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:…
Ordinarily, if we speak of afflictions, or sufferings, you presently think of the bereavements or sorrows which fall to us through the dispensations of Providence. But the apostle, when he here uses the term, is speaking only of spiritual assaults — of the attacks of Satan, acting on the corruptions of our nature, and soliciting us to sin. Are these indeed afflictions to us? Happy the man who, though he have to reckon among his sore things "persecution, and peril, and. nakedness, and sword," can yet say, "The sorest thing of all is, that I am continually wrought upon by an invisible foe, who, seconded but too readily from within, places me in peril of deserting my profession and dishonouring my Saviour." Yes, the greatest affliction to us should be the not finding affliction in sin. What is there to encourage the Christian warrior in the knowing that the same afflictions are the lot of others as well as himself? Really at first sight, and with reference more especially to the assaults of the devil, it might be said that this was calculated to discourage us. It seems almost like investing Satan with omnipresence, to exhibit him as afflicting simultaneously the whole body of Christians. Suppose it were the registered course of God's proceedings that there should be comparative freedom from the assaults of Satan, so that the "roaring lion" were not allowed to come against the Christian. What a fearful thing it would then be for a believer to find himself attacked by the devil! It would not be the amount of the attack, so much as the unusualness, that would distress him. His inference would be — "Surely I am not one of the people of God: if I were, He would not deal with me in so uncommon a way." Or, if again, in place of exemption generally from spiritual assault, there were any one form of temptation which was seldom allowed to visit the righteous; would not the being invaded by this form distract the godly man, not because the form itself might be more terrific than he had known before, but because, being novel, it would seem to bring proof that he had deceived himself with regard to his spiritual condition? But now take the opposite, which is the actual case, namely, that the Christian has nothing strange to undergo. Do you not perceive that this very circumstance will do much to encourage him to resist the devil and keep steadfast in the faith? The believer has perhaps to undergo a large measure of domestic trial; death makes frequent inroads into his family; his circumstances become straitened; his children requite him with ingratitude; but he looks into the history of the righteous, and he finds that there is nothing singular in his portion. Or again — and here, it may be, Satan has the greatest advantage — the believer has seasons of spiritual darkness; and he loses all comfortable sense of love of God and the atonement made by Christ. But is he peculiar in this? Has nothing like this been experienced by the believer? He turns to the Book of Psalms. What does he find? Unmingled joy? unclouded assurance? Oh, no! he finds constant alternations, as though night followed day — depression succeeded in necessary order to exultation. There is, however, one more, and an equally important view, which may justly be taken of the passage before us. If we are to resist the devil with good prospect of success, we must prepare to resist the devil; and, in order to this preparation, we should be observant of what has happened and is happening to others. An old writer justly says, "Things certainly fall the lighter upon us when they first fall upon our thoughts." It is the being taken by surprise which makes sorrow so hard; and we want you not to be taken by surprise. Oh, the experience of the Church is not an experience which merely proves the frequency of trouble; it proves also the advantageousness of trouble; it proves that affliction "yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby"; it proves that the devil may be resisted; that, with all his subtlety, and malice, and might, he is more than matched by the believer, who takes to himself the whole armour of God. And for this simple truth we would gain, if we could, a strong hold upon your minds. The devil is not irresistible — not one of his temptations is irresistible. Will ye, then, yield, as though it were useless to withstand? Your brethren, in whom the same afflictions have been accomplished, met the devil and vanquished him, but not in their own strength; and you, too, may vanquish the devil. The promised aids of the Holy Spirit — aids which no Christian seeks in vain who seeks in faith — will always suffice to carry you safely, yea, triumphantly through the conflict. What warning, then, is there, that we slumber not at our post! what encouragement that we shrink not from conflict!
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: