by Michael E. Brooks
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith …” (1 Peter 5:8-9a).
In the course of my work I am occasionally in remote wilderness areas. Sometimes these are the habitat of wild and dangerous animals. Prudence demands taking reasonable precautions against attack. As an example, when staying over in bear country one must “bear-proof” his camp. He should keep all food and cooking odors away from sleeping areas, make loud noises as one moves through areas of limited visibility, avoid spills of any sort that would attract hungry bears, and take other similar precautions. Similarly, in the Sunderbans where Bengal tigers kill several people each year, great caution must be exercised at all times. The tiger is there, he is dangerous, and one simply must travel with that awareness, or survival is doubtful.
Christians are reminded that we are constantly in “bear country.” Or perhaps we might state it more biblically ? “lion country.” This lion is not of the four-footed, black-maned, long-toothed, African variety. He is much more dangerous than that. The devil, Satan, continuously stalks us, seeking to devour (destroy) us. When one travels in mountain areas of the U.S., or mangrove swamps of Asia, he knows he is in the home habitat of dangerous beasts. As long as we are in the material world we are in the home habitat of Satan. We must take great precautions if we are to survive.
Peter cautions us, first of all, to be sober. This term certainly includes the idea of having one’s senses under control. We cannot afford to be under the influence of anything that makes us incautious. Beverage alcohol, mind-altering drugs and other worldly pleasures can intoxicate us to the point of reckless abandon and extreme vulnerability. In this dangerous world we must use all the knowledge and wisdom in avoiding sin which God gives us. But in Scripture sobriety carries another meaning. It also suggests seriousness of thought. Life is too important to spend in frivolity and silliness. We must concentrate on important matters, major in essentials. Only by doing so can we match the deadly earnestness with which our enemy stalks us.
Secondly, Peter warns us to be vigilant. Someone has said, “If you see a tiger, he already has you.” That may or may not be the case. One thing is for sure though, I don’t want the tiger to see me first! I will continue to watch for any sign of his presence in hope that I may be able to withstand him or avoid him if he is there. In the case of Satan, we know he is there and our only hope is to continuously be alert for his attacks that we may recognize and overcome them.
Finally, Peter gives us the means of successful resistance to the devil’s attacks. We must be “steadfast in the faith.” We are no match for Satan alone, but we are not alone. Jesus is with us. Paul proudly affirmed, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). It is more than confident belief in Christ that is needed, however. It is steadfastness in his way that is required. If we faithfully follow Jesus’ instructions we will overcome our enemy and defeat him in any and every battle.
Yes, we are in “lion country”. Let us be sober, vigilant, and steadfast in the faith.
Sobriety, watchfulness, and steadfastness are necessary traits to keep Satan at bay.