God is moving in this church. God is drawing people we’ve never met who have had an awakening of spiritual interest, a desire to know more about the Bible. God is drawing people into his kingdom as we speak.
God is transforming hearts. God is healing wounds that have festered for years. He is bringing about forgiveness and reconciliation. He is stirring hearts.
It’s a very exciting time for our church.
Here’s the thing – when God is working, he’s not the only one working. When God is on the move there is an enemy stalking in the distance. For every move of God in the world, there is a counter move.
Anyone who wants to see a work of God in their life, in their family, in their church, in their nation must be ready for battle.
I’m experiencing it and some of you are experiencing it first-hand. I want to take a few weeks this summer and look together at what the Bible says about our enemy and how we can defeat that enemy.
I am sounding a red alert.
Red alert: A condition of heightened alertness or preparedness, especially to guard against imminent danger.
Today we are going to look at 1 Peter 5, we’re going to see 3 truths: you are being watched, you need to be ready and you can resist.
Next week we are going to look at James 4 and see how resistance and submission are necessarily tied together in spiritual battle.
Then we will look at Ephesians 6 and get into some practicalities.
Does that sound alright to you all?
Let’s read 1 Peter 5:8-9.
“8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
1 Peter 5:8-9
Last week Mandy came home from running errands and found our trash bin sitting halfway up our driveway. It was trash day and she had set it at the curb the night before.
It was down at the curb when she left. I didn’t move it. Lizzie didn’t move it. No one else was home. This brought up a very important question – who moved the trash bin?
I made a terrible mistake. Getting a little bored of the conversation I flippantly said, “maybe somebody is casing our house.” Big mistake. That seed was planted in the fertile ground of her imagination. We’re still talking about the mystery of the rolling trash bin.
In all seriousness, what if someone was casing your house? What if the police came to your door and told you that they had been made aware of someone who was stalking your family. They’ve been going through your trash and building a file on your personal information, they have been learning your daily routines, they know when the house is empty they know when the best chances are to get the kids alone. They may have a time and date scheduled to make a move.
Would you want to know about that? What would you do?
You would start paying attention really quickly wouldn’t you. You would be on heightened alert. You would take defensive precautions and take a state of readiness. You would get with that officer and say, “what do I need to do?”
Here’s the first thing I see in 1 Peter 5:8.
1. You are being watched.
Your enemy the devil. We have an enemy identified. Not other people. Not the liberals. Not your in-laws or the neighbors or the Russians. The devil is the enemy.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
The word devil is used as a representative. The Bible describes the presence and activity of beings called demons or unclean spirits.
Devil is a single word representing the invisible but tangible presence of malevolent spiritual beings actively seeking to influence your life.
Our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
How is he like a lion? He’s hungry. He has an inner drive to devour, to discourage, defeat and destroy.
Specifically to destroy our souls and our relationships.
Notice Peter tells us two things about our enemy.
He is prowling. He is on the move. He is always looking, always probing for an opportunity.
He is roaring. Peter could have just said he prowls like a lion. But he said roaring lion.
Years ago my family was at the Omaha zoo. Our favorite exhibit was the big cat house. In the inner ring we heard from behind a closed door the massive bellow of a lion’s roar. The sound filled the whole building. The door was shaking.
A Lions roar communicates aggression; it is a threat that frightens and causes intimidation.
Peter wants to call to mind an image like this. Here’s a herd of buffalo having a nice family play date in the field. They don’t realize there is a lion stalking in the grass. Peter says “hey guys, wake up! we’re not alone.”
Peter may have remembered his old friend Judas when he wrote these words.
Satan who was prowling looking for an opportunity found an opening in the heart of Judas.
LUKE 22:3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.
It might have been something Jesus said which could be interpreted as offensive to Judas and turned him sour. Maybe it began with greed when Judas was given the job of bookkeeper and saw an opportunity for gain as money flowed through his hands. The end result was violence, division and in the end despair for Judas.
Peter wants us to know – we’re not alone.
Did you know that? If we could see the spiritual dimension right now, we might very well be startled by what we see.
2. You need to be ready.
This calls for a mindset characterized by two words: sober and alert.
The opposite of sober is intoxicated. It’s possible to be intoxicated by chemical stimulation. It’s also possible to be intoxicated with mental or emotional stimulation. I read last week about a great leader who walked into a trap because he had become intoxicated with romantic attraction as he and a coworker discovered mutual respect and admiration which quickly grew into a strong attachment. He realized that a trap had been drawn around him while he was intoxicated with romance. We can be intoxicated with hobbies, home improvement projects, wealth building projects, a new fueled of study.
