The Devil Knows Your Name But So Does Jesus

Bible Book: Luke  22 : 31-34
Subject: Satan; Failure; Sin; Forgivness; Grace

The Devil Knows your Name But So Does Jesus

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com
Introduction

Luke 22:31-34

Turn with me to day to Luke 22:31-34. The message to day is very important because it serves as a warning and a guide to those who truly desire to serve the Lord.

“31 And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.’ 33But he said to Him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.’ 34 Then He said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.’” (NKJV)

The time of the arrest of Jesus, and his subsequent crucifixion, was drawing near. The words we see in this text are some of the last statements that Jesus made directly to Simon Peter before our Lord went to the cross. Jesus reveals something to Peter that is eye opening and must serve as a warning to each of us who know the Lord as Savior.

Now let me share something with you before we get into the passage before us today. Most people think the devil is at work on the dark streets of our cities, the place where pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and loan sharks lurk and work. What we fail to realize is that Satan is at work in God’s House and he is after God’s people. His desire is to do his dirty deeds right here in this church fellowship among those considered the most important and most reliable.

The devil has already done a work on those people who are living for and in the world, but he wants more than anything to keep them from hearing the gospel and receiving the Savior. The way for him to do that is to attack those of us who serve the Lord, and to keep us from being faithful servants and witnesses for our Lord. If he can get us to fail, he knows that it means less people will ever open up to hear what we have to say about Jesus. So the devil slips in among the disciples and attempts to go after the ones who can cause the greatest damage to the cause of Christ.

In the incident before us, Jesus is revealing to Peter that Satan has asked to sift him as wheat. Peter responds by puffing out his chest and claiming that he is willing to be arrested and even die with Christ. Of course, Peter is revealing just how foolish Christians can be at times.

Be sure of this, Satan is desirous to trip up the preacher, the deacon, the Sunday School teacher and every devoted Christian that he can. He is at work to keep a church fooling around with things that don’t matter while the world goes to hell. He brings friction into the Christian family to cause brokenness and ineffectiveness. That is what we are looking at in this passage today.

I want you to gain three insights from our scripture passage. There is so much to look at when it comes to Satan that we simply must focus like a microscope on just the facts in this passage before us today. So, let’s get started…

I. The Plan of Satan

When Jesus addresses Peter, as recorded in Luke 22:31, He does so by calling Peter, “Simon.” This is interesting, since Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter early in His ministry. Note how this happened in Matthew 16:17-18: "7 Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.'"

Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was. Simon answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That is when Jesus informed Simon Bar-Jonah (which means, Simon the son of Jonah) that he would henceforth be called Peter – the Rock.

When we come to our passage in Luke today we note that Jesus reverts to the old, original name of Peter – Jesus calls him Simon and even repeats the old name twice! Jesus is letting Peter know that Satan knows his old name.

The devil doesn’t just know me as Pastor Minnix, or Preacher Minnix, or Dr. Minnix; the devil knows me as “Mikey,” something I was called as a little boy. He knows my weaknesses, my predilections, my habits, my penchants and the tendencies from the earliest days of my life. The devil knew me before I was “preacher” or “pastor” and he knows where all my weak spots are located. The Lord saved me and gave me a new name, but the devil knows my old name! Listen, dear friend, the devil knows you and he knows you really well.

When I was in Vietnam in the 1960s we were warned about the ingenious ways that the Vietcong could trap American soldiers. They had centuries of practice against enemies and they had perfected their craft. One approach they used us to create a pit with sharp cane poles facing upward from the bottom of the cavity. The pit was covered so well with jungle debris that even the best trained soldier would miss seeing it before it was too late. Many soldiers walked over one of those pits, fell inside and were impaled with numerous spikes all through their bodies. Death was often instant, but if the soldier was unlucky he might linger for a few hours in agony before passing. The Vietcong also knew how to lead a soldier directly toward one of those traps. They chose a place where jungle vegetation was extremely thick, and only a single path was open enough for someone to walk through easily. Then, when American soldiers were near, they would make noise and the Americans would go after them. When the Americans followed, they would come to a thick jungle area and see only one path to easily follow the enemy. They would take the easy path and fall right into the hole with the horrible spikes.

Satan knows where to set a trap for you. He knows how to draw you down a path and make you desire to take what appears to be the easy route or the most pleasurable path. He knows how to stir up a hornets nest in a family. He knows how to split a church right down the middle. He knows how to thrust a spike straight through the heart of a major leader in God’s work. He has been at for a long time and knows every trick and every scheme possible to get God’s people in a hole and out of commission for the Lord.

Jesus told Simon that Satan had asked to sift him as wheat. Sifting wheat demanded taking the wheat grain and shaking it to loosen the chaff from the kernel. Satan wanted to shake Peter so violently that he could remove Peter’s faith and leave only the world behind. Note two important facts about being shaken:

i. Satan shakes you to take away your faith and leave the world in your life.
ii. Jesus shakes you to take away the world and leave faith in your life.

Anytime Jesus tests us He does so to shake the world from us and strengthen our faith. However, when Satan tempts us his desire is to weaken our faith and effectiveness for Christ and to make us worldly. The Lord seeks to improve us but the devil seeks to incapacitate us.

