You might think you are placed on this earth to have earthly gain, but this is far from the truth. You have been placed on this earth to make a decision between temporary earthly gain vs promised heavenly gain. There are two who are making a bid for your soul: Jesus and Satan. Jesus came and died for your sins with his death on the cross (Jn 3:16). “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk 19:10). If you will obey his gospel and doctrine, you will be saved after you die (Mk 16:16 f; 2 Jn 9). The Devil promises you immediate gain here on earth. His motto is, “Eat, drink and be merry” (Lk 12:19), offering you the lusts of the eye, the lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 Jn 2:15,16). The question we all need to answer is “What will we give in exchange for our soul”? (Matt 16:26).
Satan tempted and tried three prominent figures in the new testament: Peter, the chiefest of apostles. Paul, the bearer of the gospel to the Gentiles, and Jesus who bore the sins of the world. Let’s take a look at what happened to them.
“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31-32).
Satan desires and seeks for every accountable person. Peter admonished, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring Ron, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). The Devil sought for Peter. The Lord said that He would pray for him that his faith would not fail. We might be prone to feel like Peter that we will never forsake the Lord. However, Paul reminds us, “Take heed lest you fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).
Why did the Devil want Peter? Every man is valuable to the Lord. The Lord reminded Peter of this when He said, “What God has cleansed, call not you common” (Acts 10:15). No man is common. We may at times undersell ourselves, as may others, but the Lord knows our true value and so does the devil. He also desires you.
Satan knew that if he brought Peter down he would hurt the Lord. On one occasion he tried to win Jesus over to his way but miserably failed (Matt. 4). The next best thing he could do was to win over one of his ardent followers. I could do you more harm by hurting your child or one of your loved ones than any other way. So, Satan knew if he was successful in winning over Peter, he would hurt Jesus.
It is well to keep in mind and study the context of this passage in Luke 22. How would the Devil go about getting Peter? The Lord sought to teach that it is wrong to seek preeminence and supremacy. “Professional jealousy” (for lack of a better expression) exists among gospel preachers. Satan may have taken the leading part in this matter. Our Lord warned Peter that Satan desired to have him.
The Devil wanted Peter because he was the spokesman of the group and later became an elder. Also, Peter was a married man. Satan wanted him for that reason. He knew if he could capture Peter, who was a married man, that it would not be long before he would have his wife under his influence and eventually his whole family. He would like you today if you are married. He wants you if you are single. Satan desires you!
Oh, how Satan wants our young people. He will employ every “wile,” trick or cunning procedure to lure, entice and deceive them. He will take advantage of their innocence and youth. Young people, don’t let Satan get a single advantage of you. Remember, the timely advice: “Flee youthful lusts” (1 Tim. 5:22). “Let no man despise thy youth” (1 Tim. 4:12). “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth” (Eccl. 12:1). Again, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (Prov. 1:10).
Today the Devil would like to win over the elders; those who teach, counsel, shepherd, advise, etc. He would like to capture some of us preachers and he has succeeded more than once. Modernism is the order of the day. He has influenced many away from the “Old Paths” into liberalism, softism, institutionalism, humanism, Calvinism (false teaching concerning imputed righteousness and extended grace of God); in denying the organizational structure of the local church; a tendency to level sharp criticism at one who will “contend earnestly for the faith” and to label such a person as negative; and, he has led others into disgraceful acts of immorality.
In the quest for popularity and earthly gain many preachers have doomed their soul and the soul of others. “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom 16:17,18). This has caused some in our day to preach a socialized, modernized gospel in order to make earthly gain from fellow brethren. These are those who are proud, knowing nothing, but are obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain” (1 Tim 6:4-5). “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim 6:9-10).
The Devil wanted Paul, but he was a humble man. He felt his own “littleness.” He desired not to be “exalted over much.” In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 we are told that he was sent “a messenger of Satan to buffet him.” He prayed three times that it might be removed, but God said, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” This “thorn in the flesh” was indeed “a messenger of Satan.” He overcame by the Lord’s help. So, as with Peter, Satan wanted Paul, but Jesus also wanted him.
We may have times when our faith is sorely tried. But, we should remember: as Jesus prayed for Peter “that his faith fail not” so He prays for us during our dark and trying hours, when we know not what tomorrow holds. He prays that our faith may be equal to the task; that we may be converted and in turn may be instrumental in converting others.
The Devil sought after Jesus in the wilderness, tempting him three times. The last temptation was the greatest temptation of all: He offered him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them (Matt 4:1-11). Jesus fought him by the Word of God (A thus saith the Lord). If Satan had been successful, the world today would be a lost people and all would be doomed for hell. Jesus resisted Satan and he fled, even as he will flee if we resist him (Jam 4:7). If that old serpent would tempt Jesus, he will also tempt us. It was Jesus who said, “Remember the word that I said to you,’A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (Jn 15:20).
Let us therefore cast all of our care upon Him knowing He truly cares for us (1 Pet 5:7). “Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27). “Stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Thess 2:15). “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17-18). “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:11). “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called…” (1 Tim 6:12). There are two offers on the table for your soul: Worldly gain vs Heavenly gain. Today, your soul is in your hands to do as you please (2 Cor 6:2). Tomorrow, your soul will be in God’s hands to do as He pleases (Ps 115:3 ff; Jn 12:48; 2 Cor 5:10).