Summary: Living as a Church in a Foreign Land Battling Our Adversary Together: A Primer on Spiritual Warfare
Living as a Church in a Foreign Land
Battling Our Adversary Together:
A Primer on Spiritual Warfare
We have a couple of weeks left in our last mini-series in 1 Peter, “Living as a Church in a Foreign Land,” where Peter describes a life of discipleship together as a church in the midst of suffering. We have looked at “Six Reasons for Rejoicing in Suffering,” “Shepherding Among God's Flock,” “Humility in Hardship and Community,” and today we look at “Battling our Adversary Together: A Primer on Spiritual Warfare.”
Big Idea – Be on the look out because the devil is looking to destroy you.
In this passage we are given three commands to overcome our adversary – Be sober minded, be watchful, and resist.
1. Be Alert Because the Devil is Real
Verse eight starts out with two commands, 'be sober minded and be watchful.' We have already seen that 'be sober minded,' points to being serious minded, a clear headed perspective on life in light of the fact that Christ is returning to vindicate those who follow him and condemn those who do not. It is a command to free ourselves from those things that cloud or dull our spiritual sensitivity and faith. What are you doing that dulls your faith? But that is not enough, he also warns us to be watchful. It means to be vigilant and not sleep, the opposite of spiritual lethargy because there is danger. Be sober minded and be watchful because your adversary, the devil, is looking to take you out.
2. Be Alert Because the Devil is your Adversary
Look at the rest of verse eight, “your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” Let me give you a brief sketch of the devil. Scripture tells us that there are two opposing Kingdoms, the Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Satan with no neutrality, you belong to one or the other. Second, God and Satan are not equal in power; Satan is a created subjected to God and limited to what God allows. Third, the devil is described as an accuser, adversary, deceiver, the father of lies, and a liar, which tell us that much of his handiwork has to do with the destruction and twisting of truth. Fourth, the whole world is described as deceived and being in the power of Satan. Scripture describes salvation as freedom from the power and deception of Satan. Yet he can and does still work in the lives of Christians to tempt us to sin, to deceive us, buffet us, cause sickness, and hinder ministry. Christians have a tendency to react in one of two ways to the devil. They either become preoccupied with the devil, seeing a devil behind every bush or passive indifference, seeing no need for being watchful for the schemes of the devil.
Peter describes the devil as 'prowling around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.' Why does he use the imagery of a lion and not a snake? Snakes are sneaky; lions are intimidating. The lion is the king of the jungle and if you are confronted with a lion your are dead unless you have a weapon like a gun. Lions roar when they have prey to strike fear in it. A lion has the power to strike fear and swallow you. Here's the point of the illustration - in suffering the roaring lion seeks to strike fear in you and crush you and your faith with his mighty jaws. The hardest thing to when we are suffering is not to get weary, not to get discouraged in your ministry, not to give up when things get difficult, not to give in the fight against sin, or not to doubt the sovereignty and goodness of God. So we start to look for ways to avoid suffering and difficulties and our faith becomes vaporous, lost to unbelief. I read that the lions most frequent method of killing is to suffocate their victim by crushing it's windpipe.
3. Resist Satan by Trusting in God
What are you to do when this powerful and fearful lion is roaring and your faith waiver? Resist him by standing firm in your faith. Standing firm in your faith means to trust God, his sovereignty and his goodness. It means saying no to the roar of the prowling lion. The difference between those who are able to resist the devil and those who are not able to resist him is the result of what we have planted into the soil of our hearts. Having a firm faith is not a mysterious spiritual state that only an elite few can reach; it is the harvest of what you have planted into your heart. There are four primary seeds to plant in your heart, means God has given us, to strengthen our faith – the word, prayer, community, and communion. Resist the devil because he will back down and flee because, 'greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.'