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Surviving The Sifting

There come times in every disciple's life when their allegiance to Christ will be challenged. When these tests come, how do we fare? For those who followed Christ in the first century, the testing did not always show positive results - for some, they turned away (I.e., Hebrews, Judas, etc.). For others, when there was a challenge to their faith, they were proven loyal (Antipas - Rev 2:13, Stephen - Acts 7, etc.). Results are mixed. With that in mind, vigilance is essential (1 Pet 5:8).

In Luke 22:31-34, Jesus' twelve apostles are tested. Jesus gives them the warning in verse 31: Satan, our adversary, is seeking to sift them like wheat. In concert with the adversaries attacks are our weaknesses. Jesus told Peter, in verse 32, that it was His prayer that his faith would not fail and that upon returning again (hinting at turning away) he would come and strengthen his brethren. Peter was unwilling to accept the Lord's words. However, he would find himself surprised by his actions. We read in verse 33 that Peter proclaims his willingness to go to prison and death for his Lord, yet we read in verses 61-62 that all that the Lord predicted concerning Peter was true. Despite the initial intention to stand by his Lord, he would deny Him three times. This section of scripture ought to sober us - even with great intentions, we must recognize our frailty and the true power of our adversary; he must not be underestimated, and we must not be over-compensated.

Here's the question - is failing the sifting inevitable for some? Is it the case that we can do nothing to prepare ourselves and thus be victorious? Oswald Chambers once said, "An unguarded strength is a double weakness." Peter and the remaining twelve were men, characteristically, of faith - yet they weren't careful in guarding their faith. They were prideful in their abilities. They were prayerless despite God in the flesh not only providing the example of practicing prayer in spiritual struggle but commanding it. They were presumptuous because of a recent spiritual victory.

The point is simple - you can be victorious by employing proper preparation. (Eph 6:10-18)
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