Pray: Ask God to give you eyes to see the spiritual battle raging in your soul and in the world around you. Ask Him to give you strength and zeal to fight the good fight of faith
Text: 1 Peter 5:8 - "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
“What is going on? What is happening in the world around us?”
How do you answer those questions?
If a being from another planet were to land in your backyardt tonight, how would you explain what is happening in the world right now?
We all would probably set the context by talking about the virus. We would describe the lockdowns and the financial impacts. We would lament over the fact that we aren’t able to be around our friends and family in the ways that we would like, and how isolated we feel (or actually are). We would talk about how divisive the discourse has been in the media and online about the virus and the proper measures to take in response to the virus. Then, we would probably say something like, “Oh, and in the US, it’s a presidential election year, so the media is in full-on ‘our candidate will fix everything and your candidate is Hitler’ mode." And to top it all off, we are reminded of the unjust killings of Black men and women, and watching the horrific video of George Floyd’s life being snuffed out. So we are all, to some degree or another, deeply mourning and freshly angered over racial problems that persist in the US.
This is all true enough, of course. That is what is happening. And we cannot ignore these things just because we would rather! But is there more going on than this?
Would any of us lean toward our new friend, look him in the eyes, and in a somber tone say, “I am engaged in a cosmic battle for my soul. I am under constant attack from an ancient foe. He is intent on destroying my faith, and if possible, my soul”?
Would you? Why not? Isn’t this actually the case?
“...the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” - Ephesians 6:12
There is something bigger going on. Make no mistake, Christian. The Devil is crafty. He’s been at war with the people of God for thousands of years. He knows us very well. He is at work right now, and it appears that he’s never had more help from the world around us.
Think about it. He wants to destroy our faith in God. What circumstances would make that easy? How would he go about “taking us out”?
We are vulnerable to his schemes when we are isolated from one another. Check! Once we are isolated, he will seek to divide us; over politics, masks, or what should be done about ongoing racial issues. Done. Then, he’d love to see us completely owned by sin; anger, hate, divisiveness, slander, pride, self-righteousness, critical judgments, and sinful speech. Spend a few minutes consuming several cable news programs, or scrolling through some of the unbridled, say-whatever-you-want social media cesspools, and even if you’re able to resist joining in the wall of noise, it’s hard to walk away without being sinfully angry or uncharitably judging someone you should be loving. So, yep, got plenty of that to go around, too. Then, he brings out his specialty: distraction. He will distract us from feasting on God’s word and promises and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We all know what this looks like. Doesn’t it seem so much easier, and sound so much more “refreshing,” when we’ve had our fill of everything that is going on, to hunker down and watch another show or twelve?
If we’re already there, a gentle nudge from our Adversary may be enough to send us over the edge and swept away by the spirit of the age.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful” This is what God is up to in your life.
How do we make sense of all this?
The Bible teaches us that God is sovereign over all things. He is orchestrating all history according to His plan. However, in the middle of things, it’s hard to see how tragic events and challenging times are working for good and redemptive purposes, especially when it seems human sin and the Devil’s schemes are winning the day. Then we remember that before the resurrection and Galilee were the Garden and Golgotha. Human sin and the works of the Devil unwittingly play right into God’s hand, and He uses them for His good purposes. We can be sure that our present storm will pass, and will one day be eclipsed by a vision of glory. This is certain.
What do we do in the middle?
“Be sober-minded; be watchful”
In other words, pay attention! Be discerning!
Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. - 1 Peter 5:9-11
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. - James 4:7-10
How often in the past few months have you thought about these realities? Do you find it hard to believe that a spiritual battle is really happening? Why or why not?
In what ways do you see yourself being tempted to be “swept away” by the “spirit of the age”? What does your spouse or a close friend think?
What practical steps can you take this week to “resist the Devil”, “draw near to God”, and “humble yourself before the Lord”?
Spend time rehearsing ways God has used hard times or calamity for good purposes, both in Scripture and in your own life.
Spend time meditating on the hope found in 1 Peter 5:10 - 11.
Pray: Thank God for His word and the hope we have in the midst of hardship. Ask God to fill you with His spirit and to equip you to persevere in the faith. Confess your sin to Him. Receive His full and free forgiveness. Rejoice in this forgiveness. Ask for grace to continue to run this long race well. Pray for others.