1 Peter 5:8-9
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:…
I have heard divines say that it is very hard to convince men of the existence of a devil, that they scarcely know whether they are convinced of it themselves. I think they are mistaken. An opinion, a fear, a fancy — call it what you will — must have prevailed long, must have taken possession of men's minds, before it could find its way so readily to their lips. Are there no other signs? Does not each man complain of some incubus which he wants to throw off? One may find it outside of him; if he could have better or less stupid beings to work with, all would be well. Another feels as if it were altogether within him. It is a miserable solitary strife, of which no one knows anything but himself. Intelligent travellers and zealous missionaries know that in barbarous countries the difficulty is not to convince men of this doctrine, but of any other. We may acknowledge that our Lord's words were none of them directed to prove the existence of evil spirits. He found their existence acknowledged. Sickness, pain, death, were the demonstrations to the hearts of men of their presence. What has been said of Christ's words is true also of His acts. He who encountered sickness, madness, death, was certainly not setting forth the power of evil spirits. He was proving their weakness. He was, say the Evangelists, "casting them out." When the apostles went forth to preach, they too had no occasion to persuade men of the existence of evil powers. That was assumed; the Jews and Gentiles were agreed so far. Their theories were different; the witness which the facts of this world and of their own experience bore to their consciences was essentially the same. Can there be a deliverer from these evil powers? — that was the only question which it was important to get answered. The apostles went into all lands to proclaim that there was such a Deliverer. They said that Christ had overcome the diseases of men here upon earth; that by death He had overcome death; that He was every hour overcoming some principality and power in high places, which was claiming men as subjects and captives. This was their gospel. Having such a one, they spoke of necessity concerning the principalities and powers. But the apostles, like their Master, used the singular number as well as the plural. They too were obliged to speak of an adversary, of a tempter. The moment the complete unity of the Divine Nature was proclaimed — the unity of the Father with the Son in one Spirit; the moment that men had been baptised into this perfect, loving, all-embracing Name, they must be told, "There is an adversary of this Name, a self-seeking, self-concentrated, self-worshipping adversary, who is seeking to draw you out of communion with it, and therefore out of communion with each other. You must be sober, for he seeks to make you drunk with the pleasures of this life, with your own self-conceit, that you may lose all thoughts of your Father's house. You must be vigilant, for he seeks to stupefy you with opiates, to keep you asleep." St. Peter felt that a picture as living as this was necessary, that his next words might not be idle words: "Whom resist, steadfast in the faith." Once believe that you have an adversary — that the conflict is not a sham one, and you can repulse him. You have not to win a position, but defend one. You belong to God. You can tell the adversary that you owe him no allegiance; that you scorn his promises and his threats; that it is your Father's good pleasure to give you His kingdom of heaven, and that you do not choose to exchange it for the kingdom of hell. The members of the Christian Church were very likely to take up the notion that they and the world around them were under quite different laws; that they were not subject to the passions which other men were subject to; that they were out of the range of the influence of the evil spirit. A more plausible delusion, or a more perilous one, cannot be imagined. An apostle had no higher duty than to shatter it. He was to assure his disciples that the privilege of their brotherhood in Christ exempted them from no assault which threatened those who had not asserted that privilege. This advantage he had, that being one of a society, of a brotherhood, he felt that his enemy was the enemy of his brethren, and the enemy of that world which he wished to claim as part of his family. He was fighting for all men when he was fighting for himself.
(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: