In any great story, you'll find a hero who represents valor.
But the hero is tested by another character, and that's the villain. As much as we'd like to deny it, Christians face an adversary. And today on Insight for Living, we'll learn more about that enemy and how to resist his attacks.
Chuck Swindoll is teaching from 1 Peter, Chapter 5. As we forget about our spiritual villain, it's critically important to remain on guard. In this message, Chuck explains what to do when we're nose-to-nose with the adversary. All kinds of jokes and ridiculous comments are made day after day about the devil.
Have you noticed that? They usually come from some guy who has not really made a serious study of the adversary. Frankly, I've never found it funny to joke about the devil. I've learned to take him very seriously. I'm not intimidated by him. I just don't play around with him.
I take him seriously. Today we're going to talk about our standing nose-to-nose with our adversary. I got that idea from his being presented in this passage in 1 Peter as a roaring lion.
Remember that? A roaring lion. And to tell you the truth, we all face that kind of adversary rather regularly. And by the way, it's never funny. So with that in mind, turn please in your Bibles to those words found in 1 Peter, Chapter 5, verses 8 through 11.
That's right. 1 Peter 5, beginning at verse 8. Be of sober spirit.
Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be dominion forever and ever.
Amen. You're listening to Insight for Living. To dig deeper into the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures Studies by going to insight.org slash studies. And now the message from Chuck titled Hope Beyond the Battle. Peter's first letter is written to people who are in pain. Interestingly, he never once laments that fact, nor does he offer advice on how to escape it. On the contrary, again and again, through the book of 1 Peter, he tells us to face it squarely, not to be surprised when pain and suffering come. And he even suggests that there are benefits connected with the hurt and the sorrows of life. Without pain, I am convinced all of us would remain delicate people, naive, and perhaps even irresponsible and certainly lacking in maturity.
I rather regularly like to ask people as they look back in their lives to point out the times when they feel they grew the most. Almost without exception, they will mention a time of pain, a time of loss, a time of deep and mysterious and never really fully explained suffering in their lives. Philip Yancey, in one of his works entitled Where is God When it Hurts, writes this, Christians don't really know how to interpret pain. If you pin them against the wall in a dark secret moment, many Christians would probably admit that pain was God's one mistake.
He really should have worked a little harder and invented a better way of coping with the world's dangers. I'm convinced that pain gets a bad press. Perhaps we should see statues and hymns and poems to pain. Well, I don't know of any statues that have been built to pain. I know of a few poems and a few hymns that extoll the virtues of pain and suffering. But I know a letter that has come from the pen of a man who knew it. It was written by one who had failed and failed so notoriously, it was written up in the gospels for everyone to read down through the centuries. I've often said and often thought, aren't we all glad that God is no longer recording the failures of his people?
Or you and I would be there in bold relief. And who knows how many times. Now, a little quick review of this fifth chapter, at least, would be appropriate. I find it building, if I could use a musical term, it builds toward a crescendo. It gets more passionate and gets more intense as you get toward the end of it.
And finally, it ends in a rather intimate manner where, as we'll see next time, he talks about the need for us to embrace and even to kiss one another in affection and encouragement. The overall, if I could give one statement of the five things I want to say about this overall chapter. It is a chapter of commands and wise advice. It begins right away with I exhort. That's a nice biblical way of saying sit up and take notice. This is an imperative.
I exhort. It's a series of commands and wise advice. The second thing I would say is that the first four verses provide us with initial advice for elders on how to shepherd a flock. Anytime you want to know what the basic job description of a pastor is, turn to 1 Peter 5, 1 to 4, and there you have it.
In the simplest and most basic form, this is the job description of a minister of the gospel. And so initially, this is advice to elders on how to shepherd a flock. And then as we learned last time, 5 through 7 is advice to the rest of all of us on how to handle success. We looked at that last time, as I said, and the emphasis is on submission. It is on humility.
It is on learning from others' models and counsel. Fourth, in verses 8 through 11, which we will look at now, there is advice to the harassed on dealing with Satan. Advice to the harassed on dealing with the enemy. And finally, there are in 12 through 14 some very personal closing comments where he mentions a brother or two by name, and he says farewell with this wonderful word we've already thought about, and that's the thought of peace. Peace.
Here is my case. What begins rather mildly with an exhortation to elders on shepherding a flock builds to the top of the crescendo in 8 through 11 as he talks to all of us who are doing battle with the enemy. The mood becomes more intense. Let me read, if I may, verses 8 and 9 of 1 Peter 5. Be of sober spirit.
Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, but resist him firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accompanied by your brethren who are in the world. He begins by identifying the enemy and stating in general terms the style of the devil. Whoever is under the impression that there is no literal enemy of our souls chooses to live in a dream world.
