Meditations in 1 Peter : 65: Resist the Enemy
1 Pet 5:8b Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith
Now we come more fully to the reason Peter says be alert. We have an enemy and it is important that we understand who he is, how he works and his limitations. In some ways he is slightly mysterious, and in others he is obvious and clearly described in Scripture. In fact he is mentioned so many times that we would be foolish to deny his presence. So what can we find out about him?
Scholars note two particular passages of prophetic Scripture which, they say, speak of a figure who must be far more than a mere man and thus, they suggest, Satan is being described in the prophecies. The first is Isa 14:12-17 which notes:
– the being referred to in these verses seems to have come from heaven,
– he was cast down on the earth (see also Rev 12:9),
– he was overcome by pride and wanted to be greater than God.
The second set of verses is Ezek 28:11-19 which note:
– this being was created perfect,
– his task was a guardian over Eden, he was made sinless, but he turned,
– because of his sin he was expelled from God’s presence,
– his perfect beauty became the cause of his pride and for this he was expelled.
Thus it is suggested that he is an angelic being whose origin is in heaven. Now let’s note his various designations. In a number of places he is described as “Satan” (see Job 1:6 / Zech 3:1 / 2 Cor 11:14) but Satan simply means “the accuser” (Rev 12:10). He is also referred to as “the tempter” (Mt 4:3), and “the devil ….. a murderer ….. the father of lies” (Jn 8:44), sometimes just “the devil” (e.g. Mt 4:1-11), once as “an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14), and at the beginning he was seen as “the serpent” (Gen 3:1).
As “tempter” he seeks to lead people astray, as “the devil” he is the leading demon, as “the serpent” he deceived and was a liar, seeking to kill (a murderer), as a deceiver he comes in disguise as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14) to lead astray. In Rev 12:9 he is referred to as “The great dragon … that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan” and so we see he also comes as a “dragon” or “lion”, (1 Pet 5:8) indicating his intent to create fear. In Eph 2:2 he is referred to as “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” and in Jn 14:30/ Jn 16:11 he is referred to as “the prince of this world”. In 1 Jn 5:19 he is simply called “the evil one”.
It is important, so that we do not get over-awed by him, we need to know:
- he is merely one of God’s created beings,
- he can only to go as far as God permits. (See Job 1 & 2),
- his end is decreed by God (Rev 20:10),
- he is used by God.
So Peter identifies him first as our enemy. An enemy is one who is against us, possibly out to get us and destroy us. He calls him “the devil” as he would no doubt have heard his Master refer to him as he would have later shared his experience with his disciples, with him in the wilderness (Mt 4:1-11). He describes his activity as being “like a roaring lion”, again one who is dangerous and who seeks prey. Indeed, he goes on, he is “looking for someone to devour”.
So how does Satan ‘devour’ someone? He takes them over and takes them into himself, or rather, gets them to let him into them (see Lk 22:3). It starts in the mind. He seeks to deceive by speaking lies. When the person receives those lies they become vulnerable to temptation and so give way to sin. The more they allow this to happen, the more the enemy holds sway over them, introducing them to the ways of the occult until eventually they are completely under his sway, oppressed or even possessed – they have been devoured!
But that is not inevitable. He cannot force himself on us. “Resist him”, says Peter. We CAN do that. James had the right order: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (Jas 4:7) when the enemy comes, turn to the Lord. Make sure your life is fully submitted to Him. Call on Him for strength, and rely upon His word (as Jesus did in the desert). Resist him in God’s strength. Declare the truth, praise and worship the Lord and the enemy will flee. In all those ways we’ve just described, we will be “standing firm in the faith.” Hold firm to the word of God and holding fast to our relationship with the Lord, we resist the enemy by faith and he will flee.
Remember, earlier on, we said God uses him? So why is the Lord allowing him to come against you? So that you will learn to resist his lies, so that you will learn to declare the truth, and so that you will learn to be strong in the Lord! May it be so!