A Dispensational Approach
By R. B. Shiflet
XVI. A Reminder of Peril 5:8-14
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8)
In verse 7 Peter had given his readers the great assurance that God cared for them—and He cares for us. But that does not mean that we are without responsibility. He has promised to supply all our need, but we have the responsibility to work to provide for our families and ourselves. So we should not be surprised to find his admonition to vigilance on our part in verse 8.
The word for sober carries with it the thought of being alert. In 2 Timothy 4:5 it is translated “watch.” So we have a double warning in 1 Peter 5:8. Be sober (watch), be vigilant. The word vigilant is the same word, which Christ used when he found Peter, James and John sleeping while he prayed in Gethsemane. Matt 26:40: “And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
How it must have gripped Peter’s heart as he penned these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit! He recalled that bitter night when he failed to watch as our Lord had asked him to do, and later denied that he even knew Him. But how he realized the grace of our Lord in forgiving and restoring him. And now God has recorded Peter’s fall and restoration for the edification of all who read the record.
In our day of apostasy, subtle cults, secular humanism and mean-spirited religions that seek to destroy Christianity, how timely is the admonition to cast all our care on Him, and yet to be alert and vigilant!
But the Spirit also gives us a special reason to be vigilant. “Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” The devil is portrayed as a serpent, (Revelation 20:2), a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8) and an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
It has been said that he is to be feared as a roaring lion. This is his usual mode of action when he stirs up strife among the brethren and when he causes hatred and wars. He is more to be dreaded when he comes as a serpent—striking us when we are off guard. His role here is deception. But he is most to be dreaded when he comes as an angel of light, wearing a religious garb and spreading false doctrine. It was the late Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer who said that Satan had failed when he broke a man’s life and caused him to be a drunken bum in the gutter of some city street. Even though he had succeeded in wrecking one person, no one would pass by a man like that and say, “I’d to be like that myself.” But when Satan stands in a pulpit and proclaims deadly, false doctrine, he leads many to spiritual destruction. Be vigilant against the devil in all of his masquerades.
“Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (1 Pet. 5:9)
Here Peter admits the fact that Christians must expect afflictions and persecutions from the devil. But he stresses our responsibility to be watchful and to resist. This has been referred to as “Christian Resistance.” James used the same word in James 4:7: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Peter must have remembered again his failure to resist the devil when he denied our Lord.
Our resistance must be in the faith. It must be with the knowledge that just as other believers have suffered for Christ, we may expect the same afflictions, but our stand and resistance must be in “the faith” and not in our own strength.
Dr. William Barclay expressed it well: “A man’s faith must be like a solid wall against which the attacks of the devil exhaust themselves in vain. The devil is like any bully and retreats when he is bravely resisted in the strength of Jesus Christ.” (Daily Study Bible, Westminster Press, © 1975, William Barclay)
(To Be Continued)