You simply reveal your lack of understanding and a lack of reality. All the way through, not only the New Testament, but through the Old Testament, there is evidence, there is case after case after case of a literal devil, an actual Satan, a real, in Peter's terms, adversary. See how he identifies him in verse 8? Your adversary.
This is a Greek word that means an opponent in a lawsuit. This is a person on the other side of your life. This is not a friend. This is not a playmate. This is no one to mess around with.
Not even anyone to joke about. This is an adversary. A constant relationship with the child of God is an adversarial relationship. He despises you and me. He hates what we stand for. Most of all, he stands against our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is our unconscionable and relentless adversary, our opponent. The next word is devil. Your adversary, the devil.
Diabolos means slanderer. Revelation 12 verse 10 states that the enemy of our souls is the accuser of the brethren. Not only does he attempt to accuse us to God, he accuses us to ourselves.
Many of the self-defeating thoughts that we have come from the demonic realm. He is constantly accusing, constantly building guilt, constantly coming against us in hopes of destroying us. Will you notice his style? He prowls about. He prowls about. Maybe you've never thought of it like this before, but the devil is a prowler. He is a prowler. He comes by stealth. He is working in secret. His plans are shadowy.
He never calls attention to his approach and to his attack. He is like a roaring lion. This roaring is like the howl or the growl of a hungry beast.
He is starving for anyone. It says here, someone, your name would fit there. My name could very easily go there. When you put your name there, it makes that verse all the more powerful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion seeking to devour and put your name there. Please observe it isn't simply to tantalize or to interest or to tease. It is a devouring, consuming appetite. He dances with glee when he destroys the lives, especially the lives of Christians. A.T. Robertson writes, the devil's purpose is the ruin of mankind.
Satan wants all of us. It's wise for us to remember that when we travel. It's wise for us to remember that when we don't gather for worship and we're really out on our own. It's wise to remember that when it is getting toward dark.
Or when for whatever reason we find ourselves alone for an extended period of time. He is still seeking to devour. Now our response to that is very significant. I left out the opening command because it's part of the response. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.
That is absolutely primary. He hates messages like this. He hates exposure. He hates being talked about. He especially hates being identified in all of his ugly and filthy plans.
And destructive ways. He stands against moments like this. But now we need to be careful because there are some who over expose the devil and see him in everything.
You've seen folks like that, haven't you? Warren Wiersbe in a little book entitled, Be Hopeful, writes Wise Words. He is a formidable enemy.
We must never joke about him, ignore him, or underestimate his ability. We must be sober and have our minds under control when it comes to our conflict with Satan. And then he continues, a part of this soberness includes not blaming everything on the devil. Some people see a demon behind every bush and blame Satan for their headaches, flat tires, and high rent. While it is true that Satan can inflict physical sickness and pain, see Luke 13 16 and the book of Job, we have no biblical authority for casting out demons of headache or demons of backache. One lady phoned me long distance to inform me that Satan had caused her to shrink seven and a half inches. While I have great respect for the wilds and powers of the devil, I still feel we must get our information about him from the Bible and not from our own interpretation of experiences. Will you please be careful about identifying every ache and pain and every problem you encounter as being satanic in origin? That's a form of sickness. That is not a sign of maturity.
I get real concerned about folks who are witch hunting, and every time something happens that makes life a little bit difficult for them, often those things that they have caused rather than someone else, they'll say, another attack from the enemy, another attack from Satan. Let's be sober. I like the way Moffat renders this. I think he begins, be cool. Now, we use the word very lightly today, being cool as in suave, but his approach is a calm coolness.
Stay cool. It's like a real professional in an athletic contest. He stays cool even the last two minutes. His head or her head is clear, and they go for the ultimate win in that calm, cool, and collected style.
That's the thought. Be calm, but be on the alert. He's prowling around. By the way, I've never seen a prowler who wore a beeper.
I've never heard of a prowler come honking his way down the street with a loudspeaker saying, I'm going to get in that home at 2 o'clock and 7147 right here, I'm going to get in your home at 430 this morning. He doesn't do that. He comes with stealth. He cuts his way in. He's a cat prowler. You never even know he's in your house while he's robbing you blind. The enemy is a prowler, and he comes without announcement, and he comes in counterfeit garb. He is brilliant, and you better respect that brilliance.
I call it an unholy respect. I don't know if you've ever watched people that work as electricians, but if you ever do, if you're like me, you like to stand back quite a ways as you see them doing their thing. I talked to one not long ago, and he was moving these wires around and twisting and wiping off that.
You could tell I'm not a journeyman electrician. Insulation. Insulation. Thanks.
Insulation. And I said, how in the world? How do you do that? Because I could just see myself, you know, standing there. And he said, well, first of all, you respect it, and then you can handle it. Good advice. I have heard young Christians say, this is thrilling. I'm ready to take on the devil, and I always pull them up real close like, come here. Don't say that.