The opposite of alertness is distraction. We live in the age of distraction. This technology which has brought so much that is good an interesting and valuable is also the source of a great disease which we may not fully realize until the effects become apparent in the generation of our young children.
Mindfulness is very difficult in the age of the screen.
This word from Peter is as urgent as ever in our day.
We’re not alone! Be sober! Be alert! Constant vigilance!
So what should we do?
We should not forget that we are not alone.
We should not forget that the intentions of the evil one are not benevolent. He wants to devour you. He’s actively working to discourage and distract and defeat you.
We should not be unaware of the devil’s schemes.
For we are not unaware of his schemes.
2 Corinthians 2:11b
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
We should use the resources God has given us to defend ourselves against the devils schemes.
What are the devils schemes?
The book of Revelation tells us something vital to know about our enemy. He is a deceiver and an accuser.
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”
If you’re living for comfort and the American dream, he is already devouring your soul.
Our first introduction to our enemy gives us a prototype of his schemes: “did God really say?” The great purpose of the enemy is to confuse and distort the Word of God. To separate us from the absolute necessity of devotion to the plainly revealed will, work and character of God in the Scriptures.
One of the great deceptions of our day is this idea: “Love is love.”
Friday An old post popped up in my social media memories. A woman who had visited church posted on my timeline that she really loved the service. The woman came back and eventually brought a child and a man with her. As we got to know them we learned that that man had been a leader at another church in town.
He had a wife and children of his own but had moved out to be with this other woman. I challenged them that their relationship was not built on solid ground, that the man had a responsibility to his wife and kids, to God and to his church. Their response was “God understands love.”
The Scriptures are clear. God asks a man to be faithful to one woman, to lay down his life like Jesus to serve and love one woman and the children who come from that sacred union. The enemy deceived those two and devoured a family.
There are other powerful deceptions. The supremacy of science and the evolutionary explanation of human existence. The illogical idea that all claims to truth are valid if they are sincere. These are destructive.
The enemy schemes to accuse.
He attacks some with words of shame and self-condemnation. A man makes a mistake at work. He immediately hears a shout in his mind – “Idiot! You’re stupid. Why did you do that?” Where does that come from?
A Mom is at home with her baby. She imagines what would happen if she were to drop her baby. She imagines the shame and regret. She feels as guilty as if she had already dropped the child. Where does that come from?
These intrusive thoughts are planted by the evil one.
These thoughts can be directed towards others, in criticism and the desire to gossip.
The evil one can plant nurturing thoughts of bitterness and unforgiveness.
He can plant thoughts of bitterness towards God. The book of Job is instigated with the accusation against God – “God isn’t good in himself, take away blessings and everyone will curse Him.”
The devil is always scheming to cause conflict and division. It’s incredible how something like the color of carpet or the use of a song on a Sunday morning can bring about a terrible split in a church. This is the devil scheming.
When these schemes don’t work, the enemy has a terrible tool at his disposal – persecution. The Christians of Peter’s day endured extreme persecution. Peter himself was crucified upside down.
The enemy schemes to manipulate emotional pain.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
Unresolved emotional pain is a foothold. When we carry emotional pain from the past, we carry within us a valuable asset in the enemy’s schemes. Moments of emotional pain make us prime targets for temptation.
If you have emotional pain that is unresolved, I urge you to resolve to seek healing until it is resolved.
The enemy schemes to isolate.
Haven’t we all learned this from nature videos since we were kids? What’s the goal of a lion stalking a herd? To isolate one buffalo. A single buffalo is no match for a lion. I have seen this far more often than I would like to.
The enemy finds an opening and gets into the head of an individual. Whispering words of accusation, Nobody loves you. Who called you this week? They don’t care about you. They don’t want to be burdened by your troubles. They’d be better off without you. You’re all alone. That person begins to sink into depression. Bitter thoughts take root. They stop coming to church. They quit taking phone calls. The enemy has them right where he wants them.
Friends – the last thing in the world you want to do when you are struggling is stay away. It’s when you are at your worst that you most need your brothers and sisters. I wish I could beat this into our heads! A brother is born for adversity. So much needless pain and suffering and wasted months could be avoided if we would just recognize those thoughts and what they are, resist them as demonic lies and go to church. Men, some of you are tormented on the inside and you wouldn’t be if you just opened up and told someone about it.
Here’s something we could all say a lot more: “Pray for me.”
