In 1 Pet. 5:8, just after telling Christians that they should humble themselves under the mighty had of God, the apostle Peter states: "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..."
The spiritual enemy that Christians face is not an apathetic or passive adversary -- the devil is like a roaring lion, aggressive and furious in his malevolence. In 1 Jno. 5:19, the apostle warns "the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." Satan is battling to sway the very thought and behavior of every person on earth, must especially those of Christians. The devil seeks to consume the Christian's time, trying to draw our priorities entirely to carnal things; he desires to ensnare our minds, tempting us to focus and meditate on the impure lusts of the flesh and lusts of the eyes, and he is constantly fighting that Christians will use their tongues to lash out in impure speech.
Considering these things, the warning of God through Peter is that children of God must be sober and vigilant. To be sober means to always handle oneself with self-control, not to be swayed or overpowered by any carnal thought or action. Paul expressed this idea in 1 Cor. 6:12 saying, "I will not be brought under the power of anything." The holy apostle certainly was not teaching rebellion against the rule of Christ, but firmly stating that he would let no carnal motivation or influence rule over his body and behavior. Contrastingly, part of being sober means bowing in total obedience, but only to Christ. Paul states in 2 Cor. 10:5, we must bring "every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."
We must also be vigilant, always on the alert and watchful, lest we fall into the devil's snares. This command echoes the words of Christ after finding His precious disciples asleep in Gethsemane: "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation." Children of God must not let the devil catch them sleeping. Satan never sleeps; he roams about constantly searching for the souls to drag into the fiery punishment that awaits him. He is the great deceiver, even transforming himself into an angel of light (Jno. 8:44; 2 Cor. 11:14). In no uncertain terms we are warned; we must be more vigilant than our enemy. We must guard every word we speak, every meditation of our hearts, every action we make, both while alone as well as before the world. As stated in 1 Cor. 16:13,14, "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love."
Satan cannot overpower us -- James 4:7 says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." But to resist the devil takes action and effort: we must humble ourselves before God, always being sober and vigilant, standing steadfast in the faith. If we remain sober and in control we will find the way of escape God provides with every temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). Yet, all temptations are not blatant and calculable -- Satan will lull us to sleep if he can, and take advantage of any lackadaisicalness. "Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober" (1 Thes. 5:6).
By Daniel Bailey via Gospel Power, Vol. 11, No. 44, Nov. 7, 2004.
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