1 Peter 5:8-11
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:…
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, etc. Jesus had appointed Peter to the care of his flock, and here we have the cry of the wakeful shepherd, and also another instance in which Peter's personal history reappears in the Epistle. The lesson of humility had been burnt into his heart on that dark evening when Jesus was betrayed; he had discovered then what he tells them here, that the hour of sorrow is Satan's hour. No wonder that years after he wrote with emphasis, "Cherish that Christian humility which suspects Satan."
I. THE CHRISTIAN'S ADVERSARY. The fact of this adversary. Behind the forces antagonistic to the Church, Peter sees another, the master-force, the inspiring power of all, and, thinking of him as the one great foe, speaks of "your adversary the devil." The doctrine of a personal Satan is regarded by some as a superstition. But even from the standpoint of human speculation it is not unreasonable. There are many grades of being between man and the rudimentary forms of life, and for aught we know we may be as far from the perfect creature state as from the least perfect; and as there are so many ranks between us and the one, why not also between us and the other? And if, in the highest forms of animal life, creatures begin to herd together under a chief till this becomes the invariable rule with man, why, as life rises higher into the unseen, should there not still be leaders and princes, one position above another, till all possible authority is vested in one who is called "the prince of the power of darkness." Judging thus by analogy with what we know, the idea of a personal Satan is not without reason. But when we turn to Scripture, which of necessity is our only source of information in this matter, the teaching is very plain. We have the same evidence for the personality of Satan as of God. He is universally spoken of as a person; we are taught to pray, "Deliver us from the evil one." It is said, when Scripture speaks of him thus, it is in a figure - the principle of evil personified. There can be no such thing as a principle of evil apart from mind; yet when Jesus, in whose mind was no evil, was in the wilderness, Satan was there; and in heaven, where from every mind evil has been expelled, the Book of Job tells us Satan was there. Satan appears before us in Scripture as an apostate angel, exalted above his associates, the great enemy of God and man, the first cause of sin here, the quickener of temptation in human minds, the "god of this world," permitted under Divine restraint to "blind the minds of those who believe it;" that man in his freedom of will may elect the good, and attain that holiness which must always be voluntary, and rise to that purity and blessedness which are only possible through temptation's discipline. The character of the adversary. "As a roaring lion" suggests the twofold idea of power and great cruelty. His work. "He goeth about," etc. Satan is not omnipotent, neither is he omnipresent; but he probably has larger agencies under his control than we suppose, and wherever man is, there may be no moment when, by some instrumentality, he may not have access to our will. Every circumstance may conceal our deadly foe. Are you weak? or are you a leader? Be sure his eye is fixed on you; he thirsts to destroy your faith, your purity, your peace, your good name.
II. THE CHRISTIAN'S RESISTANCE OF THE ADVERSARY. Safari tempts to cast us down; God permits him to tempt, in order to raise us up. Three ways in which we may resist him.
1. Sobriety; the opposite of intoxication. Anything that strengthens the lower principle of our nature, deadening us to conscience and reason, intoxicates. Business, love of the world, happiness, sorrow. Christian, be sober, let nothing engross thee till it masters thee.
2. Vigilance. "Be vigilant." Victory is sure to no other attitude; but this attitude must be maintained till death brings the great discharge. Sometimes Satan so takes us by surprise that we hardly know we are sinning till we have sinned. Take heed that he come not upon you unawares; five minutes off your guard may be the loss of your most sacred treasure.
3. Steadfastness in the faith. Faith in God is the fort from which the adversary would dislodge us; driven from that, all is lost, unless God in his mercy bring us back again. Satan can do us no harm whilst we are shut up in the strong walls of faith in God. What does the word "afflictions" mean, coming in where it does? Peter was writing to the afflicted, and he knew that affliction is Satan's opportunity; the afflicted know it too. It is then he whispers, "Is this a God of love? give up thy faith in him." Afflictions are a family sign; of all the brethren it shall be said, "These are they who have come out of great tribulation;" and the sufferings of the eldest Brother, God's Well-beloved, were the keenest of all.
III. THE CHRISTIAN'S STRENGTH IN RESISTANCE. "And the God of all grace," etc, Read this beautiful verse as it is in the Revised Version, and you will see that it is a Divine promise, and its position in the argument will be apparent. There is help enough in this one passage for any victory.
1. There is help in the title here ascribed to God. "The God of all grace" - of every needed grace, of every kind of grace, of every means of grace. Here is the power that overcometh Satan. "My grace is sufficient for thee."
2. There is help in the purpose here adopted by God. "Who hath called us unto his eternal glory," etc. Then he will accomplish his purpose, and, though Satan does his worst, if in our resistance of him we bear the mark of the "called," nothing shall prevent our reaching perfect victory when our "little while" of suffering shalt be forgotten in the eternal glory of the tearless land.
3. There is help in the promise here given by God. "He shall himself perfect, stablish, strengthen you." The victory shall be his. As you resist the foe, he will gird you with strength. He will nerve your arm, he will "beat down Satan under your feet;" and in that day your humbled, grateful soul will recognize that it was all of him, and will cry, with the apostle, "To him the dominion for ever and ever." - C.N.
Parallel VersesKJV: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: