6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:8-11 ESV
As children of God, we will always find ourselves at odds with this world. As Peter reminded his readers, the status of each and every Christ-follower is that of a sojourner or exile in this world. We are citizens of another Kingdom, with allegiances to God that will create a constant source of conflict between ourselves and the citizens of this world. Even Jesus warned the disciples that the world would hate them.
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you.” – John 15:18-19 NLT
Not only that, but in John 10:10, Jesus alludes to the ongoing animosity we can expect from Satan: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” He too, hates us, and is out to make our life on this earth as miserable as possible. His life’s mission is to distract and dissuade us from following the will of our heavenly Father, just as he did with Adam and Eve in the garden. He is a deceiver, the accuser of the brethren, and an angel of light, who subtly misleads the people of God with half-truths and convincing arguments that lead to nothing but spiritual death. So, Peter warns his readers to be sober-minded and watchful.
We live in dangerous times, and Satan, like a hungry lion, stalks the world looking for easy prey to devour. Like any predator, he will focus on the weak and defenseless first. But that doesn’t mean he will ignore the spiritually mature. He loves nothing more than destroying the witness of those who are in positions of spiritual authority, such as elders, pastors and teachers. He studies our habits and takes note of our spiritual flaws and weaknesses. It is when we think we are invulnerable, that we are the most susceptible to his attacks. Paul put it this way: “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT). It’s why he told the Ephesians:
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.– Ephesians 6:11-12 NLT
Peter encourages his readers to be sober-minded. The Greek word he used refers to a state of soberness, the opposite of drunkenness. Someone who is drunk cannot think clearly. They lack the capacity to make wise choices. They are incapable of defending themselves or from causing harm to themselves. To be sober-minded is to not allow ourselves to be “drunk” on the affairs of life. A sober-minded individual will not willingly allow their mind to come under the influence of someone or something else. And yet, how easy it is to become intoxicated by pleasure, materialism, popularity, money, entertainment, comfort, and any of a number of other distractions in this life. It was Blaise Pascal who wrote of the diversions that that the enemy uses to so easily distract us and tempt us off course.
Diversion. – Men are entrusted from infancy with the care of their honor, their property, their friends, and even with the property and the honor of their friends. They are overwhelmed with business, with the study of languages, and with physical exercise; and they are made to understand that they cannot be happy unless their health, their honor, their fortune and that of their friends be in good condition, and that a single thing wanting will make them unhappy. Thus they are given cares and business which make them bustle about from break of day. It is, you will exclaim, a strange way to make them happy! What more could be done to make them miserable?–Indeed! what could be done? We should only have to relieve them from all these cares; for then they would see themselves: they would reflect on what they are, whence they came, whither they go, and thus we cannot employ and divert them too much. And this is why, after having given them so much business, we advise them, if they have some time for relaxation, to employ it in amusement, in play, and to be always fully occupied. How hollow and full of ribaldry is the heart of man!
– Blaise Pascal, Thoughts
But Peter lets us know that we can resist the enemy, but only if we remain firm in our faith. We don’t do it in our own strength. That’s why the apostle Paul wrote: “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:1 NLT).
We don’tt fight this battle alone. We do not suffer alone. Peter would have us recognize that this very same spiritual battle is taking place all across the planet, impacting the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Together, we must resist and stand firm. We must remain sober-minded and watchful. And we must constantly remind ourselves that this suffering will not last forever. Suffering has a purpose and it also has an end. There is a day coming, Peter states, when “after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation” (1 Peter 5:10 NLT).
Remember, this world is not our home. We are sojourners and exiles. One day, God will take us home to be with Him. The suffering will come to an end. The enemy will be defeated once and for all time. Sin will be eliminated and death will no longer loom over us. We can have hope, even in the midst of our suffering, because God is on our side. Peter started out his letter by reminding those to whom he was writing that God had chosen them. Their relationship with God had been His decision, not their own. Now, at the end of his letter, he states yet again, “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus” (1 Peter 5:10 NLT).
He had chosen them. He had called them. And the end goal was for them to one day share in His eternal glory. So, with that in mind, they were to resist the enemy. They were to stay sober-minded and watchful. They were to stand firm in their faith. God’s choice and calling of them was secure and their future was set. There was no need to worry or doubt. Their faithful God had their future in His fully capable hands, so they were to resist like it. And the same is true today. All of us who “been born again,” can “live with great expectation,” because “God raised Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3 NLT). And because of that reality, we can rest in the knowledge that “we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven…pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay” (1 Peter 1:4 NLT).
As a result, we can live with peace, confidence, security, contentment, joy, hope, and full assurance that our inheritance is secure and our future is unshakeable. Any suffering we endure in this life will be short-lived and incomparable to the glory to come.
So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.All power to him forever! Amen. – 1 Peter 5:10-11 NLT
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.