“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, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” (1 Pet. 5:8 -9, NKJV)
To resist the devil we first have to acknowledge and be aware that he exists and understand his specific mission is to devour believers in Jesus Christ. Secondly, we must always be on guard, recognizing that this adversary is constantly looking for opportunities to pounce. It is no accident that he is likened to a lion. This king of the jungle is a stealthy hunter, constantly on the lookout for those who are most vulnerable and particularly targets those who have isolated themselves from others. As a master strategist, he strikes when we least expect it. Our vigilance is not meant to stop him from trying to attack, our vigilance is to make us ready to resist his attack WHEN it comes. Notice I said WHEN it comes and not IF it comes. Therefore, like any good soldier in battle we must be armed and alert 24/7.
To resist effectively, we cannot afford to be ignorant of our enemy’s tactics (2 Cor. 2:11). We are told that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). Not only does he attack when we least expect it, if we are not discerning we may not recognize his attack or those he is using to wage the attack. Our vigilance is particularly important because those we least expect to come against us are the very persons that the devil seeks to use – our co-workers, fellow ministers, and family members. But remember at all times, that you wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of darkness who are influencing those closest to you, many times without them being aware that the devil is moving them as a chess piece to bring your downfall. Note, we are warned that the deception of the devil will increase in this season so that even God’s chosen will be deceived (Mt. 24:24, Mk. 13:22). It is critical that we grow into spiritual maturity with which comes spiritual discernment (Heb. 5:14). In fact, we need to pray for the gift of discerning of spirits to be added to our arsenal of weapons (1 Cor. 12:10). With regards to those who come pretending to be ministers of the gospel or who are ministering within the Body but have become deceived by the devil, we are told how we can identify them (1 John 4:2-6). There is a spirit of error that is very subtly invading the Body of Christ. This is a plan of the devil to devour and utterly destroy the Body of Christ. I urge each one of us to be armed and vigilant so we can discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (2 Tim. 2:15).
Having identified and become aware of the devil’s attack, how do we resist? 1 Pet. 5:9 says, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith”. Let’s explore this further. One of our weapons is the shield of faith that quenches all of the fiery darts of the wicked one (Eph. 6:16). Notice in this verse it says “above all”, meaning the shield of faith is among those weapons considered most important for us to have at all times. The other two “above all” weapons listed in Eph. 6:16 are the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which we know is the Word of God. All three work together – helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and the shield of faith. They cannot be separated. The helmet protects your head wherein lies your mind. This is the devil’s greatest battlefield. This is where the attack begins. To resist we must therefore first be constantly aware of our thoughts. Our thoughts evoke feelings and influence our emotions, which in turn influence our decisions and actions. We are told to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). But how do we do this practically? You must first recognize that you are not the source of many of your thoughts. Having accepted this, you must be sober and vigilant to watch over your thoughts so as to nip them in the bud when they do not line up with the “obedience of Christ”. But what is the “obedience of Christ”? How do we identify it? The “obedience of Christ” is the sword of the Spirit. We know the obedience of Christ and walk in the obedience of Christ as we study, meditate and allow the Word of God to transform us by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). We can only truly resist the enemy as we become armed with the Word of God. Jesus is our model of how to resist the devil. In Matthew 4, we see Jesus effectively wielding the sword of the Spirit against the devil. We must know the Word if we are to effectively wield it against our adversary, the devil. However, knowledge of the Word is not sufficient. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). To effectively wield the Word of God we must go beyond mere head knowledge to belief in the truth of God’s Word. We must believe it is “alive and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). How do we get to that place of faith in the Word? Faith comes by hearing the Word (Rom. 10:17). Constant speaking of the Word to ourselves builds faith in God and in His Word and equips us for the battle against Satan and his demonic forces.
Ultimately then, we cannot resist unless we are “steadfast in the faith”. Steadfast means resolutely and dutifully firm and unwavering. When we have faith in God and His Word we will be resolute (determined and unwavering) in our belief that he that is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). We will believe that we have all authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means hurt us (Lk. 10:19). We will believe in the exceeding greatness of God’s power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come (Eph. 1:19-21). Hallelujah!! If God is for us who can be against us!! Let us arm and equip ourselves with the weapons of our warfare so when the enemy comes, having done all we will be found standing. Amen and amen.