PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

1 Peter 5:8-9; Resisting the Lion

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090719_1peter5_8-9.mp3

07/19 1 Peter 5:8-9 Resisting the Lion

5:5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober–minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

We learned last time that humility is an essential grace in the Christian life. Almighty God is actively and aggressively engaged against those who lift themselves up, but he is just as actively and aggressively engaged in pouring out undeserved kindness on the one who has a deep sense of his own unworthiness in the sight of God. We found that anxiety or worry is evidence of a proud heart. As Alexander Nisbet said in his commentary written in 1658

“Mis-believing anxiety, whereby Christians break themselves with the burden of these cares which God requires to be cast upon Him, is one of the greatest signs of pride in the world; and to trust God with the weight of these in following our duty is a prime evidence of true humility…” [Nisbet, p.201]

Peter has addressed the Elder-Shepherds and exhorted them to shepherd God’s flock willingly, eagerly, being examples to the flock. He’s told us to live in humility with one another, let go of pride, and relax under the mighty hand of our awesome God. He tucks us in to our safe care free life under the security of the awesome hand of mighty God, and as we begin to drift off into anxiety free bliss, he says ‘by the way, did I mention the lion?… Humble yourselves… casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. Don’t worry about a single thing. And oh, we’ve got a hungry lion on the loose… Every thing’s going to work out all right. God is caring for you. He gives grace to the humble…PAY ATTENTION! WATCH OUT!

This is the third time that Peter has called us to stay alert and be sober-minded:

1Peter 1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober–minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self–controlled and sober–minded for the sake of your prayers.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober–minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Peter warns us against the ‘mental and spiritual lethargy that would prevent us from recognizing and meeting an attack on our faith’ [Davids, p.189]. Peter calls us to sober-mindedness. We are to always be on our guard and keep our heads clear. And we are to be alert and watchful. Peter has the vivid recollection of first hand experience with watchfulness and the consequences of a lack thereof:

Mark 14:34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Peter, having failed to be vigilant in his hour of crisis, now turns to strengthen us, just as Jesus had promised:

Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Peter knows first hand what it is to be attacked by the roaring lion. Peter knows what it’s like to be caught with your guard down. But I like Peter’s perspective here. You are safe under the mighty hand of our sovereign God. God is the omnipotent uncreated cause of all things, high king and ruler over all things. You do have an enemy. He seems fearsome and powerful, but compared to God he is weak and limited. He is a finite created being. He is dangerous, but he’s been decisively defeated. You need not fear him, but you do need to know how to handle him. In this God centered God saturated letter, Peter gives only one verse to describing the adversary, and he gives concise clear instruction on how to defeat him.

8 Be sober–minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

First, the identity of the adversary. The Hebrew word ‘satan’ means ‘adversary’ or ‘opponent’; sometimes carried over directly from the Hebrew as ‘Satan’ (Mk.1:13; 8:33; 1 Cor.5:5; 7:5); sometimes translated [diabolov] devil, which means ‘slanderer’ or ‘false accuser’. He is further described in this passage as our adversary [antidikov] which means ‘opponent in a lawsuit’. The Devil, or Satan in the bible is ‘a personal spiritual being who is in active rebellion against God and who has leadership of many demons like himself… He is a cunning and evil personal being who has the ability and propensity to attack (and presumably harm) Christians.’ [Grudem, p.196]. We see his personality in his conversation with the LORD in Job 1:7

Job 1:7 The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”

In Job we see Satan going to and fro, walking up and down on the earth. He prowls around like a roaring lion. In Zechariah 3 and Revelation 12 we see Satan as the adversary or accuser of God’s people:

Zechariah 3:1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”

Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

The roaring lion metaphor is taken from Psalm 22 which described the passion of Jesus:

Psalm 22:12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.

This is not the sneaking slithering serpent Satan. This is the roaring lion Satan. Satan would either have you think too much or too little of him. If he can convince you he doesn’t exist, then he has free reign to work in your life without fear of discovery. If he can convince you that he is more powerful than he really is, then he can manipulate you by intimidation. That is how he is pictured here – roaring intimidation. And he seeks someone to devour. The word devour means ‘to gulp down’. It is the word used to describe the great fish swallowing the prophet Jonah whole.

