God Calls Us to Fight
Peter wrote, “Your adversary the devil…(is) seeking someone to devour.” We have an adversary and we need to know who he is. It’s the devil. Peter doesn’t say “Your adversary the pastor.” Or “your adversary your wife.” Or “your boss,” Or, “_________ political party!” No, we have a real and powerful adversary that hates us and wants to destroy us. He is seeking us like a lion seeks his prey. That imagery doesn’t mean as much to us as it would have to first century Christians. Unless you have been on an African safari, the only lions you have seen are on TV or in the zoo. But the Christians in Rome knew the terrors of a roaring lion. They had seen the horrors of the Roman Colosseum. Ignatius, the Bishop of the Church in Antioch would know it well many years after Peter wrote this letter. He said as they led him to his death in the Colosseum, “Let me be given to the wild beasts, for through them I can attain to God. I am God’s wheat, and I am ground by the teeth of the (lions) that I may be found pure bread.”
We have an adversary, the devil. The word for adversary is a legal term, and that is the strategy of the devil. He knows he cannot make an unbeliever out of a believer. He was defeated at the cross and because of that, Jesus said, nothing can snatch us from the Father’s hand. But the devil is prowling around collecting evidence. He is a legal expert who cares nothing about justice. He hates God and will do anything he can to accuse the brethren and discourage them and make them unfruitful in their lives. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” He cannot destroy believers but he is looking for any opportunity to attack. That’s why Paul wrote, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”
The enemy is real and the fight is real. We are not called to be passive, but to be soberminded. Clear in our thinking. And watchful. Awake and alert to the schemes of the devil. Perhaps most important, we must recognize we are soldiers who go into battle every day. When our children were little, we had them memorize Ephesians 6:10-17 because we knew the battle was not really with their brothers and sisters but with rulers, principalities, spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. The kids would stand up after family devotions in the morning, and they would recite that passage while acting out putting on the armor of God. They put on, symbolically, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace. They took up the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. They didn’t understand that then like I believe they do now, but we wanted them to see that God’s Spirit within us produces fighters, warriors for the Kingdom. Not pacifists.
We have an enemy. But he is already defeated and we are already victorious because of Christ, our champion. We stand against the enemy because of Christ, and we stand in the armor of faith and truth and righteousness, wielding the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. And the “weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
Submit to God, beloved. Stand against the enemy. And he will flee.