I Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
It has been noted that Satan normally comes to us in one of three forms:
As a subtle serpent, to enchant our imagination, pervert our judgment and beguile our senses.
As an angel of light, to deceive us with false views of spiritual things.
As a roaring lion to bear down upon us and destroy us by violent opposition, persecution and death. This is the form that Satan was taking against the believers of Peter’s day.
In the natural realm, a lion will often attack prey that is weak, injured, off guard or separated from the herd. This is comparable to what Satan does in the spiritual realm.
- If you are spiritually weak/immature or injured, you may be intimidated by his roar and immobilized by fear. When this happens, he can conquer you.
- If you are caught off guard (not watching for an attack from your enemy), then he will sneak up on you, and destroy you before you know it.
- If you have separated yourself from other believers by no longer attending church or you have removed yourself from your network of Christian friends and mentors, then you are at risk for a deadly attack.
While a satanic lion is a formidable foe, thanks to our Savior Jesus he is not unbeatable. Think about it – Satan prowls around seeking someone to devour. That means that by default, he cannot devour everyone he comes across. Like a lion, he will travel around, eying all the Christians in turn to see which one he has the best chance of successfully stalking, intimidating and destroying.
What practical steps can one take to ensure victory against him?
You need to be sober minded. Sobriety is the opposite of intoxication. While we most often associate intoxication with alcohol, its definition is actually broader. It refers to an excitement of the mind; an elation which rises to enthusiasm, frenzy or madness.
So the truth is, you can be intoxicated by work, or sports or physical fitness, or fashion, or entertainment or almost anything. The problem is that we become so engrossed (obsessed) by these things, that we are not keeping watch over our souls; the enemy will come and attack us unaware and devour us.
Make sure you understand me correctly – there is nothing wrong with business or sports or fashion. Just make sure that you enjoy these pursuits within reason; don’t let them consume you to the point where your spiritual life suffers.
You need to be vigilant. Be aware of what is going on around you in society and culture. Christians need to speak up about social and political issues. We need to stand and fight for the biblical principles this nation was founded upon. If we let things ‘slide’ and don’t stand for righteousness, things will only get worse/more evil.
Let’s face it – this has already occurred in America. Satan has way more than just a foothold in our society. He has clearly taken ground from the Christian community and now we must fight to get it back. Once we regain control, we need to be vigilant and diligent in order to keep it!
You need to watch, or be on your guard. Even though we are now Christians we are still living in a world and a fleshly body that is fallen/sinful. Our own propensity to sin often leads us astray without too much effort on the part of the enemy. Let’s be honest – each of us has areas in which we struggle, and we are fully aware of what those areas are. So watch yourself, particularly in those areas where you are more prone to sin. If you don’t, you could easily be Satan’s next meal.
We must also watch for temptations that come from without our own minds and hearts. While we walk through life, the devil is constantly throwing every single temptation he knows into our path, hoping that one of them will catch us by surprise and he will ensnare us.
Think of it this way: we often use shiny baits to trick fish into taking our hooks. The fish are fooled by something that looks/seems good, but in reality it has no value. The bait is an empty promise that brings only death. Temptations to sexual sins, envy, pride, greed, etc are just the same – they look like they would be wonderful and enjoyable, but they only bring death. So don’t be tricked – watch out for these temptations.
Another reason we need to watch is because time is short. We do not know when the Lord will return, or when our last day on earth will be. What we do know is that we will give an account to God about what we did in this life. We don’t want to be unaware and unprepared when that day comes, so keep watch.
This brings up another question – What are we supposed to be watching or guarding?
We need to watch/guard our thoughts – the scripture says that out of the heart (mind) proceed evil thoughts, adultery, murder blasphemy, lies, theft and all kinds of other evil (Matthew 15:19, Mark 7:21). So be careful what kind of thoughts you allow to stay in your mind. You may not have complete control over the thoughts that form in your mind, but you DO have control over the amount of time you allow them to stay there!
We need to watch/guard our lips – Proverbs tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 1:21). James tells us that the tongue is a little member, but is set on the fires of hell and it defiles our whole being (James 3:6). So be careful what you say!
We need to watch/guard our actions – In the book of Isaiah, God scorned the words that came out of the mouths of his people, because they words did not match their actions (Isaiah 58:1-8). God is looking for people who uphold righteousness, justice and mercy (Matthew 23:23). Which is a better indicator of people – what they say, or what they do? Obviously, it’s actions that show the true person. What do your actions say about you?
Here is something else to stop and consider. Why does Satan tempt us? I believe it is because he has a raging, destructive, blind hatred of God. But he is powerless against our heavenly Father. Since he can’t hurt God directly, Satan tries to cause him pain by attacking one of the things God loves the most – people.
Satan’s favorite kind of people are sinners, because they are under his control where he can destroy their lives and keep their souls separated from God for eternity. Every temptation and deception he throws against us is designed to break off the relationship between us and our Father.
Satan’s second favorite kind of person is a weak, powerless Christian. While he may not have control of them, he has a good chance of intimidating them so they do not exert their God given power and authority to destroy his kingdom and rescue his prisoners. He will keep a careful watch on this group of people, always attempting to confuse, distort or otherwise veil their thinking, lest they wake up and become the victorious people God has designed for them to be!
This brings us to the third category of people. Christians who are full of Holy Spirit, who pray and fast, who live in faith, who stand up for righteousness and who will boldly stand up against the plans of the enemy. Satan hates and fears these people, because they can defeat him; they are just like his archenemy, God!
Which kind of person are you?
