When everything looks perfect.
The road leading a believer to being tempted or to face trials begins a long way. It begins when everything looks perfect and brilliant just like a beautiful Sunday morning. One has received Jesus in his heart, regularly attends church, lives a honest life, may be having a prosperous ministry, does everything according to God’s Word and one generally expects a good life of a blessed Christian.
If you are still at this stage, then thank God that this message is in your hands. This is exactly how Job started. The Bible tells us that at this stage Job was perfect, upright and shunned evil.
He had a wonderful marriage and God had blessed him with riches and good children. How about our Lord Jesus Christ? Before he was tempted and tried by the devil, Jesus had everything sparkling. He had just been baptized by one of the greatest prophets that ever lived, and he had just been filled with the Holy Spirit in a spectacular way. And in a rare show of divine favor God had opened the heavens to tell the whole world that Jesus was his special Son.
Then the road passes behind the scenes.
This section of the road, leading a believer to temptation and trials, actually passes through heaven, beyond your physical sight. There is a lot of satanic activity. Everything is hidden from the eyes of a believer, except when God reveals these activities to you supernaturally. The disciples had all along focused their attention on Jesus until he opened their spiritual eyes concerning what the Devil was doing:
Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:31-32 NIV[This was the first, out of the seven Scriptures, the Lord presented in this vision]
The Amplified version of the Bible puts this Scripture even better,
Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has asked excessively that [all of] you be given to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain. But I have prayed especially for you [Peter] that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again strengthen and establish your brethren. Luke 22:31-32 TAB
Jesus’ words in this Scripture raise many questions. If you study these words well, you will realize that Satan was asking for permission to tempt the disciples. Certainly Satan was not seeking this permission from Jesus. If this was so Jesus Christ couldn’t have allowed the devil to sift his disciples, and therefore, it would not have been necessary for him to pray over this matter. So whom was Satan talking to? Where was Satan located as he was making this request? Why was it necessary for Satan to ask? Why didn’t the devil just go ahead and tempt the disciples as he wished? If you look again at this Scripture you will realize that Satan’s request had already been granted, that’s why Simon was so tempted that he denied the name of Jesus three times. Why wasn’t Satan’s plea rejected? Instead of praying over this matter why didn’t Jesus use his power and authority to rebuke and block Satan’s demand?
Satan was seeking permission from God our Father.
The Devil does many things affecting Christians without their knowledge. In this Scripture Jesus was revealing to his disciples what he had seen in the spiritual realm. He was revealing to them that he had seen Satan asking God the Father for permission to tempt them.
Where did Satan find God? Again this Scripture does not tell us, but the truth is that Satan found God in heaven. How do we verify these two facts? Jesus tells us that everything has already been revealed through the Scriptures. We confirm these two facts from the Bible – in the book of Job. In this book, before Satan tempted Job, he first went to heaven and asked God our Father for permission to tempt this faithful and innocent man.
Job never knew anything about Satan’s activities.
Job suffered partly because he knew very little about Satan’s malicious heavenly activities. Like many Christians today, he was not aware that Satan could gain access to God’s presence in heaven, and even have a dialogue with our Almighty Father. He never knew that the devil was capable of accusing him before God and successfully obtain permission to come and tempt him here on earth. Today many Christians say they don’t have time to talk about the devil because, they claim, he is powerless. But compare the life of Job with that of our Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout his ministry on earth Jesus always exposed the devil’s works. For example, one time Jesus saw a crippled woman in the synagogue and he quickly pointed out her ailment was the work of Satan (Luke 13:16) Another time Peter wanted to hinder Jesus’ mission to the cross. Jesus immediately sensed he was not dealing with Peter but Satan and he rebuked the devil out of him (Mathew 16:23). This is what this message is all about. Jesus reveals Satan’s secret heavenly movements and gives us his tested weapon to overcome.
Satan has to be permitted by God.
Another fact we learn from the words Jesus spoke in Luke 22:31-32 is that Satan cannot tempt a believer unless he is first permitted by God. According to the written Word of God, Satan cannot even cause one sparrow, as small and cheap as it is, to fall on the ground unless God permits him to do so (Mathew 10:29). Do you know of any Christian who fell into sin or faced trials recently? Then know that God permitted Satan to carry out that temptation. As it was in the case of Job, Satan cannot cause a Christian to sin or to undergo trials, unless he first gets authorization from our Father in heaven.
Jesus’ words to his disciples in Luke 22:31-32 raise several questions:
The written Word is God’s light to us in this dark world. Starting with the next chapter, this message uses the already mentioned seven Scriptures to answer all the questions above.