I still remember where I was when I first learned of it. There was an informational meeting that morning for the upcoming Life Chain Sunday (which will be on October 1 again this year). As I arrived to the meeting someone said, “Have you heard what has just happened? A plane has just crashed into one of the twin towers at the World Trade Center in New York.” As we tried to absorb this news, wondering how such an accident could happen, someone else reported that they had just learned that a 2nd plane had crashed into the other twin tower. And suddenly the thought occurred, “Maybe this wasn’t an accident.” Before the morning was over we had come to realize that our nation was under attack, and we had not yet grasped the fact of the 1000’s of lives that were destroyed and the state of emergency into which we had entered.
We had a lady from the Philippines who had spoken at our church that weekend. She had stayed at Shirley Canfield’s home and we had been invited out to have lunch with them. I remember in our discussion of the event that was unfolding,, someone saying, “Our world will never be the same.”
I had just started working as a chaplain for Skaggs Hospice and while we were at the luncheon, I received a call that one of our patients had died and I needed to go to the Rockaway Beach area to pray with the family. As I made that drive, I noticed that the one of the gas stations along the way had suddenly raised the price, playing on the fears of the people.
Interestingly, the nation suddenly became very interested in praying. Some of the television comedians actually cancelled their shows. Celebrities broke down in tears. People rushed to the churches. For a few weeks, we were indeed a praying nation. Our country had been invaded. When was the next tragedy going to happen? Fear of the enemy—whoever that enemy might be—prevailed.
Our nation’s leaders put new programs and departments into action to help protect us from future attacks. And now, 16 years later, we are still aware of the potential danger if we let our guard down.
The tragedy, besides that of the loss of lives, is that after a few weeks, as people grew accustom to the dangers of enemy attacks, they quickly lost their passion to go to pray. The general population in America seems to have grown calloused and indifferent to the threats. And violence has become the norm in our news.
In the world in which Peter lived at the time of writing this Epistle of 1st Peter, the world was also violent. Christians were being slaughtered by hostile governments and persecuted by those who refused to believe in Christ. But the greatest danger then—and the greatest danger now—was not the hostile governments or the unbelievers. No, the greatest danger was the threat of spiritual attack from the realm of the demonic.
As we reflect on the scripture passage just read, let’s see what the Spirit of God would teach us this morning.
I. THERE IS AN ENEMY LURKING.
a. “…Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion…” (see 1 Peter 4:8).
b. The Bible clearly teaches us that there is a Supernatural entity that wishes to destroy us. He has several titles—The Serpent of Genesis 3, Lucifer the fallen angel, Beelzibub, Belial, the Beast, the Devil. He is called the Accuser, the Deceiver, the Murderer, the Liar, the Anti-Christ—and many other titles.
d. We know from the Bible that Satan stands against anything good and is in opposition to God’s plan for the world. And someone has pointed out a truth that has stuck in my mind ever since I first heard it: “Just as surely as God loves us and has a plan for our lives, Satan hates us and has a plan, as well, and his plan is to destroy us anyway he can!”
e. Peter very fittingly describes the devil as a roaring lion who prowls around looking for someone to devour. This invokes an image of Satan slinking along, ready to pounce on some unsuspecting person.
f. Many of you have read the C.S. Lewis book entitled “Screwtape Letters.” It is a series of letters from Screwtape (another name for the devil) to his nephew Wormwood as they look for ways to get a person to turn away from God. While the book is humorous at times, it is a reminder of the various methods Satan uses to entrap people.
g. Over the years there have been various surveys that asked the question, “Do you believe in a personal devil.” And while the answers have varied, the truth is,Yes, there is a devil. He is real. He is supernatural. He wants to destroy you. And He is doing everything He can to accomplish that destruction!
II. SINCE THERE IS A DEVIL, WE MUST BE ALWAYS ON THE ALERT.
a. The Bible speaks of various pitfalls or traps that cause people to fall.For Example: Exodus 23:33 They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.Psalm 38:12 They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long.Psalm 119:110 The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.1 Timothy 6:9–But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.2 Timothy 2:26–and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.1 Timothy 3:7–And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.2 Peter 2:20–For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
b. Satan uses so many different methods to trip us up. It may be other people who knowingly or unknowingly influence us in a negative manner. It may be a hurt feeling that festers into an attitude contrary to God’s Will. Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”It may be a little white lie that we are tempted to tell “to save someone’s feelings.”
c. Illustration: On the old TV show “Hee Haw,” Doc Campbell is confronted by a patient who says he broke his arm in two places. The doc replies, “Well then, stay out of them places!”He may have something there. We cannot regularly put ourselves in the face of temptation and not be affected. When faced with the problem of temptation, we need to take the good doctor’s advice and “stay out of them places.”–Source Unknown.
d. Just remember, Satan is the deceiver who uses every method of temptation and enticement He can to rob you of your soul. In 2 Corinthians 11:14 we are told that, “Satan disguises himself as an Angel of light.”
III. IN ORDER TO OVERCOME THE DEVIL WE MUST HAVE DIVINE HELP.
a. Years ago, the Christian author Hal Lindsey published a best seller book entitled “Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth.” It has been many years since I read the book but I remember the message that we are not strong enough in our own human strength to resist Satan. We must rely upon God’s Spirit to strengthen us and to protect us from this Enemy.
b. Ephesians 6: 10-18 tells us,
“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
c. Philippians 2: 13 says, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
d. 1 John 4:4 tells us, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them [the spirits of anti-Christ], because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
e. Our scripture passage in 1 Peter 5:9 says, “Resist him [the devil], standing firm in the faith…” –the key is to be “standing firm in the faith!” If we try to stand in our own strength we will certainly fall. God is the One –the only One–who saves us!
Over the years I have heard and read much about the spiritual battles we face against our enemy. I have come to believe that the best way to defeat Satan is not to face him and worry about his methods. Rather, the best way to keep victory is to keep our eyes on Jesus, put our faith fully in Him, trust Him to be our protector. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ.
Yes, there are enemies out there who would destroy us. But the Enemy who is most dangerous is Satan—the Devil Himself. Our surest defense is to let Jesus be in complete control of our lives.
Is He your Protector? Will you let Him be?