We have come to our final study in the epistle of 1Peter...
Peter says, "be of sober spirit, be on the alert." We need to be sharp and watchful. I think that's funny advice, because this is from the guy who used to fall asleep during prayer meetings! (Matt. 26:40-45; Luke 9:32)
But in reality, what we discover as we read Peter's writings is that he learned from his mistakes. As a matter of fact, Jesus had told Peter many years before,
Luke 22:31 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat
Luke 22:33-34 But he said to Him, "Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” And He said, "I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”
Peter didn't realize how dangerous the devil was. But now he does, and he tells us this...
The devil is our adversary. That word means "an opponent in justice." He's the prosecuting attorney. The word devil (diabolos) comes from diaballo ("to bring charges"). He accuses us before God. He wants us to lose. He wants to see us in prison. He wants nothing less than the death penalty for us.
And like a prosecuting attorney, he is prowling around, investigating us, looking for weaknesses. You may remember in the book of Job,
Job 1:7-8 The LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job?..."
The devil was prowling around the earth, looking for people. He was on a reconnaissance mission, gathering information on his enemy. And God said, "Have you considered Job?"
The devil has considered you as well. He's gathering intelligence on you, he's doing his reconnaissance. And like an enemy combatant, he wants to see you dead.
Peter describes the devil as a roaring lion. Now, I have heard many times from Bible teachers that the devil is an old, toothless lion. They say that lions roar when they get weak.
Is he an old, toothless lion? Samson found out that roaring wasn't an indication of safety:
Judg. 14:5 ...behold, a young lion came roaring toward him.
Jesus didn't use the figure of speech regarding an old helpless lion. He described those who surrounded Him as He was dying on the cross...
Psa. 22:13 They open wide their mouth at me, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
Jeremiah prophesied of the destruction of Israel by saying,
Jer. 2:15 "The young lions have roared at him, they have roared loudly. And they have made his land a waste; His cities have been destroyed, without inhabitant."
And Amos said,
Amos 3:8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear?...
In all these instances, roaring lions are far from harmless. They ravage and destroy, and are cause for fear. Never underestimate the devil. Peter did, and he paid dearly for it. And so he warns us: The devil, like a man-eating lion, wants to devour people. To swallow you up. To rob you of your life.
It has become common knowledge that if you encounter a lion in the wilderness, you must not turn your back on it or run away. You are are to keep eye contact with it - face it down. The devil is a lion who actively wants to devour you. So, how can you wage warfare against him? Much the same way: resist him.
James tells us the same thing Peter does:
James 4:7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
That's why I don't understand all of this spiritual warfare kookiness that has taken the church by storm in the last couple decades. Praying against demons and doing battle with the devil... it's nonsense. What does the classic passage on spiritual warfare say? The same thing as Peter and James say: Stand firm and resist.
Eph. 6:12-14 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore...
The word resist literally means "to make a stand opposite to." How do you practically resist the devil? Make a stand in opposition to him. Find out who and what he is, and be the opposite:
- He is a liar (John 8:44) - you be a person of truth (2Cor. 13:8).
- He wants to kill (John 8:44) - you must walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).
- He wants to destroy (John 10:10) - you build up (Rom. 14:19)
- He wants to steal (John 10:10) - you be a giver (Eph. 4:8).
- He is an accuser - you refuse to gossip (1Tim. 3:11).
- He wants you to be unequally yoked (2Cor. 6:14-16) - you choose not to tie yourself to a relationship with an ubeliever (2Cor. 6:17).
- He sows bad seed (Matt. 13:39) - you sow good seed (Gal. 6:7).
- He tempts people (Luke 4:2) - you help them choose to do good (Heb. 10:24).
- He puts people into bondage (Luke 13:16) - you give them freedom (Gal. 5:1).
- He is an oppressor (Acts 10:38) - you be a servant (Mark 9:35).
- He is a hinderer of ministry (1Thes. 2:9) - you be a facilitator of ministry (Rom. 16:1-2).
- He takes the word away from people's hearts (Luke 8:12) - you put the Word in their hearts (Rom. 10:17).
This is how we wage spiritual warfare, this is how we resist the devil: make a stand opposite to him by being firm in our faith.
Peter ends his epistle with a benediction, and some personal greetings. And the last words of his letter are, "Peace be to you all who are in Christ." Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6). And when He came, He offered peace to all men with whom He is pleased (Luke 2:14).
Is. 57:21 "There is no peace,” says my God, "for the wicked.”
I encourage you to experience the peace that comes from being pleasing to God. The peace that comes from making a stand opposite the devil. The peace that comes from being in Christ.