"Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom" -- a familiar saying in our country. We remember from Pearl Harbor what it's like to get caught off guard. The enemy can be so deceptive: Japan's peace envoys were seated at the negotiating table at the very moment the attack was launched. Our country depends on a strong defense -- on being watchful so we are not surprised by a sneak attack and on being powerful so that we are prepared to fight when we have to. The same holds true in the spiritual realm:
Big Idea: CAREFUL RESISTANCE AGAINST THE ENEMY HELPS THE PERSECUTED CHURCH TO STAND STRONG IN THE GRACE OF GOD (:8-11)
I. Be On the Alert -- Be Careful -- Military Alert
He has just told them to be care-free; now he says be careful; not "let go and let God"; not passive in this spiritual warfare, but active;
A. Disciplined self-control; clear thinking; good decisions
B. Wide-awake watchfulness
20 times in the NT, believers are reminded to be on the alert, to Watch.
Most of the time it is Jesus who commands it.
If we are not careful, Satan can quickly gain an advantage:
1) Eph. 4:26-27 keep short accounts regarding sin; be quick to repent
2) 2 Cor. 2:10-11 a resentful or unforgiving spirit
II. Know the Enemy and Sense the Danger -- Military Intellegence
A. His Makeup -- Character -- Identity
1. "your adversary" if you are proud, God opposes you; if you are humble and submit to the mighty hand of God, Satan is your adversary = much to be preferred; we get to pick our adversary
2. "the devil"
but he is able to masquerade as an angel of light
B. His Mission and Methods -- "prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour"
Lion: great strength; crafty and deceptive -- can sneak up on you
some of Satan's favorite traps: moral temptation; get believers
fighting one another; apathy; accusing our consciences
1. He likes to focus our attention on God's limitations
Submit ourselves under the mighty hand of God -- He is not limited
2. He likes to tempt us to doubt the goodness of God
Cast all of our cares on Him because in His goodness it matters to Him concerning us
3. He likes to present to us an attractive counterfeit for God's will and for true worship -- suffering is not that attractive -- that is why Satan tries to use persecutions
Peter says: Be prepared to suffer intensely while staying committed to the will of God
4. He focuses our attention on the present instead of on eternity's values
Live for Eternity
III. Defend Yourself -- "Resist him, firm in your faith" --
Note that this follows "Submitting to God" = putting ourselves under God's control and His umbrella of protection -- only then are we ready to face and resist Satan; Here we see the power of humility once again: it is the humble man (not the self-confident and arrogant) who can overcome
the first thing to troubleshoot is our submission to God