The Devil, Your Adversary
1 Peter 5:8b Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
We've heard this a lot. The devil, always on the lookout, is ready to pounce on us if he catches us wandering along, innocent and unprotected, down a quiet country lane. We see a picture of the lion and the lamb, only in this case, the lion isn't laying down quietly, enjoying a snack of grass with the lamb, but is devouring the sweet, gentle lamb who is just sitting around trying to be sweet.
Interesting picture - but not at all what Peter is trying to say. First of all, let's look at the whole verse:
1 Peter 5:8-9 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
What are the key words here? "Be," "resist," "faith," suffering." First of all, the picture of the little lamb doesn't bring one quickly to the scene of suffering. And "resist?" The lamb doesn't present much of a picture of resistance, either. In the first picture, he's totally vulnerable and helpless to defend himself. Peter presents a different picture here.
First of all, what's the book of 1 Peter about? It's about how to deal with suffering. It's all about trials, tribulations, suffering, and how to deal with it in a Godly way. It's about oppression, submitting to and honoring harsh authorities, and sharing the sufferings of Christ.
So what's the fifth chapter about? It's about a final entreaty to leaders to be good leaders, followers to be good followers, and everyone to learn how to handle suffering in accordance with God's will. It's a picture of ultimate strength in the power of God - yielding to God's will in your suffering. Peter is not painting a picture of a defenseless lamb.
So what happens if we don't? The devil, our adversary, will devour us. Whom will he devour? Those who allow their suffering to crush them. Those who are angry, bitter, resentful, vengeful, beat down, depressed, anxious, grumblers, prideful.
What does "being devoured" look like? It means that the character qualities of Christ, the Fruit of the Spirit, will not be present in your lives.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;
If you submit to the suffering, if you harbor anger, resentment, depression, etc., then where is there room for love, joy, kindness, gentleness, and the rest? These are the delicacies that the devil devours.
Why does he do this? Because it makes you a bad witness for the Kingdom of God. No one would be impressed by or drawn to a Lord with disciples who are bitter and angry. The devil loves it.
So how do you resist him? By never underestimating the destructive power of bitterness and anger (be of sober spirit and alert), by fighting with all the strength you can muster through Christ Jesus the fleshly urges to yield to those destructive feelings, and by remembering that there are Christians all over the world who are suffering as you are. Lean on them, remember them, pray for them, yield to the call of Christ.
You are NOT a defenseless little lamb walking innocently in the wilderness. You are a mighty warrior of Christ with the whole armour of God to protect you. The devil can only devour you with your permission. Don't give it to him.
James 4:7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Resist the urge to rest in your bitterness borne of suffering, be firm in your faith. Pray without ceasing. Be obedient to the will of God by receiving and embracing the Fruit of the Spirit in Christ's name and through His power.
God bless you all in your struggles against the enemy.