Summary: A message that tells us to be alert to what Satan is doing to oppress us.
Facing the Roaring Lion
"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.
On April 28, 1944, during World War II, Allied soldiers were engaged in Operation Tiger, a training exercise in amphibious beach landings in preparation for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Suddenly, enemy gunboats appeared and killed over 700 American servicemen in a surprise attack. Today, a monument stands on Slapton Sands to commemorate the sacrifice of those young men who died while training for battle but were never able to enter the conflict.
That tragedy is a picture that warns the believer in Christ. We too are involved in combat with an enemy who is powerful and deceptive. That is why the apostle Peter warned: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Strong confidence in God (4:19-5:7) does not justify carelessness or laziness. We still have an enemy and we still need to be alert.
One reason we have troubles and persecutions and cares is that we have an enemy.
Peter wants to give us three practical lessons so we can stand firm and not be intimidated by our enemy.
I. Respect Him.
He is dangerous. He’s not a joke. He’s not a caricature. He’s not a little person who sits on your shoulder (and an angel on the other one) trying to influence you. He’s dangerous!
Jude 9 says that even Michael the Archangel was very careful during his dispute with Satan. If even the archangel understands Satan’s power and schemes, we need to respect him, too.
Understand that Satan is crafty. How are we to respect him? What is he up to?
A. He oppresses -- “Satan” means adversary. “Devil” means accuser or slanderer.
The picture here is that Satan acts like a lion circling the flock at night seeing if there is one sheep that strays away from the security and protection of the shepherd and the flock. He’s trying to intimidate us.
B. He prowls – he’s always looking for an opportunity to discourage and catch us unaware.
Peter knows this from experience. In Luke 22:31, Christ has told Peter that Satan was prowling around looking for an opportunity to get Peter. Peter wasn’t alert…he fell asleep instead of praying. Peter woke up and acted impulsively and cut off Malchus’ ear…then Peter wilted and denied Christ.
He’s prowling—he’s always active. Respect him…he’s dangerous.
C. He wants to devour . Some preachers want to characterize Satan as a toothless lion that can only roar but cannot harm you. That kind of preaching is also dangerous because SATAN DOESN’T JUST WANT TO SCARE US…HE WANTS TO DESTROY US.
Even though he has been defeated, he is still dangerous.
I read about the death of a man named Paul Reimers in Queensland Australia. Even though he lived in a part of Australia where crocodiles were common, he was so afraid them that he would never go in water more than a few inches deep. Even so, a 15 foot crocodile with only three legs and half a tail stalked Reimers in the shallow water and killed him. Just because the crocodile was “handicapped”, he was still dangerous.
Satan may be defeated, but he is still crafty and dangerous.
Remember the old TV program from the 1980’s called HILL STREET BLUES?
It was a police drama based on a precinct in NYC. It always started in the ready room of the police station with roll call. At the end of roll call, when everyone was ready to go on patrol, the old Sgt would always end roll call with the same send off. He’d say “Let’s be careful out there!”
The advice was sound. The old Sgt. Knew the danger the officer’s faced. He knew that around every corner, down every alley, even in broad daylight… The potential for danger existed.
He also knew that the greatest danger to his men was…complacency.
By the way, the word used here for alert or vigilant is used in other Greek writings for people who are crossing a stream by stepping on slippery rocks. If you aren’t careful you could slip up, so you have to concentrate and focus and careful measure each step. That’s why you can’t get lazy in your spiritual life.