Lesson 44—The Battle is Real
Scripture: 1 Peter 5:8
Lesson Goal: To understand the preparations a true believer must make for the spiritual battlefield.
Have you ever heard the warning that the National Weather Service broadcasts when dangerous weather conditions exists? This alert is sounded only when dangerous conditions are actually observed. It is a warning to alert the people who hear it of impending dangers, so they can take the necessary precautions and actions to protect themselves and their loved ones. Peter, in this final section of his writing, is sounding forth his most critical warning and alarm. He is writing with the definite purpose of preparing his readers for the imminent dangers. Not only does he sound the alarm, he writes to encourage and rally his readers in preparation of the coming battle.
(Verse 8) “Be sober”
Peter gives instruction concerning the enemy and the attacks of the enemy. On a physical level, “be sober’ refers to self-control (not being controlled by any intoxicant). On a spiritual level, “be sober” means steadfastness, self-control, clarity of mind, and moral decisiveness. “The sober Christian is correctly in charge of his priorities and not intoxicated with the various allurements of the world” (MacArthur). Please read Luke 21:34, Romans 13:11-14, 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8.
“Be vigilant” means watchful, always watchful, giving careful attention, be on alert.
The instructions to “be sober, be vigilant” are imperative commands. For the true believer, these are not mere hints or suggestions. The believer must be on constant alert. “Be vigilant” also carries the idea of staying awake. Please read Matthew 26:41. Warfare demands vigilance. True believers must be ever watchful; we must be on constant alert, carefully paying attention, and always conscious of our surroundings, because we are living life on a battlefield.
Throughout my lifetime, I have enjoyed the outdoors, whether as a little boy playing army, running and hiding in the fields and woods near our home, or as a fast-approaching senior adult hiking and camping with my family. As I was taught, so I have tried to teach, particularly concerning primitive hiking—always be aware and conscious of your surroundings. In fact, those close to me probably get tired of hearing it, but folks don’t call me “bullhead” without cause. No matter how they may tire of hearing it, I keep repeating: “Always be aware and conscious of your surroundings.” This past Memorial Day, May 27, 2013, Cindy and I did some primitive camping and hiking. We usually walk single file as we hike, she following me. It is my responsibility to keep an eye out (to be on alert) for any unwanted critters, especially the silent crawling type. On this day, we had been hiking about twenty minutes when suddenly I came to an abrupt stop. There just ahead, lying in the edge of the trail was a rather large snake. I used this as another opportunity to say, “Always be aware and conscious of your surroundings.” This time, I believe the point was well received. Peter, with passion and love, is instructing true believers to always be aware and conscious of our surroundings “because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Greek antidikos, opponent, means a common day-to-day opponent, one who opposes. It also has a legal meaning such as a legal opponent in a court of law. Please read Revelation 12:10. Satan is the accuser.
Greek diabolos, means slanderer, false accuser, a malicious enemy who accuses us before God. Please read the words of Jesus concerning diabolos, in John 8:44.
“walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”
Peter depicts satan as a predator in the night of his own evil darkness on the hunt to kill and destroy. Please read John 10:10. It has been written that he can try to bite us as a serpent; as a lion, he tries to devour us; and as the Abaddon and Apollyon, he tries to destroy us.
“To devour” means to destroy, to gulp down.
We must be on alert and watchful. He is our enemy; he and his army attack the believer, the church and the cause of Christ. He prowls, looking to pounce upon any unsuspecting believer. He has one purpose and one purpose only—to destroy. He wants to destroy our lives, our homes, our families, our children, our testimonies, our peace, our hope, our holiness, and our fellowship with God.
A Word of Testimony
As a pastor for over thirty years, I have witnessed many attacks by “the adversary.” If I could give one personal word of warning to all true believers, based upon the Word of God and my thirty years of pastoral experience, it would simply be this—Do not become a “spiritual straggler”! A spiritual straggler (my term) is that person who, for whatever reason or excuse, (hurtful comments, insensitivity of others, hurt feelings, or a thousand other reasons), has slowly withdrawn from the herd or flock. They once served the Lord with gladness, but now they have removed themselves from serving. They are no longer part of their Sunday School class; they once sang with delight in the choir, but now they try to hide in the self-made refuge of a sanctuary corner; they once took part in fellowships and ministry opportunities, but now have the mindset to “Let someone else do it.” They once found it easy to share Christ and to speak of His church, but now their voice is silent. And the silent voice often becomes the negative voice. The spirit often becomes bitter and critical of others, especially toward those who continue to do the work of the Lord. They find “reasons” not to serve, not to be a part, and slowly they become spiritual stragglers; and spiritual stragglers become easy targets (lion bait) for satan. I have watched, unable to help, as spiritual stragglers have been tormented, discouraged, and often destroyed by the enemy. I have witnessed spiritual stragglers, blinded by Satan and the world, be encompassed by war, not even realizing they are in a battle.
It is time we understand what it means to “be alert, be watchful, be sober, and be vigilant.”
Questions for Life Focus
Based upon Scripture, write your own personal definition of spiritual warfare.
Please list and explain some of the many ways the adversary attacks the believer.
In the animal kingdom, the safety of the young is dependent upon the adults. In the spiritual realm of our lives, what does this say to each of us as adults?
Has there ever been a time in your life when you became a spiritual straggler? Please explain.
How can we help someone who has become a spiritual straggler?
A Closing Thought
I would like to share with you a very simple three-point message the Lord gave me several years ago. According to Scripture, concerning believers being prepared for the battle of satan and the forces of evil, we should