1 Peter 5 Part 5 - Resist the Devil
1 Peter 5:8-9 - The enemy is a tireless apex predator, looking everywhere for his prey
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”
1 Peter 5:8-9 NASB1995
Peter exhorts his church to be of sober spirit and be on alert. The devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. The allegory of the lion in this instance as the adversary is fascinating, as Jesus is sometimes described as the Lion of Judah.
I admit to loving lions as a splendid creation of God, recognizing that they are also a very dangerous apex predator. We did a wonderful trip in February 2009 to Southern Africa (primarily in South Africa) that included several days at a beautiful safari lodge in Kruger National Park, which is in eastern South Africa. This adventure had us doing two safari drives a day, one at the crack of dawn and other other in the late afternoon into evening. We arrived at the lodge before the first evening drive and saw one lioness at a distance and many other animals.
The next morning, we struck paydirt by seeing a large pride of lions thinking about attacking a young giraffe who seemed disabled (he got away from them with his mother - boy can giraffes run, even ones that are not well!). Our guides were quite adamant that we had to be absolutely QUIET around the lions and not stand up in the vehicle, because they are used to the safari vehicles and may not recognize that the big metal can is full of tasty appetizers or even a full dinner or two with hefty Americans. On the third day of our safari adventure, we saw more lions, including a sleepy fellow in the wet grass (on right) by the safari track. Here are some images:
You gain a lot of respect for these predators seeing them in action. But Peter is telling us that the enemy is also like one of these lions, prowling around and looking for prey. The big cats are merciless and the devil is merciless but he is also tireless. He never quits!
So what does it mean to be of sober spirit? And to be on alert? The Greek word for sober is νήφω or nepho, meaning to be sober, watch, temperate, circumspect. Be on alert comes from the Greek word γρηγορεύω or gregoreuo, with these meanings:
metaph. give strict attention to, be cautious, active
to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtakes one
Be temperate and be awake!
Precept Austin has a reference to a work by a pastor named Tim Shoap, who describes the behaviors we can pursue to ensure that we are “Satan’s Breakfast” and then notes that Peter has given us the weapons at hand in this spiritual battle to make sure we are NOT the enemy’s repast (the links go to Biblia):
While most of us may already have this down pat, consider this list of ways to ensure that you ARE defeated spiritually at every turn:
1. Resent and resist authority (at home, at church, at work, in the government)
2. Be proud (view yourself as the favored of God, a pillar of society, first among equals)
3. Seek praise (per your own schedule, on your own priorities)
4. Be anxious (worry over trivial details, performance – act as though you are the critical component to all success)
5. Question God’s care for you (blame God for your life, assume no responsibility for your decisions, or the consequences that follow)
6. Be unbalanced in your thinking (doubt God’s control of life)
7. Be self-focused (spend your time on yourself, make sure your needs are met first)
This is pretty much a foolproof list of ways to ensure that you too can be Satan’s breakfast, because it is actually just Peter’s advice of how not to be Satan’s breakfast reversed.
How Not to Be Satan’s Breakfast (1 Peter 5)
1. Subject yourselves to authority (1Pet 5:5; God’s, man’s)
3. Seek God’s praise according to God’s schedule (1Pet 5:6 – at the proper time. Who chooses the time? God alone.)
4. Don’t be anxious (1Pet 5:7) – instead,
5. Be sure of God’s care for you (1Pet 5:8).
6. Be sober-minded (1Pet 5:8, know that he is in control, no matter what appearances may be)
7. Be spiritually-alert (1Pet. 5:8 – knowing Satan is prowling around out there, looking for an easy meal).
Probably the one that I still struggle the most with is self-focus, because we like to travel. When we make those plans, we should consult God first for how we can advance His kingdom or what He wants us to do.
Peter tells us to resist the devil and be firm in our faith, knowing that many others who are followers are also suffering for many of the same things in this world (we are not alone in our trials and tribulations). We resist by coming in authority pointing to what Jesus did on the Cross. I also stumbled across a fantastic list of the Devil’s strategies that was on Precept Austin adapted from works from John Piper (A Handbook of Enemy Strategies sermon). I must share this list with readers to help them understand more of the battle (links go to Biblia and Desiring God:
Christianity stands or falls with the reality of Satan and demons. Why? Because Jesus spent his whole ministry fighting them. If they are not real he is reduced to a comic figure.
What is Satan’s aim and his strategies?
1. He is the father of lies. (John 8:44) His nature is falsehood! He only speaks the truth in order to deceive.
4. He hinders missions strategy. (1 Thessalonians 2:18)
6. He avoids inner need by removing external trouble. (1 John 3:12)
7. He uses the fear of death to hold men in bondage. (Hebrews 2:15) It doesn’t lead them to God because it leads them to get as many kicks here as possible.
9. He blinds the minds of unbelievers. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
10. He exploits a lack of understanding. (Matthew 13:19)
13. He misuses Scripture. (Matthew 4:6)
He attacks faith to destroy believers:
22. pride. (1 Timothy 3:6)
We began with liar and end with pride. Connection: the truth is that God is God and we are not. It is humbling. The only way to rebel against the lowliness of creaturehood is to be a liar. Humility under God is the great devil resistance (James 4:6, 7). (A Handbook of Enemy Strategies )
I thought this was a great list of the many ways that enemy seeks to devour us. We can’t blame everything on the devil, but he certainly enters the battlefield when we are working on our sanctification, especially as we read the Word, worship, serve and give. Be sober and alert!
My next devotional will finish 1 Peter and examines1 Peter 5:10-14 The Grace of God. What a challenging epistle! Next up: Jonah, the reluctant prophet of God.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord, please help me to be sober and alert, on the watch for the enemy and his many ways that he can seek to devour me. Amen.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org