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Action Commandments for Every Believer 3: Be Alert for Enemy Attacks

Action Commandments for Every Believer Day 3 – Be Alert for Enemy Attacks  

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9, ESV) 

I’m not sure why it happened, but I distinctly remember the moment. I was walking around the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC, several years ago and stopped in front of the lion exhibit. The male was in the classic “lion pose” that one would normally associate with a lion at a zoo, sitting on its hind legs and standing on its front legs. I was admiring how cute that cat looked as he proudly stood, sniffing the air. I was picturing myself cuddling beside it, holding its massive paws while it nuzzled up against me. My mental picture was savagely ripped away by a sound that nearly scared me out of my shoes. Whatever the lion sniffed set something off in him, and he let out a huge roar! It seemed like the loudest thing I’d ever heard. I read that a lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles away, and I’m not surprised. I looked around and saw that I wasn’t alone in my reaction; the swift, sudden, air-shattering roar shook all of us. I was no longer thinking about how much I would like to cuddle with the lion; rather, I was thankful for the barrier between us! Imagine being another animal in the wild, with a lion hot on your trail.  

While Jesus is spoken of as a lion in Scripture (most notably, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah), we are confronted in 1 Peter with the image of Satan as a lion. Jesus exhibits the royalty and majesty of the king of the jungle; Satan exhibits the trait of the ruthless hunter. Is it any wonder Peter commands believers to be watchful? We need to always be on high alert. While we take time off for vacation and holidays, Satan doesn’t take time off. He is always on the prowl looking for another victim. We all know what he is capable of. Spiritually, he can hurt us; but worse, he can devour us if we allow it. What, then, can we do about it? This verse gives us some excellent guidance.

Peter takes a two-pronged approach, which entails being alert to both internal attacks and external attacks. He first commands believers to be sober-minded. We must be alert within our own minds to his attacks. These can be the most insidious because they can seem to come out of nowhere and from any side. Our minds can lead us down all sorts of wretched paths. And Satan knows it. He can’t control our minds, of course (no, the devil cannot make us do it). And I don’t think there is any support for thinking he can read our minds, either. Jesus was able to read minds according to Mark 2:8 (He perceived “in His spirit that they thus questioned within themselves”). That’s Deity at work, of which Satan has none. But he knows what we might be thinking based on what we say (he’s listening) and how we act (he’s watching). So be alert to your thought patterns. When you find yourself thinking about saying something you shouldn’t, watching something you shouldn’t, doing something you shouldn’t, acting selfishly, or something else that is wrong, tread carefully. Is the Spirit guiding your mind? Surely not. Be alert.   

Then, Peter commands us to be watchful. I think this applies to exterior influences. Satan knows our weaknesses, and he’ll try his best to exploit them. If a woman is coming on to me, a married man, I need to watch out. If someone is passing gossip along to me, I need to watch out. If a questionable financial opportunity comes along, I need to watch out. Satan knows we lust; he knows we are insecure; he knows we covet. Why wouldn’t he do whatever he can to exploit that? After all, he wants to devour us.  

It can be frightening and intimidating, just like the deafening roar of a lion. That’s what he wants; he wants us scared and shaking in fear at him. But Peter simply says, “Resist him.” How can we resist such a powerful being? By standing firm in our own faith. We trust in One whose power is unmatched. We must resist Satan and stand firmly in Jesus. He might be a lion, but we serve the Lion.

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