Sunday 9 August
1 Peter 5:8-14
Be alert and get restored
It’s been a while since we were last in 1st Peter as we broke the sequence to look at various topical themes. Today however, we finish this letter together.
Last time we finished with verse 7 which says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
That is hugely encouraging for any of us having doubts or confusion going on in our lives right now – He cares for YOU. Having a living faith in Jesus Christ means we can be certain that this is true.
Among our topical preaching themes was a topic of “Fear” – and we concluded that the fear of the LORD was most wise indeed. Having reverence and respect for God, above all other things.
Well, I suspect you already noticed that today’s passage is partly about God’s enemy the devil, verses 8, 9.
I have known church ministers and others who do not believe that there is a devil at all.
Here is what the encyclopaedia Britannica says about the devil. ‘In the Bible, Satan (the Devil) comes to appear as the representative of evil. Enlightenment thinkers endeavoured to push the figure of the Devil out of Christian consciousness as being a product of the fantasy of the Middle Ages’.
I know of at least one member here who does not want us to mention the devil, but what do you believe?
Do you get the impression that our passage believes or does not believe in God’s and our very real adversary? If he is not real, why do we need to be alert and self-controlled? Is he within or able to get into our hearts and minds?
The Greek word for enemy here anti-dikos is an adversary as in a legal court case – the one making accusations against us. The word for devil here ‘diablos’, means the one who will falsely accuse and slander us.
Then we are told he prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him.
There are many tempting things we need to resist in life, but this is not about us putting on weight or being a bit covetous – this is spiritual warfare. The devil wants to steal your soul away from God.
As deceiver, he delights to offer counterfeit spirituality, e.g. many who think they are Christians because they do good works; temporal things in this life, and not saving people from their sin for eternity is common in many denominations. Now of course Christians should do good words too.
Another common problem is people claiming that the Holy Spirit is saying something different from scripture in today’s culture – Why would God the Holy Spirit say the opposite to God the Father in His holy word you might ask? Well, He wouldn’t... God is the same yesterday, today and forever – reliable, and ever true to His word.
This is primarily why we need to come under God’s word preached each Sabbath and read by us personally each day – that way we learn what God is like and what He wants us to know. That way we can help others and ourselves to resist the deceptions of the one who seeks our destruction.
Sober and self-controlled, the minute we let our guard down, we are vulnerable. Remember he even tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. How did Jesus stand the test – He quoted God’s word back to each temptation – Therefore we too need to be alert and be armed with the word of truth, enabled by the Holy Spirit and watching for the enemy’s attempts at us.
With Christ within, we can stand against every temptation or wile of the enemy. Oh, don’t ever think that the enemy will not be looking for more opportunities, but Jesus has already defeated him and his eternal damnation is sealed. Our task is to prevent him taking too many with him.
Paul then reminds us that all our suffering is part of this life verse 11. Others suffer in other nations; Jesus suffered, not least on the cross. Suffering in this life will be like a few micro-seconds, when compared to the time in eternity that is ours in Christ, through God’s grace, which cost Him so much.
So, as we remain alert, as we suffer in faith, we will grow stronger, wiser, and be better equipped in this life, in reparation for eternity verse 10.
The second part of this message is about our restoration, also mentioned in verse 10. This is not something we can do for ourselves; it is part of the deal in acknowledging God and making Him our LORD and master.
There are a great number of blessings that many people do not know much about, which come with becoming a real Christian. Throughout this letter many times we saw that God is calling us to Himself to be or do a number of things.
The privilege and blessing of knowing our calling and serving the King of Kings is astounding and each new day offers opportunities to be blessed further, to learn more, to go deeper in our faith and uncover spiritual mysteries of awe and wonder.
This passage ends with more encouragement, evidence that fellow Christians can work together for Christ’s kingdom and help us to appreciate how God works with His Church.
Are you encouraged to testify of Him verse 12. Are you wobbly or able to stand firm in your faith? With the help of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and God’s encouraging word of truth we can all set our feet on the strongest of foundations – and we must do so in love with fellow workers – greeting them with affection – even a kiss – as we pass on God’s love for them and that peace that passes all understanding.
What will you take away today?
The need to be more alert and/or the need for restoration and serving our LORD with such ardour and zeal that our faith keeps on growing?
May God richly bless you all as you work out your faith with fear and trembling – not because of some loser who is your enemy, but because the One true God loves you so much that you dread the idea that you will let Him down. amen