Some of us got a text this week from a sister who is struggling, and she asked us to join her for a day of prayer and fasting. I applaud her for that. It was a pleasure for me and others to fight with her and for her in prayer.
If you don’t do anything else this week do this one thing: share your battle with some friends and ask for prayer.
What do we do when the devil comes scheming?
Resist him. Just because the devil wants to destroy you doesn’t mean he can.
You can resist.
Here’s something you’ve got to know: the devil is a defeated enemy.
Colossians 2:15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
What does that look like?
Have you seen Lord of the Rings? Do you remember Saruman the wizard who was turned and became a malevolent force? He was defeated by Gandalf but he was not destroyed. His power was removed, but his presence and his voice were not. He went tot the Shire and through the deceptive power of his words brought a dark cloud of bondage over the once happy shire.
Despite all his roaring and his threats, the devil is a defeated foe. He has no , but what we give him.
Do you know that?
The Biblical teaching of good and evil is not the Yin and Yang. It’s not the force with the dark and light in constant competition.
The influence of the devil is everywhere and it will only grow larger. In the last days it will seem to sweep over the world and threaten to extinguish all light and goodness.
But that’s all part of Gods plan. The devil is simply a pawn in Gods great, wise and good plan.
The devil’s influence seems to be all over the place, but listen: everywhere he is, God is there too. God’s power is vastly superior.
You’re on the winning side. Your enemy is already defeated. He is more angry than powerful.
All we need to do is resist. When the clouds of doubt and despair begin to grow on the horizon, when the flames of bitterness and anger begin crackling we simply resist.
Jesus resisted the devil in the wilderness by recognizing his voice for what it was and refuting it with the Word of God.
“If you’re the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread, you have eaten for weeks.” What did Jesus do? He resisted. “It is written, man does not live by bread alone.”
Serve me and I will give you the whole world. “It is written, you shall worship YHWH your God and serve Him alone.”
If you’re the Son of God prove it. Throw yourself off this wall. Doesn’t God say he will send his angels to guard you. I don’t think you really believe that. “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Jesus resisted Satan indirectly when Peter with best of intention sought to turn him from his path of obedience. “Get behind me Satan.”
It’s as simple as that.
“You spirit of despair, I resist you in the name of Jesus. Be silent and leave me.”
It is written, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
When intrusive thoughts of fear come into your head, Mom – resist that as what it is: a demonic intrusion.
You will find a surprising power in your life when you begin to practice this.
There may be times when the intrusion is more deeply rooted and you need help. Don’t be afraid to get counseling.
Peter’s word is not a word of fear. It’s not written in a tone of worry or anxiety. It comes with simplicity and strength.
Resist him. Stand firm in your faith.
You can resist because your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of struggle. There is a massive, global army fighting for the kingdom of God. You are not alone.
The Christians in Ukraine living in basement shelters are fighting. The brothers and sisters in Nigeria whose churches are bombed and burned are fighting. The brothers and sisters in the Middle East whose families threaten to kill them for converting to Christ are struggling. We’re not alone. God has a great army all over the world standing together to resist darkness and evil and fight for the light.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us . . .
Peter ends with a word of comfort.
First he tells us there is an end date to our struggle.
After a little while.
Every struggle has an expiration date. You may have been fighting a battle for decades. Your victory may be just around the corner. Some day it will end.
Something incredible will happen.
Not the angels. Not the saints. God himself will restore you.
After his battle with the enemy Jesus was comforted by angels. Wonderful. Wouldn’t it be something to be comforted by angels? I think they’re probably pretty good at the work.
Peter tells you you get an upgrade. God himself. You will have a direct encounter with the creator of the heavens and the earth. You will experience that He sees you. You will experience that though he has allowed your trial he has hurt with you. You will experience the reality that he is kind and soft hearted, he is compassionate.
This will be the result: strong, firm, steadfast.
Why does God allow spiritual attacks? His reasons are as numerous and mysterious as the heavens. But here we have one reason: through battling and struggling, through tears and sorrow, through victory and Gods ministry, an end result is achieved.
Strength. Resolve. Steadfastness. This is what God is building in you!
Fight friends! Stand firm! Gather your courage and resolve. Fight for your joy! Fight for the sake of your children. Fight for the souls of your neighbors and coworkers and complete strangers who are waiting for your testimony.
When you feel like you can’t make it. Your faith isn’t strong. You wonder if it’s real.
Remember this word called.
Jesus – you didn’t call me, I called you.
Peter remembered that.
for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
The end result is glory.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us . . .
Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown