshing machines would compete against one another. A threshing machine is similar to half of a combine on today's wheat farms. (It was one of the things that was combined, thus the name.) I always remember the name because threshing was not that far away from thrashing and that's what it did. It beat and bent and thrashed the wheat stalks until the grain had fallen out and had been separated. It separated the valuable portion from the worthless portion.
It was very violent. I once remember seeing a shirt, which was hung on a pitchfork, thrown into a threshing machine by mistake. By the time it came out of the other end its seams were torn, its buttons were missing, and the fabric of the shirt itself was worn through in places.
Satan desired to have Peter to sift him like wheat. Satan desires to sift us like wheat; to separate us from God's goodness and His way. He wants to snatch God's word out of our hearts and minds. Satan wants to pull on the seams which join our families together. He wants to wear thin the fabric of our faith. His approach is not as straight forward as a threshing machine, but it is pervasive. It is in the workplace, in the products we buy, in the programs on television, and in the books we read. But there is a way of escape.
Just like Peter, Christ, our intercessor, is praying for us, that our faith will not fail. We are being protected just like the saints of old. God has not allowed Satan to tear us apart at the seams and wear holes in our very fabric. In fact, He gives us every opportunity to strengthen the fabric of our faith by studying His word, fellowshipping with other believers, and gathering together to worship Him. Parents, be mindful that Satan desires us and our children. Also remember the promises in God's word that He will protect us from our adversary the Devil. Don't overlook any opportunity to teach these truths to your children and to show them by example. God protects us from the ways of the Devil if we are in Christ. Gather together with other believers. Encourage one another to good works. Teach our children by example that we do not have to be sifted like wheat.
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