I Peter 5:9 – Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
Faith, mixed with the powerful word of God, is the weapon by which the Christian is enabled to resist the tempter, and to repel/defeat his fiery attacks. The way to overcome the devil is by resisting him; Satan is a conquered enemy and he will run if the Christian (YOU) resists him in faith.
Again, we can look to Jesus as our example. When he was tempted in the wilderness, he resisted the devil in faith, quoting scripture in the face of every temptation. And sure enough, Satan fled the scene.
Matthew 4:10-11 – Then said Jesus unto him, ‘Be gone, Satan: for it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’ Then the devil left him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
The weakest follower of God can confound and overpower the devil, IF he continues in steadfast faith, believing on Jesus and walking uprightly before him. Be sure that you are well prepared for these attacks by hiding the word in your heart, being close to God in prayer, and exercising your faith.
As a further stimulus to the faith of his flock, Peter reminds them that suffering or persecution was not unique to their situation. Christians in all parts of the world were involved in the same suffering as the Christians in Asia Minor experienced. Their trials were neither greater nor less than those of others; and their natural strength was neither greater nor less than others. God’s grace and strength sustain every Christian who reaches out to him. Therefore, since other believers were able to resist and overcome (even to death), so could the Christians of Asia Minor. And so can you and I, if God calls upon us to endure suffering and persecution.
Here is another interesting point – the Greek word translated as ‘adversary’ actually means an adversary at law. We know that the devil is our accuser; day and night he stands before the Lord trying to bring a legal case against us (Revelation 12:10).
But we have an advocate in the court room of heaven – Jesus Christ our Lord (1 John 2:1-2). He will plead our case before the Father because through his blood we have been found innocent of all charges!
I Peter 5:10 – 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.
Verse 10 is what we would consider a closing prayer by the apostle Peter.
Peter addresses his prayer to the ‘God of all grace’ who is not only the author, but the finisher of our faith. It’s good to remember that God’s arm is not short that he cannot save, nor is his ear deaf that he cannot hear. He will faithfully sustain us in the beginning, middle and end of all suffering and persecution.
Notice that Peter’s prayer is not for believers to be removed from suffering, but for God to sustain them in the midst of it. As we noted before, trials often mature us in ways that nothing else can. If God has allowed it, we must embrace it as his will and have faith that it will result in our good and his glory. This is very similar to the way Jesus prayed for us too:
John 17:15 – I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil.
However, Peter does ask God to make their suffering short – ‘a little while’ – which may refer to the duration of time, or the severity of the suffering.
Either way, he is asking God to confirm and strengthen the faith and belief of Christians until they are firmly, completely and unchangeably established upon the solid rock Christ Jesus. Once this has occurred, the bond between them and God will be everlasting and unbreakable. The Christian who is steadfastly anchored in Christ is like a house built upon bedrock – neither the storms of life nor the wiles of the devil will be able to topple it.
When the bond between God and his children remains intact, the believer can look forward to sharing eternal glory with Christ.
I Peter 5:11 – To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Dominion is the ultimate authority to rule; the power of governing and controlling. Since all glory and dominion belong to our God, we have no reason to worry or fear.
Isaiah 43:2 – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame scorch you.
God’s power and authority will bring all of his precious promises to pass in our lives. He is well able to perfect, strengthen, establish and preserve us, even when we pass through the fire or the flood. And we don’t just make it through life by the ‘skin of our teeth’. When we walk through this life with Christ as our anchor, we walk victoriously through every situation.
I Peter 5:12 – By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.
In his benediction, Peter reaffirms the two main reasons or purposes for his letter.
The first is to declare, in the strongest possible terms, that the doctrine of salvation which had been preached to them (and which they had accepted) was the true message of the grace of God. Christianity was not some new, flash-in-the-pan idea that had no substance or backing. Rather, the gospel message was foretold by the prophets of long ago, and fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Secondly, because the gospel is true, Christians should continue to embrace it regardless of persecution by their enemies or the seductive temptations of Satan.
When we are fully persuaded of being on the path to heaven, it will motivate us to stand firm and persevere in our Christian walk. Heaven and all its untold blessings, are indeed the reward of the believer.
I Peter 5:13-14 – She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
‘She’ refers to the church. In other words, the church at Babylon sends its greetings to the other churches under Peter’s care. Some scholars believe that Babylon was code for the city of Rome, while others understand it to refer to Babylon in Assyria, which had a very large Jewish population. Either way, the substance of the greeting remains the same – we are not alone. There are kingdom believers everywhere and we all belong to the body of Christ.
Lastly, Peter reminds and encourages all Christians to express love towards one another. He pronounced a blessing of peace upon them. Peace, which flows from salvation, refers to all prosperity, both spiritual and temporal.
Let me offer you some encouragement:
A lot of times, our first prayer during a trial is for God to simply remove it from our lives completely. (Okay, maybe I shouldn’t speak for you. Let’s say that is MY first prayer!) But God does not always remove those problems from our lives. If he did, we would continue to be weak, immature Christians.
What happens in most instances is that God allows the trial to continue, and he uses it to teach/train us. We become stronger Christians as we trust God, exercise faith, claim the promises in scripture and use our spiritual armor. In this way we grow and mature in the faith. Our example can even help build faith in others.
I encourage you to try and focus on the good that is happening to your spiritual man in the midst of trials, as opposed to whining and complaining like a two-year-old!
Let me offer you some relief:
Trials don’t last forever; once they have accomplished their purpose, God will remove them, and you will actually be better off because of them!
Let me offer you some strength:
Remember, God never sets you up to fail. You never walk through trials alone; Holy Spirit is there in the midst of that fire/flood. When you are weak, he will make you strong. So stand in faith. Resist the devil. Enjoy a victorious Christian life!