Summary: When your faith is the strongest, you come up under the greatest attack, because the enemy is trying to destroy your destiny. Let us be in a state of readiness; in a stance of resistance toward the devil and ready to give our statement of resolution.
Opening illustration: The ancient sport of falconry used trained hawks or falcons in the pursuit of wild game. When the "educated predator" was allowed to fly, however, it often rose too high for human eyes to see it. So a hunter often carried a small caged bird called a shrike. By watching the antics of the little bird, the man could always tell where his hawk was, for the shrike instinctively feared the predator and cocked its head to keep it in view.
The Christian desperately needs the alert perception of the shrike when it comes to detecting his spiritual enemy. Our adversary, Satan, "walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Our responsibility, according to the apostle Peter, is to "be sober, be vigilant." We're to be always on the alert.
It would be nice if God had giant sirens to warn us of an attack by the devil. But the Lord doesn't operate that way. Instead, we must read the Bible regularly, meditate on its truths, maintain a prayerful attitude throughout the day, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Only then will we be sensitive to an imminent onslaught of the evil one, and be armed by grace to meet it. Is your spiritual "shrike system" working well? (M R De Haan II, ODB)
Introduction: There are moments in life that one never forgets. Peter had his highs and lows, and one of his lows occurred when he was not sober-minded and watchful, and then discovered that he was under intense attack by the enemy of his soul which led to the denial that he knew Jesus. That occasion was when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Peter had followed them to the high priest’s house where he denied that he knew Jesus. Peter had not been thinking soberly and had not been watchful, even in a literal sense, and shortly afterwards was caught in the devil’s trap. And we can see his memory at work as he recalled that sad time.
What is the strategy for defeating Satan’s attacks?
1. State of Readiness: Be SELF-CONTROLLED and ALERT (v. 8)
Being of sober spirit isn't necessarily the same thing as being sober or simply free from the influence of something such as drugs and alcohol. Having a sober spirit means having a sense of self-control. No, it isn't just the routine things we need to watch out for; there is the spiritual aspect, too. We have enemies. The world, the flesh and the devil all have each one of us in their targets. They want to see us fail and fall. They rejoice greatly when we stumble and face problems. Imagine a bully in school or somewhere who gets you in trouble and gets his or her kicks from doing this. Now multiply that by a factor of 10 or more and you'll get the idea. Peter was careful to give us a couple of sound instructions; he also told us why.
Adversary is the term for the devil himself. The image Peter has in mind is that of an opponent in a court of law, such as opposing counsel, someone who believes he or she has a legitimate case against you. Most of us could relate to this: Who hasn't heard about Job and the problems he faced? None of them, by the way, were his fault! Satan accused God! of protecting Job and proposed that if God allowed Job to lose his property and later his health, Job would curse God. God gave permission for Satan to afflict Job to the point of horrible skin lesions and loss of almost all he had, but Job stayed true. This was a classic example of an accuser being found false, and the believer remaining faithful and true to the Lord.
Peter and other early disciples would have known, also, about the illegal trial of Jesus Himself, just before He was crucified. Humanly speaking, Jesus didn't stand a chance against the lies, misquotes, changing charges, and an appeal to the pride and personal welfare of Pilate, the Roman governor. Further, one thief who was crucified with Jesus insulted Him to His face, along with many people who walked to Calvary, only to mock and watch Jesus suffer. Lest we think the accusations stopped there, we don't need to look far to prove otherwise. Just about any time a Christian wants to live as a Christian, following the Bible's teachings, taking a stand for biblical morality, watch how often he or she is accused of being everything from racist, sexist homophobic, biased, zealous, right-wing reactionary, etc.
Peter didn't stop at giving an image or identity of the adversary. He also described some of his strategy or method of operation. Peter said the devil walked about, like a roaring lion, seeking something to devour. I read somewhere that a lion will roar in order to scare or frighten the prey into freezing or not knowing where to go or what to do to escape. The young lions and sometimes the lionesses would then come in for the kill, dragging some of the prey back to the pride. Sometimes, depending on the relative hunger, the lion would gulp down the prey whole, not bothering to chew.