“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:8-11
We may not often think about the devil and his workings, but we face a very dangerous foe. Each and every day of our lives — whether we realize it or not — we are engaged in a serious battle for our souls. In fact, the Bible tells us that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
That is why Peter, at the close of his epistle to the believers scattered across Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), tells them not to be deluded, but aware and on guard against the attacks of the devil. The devil, you see, is very real and very powerful and he seeks to destroy the souls of all who trust in God’s Son, Christ Jesus, our Savior. He works especially hard to destroy, split and divide congregations where the Word of God is faithfully taught and proclaimed — we can see that in our own church. The old evil foe does everything in his power to weaken our faith, divide us and destroy us.
As Peter writes, the devil’s out there prowling about like a roaring lion seeking the opportunity to swallow us up and devour us. He does this by seeking to weaken and destroy our faith and confidence in Christ Jesus.
And so, he tries to separate us from God’s Word and from fellow believers who mutually encourage and build each other up with the Scriptures. He seeks to lead us back into sin and ensnare us so that we continue on in sin and disobedience to God rather than in repentance and faith.
And, of course, when we do fall into temptation and sin, he would try to keep us from taking comfort in God’s mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus. He at first tries to convince us that it is OK or not that bad to break God’s commandments, and he then tells us our sin is too great to be forgiven.
He knows our weaknesses and shortcomings and attacks us when we are down with temptations to which we are very vulnerable. Like the lion who attacks and takes its prey when it is weak and separated from the herd, so the devil so often tempts us when we are weak, tired and away from our fellow believers.
As he deceived Eve in Garden (cf. Gen. 3), so he seeks to mislead and deceive us. “Did God really say…?” “It won’t hurt you to just try it once.” He seeks to make us question God’s Word, doubt it and then turn aside from it. And so we fall victim to his evil tactics.
The Bible tells us: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:12-15).
Since the temptings of the devil are very real and are a grave danger to our soul, Peter continues by admonishing us: “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
The Word of God tells us to stand firm against the temptations of the devil, our old evil foe, and to hold fast in the faith to Christ Jesus and the redemption He provided for us when He suffered and died upon the cross for our sins and the sins of the world.
We may think we face temptations which are unique and greater than those of others, but the Bible tells us: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
God doesn’t permit the devil to tempt us so severely that we cannot overcome his temptations. As He did in the case of Job, God sets limits. He makes a way of escape that we may be able to bear it. And what the devil intends to harm and destroy us, God uses to purify and strengthen our faith in Him.
We remember, of course, that in Christ we have the victory. Christ Jesus, using God’s Word, resisted the temptations of the devil and fulfilled all righteousness for us (cf. Matt. 4:1-11). He then went to the cross and suffered our punishment, winning for us forgiveness, life and a place in God’s eternal kingdom. When we sin — and we do still sin and stumble and fall — we can turn to God in faith for mercy and forgiveness for Jesus’ sake.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 1:8 – 2:2).
“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Pet. 5:10-11).
[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]