Sober, Alert, Aware, Devotional Commentary for September 11-17
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
9But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
Continuing with his instructive conclusions, Peter expands his exhortations probing deeper into our attitudes, our frame of mind, and our outlook. So far, he showed us the significance of humility and submissiveness as powerful attributes by which we can effectively mirror the Gospel in our lives and services. As we have already noted in a previous meditation, resisting evil is the third element in this trio of indispensable Christian traits. But in order to effectively resist evil, we must recognize the perpetrator of evil. That is Peter's counsel to us in the text before us.
In this passage, Peter warns us of a deadly danger lurking about us around every bend of our journey. He identifies the perpetrator of the danger and describes his behavior with vivid imagination. Our adversary the devil roams up and down the earth like a ravenous lion seeking whom he might devour, whom he might consume alive. The devil is our enemy truly—as a matter of spiritual fact, and realistically—as an actual event in our experience. His intentions are to steal, kill, and destroy.
The devil is like a hungry and blood-thirsty lion with an insatiable appetite. He is a formidable enemy. He is a dreadful opponent even though he is a defeated foe.
Resistance against the devil is not a military operation or anything like it. It is not an organized offensive necessary to win the battle over evil. Neither is resistance a display of our resilience against evil. Resistance is not ignoring the devil and drowning in indifference. The devil finds our apathetic disinterest conducive to his stealthy subversions. Complacency and illusion about his existence and objectives serve him as the perfect cover for his disguise. Even though he is a defeated foe, we are no match to satan, without Christ, until his time runs out.
Resistance is recognizing the devil and his ways, and moving away from him by drawing closer to God. Therefore, we must be spiritually stable and sober. We must be always aware and alert. We must have a clear mind. We must be fervent in Faith. This is worth repeating. We must be sober and stable, aware, alert, clear-minded, fervent, and faithful so that the work of the Holy Spirit in us generates an effective resistance against evil by drawing us closer to God.
The devil always seeks to undermine God's redeemed children throughout the world. We are not alone in our suffering. Neither are we alone in our resistance against evil. The Victor is with us, yet the devil is real.
10After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
11To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.
As he draws his letter to a superb and assuring finish, Peter inspires confidence in us with words of encouragement that remove the burden of assumed responsibility to resist the devil with our own resources. Satan can be effectively resisted only by leaning on God through faith; a strong faith, a refined faith instilled and nurtured in us by the Holy Spirit through His living Word.
In other words, the God of Grace Who called us to His eternal Glory in Jesus Christ, is also faithful to accomplish His Purpose in us by perfecting, confirming, strengthening, and establishing the redeemed, in spite of the momentary suffering we face under the devil's hot pursuit. Peter speaks from experience and by inspiration. He has seen the Glory of God on the face of the transfigured Jesus and the risen Lord. He has heard the Voice of God through Jesus. He has been perfected, confirmed, strengthened, and established by his Lord and his Master.
So he tells us that God perfects us. That is, He completes us and restores us into perfection in Jesus Christ. God confirms us. That is, He affirms us and declares us just and righteous in Jesus Christ. God strengthens us. That is, He empowers us and perfects His strength in our weaknesses. God establishes us. That is, He anchors us on the solid Foundation of Christ's finished work.
Our hope in God's sustenance is actually our hope in God Himself, because He is God our Redeemer, the sovereign God to Whom belong all Authority, Power, and Dominion forever. Resisting the devil is, therefore, a looking-to-God by faith instead of struggling to summon up our fledgling self-confidence. It is God Who saves. It is God Who preserves. It is God Who glorifies.
12Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God Stand firm in it!
13She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.
14Greet one another with a kiss of love Peace be to you all who are in Christ.
Peter finally brings his letter to a close with words of encouragement and warm farewell. He sends his letter by Silvanus—rendered Silas by other translations, commending him as a faithful brother and giving instructions to abide by what he wrote and testified. It is reliable, it is the declaration of God's Grace.
Peter's testimony is real because he personally was with Jesus. His encouragement is true because he was inspired by God, he experienced it, and was commissioned by Jesus Christ. After shedding light on the hardships we face as followers of Jesus Christ, he assures us that our resistance against evil is empowered by God's sustaining Grace and the victory of His Son Jesus Christ.
