Be On The Alert!
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
There is a lot we do not understand about Satan. What is his origin? What motivates him to tempt? How does he work, practically and specifically? Based on the verse above, the first thing we can know about him is that he is an “adversary”, an enemy. Never confuse that truth! Only try to know or understand Satan in the sense of trying to understand an enemy in battle. Dabbling in his ways or showing too much curiosity about the devil is a sign that your warning siren is not working properly – you are not seeing him for who he really is. Second, the apostle acknowledges that Satan “prowls about”, as in, he has movement and presence. He has direction, goals (though, certainly not noble). He disguises himself (2 Corinthians 11:14) at times, but promotes sin through very obvious means at other times, such as false doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1), sexual temptation, or unwarranted anger (Ephesians 4:26-27).
Fortunately, we are not left in the dark about how to resist him. “But resist the devil, firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:9) is what Peter recommends after his haunting description of Satan in the previous verse. The very fact that God asks us to “resist” means that He believes we are capable of it – but not alone! Rather, I should lean more heavily on God if I want to conquer the enemy. “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners…” (James 4:7ff).
It is easy to read this phrase out of Peter’s epistle and apply it somewhat impersonally. We might view the devil as a fairly indiscriminate predator, or a vague threat – we acknowledge that Satan is hunting tonight, but hope the odds are in our favor that he is not hunting “me”. Yet the Christian needs to be reminded that anybody/everybody is on the menu for tonight – including me! Interestingly, the first epistle that Peter wrote was not written to unbelievers, but to Christians (1 Peter 1:1-3). I think we dismiss the threat of Satan a bit because we think he is preoccupied interacting with a lost world. The “whole world lies in the powers of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), after all. Like any good hunter, though, the devil is not worried about the prey that is already in the bag – the souls he has already deceived. He is moving on to new targets, fresh blood. He does not need to tempt or trip-up unbelievers and sinners – it is the unsuspecting Christian that is his primary quarry.
Satan means to devour us, to swallow up and utterly destroy. Notice that he is not looking for allies or assistants. There is no compromising with him or seeking a better deal. No, it is your annihilation that the devil seeks. So be on the alert! RG