When Christians Are Sifted as Wheat
SHORTLY before his death, Jesus warned his disciples: “Look! Satan has demanded to have you men to sift you as wheat.” (Luke 22:31) What did he mean by that?
In Jesus’ day, harvesting wheat took much time and effort. First, harvesters gathered the wheat stalks from the field. Then, they beat the stalks against a hard surface or used farm animals to pull a threshing sledge over the stalks to break them into pieces. This process dislodged the grain from the stalks and the husks. Next, the farmers tossed the mixture into the air. The kernels, or whole seeds of grain, fell back onto the threshing floor, while the breeze blew the chaff away. Finally, the kernels were carefully sifted to remove from them any undesirable materials.
True to Jesus’ words, Satan relentlessly attacked Jesus’ disciples back then, and he attacks us today. (Eph. 6:11) It is true, not every difficulty we face in life is directly caused by Satan. (Eccl. 9:11) Still, Satan is eager to use any means at his disposal to break our integrity. For example, he may tempt us to follow a materialistic lifestyle, to choose unwholesome entertainment, or to engage in immoral sexual behavior. He may also use associates at school or at work and unbelieving relatives to pressure us into pursuing to the full all that this world has to offer in schooling and careers. Furthermore, Satan may use outright persecution in an effort to break our integrity to God. Of course, there are many other ways that Satan uses to sift us, as it were.
How can we stand against this powerful enemy? We cannot do so in our own strength. Satan is stronger than we are; however, we know that Jehovah is immeasurably stronger than Satan is. If we have full confidence in Jehovah, pray earnestly for the wisdom and courage to endure, and rely fully on his guidance, he will strengthen us to resist Satan’s attacks.
When under test, we need to have the ability to “distinguish both right and wrong” and thus avoid being misled by Satan’s schemes. (Heb. 5:13, 14) Jehovah can help us to develop that ability. Then we need to stick to the right course, no matter what. If we follow Jehovah’s guidance, he will unfailingly support our courageous determination to do what is right.
Satan may try to sift us as wheat. But in Jehovah’s strength, we can take our stand against him, solid in the faith. (1 Pet. 5:9) Yes, Jehovah’s Word assures us: “Oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.”