After conveying greetings from a woman in Babylon and his spiritual son Mark, Peter pronounces a benediction of God's Love, Grace, and Peace upon the Christians scattered in Asia and upon the rest of God's children across the ages. The woman who sent her greetings from Rome—symbolically designated as Babylon because of its prevailing depravity, is perhaps the church, the assembly of fellow-elects he shepherded. Peter affirms his fellow believers in Christ and encourages us to share in God's Love which unites us as one.
In closing, peter extends his apostolic blessings to all those who read and regarded his words. He prays that God’s peace would stabilize us so that we are well-grounded, wise and discerning, faithful and courageous.
There are so many passages of Scriptures that provide encouragement to believers while we sojourn in this world as passing strangers. In this passage however, Peter reaches beyond the usual words of encouragement and exposes a troubling trend growing deep roots in the hearts of most Christians. He explains how the witless and the oblivious lay open to the insatiable appetite of a ravenous lion.
The modern day Christian might be informed about the threat posed by a roaring lion from a park where lions are kept for entertainment or from a nature documentary. But the Christians of Peter's time knew the truth about ferocious lions from the gory spectacle of a Roman Amphitheatre. So they had a deeper understanding of Peter's depiction of the devil as a formidable enemy of God's redeemed children.
The devil is desperate and relentless because he knows his time is short. He knows quite well that he cannot undo what Christ has sealed. But he would not mind making our lives miserable and unpleasant if we let him.
The devil is the force behind every evil assault and contrary sentiment against believers. Persecution is perpetrated not just by suspicious neighbors, skeptic friends, or hostile authorities. Such ones are merely the means even though more often than not they acquiesce with the influencing power behind their frame of mind and actions. Satan is behind the fire and sword of every persecuting tyrant. He attacks by stealth or by terror as he sees fit.
He approached Eve as a friendly and knowledgeable serpent. He was a raging jealous brother in Cain. He was a self-effacing and reluctant shepherd in Moses, declining God's call to service. He was a jealous, envious, and evil conspirator in Joseph's brothers. He was an enticing indulgence in Potiphar's wife promising sensual pleasure to Joseph. He was a prosecutor in heaven's court roaming up and down the earth collecting evidence against God and Job His servant. He came as a ravenous dragon to the delivering mother to destroy baby Jesus. He was a well-versed theologian who came to tempt Jesus and discredit His Deity as the Son of God. He sent Peter to stop Jesus from going to the Cross. He sought to discredit the testimony of the women of Jesus' Resurrection through the skeptical condescension of prideful elders. He was the passionate defender of God in the Pharisees and Jewish authorities who resisted Jesus and wanted to kill His Disciples.
Indeed, satan is hard at work to discredit God's Word and destroy His work through every means available to his evil reach. He has been given a short time to move the forces of evil as the ruler of this world, as a prince of darkness. But the prince of darkness has nothing to do with Christ and His redeemed people. But then, we fail to resist him and we suffer even though the devil has no say over us.
The devil knows that he is a tethered lion. He can roam and sound off a mighty roar. But he cannot touch God's elect. However, his roar could easily cause a shuddering quake in the lives of those who do not resist his phantom reach.
Peter reminds us what God has done in saving us. He perfected us, confirmed us, strengthened us, and established us upon the unshakable Rock. But he also exposes our omission to live as the children of light. Peter is not concerned that the believer might be helpless before the devil. Such is not the case. But Peter was very concerned that the believer might neglect to watch and pray, just as he did when Jesus told him to watch and pray with Him at Gethsemane. He is concerned that we might not put on the whole armor of God, but stand spiritually undressed before the enemy. Peter is concerned that we could easily be too weak to hold up the shield of faith against the flaming darts of the enemy.
Our knowledge of God's perfect redemption is not a substitute for a vibrant and lively faith. We may be knowledgeable but of little faith. We may be familiar but inactive. We must be sober in spirit, have a clear mind, be alert, and have a fervent faith in order to resist the devil with what we are given: the sword of Truth, the Word of God. In other words, our faith unto salvation must grow into a living faith. The Christian must be animated by an active soul from within, nurtured by god's living Word, directed by the Holy Spirit, and stabilized by the Peace that only Christ gives. We resist the enemy by drawing closer to God.