How often are you reminded of your failures in life? Do they seem to creep up out of nowhere to convince you that what you’ve done can’t be forgiven, that perhaps God could never use someone with a past like yours? Last week we pointed out the power of Romans 8:28 ESV “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” and when we come to the realization that this literally means “all things” we are empowered by the Sovereignty of God and can see how He has an all powerful hand in our lives. Knowing everything that’s happened in our lives, both the triumphs and the failures, are used for good is a sanctifying truth. It simply crushes all reminders of failures that the enemy seeks to bring up in an attempt to paralyze us out of any advancement for Christ’s Kingdom.
For a reminder of God’s sovereignty to use our failures for good, we need to look no further than the Apostle Peter. There’s little doubt that Peter’s denial of Jesus 3 times stands as one of the colossal failures of the Bible, but have you ever looked at it through the lens of Romans 8:28? The passage from Luke reveals some amazing truths as Jesus speaks to Peter, “31Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 ESV As we’ve discussed before here, Jesus nicknamed Simon, Peter (Cephas, or Rock), yet here he refers to Peter by his given name Simon not once, but twice, indicating the seriousness of His message. Satan’s demands prove explicitly Paul’s declaration from Ephesians 6:12 ESV, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Despite our ongoing battles, it’s important to note here that Satan didn’t have free reign, he had to go through Jesus in order to get permission to attack Peter, this affirms Jesus’ promise that “He will never leave us nor forsake us.” Hebrews 13:5 ESV
Satan’s demands were not only for Peter, but for all of the disciples (the “you” here is Greek plural) to sift them like wheat. The imagery of wheat is not something new that Jesus is using. In Matthew 12:24-30 Jesus refers to wheat growing in the field with tares and how they will be separated at harvest. But here regarding Peter, there’s no mention of tares, only wheat. The sifting process involves separating wheat from the chaff and is a purifying measure to remove the less desirable parts. Satan’s plan here is to separate all of the good (Christ) from Peter so that nothing good is left, though Jesus has other plans for His “rock.” It’s fascinating that Jesus then tells Peter that He’s prayed for him, that his faith wouldn’t fail. The power of intercessory prayer from the Son of God! There may not be a more inspirational passage for us to pray for one another. As He concludes His prophecy, Jesus instructs Peter to strengthen his brothers when he has turned back to Him. The turning here indicates that after Peter’s backslide into denial, he will return again to Jesus and through this process he will strengthen his brothers.
Despite Peter’s colossal failure, this was part of God’s plan to refine him in preparation for his role as the rock on which the church would be built. Matthew 16:8 The same is true in our lives. Our failures aren’t weights holding us back, they’re refining moments to prepare and strengthen us for better things in Kingdom of God. Satan’s lies attempt to “sift” us into thinking nothing good is left, but thanks be to God that through His sovereign plan ALL THINGS work together for good to those who love Him and through these failures and mistakes we can teach others, strengthening them to avoid the same mistakes. Too often we want to disregard Peter for his failures and lack of faith, but he was purified through this and used for something great by Jesus. If you feel like you’re like Peter, let God refine you through your failures, turn back to Him, and strengthen your brothers.