The Herald Weekly Vol XVIII : 12

Be Sober, Be Vigilant

1 Peter 5:8 challenges us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Why do we need to be sober and vigilant?

The Apostle Peter is very much aware that Christians need to be watchful of their adversary, their enemy, Satan. It was Peter who rebuked Jesus when the latter showed to His disciples that He was going to Jerusalem to suffer many things at the hand of the elders, chief priests and scribes. Peter, the disciple who loved his Master, said to Jesus, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” (Matt 16:22). But, Jesus turned to Peter and said, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence to me: for thou savourest not the things that be to God, but those that be of men.” (v23).

What was God going to accomplish in Jesus’s life? Christ knew His mission on earth. He said, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work.” (Jn 4:34). Christ was not going to allow His disciple, Peter, to stop Him from fulfilling God’s will, i.e. to die on the Cross of Calvary for the sins of the world. Peter probably did not fully understand the words of Jesus referring to Satan who was trying to stop Him from obeying God.

Why do we need to be vigilant?

The Apostle Paul was aware that believers are involved in a spiritual battle. That is why he tells us to “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph 6:11). Under normal circumstances we would never imagine that Satan is anywhere near us. Though we are aware that Satan is our Number One enemy, we sometimes lead our lives as if he does not exist. Though he is not visibly seen, the Bible tells us that the devil is present and is busy round the clock, seeking to destroy believers of Christ. Jesus, our Shepherd talks about the “thief… (who comes)… to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (Jn 10:10a). As our spiritual enemy, he behaves like the roaring lion, and works aggressively to weaken our faith, casting doubts in our spiritual life, and oftentimes causing us to do things which are not pleasing in God’s sight.

When problems arise in our homes, schools or offices, we tend to blame our family members, principals, teachers, schoolmates, bosses, colleagues, friends or acquaintances. But, the Apostle Paul tells us that we are not struggling against human beings. He says, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6:12). The Apostle reminds us of the battle of a different level – a spiritual battle! Thus, even if we prefer not to acknowledge Satan’s presence and purpose on earth, he continues to strike at us, especially when we are not watchful.

It would be good to realize that Satan’s modus operandi (mode of operation) is often “undercover”. He hides behind circumstances in life – daily squabbles, misunderstandings, bitterness and anger, jealousy, evil thoughts and temptations, busyness of activities (even in the Christian home and Church), loss of jobs, wealth, health and relationships. He drives us to situations of despair and hopelessness, and tempts us to abandon our faith in God, and break our fellowship with His people.

How then do we fight against the evil one?

Jesus refers to Satan the devil as “a murderer from the beginning and abode not in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (Jn 8:44). He deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden into believing  she and Adam was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because God did not want them to be as gods (Gen 3:3-5). Satan is a liar, and thus thrives on lies to deceive the wolrd, including Christians. His weapon of lies has indeed enabled him to cause much trouble in relationships in many homes, offices, and even in churches.

But, when Christ died for us on the Cross of Calvary, He not only died for our sins, He also gave us the power over Satan and sin. If Christ were not resurrected from the dead, we continue to be “dead” in our sins. But Christ rose from the dead, and thus sin and death no longer lay hold of us. We no longer fear death, and we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us overcome the temptation to sin.

Let us then take the Apostle Paul’s challenge to put on the whole armour of God.

1. Having your loins girt about with Truth
2. Having the breastplate of Righteousness
3. Your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace
4. Taking the Shield of Faith to quench the fiery darts of the wicked
5. Take the Helmet of Salvation
6. The Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God

Like a roaring lion, Satan’s roars may be loud, but he cannot harm us if we fight against him with God’s Word. Christ’s purpose on earth was to destryoy the works of the devil. He has already been defeated with Christ’s death on the Cross, and Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Let us not allow Satan to continue deceiving us with his lies. If Satan tries to control our thoughts and emotions, let us quickly use the “weapons of our warfare which are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5).

Reflect on your life today. Have you been in despair because Satan has deceived you that God does not care for you? Has Satan caused you to think that God will not hear your prayers for help? Are you about to give up because you think there is no answer to the problem that you are facing? Whatever the situation, do not let Satan deceive you into believing his lies. As days and months pass, Satan will continue to hurl fiery darts at us. But, with the whole armour of God, we need not fear Satan’s fiery darts. James 4:7 tells us that we should “submit ourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” John the Apostle reminds us in 1 Jn 4:4, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

Beloved, let us cling on to God’s promises. Let us be sober, and vigilant, and cling on to Christ, our Hope in God. Let us pray for one another, and let us fight against the wiles of the evil one together with God’s power!

Pastor Bob Phee
(1st printing 22 Feb 2011)

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