Summary: Humility, self-control, and God’s grace keep us from being devoured by Satan.
“In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight. In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight...” Do you recognize that once popular song? While it is true that most lions sleep from time to time, in our sermon text the Apostle Peter speaks of a lion that never snoozes. He says that this lion has been devouring unsuspecting prey from the beginning of time and remains on the prowl. That lion of course is the Devil and his aim is to take as many of us to hell with him as he can. Therefore if Peter had written that popular song his opening lyrics would have gone something like this. “In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion snarls tonight.” Since the Devil is out to get us it would be good to know WHAT MAKES US LION ALERT AND NOT LION DESSERT. The Apostle Peter will show us that there are three things that keep us lion alert: humility, self-control, and grace.
Peter begins his lion taming advice in verse 6 of our text. There he says, “Humble yourselves therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” How does humbling yourself before God make you lion alert? Doesn’t it just mean that you have to give up “fun” things and do what God wants you to do? I imagine that’s what most people think and they’re right, God is telling us to give up something but look at what he is encouraging us to surrender. In the next verse Peter said, “Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you” (v.7).
To humble yourself before God means to surrender all your cares and concerns to him. That makes us lion alert because the Devil likes to use our cares and concerns to get us to second-guess and doubt God. In fact the word “anxiety” means “diversion” and is used in the story of Mary and Martha. As Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, Martha fussed about the kitchen worrying about whether or not there would be enough food to eat. Her cares and concerns so diverted her attention from the one thing needful of listening to Jesus so that she even complained to Jesus that Mary wasn’t doing anything to help her.
The Devil continues to plant diversions doesn’t he? Is it the exams you have coming up? Graduation preparations? Is it the prospect of starting a new job or the stress of losing the one you have? Satan will stop at nothing to get us to rely on ourselves instead of God so that we end up worrying and breaking the first commandment. Don’t become lion dessert but remain alert by humbling yourself under God’s mighty hand. There is no better place to take your concerns than to God. God loves you and has promised to care for you. Therefore do what the Greek verb “cast” implies. Take every care and concern and pack them one by one into a bag that you then give to God to carry, as you would a pack animal. God will take care of our problems better than we ever could so what’s the use worrying about them if we’ve handed them over to God?
That sounds so easy to do but do you know what often happens? We carefully pack our concerns into a bag and cast them to God we don’t let go of the pack. We think that if we don’t at least keep an eye on our problems they will never get solved. Therefore instead of letting God carry our problems and lead where we should go we try to lead God instead and end up treating him like a dumb pack animal. Friends, that’s not the way to remain lion alert. Let the Lord bear your burdens and let the Lord lead!
As we throw all of our cares on God it is important that we don’t become lulled into a false sense of security thinking that the danger of attack has passed. The Devil won’t give up so easily therefore we need to remain lion alert; Peter tells us how in vs. 8, 9. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
To be “self-controlled” means to have a clear head. We remain lion alert when we remove anything that hampers good judgment. For example if our mind is cluttered with lustful thoughts we won’t be prepared to flee from temptation as Joseph did when Potiphar’s wife asked him to sleep with her. If our mind is muddled with materialism it will be hard to offer our first fruits to God. If our mind is packed with pride it will be hard to keep from putting other people down so we look good.