In this life, there are different causes of our suffering: Sometimes it is caused by our culture, the fallen world we live in. Sometimes our suffering is due to our own sin, the consequences of our own actions. And sometimes, we suffer and go through trials because of a direct attack from the devil and demonic forces. And here in this closing section, Peter addresses that last category of suffering, when Christians are engaged in spiritual warfare with the enemy.
Text: 1 Peter 5:6-14
So how are we to resist the devil?
1. Be humble before God (1 Peter 5:6-7)
Before you can resist the devil, you first have to humble yourself before God. At the heart of every sin, the root you most often find is the root of pride. Pride tries to elevate man over God. Pride denies the truth. Pride depends on my own understanding and my own strength. Because of that, pride sets us up to be wide open to an attack of the devil. But seeing our weakness causes us to run to the real source of our strength, and that is Christ alone. That’s why we are strongest when we are most aware of our weakness. We find true spiritual strength only when we stop relying on self, and rely fully on Christ.
2. Be ready for the devil’s attacks (1 Peter 5:8)
When a lion stalks his prey, he targets the young and vulnerable, the sick or weak – the ones most likely to be separated from the herd. That’s what the devil does with the Christian – waiting for times we isolate and separate from one another from fellowship, times we neglect prayer or forget the truth in God’s word. When we are supporting one another, when we are in fellowship with one another, being encouraged in Jesus, and praying for one another and unified with each other, the devil doesn’t stand a chance. If we will heed this warning, if we will be sober-minded and watchful, not just of ourselves, but of one another as well, we will not be caught off-guard. We will be ready. We will know who Christ is and who we are in Christ. We will be full of the word of God, ready to combat the lies and fears the enemy would try to plant in us. Being watchful means being full of the Holy Spirit and walking in His power and not my own.
3. Be strong in the faith (1 Peter 5:9)
That word “resist” has a double meaning. It is defensive, meaning to “withstand attack”, to face the attacks of an opponent and survive. Sometimes, just making it through the day without falling apart is a victory. But resisting also means being on the offensive, to push back. Christians are not called simply be on the defensive, just enduring, just surviving. We are called to be on the offensive, moving ahead, pressing forward, piercing the darkness of the world with the light of Jesus Christ. The best guard against deception is to know the truth, to be strong in the faith. The church must be prepared for the attacks and the lies of the enemy by being firmly rooted in the truth – the truth of the gospel, the truth of the Bible, and to be ready to suffer for that truth, even laying our lives down defending that truth.
4. Be encouraged in God’s promises (1 Peter 5:10-11)
It may not feel like “a little while” in the middle of the trial, in the middle of the attack of the enemy, in the middle of the persecution for the faith. But it is. This life is but a vapor, and then it’s gone. And whatever suffering we endure, it is not forever – it is only temporary. And for those who follow Christ, we are given these promises that God Himself will:
-restore you – It means to complete, to make whole, to take every injustice, to take every wrong and make it right.
-confirm you – To make strong by making us spiritually agile and resilient. Without God, that trial would have destroyed you. Now it just makes you stronger.
-strengthen you – To fix firmly, to root deeply. Like the tree with roots deep within the soil and is able to take on the storm without falling over. God promises to strengthen you in and through the storms of this life.
–establish you – This points to what you are built upon. Jesus is the sure foundation. No trial can change that. No attack of the enemy can shake us when we are built and established in Christ.
And remember this great promise, church. Satan may be a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. But Jesus is the Greater Lion – the Lion of the Tribe of Judah – who will one day return and conquer Satan once and for all. Jesus has defeated sin and death, and one day He will put Satan in his place once and for all.