Poor Simon, he still didn’t understand. After Jesus shared the truth with him, he bragged about his willingness to go to prison and death with the Lord, if that was necessary. Peter spoke of something he knew nothing about.

I have heard people speak hypothetically about what a citizen should do if he or she is ever in a building where a terrorist is shooting people. The idea is for the person to attack the terrorist. They suggest that one person in the room ought to leap forward and tackle the assailant. Anyone who says that has no experience of being in a place where live fire is taking place a gun. The mere sound of a high powered weapon in a confined space can be totally disorienting to a person. The image of blood and mayhem is so foreign to the mind that when it happens a person either freezes in place or flees as quickly as possible. The idea of attacking a terrorist who is firing a gun is not bad advice, it just doesn’t make much sense in real life.

Peter was bragging about what he was willing to do in the middle of a fire fight with the devil, but he didn’t know what he was talking about! He had no idea what he was going to face when Jesus was arrested, beaten and was moving toward crucifixion. When the hour came, Peter denied three times that he even knew Jesus.

The plan of the devil is to disorient you, to disarm you and to disable you in God’s service. He knows your old name and your old habits. He knows how and when to attack you. Don’t brag about what you will do in temptation or under threat to your faith. Don’t be too hard on those you see who fall into sin, you may end up being tempted in the same way. Look at what God’s Word says about it: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV)

One way that Satan is having a field day with God’s people is in leading many of them to deny that he even exists. A Gallup Poll from 2015 states that 89% of Americans believe in God, while only 61% believe in the devil. (Accessed at: http://www.gallup.com/poll/193271/americans-believe-god.aspx) In another poll I read recently, though I have forgotten where I saw it, only 54% of Americans believe in a personal Satan. The late E.J. Daniels used to preach a sermon in his crusades and revivals entitled, “If I Were the Devil.” One point he made in that sermon was this: “If I were the devil, I would seek to convince you that I don’t exist.”

Keith Green wrote the following about Satan’s joy at our unbelief in his existence:

“Well, my job keeps getting easier as time keeps slipping away.

I can imitate the brightest light, and make your night look just like day.

I put some truth in every lie to tickle itching ears.

I'm drawing people just like flies, 'cause they like what they hear.

I'm gaining power by the hour, they're falling by the score.

It's getting very simple now, since no one believes in me anymore.”

Sadly, I’m concerned that many Christians act like they don’t believe in the devil. Trust me … no, trust Jesus … the devil is real.

The devil is mentioned twenty-nine times in the gospels, and twenty-four of these times it is Jesus who is speaking to or about him. Jesus dealt with the devil and he wants you to know that the devil is real and he is out to cripple your effectiveness for the Lord's cause.

So, we know the devil’s plan when it comes to Christians, let’s look at something else very important in our scripture for today…

II. The Prayer of the Savior

Note that Jesus told Simon Peter that he had prayed for him, that his faith not fail. This is truly fascinating on several levels.

The first thing I notice here is that Jesus knows what the devil is up to and so He has a path for the believer to escape the devil’s traps. Of course, it does us no good unless we are in communication with Jesus and that we are trusting in His power and grace. Peter was talking to Jesus and still didn’t avail himself to the knowledge and strength Christ offered.

Paul made a bold statement when writing to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 8:11: “…in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”

Ah, he states that we are not unaware of Satan’s schemes. I’m not sure that is true in our day. In order to be aware of the devil’s schemes we must be near to and devoted to the Lord who saved us and keeps us. He knows beforehand what the devil is up to and how we can overcome. Jesus sees the trap that you and I cannot see. If we are not within earshot of the Savior, we miss the warning and take the fall!

It overjoys me to read in our passage today that Jesus was praying for Peter. It is a pleasing thing to know that the Lord prays for us in our weakness. I pastored First Baptist Church, Lilburn, Georgia for 12 wonderful years. God worked in amazing ways and we saw Him bring over 700 people through the baptismal waters there and over 2,000 joined the church during those years. When I resigned to become vice-president for evangelization of the Georgia Baptist Convention, the church held a beautiful and sweet reception for us. One of the deacons took my hand and asked, “Pastor, what will you miss most about this church?” Without hesitation I replied, “I will miss your prayers!” He, of course, said that the people would continue to pray for me, but I knew that the wall of prayer that had surrounded me for 12 years would not be the same. Oh, how precious are the prayers of the saints for one another. But, then, how much more wonderful is it that Jesus prays for us! Note this passage: (Hebrews 7:25 NKJV)

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

What a wonderful and blessed thing it is to know that our Lord not only saved us but ever lives to intercede in our behalf. Jesus prays for you! Why? He knows what lurks around the corner, and He knows the traps the devil has set for you. He prays for us that we might hear and follow Him. He desires to turn the devil’s traps into blessings in our lives. What the devil sets before us to weaken our faith, the Lord desires to use that He may increase our faith

We must always remember that He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Our Lord knows that the devil goes about as a roaring lion, seeking those he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). The devil may fool me, but he can’t fool Jesus! The closer I am to the Lord, the further I am from the pit filled with the sharp spikes of sin’s results.

