And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:…
I. On the first view of such a crime as Peter's, WE SHOULD SUPPOSE THAT ALL HIS INFLUENCE OVER HIS BRETHREN, ALL HIS ABILITY TO DO GOOD, HIS CAPACITY TO IMPART STRENGTH TO OTHERS, WERE LOST, AND THAT FOR EVER. At the most, he could only hope to be forgiven, and to live as an unnoticed believer, brooding in the shade over his ingratitude and content to take an obscure place during the remainder of his life. For consider in what position he would now be placed.
1. First his own shame would naturally bring with it a sense of weakness, and would furnish a good reason for concentrating his efforts upon himself.
2. His brethren in such a case would naturally lower their opinion of him.
3. His brethren would naturally feel that a man of such glaring sins was not the man to be put foremost in their efforts to do good outside of the Church.
II. But, notwithstanding all this, it may be true, under a system of grace, that THE MANIFESTATION OF CHARACTER WHICH IS MADE BY A PARTICULAR SIN MAY TURN INTO A BLESSING TO HIM WHO IS ALLOWED TO FALL INTO IT. In this case it is not sin, but an outward sin that is the source of good, and this is accomplished, not in the ordinary course of things, but through the grace of the gospel. Of two persons in the same moral condition before the eye of God one may be untempted and so far forth innocent, while the other yields to a temptation, before which the first also would have fallen, had it been allowed to assail him. Now I say in such a case as this the outward sin may under the gospel be made a blessing to him who commits it; nay, more, the blessing may extend beyond himself to all around him. He may become a wiser, better, stronger Christian than he was before.
1. And this will be made apparent, if we consider that in this way he arrives at a better knowledge of his own character and is impressively warned against his own faults.
2. But secondly, a person who is thus recovered from his sins has the practical power derived from a renewed hope of forgiveness.
3. A person in Peter's condition appeals to the affections of the Church, and he has a closer hold upon them than if he had never become a kind of representative of Divine grace.
(T. D. Woolsey.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: