Loss of Control

Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31, NASB). On what basis could Satan have demanded this right? The context indicates that pride may have been the grounds for Satan’s request. “A dispute also arose among them [the disciples] as to which of them was considered to be greatest” (verse 24). God had kicked Satan out of heaven because of his pride (see Isaiah 14:12; Luke 10:18). Satan was demanding that God do the same for Peter.

Notice how Jesus responded to Satan’s request: “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (verse 32). Jesus did not say that He would prevent Satan from having his way with Peter. Peter responded that he was ready to die or go to prison for Jesus (see verse 33). In spite of his attitude, Jesus said he would deny Him three times (see verse 34), which Peter later did. Peter had lost some measure of control in his life because of pride, and Jesus prayed for his successful recovery from it. The devil didn’t make Peter do it – Peter denied Jesus because in his pride he allowed himself to become vulnerable.

No Christian can ever say “the devil made me do it,” because we are all responsible for our own attitudes and actions. Satan simply takes advantage of the opportunities we give to him. We have all the resources and protection we need to live victorious lives in Christ, but when we leave a door open for the devil by not resisting temptation, accusation and deception, he will enter. We won’t lose our salvation, but giving ground to the enemy will affect our daily victory.

The army that goes to war unprepared will suffer terrible casualties. If we as Christians fail to use our armor, Satan will not stop short of invading our citadel. He will take us captive to do his will (see 2 Timothy 2:26). The world, the flesh and the devil are continually at war against the life of the Spirit within us. If we use our bodies as instruments of unrighteousness, we will allow sin to reign in our mortal bodies (see Romans 6:12-14). If we fail to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 10:5), we will end up being deceived. If we fail to forgive from our hearts, Jesus Himself will turn us over to the tormentors (see Matthew 18:34-35).

Choosing truth, living a righteous life, and donning the armor of God are a believer’s individual responsibility. We have a responsibility to one another, but not for one another. If a believer chooses to go into this world without his or her armor on, that believer will suffer consequences. As much as that may be a matter of concern for us, we still cannot make those decisions for others or assume their responsibility.

Dr. Neil

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