The Roar of the Evil One (1 Peter 5:8-9)
In elementary school, I had an eccentric teacher. He was an excellent teacher, but Mr. Miller scared me to death. The year I had him the Soviet Union had 3 different general secretaries. After the appointment of a new Communist Party leader, Mr. Miller would have the news on in the classroom, and he’d tell us the new general secretary would be worse than the last and that this one would send the nukes.
That was also the year that The Day After aired on ABC. Mr. Miller wanted everyone in his fourth grade class to watch the movie so that we could discuss it in class. My parents hit the roof, and I did not watch the film. But Mr. Miller impressed on me that the Soviets were the enemy, they were out to conquer the world, and sooner or later they would kill us all.
Since my fourth grade year, I’ve viewed Communists, in general, and the Soviets, in particular, as enemies. But you probably have enemies closer to home. Maybe you have a neighbor who will not leave you alone. Maybe a coworker seeks to take credit for your good ideas. Maybe a boss just keeps piling more and more on you hoping you’ll break. Maybe a family member doesn’t like you, doesn’t speak to you, and will not be around you. Maybe you had a teacher or professor whom you thought was Hitler reincarnate.
It’s not the Soviets or your neighbor or your boss who is out to get you; it’s Satan. In this paragraph, Peter told his readers that God cared for them but Satan sought to destroy them. This morning’s text informs us: “Satan wants to destroy you.”
Scripture (1 Peter 5:8-9)
“Be sober-minded; be watchful.”
The idea is to be the opposite of someone who is drunk. A drunk person doesn’t have control of his faculties and may say or do things he ordinarily would not do. Spiritually, Peter told his readers to be the opposite of that, to know what is taking place around them.
“Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
The Greek term for adversary means an opponent in a legal case. The image is of Satan’s standing before the throne of Almighty God telling God how worthless you are and why God needs to damn you to an eternal hell.
One’s adversary is “the devil.” The Greek term for devil is literally “slanderer.” The idea is that Satan stands before God’s throne to lie about you.
He “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Peter used forms of 3 verbs to describe Satan’s activity—prowls, roaring, and seeking. These 3 words are all in the present tense—that means Satan never stops prowling, he never stop roaring, and he never stops seeking. In Peter’s day, people considered a lion the most ferocious animal.
The term “devour” means to swallow in one big gulp. Satan wants to eat you up, spit you out, and leave you to wither for eternity in hell.
“Resist him, firm in your faith.”
The Greek indicates that Peter had a defensive position in mind; you don’t go charging after Satan—instead, you plant your feet firmly and fight him when he comes toward you.
One resists Satan by being “firm in [his] faith.” Being rooted and grounded in God’s truth—your faith—allows you to stand firm when all of hell assails you.
“Knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
Peter wrote his epistle at a time of intense suffering—Christians were being slaughtered right and left. Some might have thought that meant God didn’t love them and they should just give in to Satan. Peter reminded them, however, that their sufferings were no different whatsoever to the suffering their brethren were facing throughout the world.
“Satan wants to destroy you.” Satan does not want what’s best for you; instead, he wants you to end up in hell with him. Peter told his readers precisely how to keep Satan from swallowing them. How do you keep Satan at bay?
Peter said to be ready for Satan: to be sober-minded and watchful. Be alert and understand that Satan will attack you. Satan has long attacked the people of God:
- He stood before God’s throne and sought permission to torment Job.
- He tempted David: “Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel” (1 Chr 21:1).
- He tempted Jesus: “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt 4:1).
- He tempted Judas: “Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve” (Lk 22:3).
- He tempted Ananias: “Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?’” (Acts 5:3).
Satan will tempt you.
You cannot think that Satan will not tempt you. Peter himself learned that lesson. The night Jesus was betrayed, the Lord told Peter that he would deny him three times. Peter replied, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away” (Matt 26:33). You know how that turned out for Peter. He wasn’t sober-minded; he wasn’t watchful. Peter thought he had everything together and he would never betray the Lord. Don’t let that happen to you!
Peter said to resist Satan “firm in the faith.” The idea is that Satan comes against you, but you have firmly planted your feet in the faith; you will not be moved. As Paul discussed the whole armor of God, he said, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Eph 6:16).
If you want a firm faith to resist the devil, spend considerable time building your faith in Scripture: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). The antidote for temptation is God’s word. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, each time the Lord replied by saying, “It is written.” “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps 119:11).
Make Scripture an integral part of your life; when confronted with the lies of Satan, you can reply with the truth of God.
The suffering Peter’s readers faced was no different from what other Christians throughout the world were suffering. In context the apostle wanted his readers to recognize that their persecution was no different from what other Christians were suffering.
You aren’t suffering persecution, but you are suffering temptation. Understand two truths about your temptations:
- Jesus suffered the same temptations you face: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). You have yet to suffer a temptation Jesus himself did not suffer.
- Your brothers and sisters face the same temptations you face: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Cor 10:13).
Your temptations are not special. Jesus faced the same temptations you face, and your brothers and sisters face the same temptations you face. Don’t be embarrassed by your temptations, but knowing that Satan will come, firm in your faith, take those temptations to God in prayer.
Are you struggling with temptation this morning? Are you struggling with sin? Do you need us to take your temptations to God in prayer as we stand and sing?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.