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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : God Uses Many Trials to Purify Us by Zac Poonen

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 God Uses Many Trials to Purify Us by Zac Poonen

We read in Luke 22:31-32 of Jesus warning Peter of a danger that lay ahead of him. He told him "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."

It was with a purpose that God allowed Peter to fail. That purpose was to sift Peter. What Satan really wanted was to destroy Peter altogether, but God would not allow him to do that. God does not allow us to be tested or tried beyond our ability. So Satan was allowed to sift Peter. As a result of his failure, Peter was cleansed of a whole lot of chaff in his life. That is the real purpose with which God allows us to fail too. Isn’t it a good thing for the chaff to be removed from our lives? Certainly. When a farmer harvests the wheat, he has to sift it before he can use it. Only then will the chaff be removed from it.

The Lord uses Satan to remove the chaff from our lives. Amazingly enough, God accomplishes this purpose by allowing us to fail repeatedly!! God used Satan to fulfil that purpose in Peter and He will use Satan to fulfil that purpose in our lives too. There’s a lot of chaff in all of us - the chaff of pride, self-confidence and self-righteousness. And God uses Satan to make us fail repeatedly, in order to remove that chaff from us completely.

Whether the Lord is succeeding in fulfilling this purpose in your life or not, you alone know. But if the chaff is being removed, you will be humbler and less self-righteous. You won’t look down on others who fail. You won’t consider yourself better than anyone else.

God permits Satan to remove the chaff from us, by allowing us to fail repeatedly. So don’t get discouraged if you fail. You are still in God’s hand. There is a glorious purpose that’s being fulfilled through your repeated failures. But your faith in God’s love for you must not fail at such times. That was what Jesus prayed for Peter and what He’s praying for us today. He’s not praying that we may never fail, but He’s praying that when we do reach rock-bottom, our confidence in God’s love will still be unshaken.

Only through many experiences of failure do we finally reach a "zero point", where we’re truly broken. It was when Peter reached that point, that he had a second "conversion" (Luke.22:32 – KJV). He turned around. The proof that Jesus’ prayer for Peter was answered is seen in the fact that when Peter hit rock-bottom, he turned around. He didn’t just lie down there discouraged. He didn’t lose his faith. He got up. God had let him go on a long leash. But when Peter reached the end of that rope, God pulled him back.

It’s a wonderful thing to be a child of God. When God lays hold of us, He puts a rope around us to protect us. There’s a lot of slack in that rope, and you may slip up and fall many thousands of times and even drift away from the Lord. But one day, you’ll reach the end of that rope. And then God will pull you right back to Him. Of course, you can decide at that point, to cut off the rope and run away. Or you can choose to be broken by God’s kindness and mourn and return to Him. That’s what Peter did. He wept and turned back to the Lord. But Judas Iscariot didn’t do that. He cut away the rope - in rebellion against God’s authority over his life - and was eternally lost. But I trust you’ll do what Peter did.

Jesus then told Peter, “When you turn back and are strong once again, strengthen your brothers”. It is only when we are broken that we can be strong enough to strengthen others. It was only when Peter was weak and broken, that he became really strong - so strong that he was able to strengthen his brothers and sisters. We could say that Peter’s preparation for Spirit-filled service came through his experience of failure. If he had been filled with the Holy Spirit, without this experience of failure, he would have stood up on the day of Pentecost as a proud man, as a man who had never failed, who could look down, despisingly, at the poor lost sinners in front of him. And God would have become his enemy, for God resists the proud!!

Peter had to come to such a zero-point too, before he could be what God wanted him to be. Once we have been to the bottom ourselves, we can never despise others who are still there. We can never look down thereafter on sinners, or backslidden believers, or even on Christian leaders who fall. We can never be proud of our victory over sin, because we know what failures we ourselves were at one time. That’s why Peter himself warned other Christians saying, “Don’t ever forget how you yourself were once cleansed from your sins”(2 Peter 1:9). He warns them there that if they do forget that, they will become blind and short-sighted. I don’t ever want to be blind or short-sighted. I want to have a long-range vision - of heavenly values and eternal values - at all times.


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