Wednesday, April 20, 2011

1 Peter 5:8: Our Enemy

1 Peter 5:8: "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

I'm not sure where the image of the devil as a cute little red creature with a tail, horns and pitchfork came from, but I know that it certainly didn't come from the Bible. It makes me sick around Halloween to see children dressed as little devils. It made me so uncomfortable in high school that our school mascot was a demon (which is why I had no school spirit and never purchased a class ring, demon t-shirts or other paraphernalia!). Why do I take things like this so seriously? What troubles me is that the world is making light of something that is gravely serious. The Scriptures don't paint Satan as a cute little mischievous creature. The Scriptures paint Satan as a savage beast out to kill.

Peter warns Christians in this verse to be "sober" and "alert." We are to be on our guard against spiritual attack at all times, protected by our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:13-20). Though it is a grave mistake to give Satan too much credit and focus on Him too much, it is also a tragic error to ignore him altogether. There is a spiritual battle going on that we can't see with our own eyes. We must remember who our enemy is and be on our guard against his devious schemes, temptations, and outright lies. How do we do this? Stay in the Word, which is the only truth, and pray that God will "keep us from temptation, and deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13)

The reason Peter instructs us to be "sober" and "alert," is because we have an "adversary, the devil." If you are someone who thinks she has no enemies, think again! As Christians, the devil despises us. What does he spend his time doing? This verse tells us that he "prowls around like a lion, seeking someone to devour." He is a troublemaker. He isn't just a bit mischievous, he is a thoroughly vicious and evil beast. What is he trying to devour? Well, the good news is that he can't take away your salvation. However, he can attempt to weaken your faith, rob you of your joy, and make you an ineffective and unproductive Christian. Right now, I feel that I am under attack from the enemy. I know that as someone in vocational ministry, he especially hates me and wants to destroy my work. He is relentlessly trying to discourage me and bring me down. Perhaps this is the reason that the average tenure for a youth minister is 1 year! Its hard to persevere while under attack.

That's the end of the verse, but I don't want to leave you on such a depressing note! As I said before, while we must soberly understand the reality of demonic assault, we also shouldn't give the devil more credit than he deserves. Remember that the devil's power is nothing compared to the all-surpassing authority, dominion, power, and majesty of our God. God is still in control. Satan knows all too well that his demise is coming, and he will be cast into eternal torment one day soon. Until then, we don't have to be afraid of him, because we have God on our side. Satan and his minions are nothing before Him. They tremble at the sound of Jesus' name. He has the victory over evil, and as believers, we share in that victory. We don't need to be afraid...just alert. Be aware that you have an enemy who is trying to bring you down, but you also have an infinitely more powerful God who loves, protects, and cares for you.