Jonah 1:17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

The devil would like to swallow up believers. And with this we must ask some hard questions. Can he? What would that mean? The implication is that he does devour those do not resist him, those who are not firm in their faith, those who are not sober-minded and watchful. This is a warning that has real consequences for ignoring. If we don’t take up the shield of faith, we will be hit by the flaming darts of the evil one [Eph.6:16]. Being devoured or gulped down by the roaring lion does not sound like a good thing. Satan’s voracious appetite will be appeased by nothing less than to bring you with him to hell for eternity. And I think that is exactly what is at stake in this verse. Stay alert and think clearly because your adversary would like to drag you to hell. Is that possible? Is it possible for Satan to have the ultimate victory over a genuine reborn believer in Jesus? And I have to answer a resounding NO based on scriptures like:

John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Romans 3:22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified….35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

2Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful–– for he cannot deny himself.

Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Those who are in Christ Jesus are absolutely safe and secure and nothing can change that – not even Satan. So is this an empty warning? Why waste so much energy watching out for a lion that can’t possibly eat you? Stay awake, but if you fall asleep, it’s not a big deal because nothing will happen anyway. I don’t think that’s what Peter is saying. So how do we put this together? We who have eternal life, who shall never perish, who have been justified by his grace as a gift, who have been made alive by God, who cannot be separated from the love of God, who are sealed with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of the inheritance, we are warned not to fall prey to the devouring lion. Here’s how I see these fit together: True believers are those who:

1Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. [c.f. 2Timothy 4:7]

A characteristic of a born again believer is that they fight. That they are vigilant against the enemy and that they resist him firm in their faith. The fight is evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in the heart of the believer. Lack of fight indicates a lack of genuine spiritual life. Jesus is clear that there will be many on that day that thought they were spiritually safe and he says ‘I never knew you; depart from me [Mt.7:22]. Let’s look at this from another angle. Ephesians 6:

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

God tells us that the fight is way out of our league, but he has provided invincible armor. Would it be evidence of genuine faith to run out into the battlefield without putting on the equipment that he graciously supplies? We cannot hold God to a promise that he did not make. I want to be able to stand against the schemes of the devil, but I’m not going to make use of the armor that God gives. I don’t want to be eaten by the lion, but I’m going to pet the lion and curl up with him and take a nap. If that’s what you say, you are not a believer. Not heeding the warnings is evidence of unbelief, and it is he who believes that has eternal life! The believer walks by faith, trust, obedience to the commands and warnings of God. So how do we handle this lion?

8 Be sober–minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

When faced with the lion, we are to stand our ground and resist him. Not so with many sins. We are told to:

John 10:5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him [a false shepherd], for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

1Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

1Corinthians 10:14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

1Timothy 6:10-11 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

2Timothy 2:22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

It is right to run away from sin. We are commanded to flee. But when we are faced with the roaring lion, we are to stand firm. If you examine the spiritual armor that God has given us for the battle, there is nothing to protect our backs. In fact James says:

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double–minded.

When faced with sin and temptation, we should look for the promised escape and flee [1Cor.10:13]. But when faced with the devil, we are to stand our ground and resist him and he will flee from us. But how? How do we resist the devil? Peter tells us. Resist him firm in your faith. It is our weapon of faith that will defeat our foe and keep us safe. Our rock-solid confidence in the faithfulness of God to us. Our confidence is in the gospel message that Satan was defeated at the cross of Christ, that we are fully and freely forgiven, and now even death cannot separate us from the love of God.

Peter is expanding here on what he said at the beginning of the letter. He started by telling us that we are elect according to the foreknowledge of God, that God caused us to be born again, that we have an inheritance kept in heaven for us…

1 Peter 1:5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

God’s power is guarding us so that we stand firm and receive the promise rather than being devoured. The means by which his omnipotent power is guarding us is ‘through faith’. ‘Without faith it is impossible to please him’ [Heb.11:6], but ‘all things are possible for one who believes’ [Mk.9:23]. Jude says it this way:

Jude 1:24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Our confidence is not in ourselves or our faith, but in the mighty hand of God. We resist the temptation to pride and self dependence and instead humble ourselves under his mighty hand in absolute surrender and utter dependence, trusting that he knows best.

Satan’s roar is the roar of suffering. His roar can be heard in the roar of the emperor, in the roar of the harsh employer, the roar of the unbelieving spouse. The roar of intimidation through suffering that would cause us to buckle under the pressure and distrust the God who called us. Faith cries ‘you can take my livelihood, you can take my family, you can even take my life, but you can never touch my soul because it was bought with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And we can be encouraged that we are not alone. Our brothers around the globe are experiencing the roar of suffering. Our suffering is not unique, and God has given many who have gone before the faith to stand firm

8 Be sober–minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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July 19, 2009 - Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , ,

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