Permission to Sift

Permission Granted

You would think comedy would be the last way God would address sin, but then, the belly of a large fish doesn’t seem like a good idea to me either. While serving in ministry as a Christian Comedienne, I’m always looking at life with a little different twist. But, along with the laughter comes the serious as well. I’ve been encouraged and challenged by many people, and for those who have impacted my life the most, there’s always one common thread. They are confessed Believers who are forgiven sinners.

How about you? Are you struggling with a particular sin or know of another Believer who is? If so, keep reading. Be encouraged.

Nothing breaks my heart more than to see a brother or sister in Christ battling sin. I’m heartbroken when people are publicly exposed. My heart deeply grieves, but my grief moves me to pray for them, and that’s a good thing.

Recently, God began speaking to me about “our flesh” which causes us to sin. As I began studying this topic more in depth, the Holy Spirit led me to Luke 22:31-32. In these verses Jesus is telling Peter about how Satan has asked for permission to “sift him like wheat.” Notice Satan did not get to just do as he pleased. He had to ask Jesus for permission to test Peter. Through Scripture we know Peter was sifted like wheat as he denied Christ three times in one night before the rooster crowed, marking the dawn of a new day, just as Jesus said he would do.

Compelled to go deeper, I thought, “If Satan had to ask Jesus for permission, then it means Jesus granted Satan permission to sift (test) Peter.” Whoa, please say you just read that twice! Jesus granted Satan permission to sift Peter. Yes, He did. But, before you go jumping to conclusions, remember Jesus knows all and sees all. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and End (Revelation 1:8).

view finder

Think of it as if Jesus is holding a large red View Finder. Remember those? They were popular when I was a kid. You could see a whole event or place at one glance. I could stand in my backyard in Cayce, SC and see all of Disneyland in one view. Jesus, who is not confined to time or space, sees all and everything in between. He smiled as He knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139), and He will see you through to your final breath. Jesus looked through His Eternal View Finder and said to Peter, “I have told Satan he can sift you like wheat.”

Jesus knew the outcome of Peter’s sifting, not just that he would deny Him, but that through his denial Peter would grow up in his faith, becoming stronger than ever to fulfill the purpose God had for his life. Jesus knows we too will struggle with sin, but He also knows we have His strength in us to overcome sin because of His death and resurrection which defeated sin and the grave.

What is the purpose of our being sifted like wheat? Well, sifting wheat is a necessary process to remove the chaff or the nonessentials, leaving only the good stuff for making something great, like fresh baked bread. Can’t you smell sourdough bread baking right now? Actually, what Jesus gave Satan permission to do was a good thing. Through Satan’s sifting, it separated the bad ingredients from the good ingredients thus providing what was needed for Jesus to do something great through Peter – build His Church.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we all have been or will be tested. We are commanded to be like Christ, which has taken some serious sifting in my life. So, for whatever reason, if you are being sifted, then some bad stuff needs to be removed from your life. You may ask, “Why me?” The answer is, like Peter, we are also called to build Christ’s Church. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you like 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

Finally, the most significant reason for sifting is Jesus is praying for us. In Luke 22:32 Jesus tells Peter He, the King of kings, the Prince of Peace, the Alpha and the Omega, is praying for him so his faith will not fail. Do you hear that? Jesus prayed for Peter so his faith would not fail. Therefore, same testing through sifting, whatever is going on in your life, through Christ, your faith will not fail.

We are also called to pray for one another, especially during a sin struggle. First Thessalonians 5:17 says, “pray without ceasing.” Oh my. We’ve got some work to do, brothers and sisters. Together, let’s flood the Throne Room of God with prayers for one another. We know “good” will come out of everything (Romans 8:28), because Jesus sees all through His View Finder. So, as the spiritual battles of others unfold before our eyes, how do we handle their sifting? We pray them through and bake bread together because we, too, will need help sifting through our own sin struggles when permission is requested and granted.


Cherie Nettles is a Christian comedienne, author and speaker. She is a mother of two and lives in West Columbia, SC with her husband, Mike. Blog:

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