As we serve, we should be diligent to watch out for adversaries. Peter used Hebrew parallelism to warn believers to beware. The dual imperatives magnify the importance for believers to be wary. The first, be sober-minded, sounds much like the emphasis of 1:13 as Peter urged his readers to maintain a serious mindset because of the dangers they faced.
Similarly, he commanded them to be alert so they might be vigilant and watchful. We might wonder why the churches of Asia Minor needed warnings since they were well aware of the opposition surrounding their churches. Peter wanted them to understand the danger lurking behind any human instrument. Paul made the same point with the Ephesians. Their enemy was not merely the “flesh and blood” opponents (Eph. 6:12).
The real adversary is the devil. The name devil literally means slanderer. Connected with Peter’s earlier warnings about persons who would falsely accuse believers, this statement places the Devil behind the human weapons attacking them. Scripture calls Satan the “accuser of our brothers and sisters,” but it also encourages us because he will be “thrown down” in defeat and destruction (Rev. 12:10).
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.
Peter also portrayed Satan like a roaring lion. His metaphor contained three aspects that illustrate the Devil’s methods.
- Prowling! This lion is prowling around, moving stealthily like a crouching beast on the hunt. In the same way, Satan and his demonic minions roam about the earth.
- Roaring! Peter described the Devil like a roaring lion, trying to frighten its prey with a deep-throated growl. If many modern Christians become intimidated merely by the sound of opposition, how much more will they be alarmed by actual persecution.
- Looking! The Devil is no empty threat; he is looking for anyone he can devour. He cannot steal our salvation, but he can stampede believers into doubting their faith and seduce them into sin.
We do not have to be intimidated by the enemy. God gives us the ability to resist him. Unlike God, Satan is not omnipotent. We can resist the Devil by submitting to God (James 4:7). Too many modern Christians lightly talk about rebuking the Devil or binding him. Our power to resist the temptations and the terror of the Devil lies in our total dependence on the Lord. His Holy Spirit resides in us, empowering us not only to resist the enemy but to help us remain firm in the faith. The best way to overcome the assaults of Satan is to remain steadfast in our faith in Christ who came to destroy the works of the Devil (1 John 3:8).