1 Peter 5:8-11 (NKJV) 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
We are back from our time in East Africa for 2019. It was a wonderful time despite many irritating things that happened during the trip. It is interesting that the trip home went almost without incident. (David Cerar had an encounter with a bus driving us to the airport, but I do not think the damage was much.) Our flights were smooth and on time enough that there were no problems. Our luggage came through without issue. All was well.
That was in contrast to our flights over which involved delays, carry-on luggage that was too heavy and missed flights. I point this out because of what the Lord had laid on my heart before the trip. I started sharing in this space about the difference between a nation at war and a nation at peace. If you get a chance, go back and read my posts from the end of July to the beginning of August. That is what I preached during my time in Africa this year. I believe it was resistance to that message that stirred up the opposition we felt.
I believe we must understand that we are at war. This is not a war against people at any time. The truth is it is a war for people. Rescuing them from an eternity of separation from God is why we must fight. In one of my last posts before I changed direction, I pointed out that the New Testament is full of language that points to a warfare mentality. This warfare is not some new thing. It began in the Garden of Edan when man fell and will continue until Jesus comes again. God did not abandon his family in Eden, and he continues to fight for them today.
Even as I write this I feel the opposition to this kind of thinking in the spirit. If the devil can convince us that we are at peace he will keep us out of the fight. We will live increasingly ineffective lives as far as rescuing people from sin. If the church is no longer making disciples, it no longer has a purpose. This is what happened to most denominations over time. I do not want to see it happen to us.
In today’s scripture we see a statement by the apostle Peter. This is not Old Testament. This is to the church. Some might say that the church of the first century and the church of today occupy a different place. That is true. The church of the first century placed their mission to preach the gospel and make disciples at the center of their lives. The church of today has drifted away from that. Peter’s warning is to the church of all time. If not, the Bible is not the Word of God.
Peter uses two words that are very important. He says we must be sober. Sober does not mean sad all the time. The joy of the Lord is our strength. We are not called to sadness. Joy is one of the identifying characteristics of a Christian. Joy is not happiness although it will produce a sense of happiness. Happiness is dependent on outward factors. Joy is inward. It comes by our relationship to Jesus (John 15:11.)
Sober means marked by temperance, moderation, or seriousness. We must be serious in our approach to our christian life. We have a high calling from the Lord, and it is important that we walk worthy of that calling.
Ephesians 4:1 (NKJV) 1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,
Again, this does not mean that we cannot rejoice or even have fun. God wants us to have a good life. We should enjoy our families and have time for recreation. However, if we understand that we are at war, we also understand that at any time the commander must be able to call on us to take our place in the battle. These are serious times in which we live and our approach to our relationship to God must reflect that.
What am I saying? We should not consider our Christian life as a part of our life. It must be the center. Bible study to learn the Word of God, prayer, praise and worship to develop our personal relationship with Jesus, as well as church attendance and membership to cultivate relationship with the Body of Christ must be of paramount importance to us.
He also says we must be vigilant. That means keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties. We cannot ignore that there is danger. If we do, we will find that we are vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. Lack of vigilance will eventually cause us to be completely unaware that the enemy is even there. We will fall into things that we have no idea were brought to us by the devil. This is dangerous for a Christian.
This brings us to why we must be both sober and vigilant. Peter tells us we have an adversary. I believe there is much thinking in the church that the devil is not really an active opponent. I do not think that most Christians reject his existence. I do believe they are ignorant of his active role against the mission of the church and of his hatred of God himself. We are neither sober nor vigilant anymore. We seem to think that Satan, the devil and the demonic realm are not that important. Peter and the whole New Testament disagree.
If we had no adversary, things would be different. We would not be at war. We would not need to fight the “wiles of the devil” as Paul says we must in Ephesians 6. We could just enjoy life doing our best to live good lives. We would simply need to be nice to people and they would surely come to know Jesus. We certainly can enjoy life and our most important weapon is to walk in the love of God towards the world and one another. However, we must also realize we have an adversary. That is what the bible teaches.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NKJV) 3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
The God of this age is Satan. He is blinding the minds of those with whom we share the gospel. If we are ignorant of this and do nothing about it, we will never be able to break through his blinding power. We need the supernatural power of God just as Paul did.
This is not just in “signs, wonders and healings, although I certainly think we need that. It is in the anointing of God on what we say. It is in the prayer that makes power available to preach the gospel (James 5:17 AMP.) It is also in living a lifestyle that tells the world that you have something more in you than what those who live without Jesus have. All are part of our warfare.
We still have and adversary. Peter identifies him as the devil. It cannot be clearer than that. He also says that he goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. It does not say he is a lion. He roars like a lion, but he has been stripped of his teeth and his claws by what Jesus did to him in salvation. That said the roar of the lion is one of the most intimidating sounds in nature. That is one of the things the devil seeks to do to us. To intimidate means to stir up fear to the point where there will be no resistance to attack.
The roar of the lion can be paralyzing. Sometimes his roar is loud but sometimes we never know that it is him. We give in to paralyzing fear over things that have not happened. We do not fight. We do not rise up in our relationship with Jesus. We have no idea what the Word of God says so we do not know what to believe. The lions roar cripples us without a fight. Tomorrow we will look at more but know this. God is stronger than the devil. We can and will win in the end.