Faith That Fails Not
Satan desires to sift us like wheat, but the real issue is that our faith not fail, rather than whether we are a success or failure. We need faith to be continent changers, to conquer kingdoms, to do the work of God, and to stand firm in our convictions. Be shamelessly persistent in prayer for others.
(an early morning thought from a brother…)
Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, satan has desired to sift you as wheat, to shake you up and control you. But I have prayed for you,” Jesus said, “that your faith fail not. And when you are converted, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31)
The issue there with Simon wasn’t the sifting. It wasn’t success or failure. It was that his faith fail not. For sure, some major changes needed to happen in Simon’s life. He needed to be converted and he needed to totally turn around. But the issue wasn’t his success or failure, but rather, it was his faith. And when his faith didn’t fail—in the midst of failure—he was to turn and strengthen his brothers as he came to grips with what had happened and repented of it.
Men judge continuously on the basis of success or failure. God judges by the faith of a man, not by his success or failure. Simon Peter definitely failed…remember the rooster crowing three times? But his faith did NOT fail. He was resilient. He came back. He saw the heart of the matter. Even though Simon failed on the success/failure scale—no one has ever done anything worse than what Simon did—his faith didn’t fail because he was resilient. He saw the heart of the matter, and he made a comeback. He didn’t let it stand between him and the Father. He knew by faith who the Father was. Without faith it’s impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
Now, what is faith? It is believing that God IS and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. It is not based on success or failure. God rewards based on seeking Him, rather than running and hiding from Him, like Adam and Eve did in the garden. If we will turn to Him and seek Him in the midst of the trauma, the difficulty, the failure, and the pain—if our faith won’t fail—then we will be successful. Then we will be useful to God too. We will be able to strengthen our brothers.
King David “failed” in every conceivable way. Look at Absalom and Solomon and certainly Bathsheba, and then his relationships with Joab and Abner and ten zillion situations that you can think of. He did some good things, no doubt. But he failed in every way a man could ever fail. And He was still a man after God’s own heart in a very unique way, and a type of Jesus—even with all that garbage in him.
Why is it that David was a man after God’s own heart? It was because of his faith. He always, always kept coming back with a contrite heart and with repentance. He saw the Father’s character and knew that the Father loved to give good gifts to His children—He wasn’t a hard taskmaster. Again and again David could come back to Him because of the Father’s character, not because of his own success and failure. He kept coming back again and again. He had a very contrite heart. There was deep repentance. He didn’t just wash over it with some kind of false grace. He had a heart that continued to come back to the Father—rather than to harden and stiffen and run, or to be in apathy. Think about it. Out of all of David’s mighty men, out of his whole kingdom, there was no one else like him. Joab was a mess. Abner was a mess. Solomon was a mess. Of every single person you can think of in David’s kingdom (even out of all of his mighty men), no one had the kind of heart and character and depth that continued to be contrite and soft and continuously turn to the Father in spite of failure the way David did. That’s why he was a man after God’s own heart. It was by his faith, by what he saw in the Father’s character, and the response of his heart in spite of his own success or failure.
Success or failure is not the issue. We can come back to the Father a zillion times if there is true repentance, true humility, and we make it right. We truly turn from it and make it right. A man after God’s own heart will come back to the Father and to his brothers and sisters with repentance and with peace in his heart because success or failure is not the issue here.
If you are not living by this kind of faith, but rather by works, you will be unfruitful. God will never give you the divine impetus of the anointing from Heaven to forge ahead and to change things for His name’s sake. You will also probably be miserable. You’ll have guilt and self-hatred. Or maybe you’ll have apathy and resignation if you just kind of “give it up” and realize that you can’t do it, but you don’t turn in faith to the Father’s character as your sustenance and substance. If you’ll be hard on yourself in that way and live by works—by success or failure—rather than by faith in the Father’s character, then you’ll probably be hard on other people too. You’ll judge them after the flesh. You’ll look at their success or failure and you’ll judge them. You’ll say, “Well, I’m just looking at their fruit.” But you’re supposed to look at yourself by the quality of your faith and your repentance and resilience, and that is the same way you should look at other people. The problem with Bakker and Swaggart and those men was that it wasn’t faith. They didn’t turn to the Father and rest their case with a pure and holy repentance and with fire in their hearts and a deep love…and like David, wash their face, and go back with strength and purpose and cleansing. Instead they hardened their hearts, they lashed out, and they excused and justified. The test of a man is his faith.
“…satan has desired to sift you as wheat, to shake you up and control you, but Jesus has prayed for you, that your faith fail not…and when you are converted, strengthen your brothers.”