Summary: if you feel that somebody is watching you, you're absolutely right!
Our Adversary, the Devil
Based on a sermon preached at First Baptist Church, Glasgow, Missouri.
(This is not an exact transcription.)
Background: Peter is writing to encourage groups of believers who are going through persecution. His ministry was originally to the Jews but God gave him the privilege of ministering to Gentiles as well.
Introduction: Peter is writing to encourage groups of believers who are going through persecution. His ministry was originally to the Jews but God gave him the privilege of ministering to Gentiles as well. He’s finishing up his first letter, addressed to various groups of new believers, and giving them words of encouragement.
The text begins with verse 1, of chapter 5, to set the context. Let’s focus on verses 8-11:
(1 Peter 5:8-11 NASB) 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 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. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.
I. Peter gave two commands in verse 8
Note that Peter gives a pair of commands in verse 8. The first one is “be of sober spirit”. The King James Version renders it as “be sober”, and we usually think of being sober as being free from the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other things that might cause a lack of sobriety. As true as that is, that isn’t really the meaning here.
May I share a rather personal illustration here? After I graduated from high school, I had a job at a service station—a full service station! Remember those? I pumped the gas, checked the oil, put air in tires, and washed maybe thousands of windshields! Not too far away was a road that led into a subdivision, and sometimes folks would get their fuel at our gas station.
Where I was raised, high school football was and is a very popular sport. So, on one Friday evening, the local high school had a home game. It’s no secret that schools big enough to have football teams usually show a lot of pride in their team. Well, a student (perhaps a sophomore or junior, she apparently didn’t have a driver’s license at the time) was walking about a mile or more from the station to the stadium. I jokingly asked, “where are you going, all by yourself?”—but genuinely concerned, as anything could happen to young ladies of any age. She laughed, bought a soft drink from the machine, and said she was going to the game. Amazed, I said, well, be careful and went back to my duties.
Fast forward a few weeks. Another Friday evening, another home game, and the same girl.
Only this time she had some “friends”. The car was a two door coupe, where three people could sit relatively comfortably in the back seat. Oh yes, there were three in the back, all right, and in the middle was the same girl. No soft drink this time, as she had a bottle made of glass with a golden colored liquid inside. As I recall, the beverage made mention of a “high life”. I can’t speak to that, but she sure looked high to me. I’ve thought about her, off and on, over the years and hope she found salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord. For a fact, she wasn’t totally sober at that particular moment.
So, being of sober spirit isn’t necessarily the same thing as being sober, or simply free from the influence of something else like drugs, alcohol, or other kinds of things. Having a sober spirit means having a sense of self-control, for lack of a better term.
The second command Peter relayed to the believers was to be “on the alert”. Peter would know about that, personally. He had been a fisherman long before he followed Jesus as a disciple. He surely would have known, for example, where the fish were biting, or where they weren’t; and he would have learned how to judge when storms or waves would appear seemingly out of nowhere onto the Sea of Galilee.
He also would have known, or remembered, that he had to be on the alert when Jesus had asked him, James, and John to stand guard or watch while Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36, and Mark 14:32 for references). Did he succeed? At least twice, Peter and the others fell asleep when Jesus, humanly speaking, needed them the most. What a rebuke that must have been, when Jesus asked them, “Couldn’t you stay awake for an hour?”