It's a great thing to say. You're dealing with death. You're dealing with a power you have no knowledge of when you say something like that. Be sober. Be on the alert.
Verse 9. Resist him. Resist him. I see nothing of fear in the word resist. We have nothing to be afraid of.
Greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world. Don't run scared of the enemy. Don't play with him.
Don't invite him. But don't be afraid of him. It says, resist him. It's the word for withstanding.
Kenneth Wiest has a wise piece of counsel on this. The Greek word means to withstand, to be firm against someone's onset. The Christian would do well to remember that he cannot fight the devil. The latter was originally the most powerful and wise angel God created.
He still retains much of that power and wisdom as a glance down the page of history and a look about one today will easily show. We are to stand steadfast. It's translated in verse 9, firm in your faith. Look at the word.
Resist him. Firm in your faith. You may be interested to know the Greek phalanx, which is this word, was a body of heavy armed infantry formed in ranks and files close and deep. Pope has a line. The Grecian phalanx moveless as a tower. Isn't that great? The Greek phalanx pulling in close in rank being thick with steadfastness.
They were able to be as strong and unmovable as a tower. And so is the child of God. You know what I find helps me when I sense I'm in the presence of the enemy? The actual quoting of scripture. The literal reading of the word of God.
Preferably that which has been placed on the heart in memory. One of the great reasons for maintaining the discipline of scripture memory is to have it ready on your lips when the enemy attacks. I don't know how to describe it, but you will know it. The longer you walk with God, the more you will be able to sense it. Cynthia, my wife, said to me the other day, honey, I feel in this something of the presence of the enemy. I've learned to respect that. She is not a witch hunter.
She's not one to run to that. I felt this feeling going up my back and I thought she may be right. And then came to my mind any number of verses of victory that came to the rescue.
I reminded her of them and myself at the same time and I even recall that evening reading some of them aloud in an empty room. There is something marvelously strong about the word of God. It is alive and why do you think it says it is active? It is sharper than a two-edged sword. Resist him firm in the faith and look at this comforting thought knowing that the same experiences of suffering are right now, right this moment, being accomplished. I love the word, not endured. The same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. We sang a hymn in our morning service and it stated, come Christians, join and sing. Hallelujah, hallelujah. I spoke with missionaries after the morning service where we sang that hymn and they said as we sang that we thought about the Christians who are on the other side of the world who come and join and sing in another time zone but with the same passion, the same gusto as we right here.
We are not alone. Our rather regular gatherings every Sunday and periodically through the weekdays are reminders that we are not in the battle alone and when you face the enemy, you're not in a lonely battle. You are in the same battle being experienced by other believers stretching around the world and this is where the Christian has the jump on every other person who does battle with the enemy. The other people without the Lord Jesus have no power to combat.
They are facing the enemy without weapons to defend themselves. The Christian is fully armed and if wearing the right armor is absolutely invincible. Isn't that a great word? That's a great word. Invincible. That's why he says with such strength resist him steadfast as a Greek phalanx in your faith. Knowing all the while that you're not alone in the battle. What a wonderful comfort.
I don't know of anything that leaves one more rung out could we say? More weary than battle with the enemy. Nothing more demanding. Nothing more personally painful than encountering our arch enemy. Chuck Swindoll has much more to show us in this passage. 1 Peter 5 helps us understand how to engage and have victory in our battle against the enemy. This is Insight for Living.
To learn more about this ministry visit us online at insightworld.org. While it's fresh on your mind let me encourage you to reach out and request the helpful resources prepared on your behalf. For instance, finding hope beyond the battle is just one of the many topics that Chuck addresses in his 17 chapter book. It's called Hope Again. It's the one he wrote to coincide with the current teaching series. Following the flow of Peter's practical letter Chuck harnesses the major themes such as finding hope beyond our culture, hope beyond our trials, and hope beyond our suffering. You can purchase a copy right now by going to insight.org slash store.
Or call us. If you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888. If you're looking for an expositional commentary that is a book that will walk you through 1 Peter verse by verse let me recommend Swindoll's Living Insights New Testament commentary. Chuck's commentary is particularly helpful for Bible teachers, church leaders, and anyone who wants to learn more about the Bible.
You can purchase a copy by going to insight.org slash store. Finally, we want to extend a word of profound thanks to all those who give generously to support Insight for Living. Your partnership means more than you know and we couldn't supply these daily Bible teaching programs without your consistent giving. So thank you so much. As God prompts you to join the team and financially support this nonprofit ministry we invite you to give us a call.
If you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888. Your gift, large or small, will make all the difference for those who rely on this Bible teaching every day. To give a contribution online go to insight.org.
I'm Bill Meyer. Join us next time when Chuck Swindoll continues his message about standing nose to nose with the adversary on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Hope Beyond the Battle Standing Nose to Nose with the Adversary was copyrighted in 1989, 1990, 1996, 2006, and 2011. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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