Sunday, December 16, 2012

Has Your Faith Been Shaken?

And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift [you] as wheat. "But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to [Me], strengthen your brethren."
Luke 22:31-32 NKJV

“How could a loving God allow such a tragedy as this”? Have you heard that question this past week as I have in one form or another? It seems to be a pretty common question to ask at times like this, yet whenever I hear it my immediate thought is why is the question focused on God rather than the author of the evil, Satan?

If you have followed my thoughts on this site for any length of time I'm sure you have by now come to realize that I believe one of our most important responsibilities to our Father is to heed His command to “watch”.

"Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is."[It is] like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch."Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming--in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning--"And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"
Mark 13:33-37 NKJV

Whenever I teach on this subject I inevitably get questions relating to what should we be watching for and what exactly will we see? My answers to those questions reveals my belief about the origin of many of the events we will observe, and that is that they come from Satan himself. All too often I think as believers, we tend to focus on God's plan without appreciating the fact that Satan has a plan as well. The more we are familiar with Satan and what he intends for the world, the better prepared we will be to deal with the events that will most certainly occur.

You see, nobody knows scripture better than Satan. After all, who has been around to study it as long as he has? He quoted it when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, and he most assuredly uses it against us. So do you think with what he knows about the end of the age, he wouldn't have a clue as to when God was preparing to take us home? You see, Satan knows what God has in store for him, and when he believes the end times are approaching it would make sense that he would do anything in his power to release all the evil on this earth at his control in order to take as many down with him as he could?

I believe much of what we will see happen before the rapture is a direct result in Satan increasing his efforts as he sees the day approaching. I truly believe this is exactly what we can see right now in the world around us. So many events are occurring on a daily basis that it simply seems unbelievable that we could not be close to the time Jesus commanded us to watch for. Yet as we watch for the signs of Christ's return, do we not also see an increase in the evil that surrounds us? I believe that as the time grows shorter to the rapture of the Church, we will see even more of these unspeakable tragedies as Satan prepares to unleash as much of his power as he can.

What does this mean to us as believers? Most certainly, I believe as these questions are asked about God and what is called His “permissable will”, or what He chooses to allow to happen, many will begin to question their faith. In the passage from Luke we see that Jesus tells Peter that his faith is about to be tested to the limit by Satan. The Greek word for sift is siniaz┼Ź:1) to sift, shake in a sieve, 2) fig. by inward agitation to try one's faith to the verge of overthrow. Did you get that last part? “To the verge”? When you consider the idea of testing to the limit you would probably think back to Job as well. However the common denominator is that Satan must ask permission of God to test in this way.

I think we would all agree that one of Satan's primary goals is to get people to reject the whole idea of the existence of a loving God. Failing that, I'm equally sure he wants to make those who do believe to begin to question their faith. Remember his introduction in the book of Genesis? There we find him making Eve question what God had clearly said. It has been his plan from the beginning of time to make those who believe question their faith, and he will do everything he can to shake us.

As believers we need to know and understand what Satan is up to if we expect to have victory over him.

lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
2 Corinthians 2:11 NKJV

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places].
Ephesians 6:11-12 NKJV

Make no mistake about what Satan is trying to accomplish. He knows what his end is, and his plan is to take as many people down with him as he can. His desire is to destroy God's creation and everyone in it, and he will do anything he can to achieve that end. As his plan unfolds and evil increases, his desire is for those who believe to question their faith. If we are not aware of his plans, and ignorant of his devices, our faith will be shaken.

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
"And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? "I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:1, 7-8 NKJV

It is difficult at times to watch evil manifest itself in ways like it did this past week. Yet we know, just like Satan knows, the outcome is-God wins. God will avenge, evil will be destroyed, and Satan condemned to eternity in Hell. When Jesus returns will He find faith on the earth? Our faith may be shaken, but it is for the purpose of purification, a refining where all that is left is the kernel of true faith which God will use for His purposes on this earth. Jesus prayed for Peter's faith not to fail, and He is praying for ours as well.

He also told Peter to strengthen his brothers, and that too, applies to us. If we see a brother or sister being shaken by the evil events which are occurring all around us, share with them the encouragement that we have the knowledge of victory in Jesus, no matter what evil may happen on this earth.

Keep watching.