Yesterday, I overheard a conversation.
God summoned Satan before his throne, and they were discussing you.
With sinister boldness, Satan pleaded for access to your life. He wanted to have, harm, and humiliate you. Like a roaring lion, he wished to leave you bloodied, broken, and scarred. Oh, how he wanted to see your disbelief, steal your joy, and mute your worship. Satan wanted to mow you down like grass; he desired to sift you like wheat.
Surprisingly, your Heavenly Father agreed. The devil would be allowed to have a go at you. Oh, there would be limits, and through it all God would be watching and working, but your Sovereign God allowed access to Lucifer. For a time, Satan would enjoy an open season of temptation and tribulation.
I know what you are thinking. Yesterday, you were very serious about enjoying and glorifying God. With great urgency you prayed, “God lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from the Evil One.” However, it has become clear that God said “no” to that request. Like Jesus, you were to be led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Friend, that entire dialogue was surprising enough, but what I learned next blew me away. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit knew what you would do. They knew your weakness and that you would fall. They knew you would disbelieve, disobey, and deny your God.
And yesterday, that is exactly what you did. Again, you proved to be a wretched sinner.
Yesterday, I overheard another conversation.
This one was between the Father and the Son, and they were discussing you,
Jesus, the friend of sinners, the friend that sticks closer than a brother, your faithful high priest, your best friend, he stuck by you. Though you were faithless, he remained faithful. And he prayed for you. He boldly interceded that — when all was said and done — your faith might not fail. Oh fallen friend, Jesus abhorred your iniquity. Your disbelief, disobedience, and denial was no light sin. However, you should have seen and heard the affection of your Eternal Lover.
In addition, you should have seen the smile on your Father’s face. You are his adopted child. You are family. Because of Christ’s work, he sees not your sin and keeps no record of your wrong. Like the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, he only wanted you to come back, see his joyful tears, feel his embrace, feel his kiss, receive your new sandals, dawn your royal robe, and enjoy the communal feast.
And you should have seen the disheartened and defeated look of Satan. Again, he realized that nothing — neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, could separate you from the love of God.
Oh dear friend, I see you are filled with remorse and regret. This is good. It shows your new heart. Sin is not a light matter to you, and you are learning how to hunger and thirst after righteousness. This is fantastic! Now, do the next right thing. Go talk with the Father, Son, and Spirit; they are looking your way right now. And they are not angry at you. They are delighting in the repentance they are working in you. They are calling you home. They do not need you to do anything but accept the free grace — one more time — that they are always offering you. You are their possession. You are their blood-bought son. You are family. Turn back and worship God, and in the process, join in them in the humiliation of Satan.
Today, I overheard a new conversation.
I know you are broken hearted and feel totally invalidated to minister. In your best moments you feel like taking a leave of absence. In your worst you think you should turn in your notice and retreat into the background. You do not feel worthy of being an ambassador of Jesus — and the truth is, you are not.
However, hear the voice of your Savior, “Son, I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
So, buffeted, fallen, broken, and repentant friend, what should you do next?
You have never been better suited to be a member of the “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a person for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light … you have received mercy.”
And you have never been better suited to be a minister of the Gospel of God’s grace. You have experienced it. It is fresh to you. You have been humbled by your sin and humbled by your God’s undying affection. Now, listen again to the prayer of Jesus. Now, be what you have been called to be. Now, after turning, strengthen your brothers.
Christ himself has restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Get up. Go minister. Be humble, and humiliate Satan one more time.
Luke 21:31-34 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 5:6-11 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Romans 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.