Let every Christian, here and now, re-devote yourself and rededicate yourself to the Lord who intercedes for you. He does not want your faith to fail. He does not want you to fall into a trap that harms you, hurts those around you and hinders your work for His cause. He desires to protect your church from the harmful things Satan has planned for you!

Paul warned in Ephesians 4:27 that we are not to give place to the devil. That means that we are not to give him an opportunity or a spot to work in our lives or our churches. We are not to allow his big toe inside the door of our lives or our Christian fellowship. May God help us to stay alert, awake and anointed in the face of the evil one.

Now let’s look at the last thing in text for today…

III. The Purpose of the Saints

Jesus told Peter, in effect, that he was going to fail, but he also said to Him, “After you have returned, strengthen the brethren.” There is an important message here for all of us.

Failure at some point in your Christian life does not spell doom to your soul or to your labor for the Lord in the future. Yes, it may set you back. Indeed, it may give rise to criticism by many inside and outside the kingdom, but it does not mean that you cannot be of use to the Lord. Jesus knew Peter was going to fail, but he told Peter that he still had a work for him to do in the kingdom. Isn’t that just like Jesus? He knows we will fail, but He still plans to use us!

One thing important at this point is to remember what Peter suffered during and after he failed our Lord. You remember of course, that when Jesus was being tried, prior to His crucifixion, Peter denied that he even knew Jesus. Peter offered his denial in public and cursed in the process. When Peter realized what he had done, he went out into the night and wept in great sorrow. Be assured of this, failing the Lord brings great sorrow and leads to regret which will last the rest of your life. Every time Peter heard a rooster crow for the rest of his life he likely remembered that awful night when he denied knowing the Lord. Do not think that failing the Lord is okay, since He will forgive you. No, no! Failure of the Savior is a deep and awful thing that leaves a wound that often reappears and opens up in pain all over again. The pain of failure is not from the judgment of God – it is from your own heart and knowing that you have given comfort to the enemy that crucified your Savior. The Lord does not remind you or your failure, for He keeps no record of it. No, it is your own heart that reminds you from time to time of your failure. But, even then, you must know that God loves you and has special work for you to do in defeating the enemy who tried to defeat you!

Note what Jesus wanted to do with Peter’s failure. He had plans to use Simon as an example of grace. He knew that Peter could serve as an example of God’s forgiveness for the Christian. He wanted this to be a source of strength for the other children of God who had also failed the Lord. When we fail, and we return, it shows that all hope is not lost in a moment of sin. Jesus loves us and keeps us in His grace. He can use our failures to help others come back to God. He can use our shame to assist some in not failing at all.

(Illustration used here of former church member who failed terribly, came to church and confessed. How God blessed her and her future in remarkable ways because of her sweet, humble confession and request for prayer! She is a trophy of God’s grace and for years now she has been giving the devil a black eye through her faithful service and that of her family.)

Of all the people Jesus could have chosen to preach the first New Testament sermon, He chose Simon Peter. Wow! He chose the one who denied Him. Why did Jesus do that? Well, just think about for a moment. Satan sifted Simon and thought he had removed him from the work of God. Jesus chose Peter to preach the sermon at Pentecost to kick the devil in the shin! Jesus, in effect, was saying, "Watch this Satan, I'm going to use PETER to bring thousands into the kingdom - sure, Peter sometimes acts like Simon but he is actually redeemed and you can't stop those that I have redeemed!"

Conclusion

Someone in this building today is not a Christian. You have never trusted Jesus as your Savior. Do you know why you haven’t believed upon Him? Do you know why you have never repented of your sins and trusted the risen Lord for salvation? In 2 Corinthians 4:4 we are told that “… the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not." Satan has blinded you! Maybe he used a fallen Christian to blind you. Perhaps he used a hypocrite in a church to blind you. Perhaps he used sinful habits to blind you. Whatever it was, he has blinded you. Today! Today, open your eyes. Jesus loves you. He died for you and rose to justify you before God. Turn from you sin and come to Him today. If we in the kingdom have ever discouraged you by our ways, habits and failures, turn your eyes from us and look upon the wonderful, perfect Savior.

Now, dear Christian, how many of us need to come and fall down before our Lord and thank Him that He has not thrown us out of the kingdom? Like Peter, in some way or another we have failed our Lord. How wonderful it is that He has never failed us, nor will He! He holds us in His hand and no one can pluck us out of His hand. He prays for you and prays for me. Come! Let us come to Him and ask Him to show us where the traps are to give us strength to overcome.

Peter failed because he was too proud to admit his weakness. “I’ll go to prison and death,” Peter said. Poor thing! If only he could have cried out, “Lord, help me! I don’t want to fail you!” That is what we need to do today.

Satan knows my name, but I give thanks that God has my name written in the palm of His hand. He has the name of the Christian in the Lamb’s Book of Life. He knows your name and He is calling you right now. You see, Satan calls you toward a pit of sorrow and suffering, but Jesus calls you toward a place of joy and gladness forever. Let’s respond to the loving voice of Jesus.