Peter’s Instruction Concerning Spiritual Warfare

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“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (KJV, 1 Pet. 5:8-10).

“Be sober”

Spiritual warfare will take place in the life of the Christian. Just because someone may not want to fight does not mean he is not in a war. Therefore, the Christian must become aware of the battle.

Peter gives clear instructions on the matter of spiritual warfare. First, Peter tells his readers that they must be sober in their fight against the enemy. Peter has already conveyed that the Christian is to be sober-minded in 1 Peter 1:13 and 4:7. In 1 Peter 1:13, Peter instructs the Christian to prepare his mind for action by being sober-minded. In 1 Peter 4:7, we are told that effective prayer comes from being sober-minded. Finally, as we approach 1 Peter 5:8, we are informed that to fight effectively against the enemy, the Christian must also be sober-minded.

But what does it mean to be sober? It means avoiding intoxication and being level-headed. The Christian must grow in having a disciplined mind; one of the primary means is being sober-minded.

“be vigilant”

The Christian must also be vigilant. To be vigilant is to be on the alert for Satan’s schemes. It is to be awake rather than asleep. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane and His disciples fell asleep, He told them to watch and pray to avoid temptation. Had Peter heeded the command of Christ, Peter may have resisted the temptation to deny his Savior. Not only did Jesus tells His disciples to pray, but He told them to watch.

The Christian is to be aware of the devil’s schemes and stand alert. He is to stay on guard and man his post as the night watchmen would keep watch for the approaching enemy. Falling asleep on watch could very well mean defeat and death. Stay on guard.

“because your adversary the devil”

Here we see the reason why the Christian must be sober and vigilant. The first reason we are given is that the Christian has an adversary. It will do no good to lay down the sword and the armor of God. It will be of no value to play the role of the pacifist. Whether the Christian likes it or not, he is in a war, and the general of the opposing forces hates the Christian with intense hatred. It is said of Satan that he has come to steal, kill, and destroy.

Satan does not hate the Christian simply because Satan is full of hate. Satan hates the Christian because Satan hates God and desires to rob God of His glory. Satan is opposed to the Christian and will seek his demise as he did Adam and Eve. Satan wants to steal God’s glory and will do so through immense temptation as he did with Job. Finally, Satan will seek to turn people away from Christ as he did with Judas.

“as a roaring lion”

Satan is equated with a roaring lion. Thus, Satan is depicted as a ferocious enemy of the Christian. It would be foolish to enter into the presence of a lion on the hunt without a plan or weapon. Here we also see Satan depicted as hungry. He is on the prowl, ready to kill and destroy. He would desire to consume his enemies and leave nothing left. The lion seeks nothing short of the life of his prey, as does Satan.

walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”
Satan is not simply equated with a lion, but he is compared to the lion who actively seeks out its next meal. Lions are strong and strategic. They lurk in the tall grass and are quick to strike. Even if animals may notice the presence of a lion, they are often fooled into thinking that they can get away. Instead, the lion quickly pounces and pursues with speed and determination and often makes a quick meal out of its target.

“Whom resist steadfast in the faith”

Faith is one of the greatest assets of the Christian. In actuality, the whole life of the Christian is to be a life of faith. Those listed in Hebrews 11 accomplished remarkable feats by faith. The righteous live by faith. Paul tells us that it is the shield of faith that extinguishes the flaming darts of the evil one. Finally, we are told in the book of Hebrews that the Christian life consists of one looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of the Christian’s faith.

“knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world”

The afflictions, sufferings, and temptations that the Christian experiences are not his alone. He must recognize that he will have tribulation in this world, but he is to take heart because Jesus has overcome the world. Scripture says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). God does not tempt the Christian to sin. Satan is the tempter of the brethren, but God will always provide a way of escape.

“But the God of all grace”

God is the God of all grace. It is God Who can make all grace abound to the Christian so that the Christian can abound in every good work. The grace of God has appeared and teaches the Christian to renounce his ungodliness and live a self-controlled and upright life in the present age. Thus, the God of all grace will help the Christian during his fight against the enemy.

“who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus”
Let us never forget that amid the fight, the Christian has already been called to glory in Christ Jesus. The believer is in Christ, and Christ is in the believer. Christ, the hope of glory dwells within the believer; therefore, the enemy’s plan will never come to fruition.

While the enemy may win some battles, he will never win the war.

“after that ye have suffered a while”

Peter reminds his readers that they will suffer. It will do no good to seek a life of ease. Ease is not for the present life. While there may be a calm in the storm, the storm will return nonetheless. This life is meant to point the believer to another. This imperfect life is intended to point the believer to the perfect life known as eternal life. There will be suffering, there will be affliction, and there will be challenges as the Christian enters the battlefield.

However, he must also be aware that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character. He needs to know that affliction brings obedience and dependence on God. Finally, he must learn to consider his trials as joy, for the testing of his faith produces steadfastness.

“make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you”

During the fight, he must never forget that he is to wait upon God. Much of the Christian life is waiting upon God to act. Waiting is hard for the Christian. Especially with the fast-paced lifestyle in the modern era. The Christian often wants things quickly. But in God’s economy, he must learn to wait patiently on the Lord and abide in the shadow of His wings.

God will restore the Christian and give him strength. God will make the Christian mount up on the wings of eagles. But first, the Christian must learn to wait.

Final prayer

Father, I thank You for the instruction of Peter. Please help me to fight the fight of the faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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